MSP Newsletter, June 2019

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Delta Air Lines begins Mexico City service

delta mex city

Delta crew members and staff joined airport and civic leaders in celebrating the inaugural flight

Delta Air Lines launched its new nonstop service between Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Mexico City on Saturday, June 8 with festivities for the full flight of departing passengers.

A water cannon salute for the plane by the Airport Fire Department, a Mariachi band and treats at the gate from a local Mexican bakery were all part of the celebration.

delta water cannon

“Mexico City service was a priority because it’s one of the last large cities in North America that didn’t have direct service from MSP,” said Dan Boivin, chair of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which owns and operates MSP. “We’re happy Delta is tying MSP to the financial and cultural center of Mexico, and offering connections through Aeromexico.”

Delta has an agreement with Aeromexico, the country’s largest airline, that will provide passengers easy connections from Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport to 55 other destinations throughout Mexico and Latin America.

The new MSP-Mexico City route operates year-round and is served by an Airbus 319 with seating for 132 passengers. 

Visit Delta's website for details on the daily, year-round flights to Mexico City and the destinations beyond.

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Prince-branded merchandise now at MSP Airport 4 U

prince exterior

Prince fans now have a destination at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport where a pop-up shop featuring Prince-branded goods recently opened. Retail items include apparel, mugs, hats, keychains, artwork, books and more.

Located on Terminal 1’s Airport Mall, across from Stone Arch bar and restaurant, the store pays homage to the Minneapolis-based recording artist and legendary performer through every stage of his career. Videos of Prince performing are on display, and the store features memorabilia and recordings from Prince’s early era to his later work, including vinyl records and CDs.

Tickets for tours of Paisley Park -- Prince’s private estate and music production facility, located in Chanhassen, Minn. -- are also available at the store.

prince store

“We’re excited to partner with Prince’s estate to bring memories of the beloved performer to his fans who come through MSP,” said Audrey Johnson, business development director of Airport Retail Group, which operates the store. “The guests have been so happy to see the memorabilia and videos that recall all of his great music.”

A grand opening event is planned for next month; details will be available soon.

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New Delta check-in counter opens on Terminal 1's east curbside

delta road sign

Delta Air Lines recently opened a passenger check-in counter on the east curbside of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s Terminal 1, giving Delta passengers a new option for checking their bags.

The new service counter is located on the second level of the east curbside building – across from the existing drop-off area that is located directly in front of Terminal 1. The new east side location provides easy check-in access  for Delta customers who are being dropped off, or who are coming from the parking ramps, the Blue Line light rail or from dropping off their rental car.

A new overhead digital sign on Terminal 1’s inbound roadway -- near the ramp that leads up to the departures level -- tells drivers when the east curbside check-in is open and directs them to their left-hand turn. Once at the curb, an overhead sign near Door 6 guides drivers to the Delta drop-off area.

Passengers coming from the parking ramps, rental cars or light rail will take an escalator or elevator up two levels from the tram level to access the new check-in counter.

The counter is open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, subject to passenger volumes.

delta east curbside counter

The new Delta Air Lines check-in counter and bag check in the east curbside building.

Adding this second, east side option for passenger drop off will help alleviate congestion in Terminal 1’s ticketing lobby and at the west curbside in front of the terminal.

Once at the east side check-in, travelers searching for flight information won’t have to look far -- displays at the counter provide real-time information on flight departure times and gates.

Above the check-in counter is art inspired by the work of Craig Blacklock, a renowned Minnesota photographer whose work focuses on the Lake Superior region. The punched aluminum artwork, which mimics the look of a tree canopy, provides a sophisticated backdrop to the space.

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MSP Airport wins prestigious concessions awards

3 at ACI 2019

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) was named the winner of Airport Council International-North America’s (ACI-NA) Award of Excellence this week at an ACI-NA business conference in Arizona.

The Award of Excellence, named for Richard A. Griesbach, “recognizes the most remarkable, innovative work in airport concessions as North American airports strive to improve the passenger experience,” said Kevin M. Burke, president and CEO of ACI-NA. “Terminal 1 at MSP is a prime example of this work.”

The Griesbach award is one of the airport industry’s top honors, recognizing innovative and outstanding airport concessions programs throughout North America.

Last year was a record-breaker for concession revenue at MSP, following a three-year revamp of shops and restaurants. The project includes 35 new shops and 45 new restaurants. As the newly renovated spaces have come online, MSP has seen a 27 percent increase in retail sales.

“This award speaks to the detail and thoughtful decision-making that went into every step of the concessions rebid work at MSP,” said Eric Johnson, director of commercial management and airline affairs for the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which owns and operates MSP. “It’s a proud moment for our concessions team, the MAC’s leadership and especially all of our business partners at the airport, who have been committed to the success of the concessions renovations.”

MSP wins in individual categories 

MSP also won honors in several individual categories of the ACI-NA awards, including a first-place finish in the “Best Retail Program” category.

The other first place finish was for Starbucks in the “Best New National Brand Concept” category. Starbucks opened a new location on MSP’s Airport Mall five months ago and has been a popular draw.

The airport’s food donation program placed second in the “Best ‘Green’ Concessions Concept or Practice” category. Loaves and Fishes, a Minneapolis-based non-profit that serves free meals, picks up ready-to-eat items donated by airport concessionaires and distributes them the same day to those in need.

MSP Airport also finished third in the “Best Food and Beverage Program – Large Airport” division.

Food Truck Alley – a food court on Concourse E at Terminal 1 where meals are served out of the exteriors of actual trucks – placed second in the “Best New Food and Beverage (quick-serve concept)” category.

Pictured above, left to right: MAC employees Liz Grzechowiak, assistant director, concessions and business development; Eric Johnson, director, commercial management and airline affairs; Steve Busch, chief financial officer.

