You can't start using that sunscreen in your suitcase if you're stranded at the airport. Travelers planning a spring break trip are encouraged to allow more time than usual to get through the long lines of other winter-weary vacationers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The Pioneer Press reports that arriving two hours before departing has typically been advised, but passengers are now being told to be at MSP a full 2 1/2 hours before domestic flights.
"None of us is happy with the wait times as they are now," Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, told the newspaper, noting that "too many people" have missed their flights as a result of the delays.
Hogan indicated the bottleneck, brought on in part by fewer TSA security screeners, is especially pronounced early in the morning. Arriving two hours in advance should be long enough for passengers flying from MSP's smaller Humphrey Terminal 2 or those scheduled in off-peak hours.
KARE 11 noted the long lines earlier this month, with news that air travel was up by 20 percent this year. Parking ramps at the airport have been jammed as the bitter winter has prompted a high number of people to plan to exit the tundra.
"In Terminal 1, there are eight security checkpoints ... and there used to be six that were permanently open," Hogan said. "Now five are open at peak times, and it goes down to three at some times of the day."
TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers told the newspaper that wait times exceeded 30 minutes at MSP only three times in March. The longest was 42 minutes at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 14. She noted that time spent in a security line is only "one of many things people experience when they go to the airport. Is 2 1/2 hours enough? It depends on how long everything else takes you. If you only had to go through security screening, you wouldn't have to come to the airport 2 1/2 hours early."
Future travelers may have an easier time of it. MSP officials are looking at reconfiguring the security checkpoints to make them more efficient.