Officials at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are expecting the biggest rush of travelers through its doors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission says it's anticipating March to be its busiest month in the year since COVID started, with bookings showing a significant uptick in spring break travelers.
Its forecasts show it could peak over a period of a few days where more than 28,000 people pass through its checkpoints, with the previous pandemic-time record being almost 22,000 in late December.
This would still represent a drop on a year ago, when 35,000-45,000 would pass through during spring break, but it nonetheless it marks a sign of growing confidence in travel as COVID cases decline, and vaccination rates rise.
There will be 338 flights leaving MSP each day on average in March, which is 21 more than the daily average in December, the previous pandemic-time peak, but again about a third lower than a year ago.
With that in mind, MSP is asking travelers to arrive 2 hours in advance of a domestic flight and 2.5 hours ahead of an international flight, while being sure to adhere to COVID safety guidelines regarding face masks and social distancing.
"While there will be far fewer spring break travelers this year than there were pre-pandemic, the airport will be busy, particularly at peak hours in the early and mid-morning and mid-afternoon,” said Brian Ryks, the CEO of MAC.
"We’ve invested heavily in making the air travel journey safer for those who need or choose to travel. We strongly encourage travelers to support our health safety efforts by wearing their required face coverings, washing their hands regularly, using hand sanitizer, and abiding by social distancing recommendations, especially in check-in and security lines."
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has also announced it's stepped up its procedures ahead of the spring break rush, which includes tech upgrades across airport checkpoints that reduce physical contact, an effort to add staff to deal with surging passenger volumes, and getting workers who regularly engage with the public vaccinated.