Life Hacks for the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport
Spring break is fast approaching, and that means TRIPS to places that sometimes require a boarding pass. I’m from Boston and fly home on a somewhat regular basis, so thought I would share some of the tips I’ve learned to simplify the flying experience:
Take an uberX
Now, I know this scenario will not apply to everyone based on where you live: but I can almost 100 percent guarantee that it is cheaper to take an uberX to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (MSP) than it is to cab. Me for example: I live in Uptown, and an uberX to the airport costs approximately $17. But due to laws and restrictions, uberX is geo-blocked from picking up at the airports, forcing you take a Minneapolis cab back home. My last trip to Uptown from the airport was $72. That’s not just cause for concern, it’s downright criminal. I sign daily petitions to get the uberX pickup ban lifted from the MSP Airport, but until that day, I highly suggest taking a cab the least distance as possible to the nearby Hilton or even the Mall of America. From there, you can summon an uberX. Sure, going that route can be a little more time-consuming, but at a cost savings of $60 (or more), it's well worth it. [Another option is taking the blue line or green line light rail from St. Paul or Minneapolis to the airport.]
Sign up for TSA Precheck
I used to give people the death-stare when they would jovially enter the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Precheck line, seeming like they didn't have a care in the world. Did they think they were better than me? The truth is: TSA Precheck is available to everyone and anyone, and it’s way easier than you would imagine. For a mere $85 you will get a Known Traveler Number (KTN) that is good for TSA PreCheck benefits for five years. You can make an appointment online, pay an application fee, and visit an enrollment center (there are several in the metro area) to register for TSA Precheck. With that investment, you, too, can gracefully glide past security without removing your shoes, laptops, and liquids. The most painful part of the process was waiting a whole nine days between my appointment and when they emailed me my KTN. If you fly even twice a year, I highly recommend registering for TSA Precheck. You will not regret it.
Rule No. 1—avoid checking a bag entirely. Sometimes, though, you are forced to check a bag. Case in point: when your East Coast family asks you to bring home as many Surly bottles as you can safely pack in your suitcase (*not condoned or technically legal…). When you must check a bag, it is always cheaper to pay a checked-bag fee online before you get to the airport, rather than at the gate, regardless of the airline. Save even more time by dropping your bag off at the curb. As long as you have your boarding pass printed —or even better, on your phone—the airline will take your bag outside so you can avoid the usually horrendous line inside.
Don’t be afraid to fly Sun Country
Here in Minnesota, it seems like most people support the “buy local” movement. So why not apply this mentality to flights? Sun Country Airlines is your neighborhood airline, based out of Mendota Heights. They fly nonstop to Seattle, Boston, DC, Los Angeles, and many other cool large cities. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by the low prices and the friendly staff, almost as if my mom herself was taking care of me on my flight. And it’s not a discount airline like Frontier or Spirit, where they charge you for carry-ons and basic amenities like a glass of water. It’s simply a budget-friendly airline that happens to serve $5 cheeseburgers on board from the Lions Tap (mmm ... that secret, famous seasoning). What’s not to love?
Hopefully you'll remember one (or all!) of these tips the next time you fly so that you can stress less at the airport and concentrate on the fun you'll have once you arrive at your destination.