About $90 million of improvements are planned for the main terminal at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, including space for a new Delta Sky Club and upgrades to the gloomy baggage claim area.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which owns and operates the airport, recently approved bids for two construction projects that will overhaul part of Concourse G in Terminal 1 (Lindbergh) that will include the new Delta Air Lines lounge and complete work extending the front of the 1960s-era terminal to provide more room inside.
“Airport lounges [are] not just for departing passengers; they also serve arriving passengers, and obviously Delta has a lot of customers [at MSP] who are connecting,” said Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group, a San Francisco-based market research firm. Delta is MSP’s dominant carrier.
Improvements to the terminal’s baggage claim and ticket lobby are part of a broader multiyear $1.6 billion overhaul of the airport’s main terminal to accommodate the increasing number of passengers at the airport. Last year, nearly 40 million travelers flew to or from MSP, a 4% increase over 2018 — and the third straight year of record passenger levels.
“It’s kind of chaotic in here,” said Dr. Paul Billings, who flew in to the Twin Cities from San Francisco on Tuesday morning, as he assessed the baggage claim area. “It’s not terribly attractive to visitors.”
The terminal’s baggage claim area “is a little dark,” said Heather Leide, the MAC’s director of airport development. “One of the biggest benefits of this program is that it’s going to fix very low ceilings in baggage claim.”
Raised ceilings and improved lighting will help brighten the baggage area, and the overall length of baggage carousels will be increased by 50%, Leide said. That means passengers will have room to spread out and won’t have to frantically elbow one another as they attempt to retrieve their luggage. Better display signs directing passengers to the appropriate carousel are part of the project as well.
“It’s a little dark down here, and they could have better way-finding to get here,” said Chriss Stigger, who flew from Atlanta on Tuesday for a business meeting.
On the ticketing level above, the renovation will result in more space for passengers to queue up in security lines near the north checkpoint.
Work on the $30 million contract, which was awarded last month to St. Paul-based Sheehy Construction Co., should be done by May of next year. The overall budget of $31.5 million will be funded by passenger facility charges and airport revenue bonds.
Plans for the far stretches of G Concourse include a 71,300-square-foot addition that includes restrooms, an additional gate lobby, event space, a two-story rotunda, and more restaurants and shops. The bank of restrooms will use the airport’s award-winning prototype, Leide said.
The addition of space will accommodate the airport’s third Delta Sky Club. The Atlanta-based airline, which controls about 70% of the airport’s air traffic along with its affiliates, has been remodeling existing Sky Clubs at airports nationwide, including Nashville, Tokyo, Atlanta, Phoenix and New York.
“Airport lounges are very important, and Sky Clubs are a critical part of Delta’s marketing and customer experience strategy,” Harteveldt said.
In a statement, Delta said it is “thrilled” about its new MSP Sky Club, which is expected to open in 2022. The 18,000-square-foot space will include comfortable seating, high-speed Wi-Fi, power outlets at nearly every seat, “award-winning” beverages and “re-imagined” food offerings and an outdoor deck, Delta said.
Many airport lounges are now offering healthier food options to travelers, including foods that highlight local tastes. “Part of it is that Delta recognizes that meal service is no longer offered on many flights, even on some first-class flights, so their premium customers can make time to stop by and get something to eat before their flight,” Harteveldt said.
At the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, Delta will use its own funds to finish the space, but Delta did not say how much it was spending here.
The project, with an overall budget of $61 million, should wrap up by the summer of 2022. Morcon Construction Co. Inc., of Fridley, submitted the successful bid of $57.8 million.