Travel is expected to be 5 to 7 percent higher than last year, the first such increase since 2005.
Flying home for Thanksgiving from the Twin Cities?
Expect longer-than-usual lines going through security, even if you were thrifty and bought tickets to travel on Thursday morning. And it's possible you'll be getting a pat-down from a stranger before a hug from a relative.
After four straight years of fewer holiday air travelers, an increase of 5 to 7 percent is anticipated for Thanksgiving week at the two main terminals of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Next week should be the busiest since 2007, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said Thursday. Coupled with the onset of full-body image detectors at security checkpoints, it all adds up to longer waits from the parking lot or curbside dropoff to your gate, he said.
The gamble of showing up 20 minutes before your flight is an even worse bet next week. For domestic flights, the airport says to get there 90 minutes early. Make it 2 hours for international flights. "Most people don't give themselves that much time,'' Hogan said. The expectation of longer lines means it's a good time to allow the extra cushion.
Normally it's Monday through Wednesday, but this year load levels will peak Thursday between 5 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Hogan said. That could reflect more people holding out for better ticket deals. Sunday's crowds are bad, too, but won't be as intense because return flights are more spread out.
Security checkpoint numbers 2 and 6 in Terminal 1 (Lindbergh, to old-timers) have been widened to provide four more screening lanes. The so-called "expert traveler'' security lane has moved to checkpoint 6.
Save $4 per day parking in the "value'' ramp at Terminal 2 (Humphrey). It's next to light rail, which is free between the terminals.
Students from McNally Smith College of Music will join professional musicians in entertaining travelers through December. If kids are restless Tuesday or Wednesday, the Red Balloon Bookshop has a costumed character to read to them between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Paul Klauda • 612-673-7280