Thursday expected to be busiest travel day at MSP since before pandemic

Airport officials estimate more than 35,000 people will travel through Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Thursday, many of them traveling over the MEA school break. 

Jeff Lea, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, says on Thursday they’re expecting twice as many travelers as MEA weekend last year, when COVID-19 was still prevalent and travel traffic was low with about 17,000 people traveling. 

Lea says Thursday’s expected traffic is still about 25 to 30 percent less than a normal MEA weekend. In 2019, he says their busiest day of MEA break saw 47,000 travelers. He says overall traffic is still down 25 to 30 percent compared to 2019 levels. 

Even if number still aren’t reaching "normal" levels, he says staff are prepared for the influx of travelers. 

"The TSA, the airlines, the airport itself, all of our partners have been well prepared for this travel week in the sense that we have the projections, the booking forecasts and trying to move staffing around to handle those busy loads," Lea said. 

He says TSA staffing is "certainly able to handle the loads" they’re expected to see over MEA. 

What’s not fully staffed are the restaurants and retail spaces beyond the gate. He says those are still operating at about 78 percent. 

Lea recommends getting to the airport at least two hours before your scheduled flight to ensure you can get through security and to your gate on time.