MSP Newsletter, December 2019

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New for you -- Caribou and Bottle Rocket open at MSP

caribou main mall

The food and drink options at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport continue to expand, with two new popular draws opening recently.

Passengers coming into Terminal 1 through the North Security Checkpoint will notice the new Caribou Coffee, located in the north rotunda area. The bright facade is visible down the length of the mall, and the warm interior is a welcoming embrace for those seeking their favorite brew.

bottle rocket

Just down Concourse C in Terminal 1, Bottle Rocket recently opened, offering "local fare with a little flare."

The fast casual restaurant has its roots in the Twin Cities and offers Supercharged Flashcracker Wings, Roasted Garlic & Kale Fondue, BBQ Salmon and their Astro Burger -- that's only part of the menu.

Steps away is a full bar with signature cocktails or drafts of your choosing. 

Look for Bottle Rocket between gates C5 and C6 the next time you're flying out or arriving at MSP.

MSP's first feline animal ambassador goes viral


A few weeks ago, Stitches was just another therapy cat starting a new gig at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).

She still is, but now she’s also something of a celebrity.

Stitches, an 11-year-old calico and tabby mix, is the first cat to be a part of MSP’s Animal Ambassadors program, joining the 96 dogs who are already regulars at the airport.

Following her public debut last month (chronicled in this introductory video), she drew the attention of online and broadcast media outlets from around the country, and even in Finland.

All told, the Airport Foundation MSP, which operates the program, tracked stories from 42 media outlets.

“With other news being so heavy right now, a story about a fluffy little cat is nice,” said Nikki Christopher, Stitches’ owner. “It hasn’t gone totally to her head yet. But she does enjoy her paw-purr-razzi.”

Coverage has come from far and wide, including WCCO-TV, the ABC affiliate in Los Angeles and TV stations in Houston, Fresno and Chicago. Travel & Leisure and Lonely Planet also put stories about Stitches online, along with MSN.

For travelers passing through MSP, the chance to see Stitches in person currently occurs on Fridays, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the north end of Terminal 1’s Airport Mall.

But plan ahead. There’s bound to be a crowd.

Airport community art show opens at MSP's Terminal 1

art show 1

"MSP Creates 2019: The Airport Community Art Show" opened today -- Friday, Dec. 13 -- at the Thomson Reuters Concourse C Art Gallery at Terminal 1.

The gallery, located near Gate C12, features artwork created by airport employees, retirees, volunteers and their family members.

art show close up


The exhibit runs through June 12, 2020. Be sure to spend some time viewing the beautiful pieces on display.

The exhibit is a partnership of the National Arts Program and Arts@MSP, which is part of the Airport Foundation MSP.

Be travel ready -- Oct. 1 is the deadline to get a REAL ID

real id

The deadline for obtaining a REAL ID is less than a year away, and officials are encouraging Minnesota residents who apply for a REAL ID to use an online registration tool before they visit their local driver’s license office.

“Applying for a REAL ID requires more documentation than Minnesotans are used to providing when renewing their standard driver’s license or ID card,” said Emma Corrie, director of driver and vehicle services for the Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety. “We know this can be confusing, and we don’t want people making multiple trips to an office to complete their REAL ID application.”

To date, only 9.7 percent of Minnesota driver’s license and ID card holders are REAL ID ready. That leaves a lot of Minnesotan’s potentially unable to fly after October 1, 2020 when every air traveler 18 years or older will need a REAL ID, enhanced driver’s license or ID, passport or passport card to fly within the United States or enter federal facilities.

A standard Minnesota driver’s license will not be accepted for air travel or other federal uses as of Oct. 1. A full list of the Transportation Security Administration’s acceptable forms of ID can be found here.

Renew before your expiration date!

Eligible Minnesota residents can apply for a REAL ID now. A fee will be added to the standard cost of the license or ID card depending on how early you renew.

  • $2 for a renewal up to 17 months before expiration
  • $4 for a renewal 18-29 months before expiration
  • $6 for a renewal more than 29 months before expiration

Don’t delay. Apply today! 

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The story of Ely the Eagle arrives at bookstores


There's always a story behind the story. In this case, it's all about how the animals came to be stacked atop one another on the sculpture that graces the entrance to MSP Airport's Minnesota State of Nice store.

