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Free wi-fi finally landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport today. Advanced Wireless Group, which offers wireless internet at Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and other airports around the country, began providing the service at the airport today. Users may encounter a video advertisement before they can go online for a free 45-minute session; advertising revenue will offset the cost of the service. A commercial-free service, with four times the speed, is available for $2.95 per 24 hours. Before the shift to AWG, all wi-fi use at MSP was fee-based. AWG is upgrading the existing equipment to accommodate the anticipated growth in the number of users at the airport, where the public terminal space covers 2 million square feet. For details about how to access the wi-fi, go here.
Delta made an unpopular decision when it pulled two McDonald's outlets in concourse G at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Delta controls vendors in the concourse; the Metropolitan Airports Commission has the rest of the airport. There's no Egg McMuffins to be found. Read all about it.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams knows his airports, so when he touts the food at ours, well, it makes me want to head over to Minneapolis-St. Paul International for dinner. In its January issue, Bon Appetit asked the dapper star — who also just happens to be the brains behind NBC’s recently launched newsmagazine-styled “Rock Center” — which is the “best airport to be stuck in and hungry,” Williams responded: “Minneapolis. Great American food, great stores, great people.” Do you suppose it was Ike’s or French Meadow that captured his heart? Look for the interview on page106, the last page, of the food magazine.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is hosting the third annual Soaring Savings Sidewalk Sale on Oct. 17 – Oct. 23, just in time for the busy MEA travel weekend. Among the retailers: Brookstone, The Body Shop and Surdyk’s Flights. Participating shops will have tables outside their stores with merchandise priced, as they say, to fly out the door. Many retailers offer shipping. For more info, click here.
Two weeks ago, I helped a reader locate the expedited security lines for first-class passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. (Those lines recently moved to checkpoints 2 and 4 in the main terminal; she’d thought they’d disappeared.) The exchange,which appeared in the Travel section on July 3, elicited strong reaction from some readers upset that the Transportation Security Administration would give preferential treatment to first-class passengers.
No one likes to wait while others get a quick pass, but the TSA really isn’t to blame for that particular first-class perk. The airlines manage the lines leading to the TSA checkpoints at MSP, even reviewing tickets at those reserved for first-class ticketholders. TSA controls the checkpoints, the areas passengers enter after they present their ID and boarding pass to a TSA officer.
“I understand that first-class passengers get to board the plane sooner, get better food, more service, more legroom, etc., but that is because they have paid the airline more money for those privileges. But have they paid the TSA more money? By what authority [does TSA] discriminate between different classes of airline passengers?” read one e-mail that captures the tone of others.
“TSA screens everyone to the same standard, no matter what line they come through,” said TSA spokesman Carrie Harmon. She also explained that the screening process “starts even before passengers get to the airport, when each traveler is vetted against terrorist watch lists. Other layers of security include checked baggage screening, closed-circuit television monitoring, random gate checks, intelligence gathering and analysis, the use of federal air marshals and behavior detection officers and explosives-detection canine teams that move about the airport.”
Patrick Hogan of the Metropolitan Airports Commission offered this background: “Before the TSA was formed, the airlines also were in control of the security checkpoints and the companies that did the security screening did so under contract to the airlines. While the TSA now does the actual screening, the lines are still managed by the airlines.”
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