Lisa Meyers McClintick, travel writer & photographer

Monday, October 17, 2011

Family travel tips for MSP Airport



Plan ahead during the busiest travel times

It's the busiest time of year for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) as Minnesota families head out for the holidays or spring break. It's wise to arrive at least two hours early for your flight, even if it's domestic and there are no threats of snow storms.

Another way to make travel go more smoothly is to download MSP's airport app through the goHow airport series. It just added Android capability this week, in addition to previously offered iPhone and Blackberry applications. The MSP airport app offers:
  • Up-to-date information about flight and gate check-in times directly from the airport and from FlightStats™, providing full domestic and international flight coverage
  • Real-time flight updates and airport operational alerts via push notifications
  • Real-time parking and security line wait times, where available
  • Weather information for both departure and arrival cities
  • Promotions customized to the traveler’s gate location, time of day and departure/arrival cities
  • Real-time ratings of airport concessionaires and facilities – and the ability for travelers to add their own.
In addition to goHow native applications for BlackBerry, iPhone, and now, Android, goHow is also available as a mobile-friendly web site at http://www.goHowWeb.com <http://www.gohowweb.com/> .
Here are some other tips to make everything go more smoothly: 
Be ready for security
Double check that you have everything well-organized for security points with the 3-1-1 rule for liquids. Go to www.tsa.gov for specifics and exceptions such as baby formula and medicines. Put kids in easy-to-remove shoes so you're not held up tying shoelaces. It's hard enough to be collapsing strollers and taking kids out of carriers.

Travel light
Know your airline’s luggage weight and size restrictions. Everyone does seem to fudge the carry-on rules these days. You, too, may get away with it, but you also run the risk of being trapped in the aisle with no place to put a roller bag. If the crew does need to check your bag due to a lack of space, there is some consolation in not paying the check-in fee. Keep all your essentials in a bag you can fit beneath a seat.


Have documents ready
Print boarding passes at home and have identification double-checked and handy. Keep them with other documents on reservations, car rentals and maps. If you are a Delta Air Lines customer flying out of gates C10 through C27, G14 through G22 or Concourses A or B, check your bags at the Delta counter on Level T and take the tram to Checkpoint 10  midway on the C/G Concourse Connector Bridge. Concourses A & B are the longest walk. Take the tram until you reach the end of the line. 

Be assured of parking
I usually use Park 'N Fly (www.parknfly.com), but it may fill up on busy weeks. Make a reservation online to assure a space and get a better rate. If you're parking at the airport, use SurePark® to check  availability (www.mspairport.com/parking/surepark). You can save $4 over parking at the Lindbergh Terminal by using the lot at Terminal 2, the Humphrey Terminal.  Reach the main terminal with a free ride on the light rail transit line.

Bring tippy cups and empty bottles
Don't get stuck paying $3 for a huge bottle of water. Bring normal-sized but empty bottles through security. You can fill them at drinking fountains and add a drink mix to flavor it if you want. If you have any kids under 5 with you, free drinks on the flight are not worth it when flailing hands and knees inevitably sends cups flying into your lap or someone else's. I've worn tomato juice spilled by an adult. It isn't pretty.

Pack a meal
If you have room in your carry-ons, stash a packed lunch. Even if you want to eat at the airport, it's a wise backup in case of delays on the runway or long restaurant lines during busy flying weeks. Baby carrots or pea pods, peanut butter and jelly on a denser bread, single-pack Pringles, granola or energy bars, dried fruit, apples and nuts all pack well and can take a little beating.


Get more info
Stay up to date on airport info with Twitter (follow mspairport). If you download the goHow Airport app you can also peruse menus for full service restaurants.
--Lisa Meyers McClintick