msp: topping the list of airports i hate


I take back everything bad I said about Dulles and its "mobile lounges." After suffering through a change of planes at Northwest's hub in Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), I've placed that airport at the very top of my "must avoid at all costs" list.

It's a beautiful airport, actually. A stunning array of restaurants and shops, many of which are quite artistically executed, and most of which are well-targeted to travelers. (Lots of bookstores, gadget stores, even a "get it here, return it at the next airport" DVD rental place.)

But getting from point A to point B--which is what a hub, after all, is supposed to facilitate--was a huge f***ing pain in the a**. (Unseemly words obscured as part of a probably futile attempt to keep my site off the "banned list".)

MSP diagramI arrived at very end of terminal B, and had to transfer to a flight leaving from F14. This involved 20 full minutes of walking at a very brisk pace, aided by an endless stream of moving sidewalks. No shuttles from terminal to terminal--they're all connected. Which means you walk. And walk. And walk. And walk some more.

As I walked, I was treated to a view of a monorail-like conveyance outside the window, but there were no clues (in signage or on airport maps) as to where one might enter and exit said conveyance. So instead, I sullenly watched it zip past me a few times as I navigated the endless corridors to my destination.

Once I did arrive at the gate, I was delighted to see large signs proclaiming the availability of wireless access--just select the SSID "concourse," said the signs. But my Powerbook didn't think it was so easy. "There is an error joining the network 'concourse'," it told me. I tried turning off my airport card and turning it back on. No luck. I restarted my computer. Still no luck. The network taunts me from the menu, so close and yet so far. Uploading of the posts I've been churning out since I left my house will have to wait 'til I get to the hotel in Seattle.

I did manage to snag an exit row window seat with a little extra leg room. Unfortunately, it comes standard with a seatmate whose elbows are the most prominent part of his body, and who figured there was not much point in taking a shower before an early morning cross-country flight.

Did I mention that I'm really tired of traveling?


My sympathies. I have had to do that trek more times than I can count. My family is in MN and WI, so I usually end up flying through MSP to get to my mom's in Wisconsin. I have learned that it is sometimes worth skipping the tight connection between flights and booking the next flight to Wisconsin to avoid the mad frantic dash from one end of the airport to the other to try to catch my next flight. And the guys in the carts won't help you at all if you're not disabled or elderly, no matter how late your plane was coming in.

It's also horrid for those of us living in Minnesota -- driving to the airport and wending your way through all the Mall of America traffic and finding the right terminal is just a mess.

Hm, sounds a lot like the trip Jared and I took to Jacksonville in February. Chicago is a lovely airport to look at, but a real pain to get from one concourse to the next.

We made a similar track from one end of the airport way over to the other end. Mind you, it was a 45 minutes lay over. That was until we got to the other gate and 5 minutes before we were supposed to take off they announced a delay. Luckily, it didn't last that long and they decided they were going to board us.

What's the deal with Americans and walking? :-)Having to walk for 20 minutes or more seems to be the norm in all the large airports I've travelled through (Heathrow, Schiphol, Frankfurt, Newark to mention but a few). In fact, even getting around my small local airport (Oslo/Gardermoen) usually requires a quarter of an hours walk. Me, I enjoy the excercise transferring between gates offers. And if nothing else, walking briskly does reduce the danger of DVT syndrome.

Eirik, I love walking. I do not love trying to walk/run from one end of MSP to the other in ten minutes or less to catch my next flight because my first one came in late and at the complete other end of the airport and I have to get my other flight by getting on a shuttle bus that drives me out to the runway to the commuter jet so if I don't get there in time, I'll miss the bus to the plane because they don't have walkways to the plane like even the 5-gate airport I'm flying into manages to have.

After many trips like that through MSP, I finally wised up and voluntarily started scheduling longer layovers between my flights there. Then I happily walk leisurely to my gate without grumbles.

But I can't speak for anyone else. ;>

Fascinatingly, I also had a random encounter with this airport last week on my way to and from GDC, and found it equally repulsive. Hilarious to see it mentioned here without any communication on the subject. It actually reminded me (in layout) of a game level: its purpose is not to allow the quickest possible movement from A to B, but rather to trap the player within its confines for as long as possible. Wish I could rocket-jump in real life...




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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on March 28, 2004 3:16 PM.

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