Spring break means lines at MSP

The airport is telling passengers to arrive at least two hours before their flights.

Isabella Murray

Long lines at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will stall passengers during the busy spring travel season.
 
 
A short staff and a surge in passengers prompted airport officials and the Transportation Security Administration to close three of five security checkpoints in February.
 
 
To alleviate long lines, the airport opened a new line for passengers who pre-check online.
 
 
Despite the new line, MSP passengers have weathered long wait times, sometimes for more than an hour, at MSP security checkpoints, said Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the airport.
 
 
He credits the lines to the number of airport screeners, which has declined by 60 screeners over the past three years. At the same time, MSP has had 10.5 percent more passengers since 2011, he said.
 
 
“This is the recipe for long lines,” Hogan said.
 
 
Over the past 18 months, MSP has worked with the TSA to design the system. In response to the lines this past week, TSA employees have worked overtime to help staff more lanes, Hogan said.
 
 
“The lines have been terribly long for the past two weeks. It’s totally worse than before,” security screener Ruth Johnson said.
 
 
After spring break season, Hogan said, lines should shrink. 
 
 
Though there are fewer checkpoints, the total number of lines hasn’t decreased, he said. 
 
 
Hogan said the five smaller checkpoints were inefficient and too small to use explosive protection canines, which shorten waiting times.
 
 
Minneapolis resident Zong Yang said she didn’t mind the longer lines.
 
 
“It’s just another line of service, like the express lane at the grocery store,” Zong said. “It’s effective to a certain extent. Everyone who has paid through TSA and is getting pre-check is really leaving more room for me.”
 
 
To prepare for longer lines, MSP added signs to the terminals and stationed employees in the ticketing lobby to help direct travelers, Hogan said. MSP’s website suggests there will be heavier traffic and to come two hours before flight time.
 
 
“I prepared for the lines,” said Plymouth native Brittni Holmers. “We only have a short flight to Indianapolis, but we came two hours early.”