MINNEAPOLIS — With the vaccine rollout underway, airports are preparing for more travelers, especially heading into spring break.
"We could see our busiest month since the pandemic,” Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) spokesman Jeff Lea says.
At the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport (MSP), Lea says they could see as many as 28,000 travelers per day during spring break.
That’s a much higher number than what we saw leading into the 4th of July and winter holiday travel seasons, but Lea says that number is still low compared to a normal spring break.
“It’s a good 35% to 45% lower than usual,” Lea explains.
Lea says the airports commission has worked hard to improve safety at MSP.
He says travelers can now reserve their parking spot online before they arrive, which will reduce some of the contact travelers might have with travelers and airline employees at the terminal.
Travelers can also avoid sitting in restaurants or waiting in line by ordering their food online ahead of time. Lea says more than 15 restaurants at the airport now offer that service. Travelers can either pick up their order at the restaurant or they can get it delivered to their gate.
Lea says workers also installed more than 200 hand sanitizing stations at MSP, as well as several touchless fixtures in bathrooms and walkways.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is also making safety improvements.
In recent months the agency has added ID readers at most security checkpoints. Travelers can now insert their ID’s into a reader instead of handing it to an agent.
The TSA is also asking travelers to visit the agency’s website so they understand the carry-on rules before they visit the airport.
The agency says knowing the rules ahead of time will minimize unnecessary searches and will reduce the amount of interaction between travelers and TSA agents.
One rule change that was enacted during the pandemic involves liquids. Travelers can now carry up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in their carry-on luggage. The maximum for all other types of liquid is 3.4 ounces.
The TSA is also recommending that travelers sign up for the TSA Pre-Check program so they can avoid the security lines at the airport. They say the turnaround time for applications is about five days.
So, there's still time to get that in before your trip.
Lea says many airlines are now loading the aircraft by starting in the back to minimize contact with other passengers.
Airlines have also changed their in-flight services to minimize contact with flight attendants.
“The MAC and all of our partners have invested a lot into safety,” Lea explains.
“We’ve put a lot of intense effort into making sure that we’re making the airport journey as safe as possible and then top of that we want the traveler to do what they can.”