Skyway connecting hotel to terminal at MSP has lightly used, expensive TSA checkpoint

The new Intercontinental Hotel at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is now open and rooms start at $289 a night. The rooms come with an interesting perk, as guests have easy access to the airport from a new skyway and TSA checkpoint.   

It's totally open to the public, if you can find it.  Unless you're dropped off at the hotel, it’s very difficult to get to this new checkpoint.  In fact, this new skyway is the only direct path from the hotel to the terminal, and it did not come cheap.

The skyway connects the new Intercontinental Hotel with Terminal C and it had its soft opening a couple weeks ago. 

On the hotel's third floor, next to the day spa, you will find the new TSA checkpoint.  The TSA agent looked as lonely as the Maytag repair man. While Fox 9 was there we didn't see anyone go through.

The Metropolitan Airport Commission spent $23 million to build this new skyway which, for the most part, will be catering to hotel guests.   

Last fall, while it was under construction, Fox 9 made a public records request for financial details and discovered this October 2016 email from TSA’s deputy director at MSP, who wrote,

"You should know this will be the second airport nationwide (Detroit is the other) that has a checkpoint from a hotel and they don't generate the traffic to support the checkpoint.  That being said, our HQ leadership will have to make the decision.”

The Detroit hotel is a Westin that sits right across from the terminal.  TSA says it serves about 900 people a day. 

 For the Minnesota Airports Commission, the skyway is part of a grander vision.  The long term plan is to have another skyway that connects to the G concourse.  It will enable passengers to go from G to the C terminal, and by pass the main concourse.

The new TSA checkpoint will be open daily from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.  It's a single lane, and for travelers with carry-on bags. 

The new checkpoint is using available staff, and took its security equipment from another checkpoint near the rental cars. 

It was just a couple of years ago that TSA took so much heat for massive lines at MSP.    

What remains to be seen is how many people will use this new checkpoint, and whether it'll be worth the $23 million price tag.

A hotel bed tax of 6.5 percent will help pay the debt service on the skyway, as well as other infrastructure improvements connected to the new hotel. 

A MAC spokesperson declined an on-camera interview today, saying this is really a TSA issue, so Fox 9 reached out to TSA about that email questioning the merits of the checkpoint, but no one ever got back to us.