Beginning Tuesday, travelers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport may use both security lines in the main terminal, whether they have TSA PreCheck or not.
The news will likely prompt relief among airport travelers weary of long lines and comes just in time for the busy MEA weekend, when most students across the state have time off from school Oct. 17-18 for the Minnesota Educator Academy meetings. The long weekend is a popular travel time at the airport, particularly for families with children.
Security lines in Terminal 1, also known as the Lindbergh terminal, were reconfigured in mid-August to accommodate construction at the south checkpoint — part of an airport-wide overhaul. The temporary change by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which owns and operates the airport, meant the south checkpoint was reserved for travelers with TSA PreCheck and Clear with PreCheck. Everyone else was directed to the north checkpoint. That system was supposed to remain in place until mid-December.
The switch resulted in the main terminal often being clogged with stressed and occasionally angry passengers during busy travel periods — at times lines for both checkpoints overlapped mid-terminal, leaving airport officials to direct confused passengers to the proper queues.
Within two weeks of the change, the airport’s dominant carrier Delta Air Lines instructed its passengers to arrive three hours ahead of their domestic flights — indicating an additional hour was needed to navigate the crowds and lines during construction.
“When the south security checkpoint was only available to people with TSA PreCheck, there was an imbalance in security lines,” said MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan. “With the construction project complete and both checkpoints available to all travelers, people will again be able to choose whichever checkpoint has the shortest line.”
MAC officials have altered the “construction phasing” of work on the lobby’s terrazzo floor and decided to permanently return both checkpoints to their previous status — where all travelers can use either the north or south checkpoints to clear security.
And, there are more options for travelers to clear security. Checkpoint 10 on the skyway level between the C and G concourses will now be open for those with carry-on bags only from 5:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. That checkpoint, known best to frequent travelers, had been closed during the security line reconfiguration due to staffing issues with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
The airport’s skyway checkpoint at the InterContinental Hotel for passengers with carry-on luggage only will remain open from 5:15 to 10 a.m. daily, as well.
As the MEA weekend approaches, the MAC said it increased the number of workers in the main terminal ticketing lobby from six to 11 to direct travelers and answer questions.
TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said about 47,000 passengers are expected to be screened Oct. 17 and 18, a 4% increase over last year. Since 2016, the number of travelers screened for MEA weekend at the airport has increased by 3.5% annually.
“We’re planning for it, and we’ll be staffed accordingly,” Danker said.
The checkpoint project is part of a multiyear $1.6 billion renovation that calls for an overhaul of the ticketing lobby and other areas. Parts of the lobby and baggage claim have been walled off for construction, which includes new elevators, a coffee shop and restrooms.
Hogan said the terrazzo flooring part of the project has five phases, which would have been completed by mid-December. While three phases are done, the MAC opted to delay the final work until next year.
That’s when space occupied by the former Wings Financial credit union and currency exchange facilities will be demolished, leaving more room for queuing at the south checkpoint, he said.