Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.
Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.
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Pre-check envy: A friend on his way to New York posted, “I love TSA Pre! I kept my shoes on and laptop in my bag and didn’t have to show my shaving cream.” A Facebook boast like that — when wait times at MSP demand we arrive more than two hours ahead of our flight — is akin to those selfies of legs on a beach chair with some warm ocean in the distance. It’s an invitation to envy.
Or maybe, it’s simply meant as encouragement to join the fast crowd, the one that skips the long lines at airport security checkpoints because the Transportation Security Administration has scrutinized their fingerprints and background and determined they are safe to board.
Applications cost $85 (not refunded in the event you are not approved), which means that the outlay for my family of 3 would be enough to buy a round-trip ticket, at least during a fare sale. Besides, what’s the point of zipping through security if my family will wind along the security line for an hour? Of course, I could just wait for them somewhere. Say, Surdyk’s Flights, glass of wine in hand? If you want to join, too, go to www.tsa.gov.
A Delta Air Lines program that whisks “high-value customers” from gate-to-gate in a Porsche has expanded to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. For the service, which started as a trial in Atlanta, a “Delta Elite Services representative” surprises select customers at the aircraft door and escorts them via a Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid vehicle to their connecting gate. Delta says it is looking for ways to “enhance the travel experience for our most valued customers.” In this case, that refers to Diamond Medallion members, most of whom have flown at least 125,000 miles. “We’ve found a unique opportunity to surprise and delight customers,” Delta says. Let’s hope those Porsche’s have horns so they don’t surprise other unsuspecting fliers in the process.
A press release from the Metropolitan Airports Commission revealed today what many hungry fliers had been waiting hear:
A new McDonald’s restaurant will open in Terminal 1-Lindbergh at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) by the end of October, bringing a familiar array of favorite fast, affordable foods back to the airport following a two-year absence.
"A new McDonald’s has been travelers’ most frequent restaurant request since that company’s contract with Delta Air Lines for stores on Concourse G expired two years ago,” said Jeff Hamiel, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. “We’ve been working with McDonald’s since that time to find a suitable location for the restaurant’s return. I’m pleased to say that by the end of October, travelers will once again be able to satisfy their McDonald’s craving before boarding their flight.”
Construction crews are busy near the entrance to Concourse D building an 1,800 square foot store that will be open 24 hours a day and employ about 60 people, according to local McDonald’s owner/operator and Twin Cities’ McDonald’s Co-op member Courtney Henry.
"We're very happy to be back at the airport and extremely pleased that there has been such great demand for McDonald's to return,” said Henry, whose organization, Franchise Foods, owns eight other McDonald’s restaurants in St. Paul. “We look forward to serving the traveling public and MSP employees for years to come."
There will be Grand Opening offers available in the free November/December MSP Eat, Shop, Relax coupon book as well as on the Twitter feeds of the Twin Cities McDonald’s Co-op, @McD_Minnesota and the airport, @mspairport.
Big Macs and other icons of the McDonald's menus will once again be available at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to Kate Dougherty of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. The fast-food giant closed in 2012, after the MAC began bringing in local stores and restaurants at the airport. That shift to make the airport more reflective of Minnesota has been widely lauded (hello Ike's and Creative Kidstuff), with one exception. There was an outcry when McDonald's went away (a move made by Delta). Now, Big Mac fans can take heart: The MAC will soon officially announce the return of McDonalds, to be located where concourses D and C meet. Timing and other details are yet to be announced, so stay tuned. For now, know that Big Macs may not be the product of a Minnesota chef, but many Minnesota flyers enjoy them nonetheless.
What about McDonald's former site? Any lingering scent of French fries has been masked by the aromas of soaps and candles produced by Minnesota companies Illume and Thyme. Uptown Minnesota, the store that opened in the space in March, features a host of locally produced goodies. Along with Illume and Thyme products, travelers can find handcrafted moccasins by Itasca Leathergoods, men's ties and wool blankets by Pierrepont Hicks, jewelry designed by local artisans and other subtley Minnesota-centric stuff (no moose T-shirts here, thank you very much). The new store is on the G Concourse, near the international gates G1-G6.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood (and so many others) have already spoken of the disruptions that automatic budget cuts known as sequestration would bring to air travel. So have others, including President Obama. The $600 million trim to the budget of the Federal Aviation Administration would mean furloughed air traffic controllers, which would effectively slow air travel.
Barry Liben, the CEO of Plymouth-based Travel Leaders Group, the largest traditional travel agency company in the U.S., weighs in, too. A press release issued by the group contained the following statement from Liben:
"On behalf of our more than 40,000 Travel Leaders Group travel professionals and the millions of corporate and leisure clients we proudly serve, we are calling on the United States Congress and President Barack Obama to take immediate action to resolve the deadlock over the sequestration issues before the March 1 deadline.
"Travel remains an integral and vital economic engine. Businesses can’t function without it, and millions of travelers depend on it daily for their livelihoods. If our nation’s air traffic controllers, TSA airport screeners and CBP customs agents are furloughed – which in turn may require airlines to cancel or delay flights and potentially create long delays at security and customs – our travel industry will suffer.
"To avert serious and potentially long-lasting damage, not only to the traveling public, but to the American economy, we ask our leaders in Washington to act now."
The released noted that LaHood has indicated that the furloughs and facility shut-downs referenced in the statement will not occur until April. Ah, at least spring break is safe!
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