MSP Newsletter, March 2019

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Third time, still a charm; MSP again best airport in N. America

asq logo 2019

Airports Council International (ACI) recently named Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) the Best Airport in North America in its size category for the year 2018, along with Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

The award follows MSP receiving the same recognition in 2016 and 2017. For each of those years, MSP earned the highest score among North American airports serving 25 million to 40 million passengers annually. The score stems from ACI’s ranking of the world’s airports by region and size category based on its Airport Service Quality (ASQ) passenger survey program.

ASQ is the only industry award based on research actually gathered at airports, using information provided by travelers rating their satisfaction on the day of travel. Survey questions cover everything from airport access to check-in, security screening, restrooms, stores, restaurants and more.

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Interactive mapping now available at MSP Airport's website

msp interactive map image

The recent addition of a new interactive map on MSP Airport's website means you can now navigate to or search for shops, restaurants and amenities at Terminals 1 and 2 to get directions, estimated walk times, and additional information.

“The new mapping program provides travelers with time-saving information about the airport – either from their desktops at home or work before they arrive or on their mobile device while at the airport,” said Eduardo Valencia, chief information officer for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

On a layover, for instance, travelers can determine how long it will take to get to their next gate after landing, and also see where shops, restaurants and services are along the way. 

“Providing an interactive rather than static map also means we can easily keep the information fresh, providing our customers with a better online experience,” said Valencia.

In addition to locations and walk times, the map also provides menus, phone numbers, and descriptions of shops, restaurants or amenities. And, with the key word search function, you can enter a specific food or retail item for a list of restaurants or retail stores where you can purchase those items.

To zoom in or out on the map, use the + and - buttons on a desktop, or pinch-and-zoom on a mobile touch screen. Zooming all the way out allows you to see the entire airport campus, including both terminals, the location of the parking ramps, and surrounding roadways.

Planning to travel soon? Check out the new interactive map to help you expertly navigate MSP.

Spring break travelers arrive at MSP


Spring break-related travel is in full swing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, with higher-than-average volumes expected this week. 

Click here for tips about when to get to the airport, where to park, and what you can and cannot bring through a security checkpoint. 

And consider arriving at the airport early to check out all the new shops and restaurants we've added over the past two years. 

MSP Airport employees complete new English language course

Employees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) who want to improve their English language skills -- and, in turn, their customer service skills -- have a new course available to them.

Twelve employees recently became the first to complete the 14-week English as a second language course, which the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) offers at no cost to MSP employees or their employers.

At a recent meeting of the MAC Board, Chairman Dan Boivin congratulated the students on their achievement and encouraged them to take their skills to the next level, emphasizing that customer service is an important part of the MAC’s mission, and that the airport’s employees have helped bring the airport industry-leading awards.


The first group of students were honored at the February MAC board meeting. Dan Boivin (third from right), Chair of the MAC, presented each with a certificate.

The class is offered through the Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning in Saint Paul, with instruction by Laura Temali. The Hubbs Center offers instruction to 700 students every day, with 70 different languages spoken by its students.

The language lessons at MSP focus on customer-service related exchanges, as the students in the first cohort work in a wide variety of jobs including food and beverage service, building maintenance and airline food preparation.

The first week of instruction includes an assessment of the students’ current English language skills so that they can be placed in the appropriate level class. Employees meet once a week, as well as complete coursework online. 

“We’re very proud of the employees who are working to improve their language skills,” said Liz Grzechowiak, the MAC’s assistant director of concessions and business development. “The program’s ongoing popularity speaks to their individual commitment, which will benefit service quality for passengers.”

The positive experience for the first group of students and word-of-mouth about the program led to greater demand for the second offering of the course. Twenty students are now three weeks into the course.

The language course is open to all airport employees on a first-come first-served basis.

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MSP prepares for the Final Four

final four world logo msp

When college basketball fans show up in the Twin Cities in early April for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four Tournament, the first and last impression of the area for many will be at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) or one of the Metropolitan Airports Commission's (MAC) six general aviation airports.

Over the last year, the MAC has been working with numerous partners to make the people and facilities are ready to welcome the crowds and make their airport experience seamless.

“The work we did prior to Super Bowl 52 in 2018 is helping us prepare for another big event,” said Phil Burke, co-chair of the airport’s Final Four organizing committee, and MSP’s assistant director-customer experience. “We’re excited to take it to the hoop and help travelers have an easy, enjoyable passage.”

MSP also recently added a Final Four web page to its website to provide tips to hoops fans as they prepare for their trip through the airport.

A total of 29 committees at the airport have been working together in preparation for the Final Four, including groups from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, the local organizing committee and the NCAA.

Similar to the Super Bowl, the MAC is collaborating with several groups to provide airport volunteers during Final Four weekend. Employees from Metro Transit, the Final Four local organizing committee and the airport’s Traveler’s Assistance program are coordinating their plans to make sure airport volunteers are at the right place at the right time.

The semifinal games will be played Saturday, April 6, and the National Championship on Monday, April 8 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The volunteers will help guide visitors to food, transportation and any other need they have when they arrive into the Twin Cities. The volunteers will also be present throughout the Final Four weekend and will be on hand Tuesday, April 9, when the fans leave en masse to catch a flight home.

The airport expects about 47,000 passengers to pass through security that Tuesday – a larger number than usual but less than the 60,000 who departed the Monday after Super Bowl 52.


Passengers moving through MSP will see Final Four branding in several locations and three large, wall graphics depicting the bracket for the field of 64 teams. Those brackets will be on the baggage claim level and Concourse F at Terminal 1, and in the lobby of Terminal 2.

The brackets will be updated after each round of the tournament and will make for great photo opportunities.

Prepping for the Private Aircraft 

The Final Four also attracts significant private plane traffic, and the MAC is preparing to accommodate those fliers whether they’re coming in for the full weekend or only Monday’s National Championship game.

“We don’t expect the volume of private aircraft to match what we saw for the Super Bowl,” Burke said, “but we’re focused on providing the same high level of service as we did then.”

To keep those flights operating efficiently, the MAC’s Information Technology division is working with Channel 1 Media -- a Canadian firm that developed the private plane reservation system that the NFL uses each year for the Super Bowl.

The MAC offered up a few ideas for enhancing the software, and ground service firms at MSP and the MAC’s general aviation airports will use the reservation system during the Final Four.

The online system allows service providers at MSP and the reliever airports - such as St. Paul Downtown, Flying Cloud and Anoka County-Blaine - to set up and track aircraft parking reservations along with arrivals and departures. A dashboard for users lets them see the volume of flights at any given hour during the weekend.

The FAA provides time slots for landing that are placed in the reservation system, which are already being claimed by pilots.

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Awards abound for MSP retailers and management

adventure north exterior

MSP Airport won accolades recently from two different sets of award programs, recognizing a wide swath of dining and retail activity at the airport.

The Airport Experience News awards - which are given out by the trade publication that covers the airport industry - recognized Stone Arch as “Bar of the Year” for its unique offering of local craft brews and its full-service bar. The popular bar and restaurant is located on Terminal 1’s Airport Mall near the entrance to Concourses F and G.

Adventure North (pictured), a retailer of outdoor gear located across from Stone Arch, won the “Best New Retail” award.

And the Metropolitan Airports Commission's Commercial Management team was named  the “Best Management Team” for 2018. The team is in the midst of shepherding a multi-faceted makeover of MSP’s concession offerings, and also works with tenants and the airlines on a wide variety of business-related projects.

The second group of awards came from USA TODAY, which ran an online-voting based contest – the 2019 Readers’ Choice Airport Awards

MSP brought home the overall “Best Airport for Dining” award.

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