MSP Newsletter, May 2019

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‘Flying pig’ a first for MSP and St. Paul Downtown Airports

pig group

This time pigs really did fly.

Well, it was actually only one pig – and he flew less than 10 miles Wednesday (May 15) from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) to the St. Paul Downtown Airport via a Sun Country Airlines charter.  

But even by the outlandish standards of the venerable St. Paul Saints baseball team, a flying pig was a stunt for the ages to mark the May 16 regular season opener for the Saints, whose mascot is a pig. His arrival was chronicled by a horde of TV news photographers and aviation aficionados.

“We brought the idea to the Saints and we worked together to make it happen,” said Kirsten Wenker, a senior manager of Communications for Sun Country, which is the official airline for the Saints.

Just about everyone aboard the flight had a photo-op with the pint-sized porker, including Sun Country CEO Jude Bricker, the pilots and a full complement of flight attendants.

“This is fun – something different with the Saints stadium literally a stone’s throw away,” said Joe Harris, manager of the St. Paul and Lake Elmo airports. “And it is not every day we have a B737-800 operate out of St. Paul.”

After being escorted off the Boeing 737-800 by Saints players Joey Wong and Devon Rodriguez, the one-month-old pig was driven by limousine across the Mississippi River to the Saints annual block party alongside CHS Field in downtown Saint Paul.

pig close up

Daenerys Hoggaryen

In keeping with tradition, the pig mascot was given a name following a month-long name-the-pig contest. This year, it is Daenerys Hoggaryen, a play on a popular character name from the Game of Thrones series, which is nearing its final episode on HBO.

For many years, the pig’s name has included a porcine nod to popular culture: Garrison Squeallor in 2007, Boarack Obama in 2008 and Alternative Fats in 2017, to name a few.

‘When pigs fly’ backstory

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “when pigs fly” has been in use since at least the 1600s to describe something that would never occur. But Wednesday’s event wasn’t the first time a pig was used in a high-profile PR stunt in an airplane.

That belongs to John Moore-Brabazon, a pioneer aviator from England, who placed a pig on his plane in 1909 as a joke to prove that pigs could fly.

Keeping it fresh; MSP shops embrace new look, more space


While new restaurants and retail shops have opened at a dizzying clip over the past two years at MSP Airport’s Terminal 1, several existing concessions have also been busy with renovations to keep the dining and retail experience fresh and fun.

First up on the renovation tour is long-time favorite XpresSpa at its location by the entrance to Concourse D.

Popular with massage-seekers and makeover fans, the shop received a makeover of its own recently, with a new look from floor to ceiling, including new cabinets and workstations.

The spa offers facials, waxing, massage and nail treatments. The remodeled space also has a shower and relaxation loungers that allow customers to set their own level of intensity for massage.

“We can do a lot for people, and a warm, welcoming interior space is all part of the experience,” said Juliette Tetrault, the manager of XpresSpa at MSP.

The XpresSpa on MSP’s Concourse F is scheduled for remodeling later this year.


On Concourse C near Gate C7, Vino Volo recently rearranged its seating to make room for the new Verdi Market (pictured), which offers healthy grab-and-go options.

The market offers gluten-free, organic and vegan items – including vegan beef jerky and lentil chips. Verdi Market also serves coffee made with beans from Dogwood Coffee and bakery items from The Lynhall - both popular Minneapolis businesses with loyal followings.

“The new space and Verdi Market make it easier for us to introduce more travelers to what we have to offer,” said Eduardo Decache, the general manager.


In the Airport Mall, Hammer Made is significantly larger after blowing out one of its walls and finding some room to grow. The refresh and expansion helps the brand show off more of its customers’ favorites, including tailored shirts in limited-run fabrics.

"We nearly doubled in size after our remodel. Now we sell jeans, trousers, and sport coats," said Britt Berghorst, manager of the MSP store.  "We have more space to merchandise our layering pieces like our v-neck tee shirts and light-weight hoodies. Now you can shop Hammermade and get the head-to-toe look, starring one of our limited-run shirts."  

The store’s fitting room also expanded and will soon become two separate units.

MSP featured in national radio broadcast; tune in Sat., May 18

peter g

Peter Greenberg, a nationally known travel personality and CBS News’ travel editor, will feature Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and the Twin Cities region in his three-hour weekend radio show, broadcast on Saturday, May 18.

Greenberg (pictured), who reports regularly on travel topics for “CBS This Morning” on CBS-TV, also hosts “Eye on Travel,” a national radio program that covers a wide range of travel topics.

Greenberg’s broadcast - taped at the airport - features interviews with Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC); Jana Webster, executive director of The Airport Foundation MSP, and several other Twin Cities’ notables who have ties to Minnesota tourism, local cuisine and travel-related topics.

Greenberg, who serves as a volunteer firefighter and has a special interest in airport fire departments, also interviews Natalie Forst, a firefighter with the MAC’s Airport Fire Department.

In the Twin Cities Metropolitan area, the broadcast of “Eye on Travel” starts at 10 a.m. CST and will air on WCCO radio, 830 on your AM dial.

After the broadcast airs, you’ll find Greenberg’s MSP broadcast at this website.

New food court on Concourse C now open

The new food court on MSP's Concourse C is so big it's hard to fit in a single photo frame.

c food court

The food court -- which is home to Smashburger, Starbucks and Chick-fil-A -- is already a popular draw for passengers walking by or stepping off the tram.

The newly remodeled space in the rotunda has ample seating, decorative "trees" to provide a sheltered ambiance and great options for dining and beverages. 

Make sure to stop by for a visit the next time you're at MSP.

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