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Coming June 28th - new escalators and a new flow for Terminal 1


Passengers’ trips between the various levels of Terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) are about to get a little easier.

Later this month, MSP travelers will notice changes along the front of Terminal 1, where escalators and elevators move people between levels.

Most notably on the lowest level (Level T), passengers arriving from the parking ramps and the Blue Line light rail station will notice new escalators on the south side (to the left) on that level. These new south escalators serve the baggage claim (arrivals) and ticketing (departures) level and mirror the north escalators that opened last year.

The escalators are part of a broader “vertical circulation” project at Terminal 1 that will provide efficient, safe movement between floors.

Shortly after the south escalators open, the middle escalator that currently takes passengers from the tram level directly to the ticketing (departures) level will shut down - the first step in the next phase of the vertical circulation project, which adds three more elevators to the three already in service.

Experienced travelers at MSP know that they end up closer to Concourses A-E when they use the north security checkpoint at Terminal 1 and closer to Concourses F and G when using the south.

“The new escalator options mean passengers may want to think about which security checkpoint they prefer -- north or south -- while still on the tram level,” said Heather Leide, the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s director of airport development. “Passengers can use either checkpoint, but they may pick the north or south escalators to bring them closer to a specific security checkpoint and their departure gate.”

Another change to passenger movement at Terminal 1 arrives late this summer. A new exit that includes both escalators and elevators - unlike the current south exit that only has escalators - will bring passengers from the secure side of Concourse G to the baggage claim level. That improvement allows the airport to continue its renovation plans in baggage claim.

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Volunteers help keep MSP Airport running smoothly

two great danes

(left to right): Bishop the Great Dane, volunteers Nicole Boe and Kristen Kenney, and Merit (Kristen's other Great Dane).

When “Rogue” the Great Dane and his handler Kristen Kenney visited MSP Airport last month as part of the Airport Foundation MSP’s Animal Ambassador Program, they connected with more than 500 travelers in just two hours.

That visit was just one of hundreds to MSP by the 87 canine-handler team volunteers who regularly come to the airport to deliver on the foundation’s mission to “enhance the experience and exceed the expectations of travelers.”

The Animal Ambassador Program is just one of several volunteer programs at MSP.

In fact, more than 650 people volunteered more than 96,000 hours at MSP in 2018 with either the Airport Foundation MSP or the Armed Forces Service Center

Traveler Assistance volunteers

Beyond the Animal Ambassador program, the Airport Foundation MSP also staffs all but two of the information booths located at MSP, almost every day of the year from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with volunteers. 

Many of the Traveler Assistance volunteers are retirees who enjoy the fast-paced environment at MSP and are eager to staff the 1,800 volunteer shifts per month.

“We’re definitely one of the biggest volunteer programs – in the top three or four in the U.S.,” said Laura Sartain, director of the foundation’s Traveler Assistance program. “And we’re the second biggest animal ambassador program in the country.”

In addition to staffing the booths, Traveler Assistance volunteers also serve as “go-guides” who are strategically placed throughout the airport in search of people to assist.

“We have a 98 percent retention rate, which is unheard of in the volunteer world,” says Sartain. 

Animal Ambassadors

Although the popular Animal Ambassador program was created just four years ago, it continues to grow and could one day be the largest such program in the country. Only Denver International Airport – with 100 or so teams – has more.

Armed Forces Service Center

Another entire army of 227 volunteers also keep the Armed Forces Service Center (AFSC) at Terminal 1 open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

Since it opened in November 1970, the center has never closed. A minimum of 84 volunteers a week keep the doors open.

“Come rain, hail, sleet, snowstorms – that service center has always stayed open,” said Debra Cain, executive director of the center. “Our volunteers are just priceless. We have enormous gratitude for each one of them.”

Some, like retired Minneapolis school teacher Jeanne Morford whose husband was in the service during the Vietnam War, began volunteering the week the center opened, and are still volunteering 49 years later.

She has logged the most volunteer hours: 10,823. But World War II veteran Gordy Bauer is not far behind with 10,590 hours. (That’s equivalent to more than five years of full-time work.)

That level of dedication is unique to MSP. It is the only privately-run airport center of its kind that is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

Related information At MSP, there's always a warm welcome waiting for troops and veterans in transit – Star Tribune, May 26, 2019

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Work on MSP's Long-Term Plan for 2040 now underway


This spring staff from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) started looking toward the future and have begun work on the long term planning process for the airport.

Creating a long-term plan is important not only to travelers who rely on the MAC to provide an efficient and enjoyable experience, but also also to the entire region, as MSP supports more than 89,000 area jobs and generates nearly $16 billion in total economic output.

The airport also helps Minnesota retain businesses - including the 17 Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities area - who rely on the airport to move both goods and people to places around the globe.

The process includes studying airport facility and infrastructure needs based on 20-year projections of passenger and aircraft operations growth. The MSP Airport 2040 Long-term plan will ultimately help the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) -- which owns and operates MSP -- better understand future facility needs.

The planning process will fulfill a state requirement for the airport and is a significant undertaking for MAC staff. In addition to research and statistical modeling, the MAC has also begun engaging key stakeholders to ensure it receives meaningful feedback and ideas throughout the process.

To help accomplish this, the MAC has created a 29-member Stakeholder Advisory Panel, comprised of individuals representing surrounding communities, airport tenants, federal agencies, specific passenger groups, regional businesses, and tourism associations, who will provide that input. The panel’s first meeting was held earlier this month.

Individuals interested in receiving updates to the planning process - including when public meetings are scheduled - should visit this website and sign up to receive e-news specific to this topic. 

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