I am traveling this weekend with my sister, so I asked her the question any sister would: “Can your boyfriend drive us to the airport?”

When she went to Dallas recently for a long weekend, she parked at the Quick Ride Ramp of Minneapolis-St. Paul International, she told me. “A shuttle driver was at my car even before I could get the suitcase out of my trunk, and it was only about $40,” she said.

I paused to consider. “But free is cheaper,” I said. My reasoning prevailed, until I discovered that we would be returning home during an NFL playoff game, and I didn’t know anyone who would head out in the cold and dark during the fourth quarter.

What has become of Minnesotans’ inclination to drive friends, neighbors and family members to or from the airport?

I never took a taxi to an airport until I moved from my Minnesota home to cities where whisking friends to or from a flight isn’t part of the ethos. In Washington, D.C., a clean and efficient subway system makes such kindness unnecessary. In Santa Monica, Calif., no one wants to give up a yoga class — or anything, really — to tackle Southern California’s legendary traffic.

But since returning to Minnesota, I still mostly take taxis when I fly. Worse yet, I have shuttled only a few people to or from flights. That reality began to pester me after I texted a friend who was visiting Boston for New Year’s. “Need a ride home from the [MSP] airport?” I asked. “No thanks, I drove there and parked” she pinged back.

Given taxis, discounted airport parking lots and the light rail, we have lots of ways to get to a flight. I hope a free ride from a friend remains among them. To paraphrase a slogan used in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Ore., “Keep Minnesota nice.”


Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.