Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport reached a new record Monday, thanks to the fans streaming out of town after the Super Bowl.
The airport broke its single-day record for screening passengers, with 60,455 passengers going through the security checkpoints, said Transportation Safety Administration spokeswoman Lorie Dankers.
“It’s our Super Bowl,” said Phil Burke, director of MSP Airport Operations. “This is our game day.”
The traffic was nearly double the average of 34,000 that normally pass through magnetometers on a typical day and well above the 37,000 that are screened daily during the busy spring break period.
MSP’s previous record traffic day was last year, when 47,000 passengers were screened March 10.
The first fans showed up just hours after the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. By 8 a.m. the lines from the north and the south checkpoints met in the middle of the terminal.
To handle the crowds, 21 screening lanes were open between MSP’s two terminals.
Back to the beach, Boston
The lobby teeming with travelers seemed a bit overwhelming for Eagles fan Jennifer Evetushick, who was heading back home to Hawaii.
“It seems a little crazy, but at least we are moving, anything to get out of this cold,” she said. “I plan to be on a beach by sunset.”
Mike Finstein entered the south security checkpoint line at the peak of the morning rush at 7:30 a.m. for his 10:30 flight. He was pleasantly surprised with his 20-minute wait time.
“They said three hours,” the disappointed Patriots fan from Boston said. “It’s going to be a long day but I have plenty of time.”
The TSA brought in 100 extra workers to process the high volume of passengers along with 20 bomb-sniffing dog teams to expedite the screening process. Airport workers wearing flags that read “Standard” and “Pre Check” or “American Airlines” helped passengers find the correct lines and ticket counters.
Volunteer Brenda Kremer sent scores of passengers in the right direction, and dispensed advice that was helpful to anybody who bought a Super Bowl program.
“Take that out of your luggage,” she told passengers arriving at Door No. 3 on the upper level. “The hologram could set things off.”
Jason Smith, the assistant federal security director for screening, attributed Monday morning’s smooth operation to a rarely used security line configuration.
Once passengers were directed to the right queue, they passed a bomb-sniffing canine. That served as a preliminary screening, which allowed travelers to access any of the 10 lanes at the north security checkpoint or the six lanes at the south checkpoint, even lines normally reserved for TSA Pre Check or other trusted traveler programs.
“That is where the speed comes in,” Smith said.
It was also faster getting to parking ramps and drop-off locations than many expected. The airports commission opened up an inbound traffic lane previously closed for construction purposes at Terminal 1 to handle more vehicles. The airport made the move after seeing the volume of post-Super Bowl traffic near the airport in Houston last year.
“That got our attention, we have one way in and one way out for Terminal 1,” Burke said.
The energy in the terminal was palpable as departing crowds experienced their last “Minnesota moment.”
Candy MacNeil, of Toronto, was sporting a smile a mile wide even after spending the night at the airport. It helped that her Eagles won, but she said was impressed with the hospitality both at the airport and in the city.
“I thought maybe you’d treat Eagles fans badly,” she said. She said her visit here has been “awesome.”