Debra Cotterman, who was part of the team that opened the store and is now part owner of the Open Book and Words bookstores at MSP, couldn't stop thinking about it as the Open Book and its neighboring Minnesota State of Nice teams prepared to open in the Airport Mall three years ago.

"I woke up in the middle of the night and had this story about how all these animals ended up stacked on top of one another," said Debra. "First thing in the morning, after waking up, I jotted down a story outline and emailed it to everyone on the team, and they all said, 'We should make that into a book.'"

Three years later, "Ely Eagle Learns to Fly" debuted and is now featured front and center at all three stores at MSP. (For those not traveling through MSP, the book can be purchased online and at Irreverent Bookworm in Minneapolis and Winding Trail Books in St. Paul.)

It's a charming picture book that describes how the topmost animal, Ely the Eagle – with the help of her forest friends (all named for Minnesota cities) – embarks on her first flight to visit her grandmother. But themes in the book about friendship – and having the courage to fly – also include an autobiographical thread.

The book is dedicated to Debra's sons – Michael, 28, and Hogan, 25 – for whom she is "so proud of how you fly!" And to Carole Howe, the creative force and founder of CBR Partners, which owns the Minnesota State of Nice store along with Delaware North.

The animal sculpture was Carole's idea and she encouraged Debra to bring the story to life as well as mentoring her to become a partner, along with CBR Partners and Delaware North, in the two bookstores.

"It's been my lifelong dream to own a bookstore and here I am a partner in two," said Debra, who is a collector of children's books and an avid Harry Potter fan.

Concourse C food court and La Voya awarded for design

c food court

The accolades keep rolling in for the new concession offerings at MSP Airport.

The renovated Concourse C Food Court was recently recognized by the Minnesota Shopping Center Association’s 2019 Starr Awards.

The food court won for best “Design & Aesthetics Renovation/Remodel: Interior Retail under 8,000 square feet.”

The food court is home to a Starbucks, Smashburger and Chick-fil-A, nestled into a space inspired by Minnesota’s natural splendor. The space features sculptural trees, hanging lanterns, natural elements and intimate seating made to feel like “cabins” trimmed in flannel.

The food court was developed through a partnership between global restaurateur HMSHost – the company that manages and operates the restaurants in the food court -- and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, led by its Concessions and Business Development team.

“We’re excited to have this beautiful new space for travelers, and we were fortunate to have such strong coordination with HMSHost on this project,” said Liz Grzechowiak, the assistant director of the MAC’s concessions and business development group.

“We are thrilled to deliver the flavors and overall experience of these leading restaurants to people visiting MSP’s new food court. The new food court is a great opportunity for HMSHost to partner with the MAC on providing a place to relax and dine in a warm and inviting Minnesota-inspired space,” said Butch Howard, HMSHost senior director of operations at MSP.

la voya

Just down the road from the food court, the InterContinental Hotel got into the award act as well, as its La Voya restaurant won the Starr Award for “Interior Design: Full Service Restaurant.”


Located on the hotel’s ground level, La Voya offers dishes with local and French influences. The interior design includes a wall of windows, bathing the space in natural light, plush royal blue curtains and French-inspired furniture. While perfect for any time of day, the addition of candlelight and soft music creates a sophisticated evening experience that’s also proven popular.

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Tips for a smooth holiday passage through MSP


As the holiday rush begins, passenger traffic will again increase at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). Airlines expect the heaviest days to be between  Thursday, Dec. 19, and Wednesday, Dec. 25, as well as the weekend after Christmas, Dec. 27-29.

Check out these helpful tips for enjoying your airport experience.

And visit the Arts@MSP web page for a schedule of holiday music and dance performances.

Minimum fare for taxi rides in MSP Airport zone starts Jan. 1

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is implementing a minimum $21 zone fare for taxi rides, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.

The minimum zone fare of $21 applies to any taxi rides within MSP Airport’s property, as well as between MSP and Mall of America. Currently, a ride from Terminal 1 to the mall typically costs $19 to $21, depending where the rider chooses to be dropped off.

Regularly metered fares will be used for rides to all other locations.

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