Airports, Traveling, USA Travels, Wanderlust

How to lose $30 during a layover at Minneapolis–Saint Paul Airport

Waiting for our flight the right way!

My husband and I are lucky to be frequent (enough) leisure travelers, and in recent history we have had 3 separate layovers at the MSP airport. The first time was on our way to London Heathrow, and it was basically a disaster. So we’ll start there…

For some reason Delta thought it would be totally entertaining to allow us a generous 45 minute layover in-between flights, so when we arrived at Minneapolis-Saint Paul, our next flight was already boarding. Isn’t it fun to look at the clock and see that it’s 6:54pm and your connecting flight departs at 7:35pm? It doesn’t board at 7:35pm. It freaking leaves!! YAY!! Anyways, we apparently weren’t the only ones in this exciting situation, because the crew made an announcement that there were numerous people trying to connect on an international flight, and to please step aside to allow them off the jet first. To our surprise, people actually followed the advice of the crew.

The MSP half-marathon began at the far end of the C gates, and ended at the low G’s. As seen on the map (image courtesy of the airport people), these two gate locations are nowhere near each other, and so we had to make the difficult decision of which route to run in a crowded airport terminal environment. We chose the path we did, because of several blockages created by that type of passenger fool who has to stand around and block the boarding area around every other gate. Not that it matters, really. Like I said, these gates are nowhere near each other.

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So, we ran like hell. My husband is taller than me and has a longer stride, so I basically followed him through the terminal, while he cleared the way ahead. There were some others running with us but we lost them somewhere. One of those boarding area gate blocker assholes must have tackled them…

We were making that left turn to go down the other length of the terminal when I started feeling nauseous as well. I’m not a runner, so this type of physical exertion is quite uncomfortable to me. Or maybe it was the glass of wine I drank. Whatever. The point is I felt sick and wanted to throw up really badly in between gasps for oxygen. On the bright side, I didn’t though. I kept running and running until I could see “G4” on the horizon.

Then a small stray child intercepted me. My husband Dave had slowed down by now to get his boarding pass out, (we were so very close to the finish line), and he witnessed the collision. I saw a flash of a short human in rapid motion, out of the corner of my eye. Then suddenly a young child bounced off of me, and started crying and screaming hysterically… and, well, being confused, panicked, and still wanting to throw up, I kept running for “G4” like my pants were on fire.

Dave trailed behind me to ask me if I saw the kid. “Yes! I saw it, and it ran into me!”

“You just knocked over a kid!”

“It shouldn’t be running where I’m running!!”

And yes, for the record I felt sorry once I finally got to my seat, drenched in sweat, with wild eyes, and gagging –and started settling into my new home for the next 8 hours.

That was a fun layover.


Our second time passing through Minneapolis-Saint Paul, we had a quick connection as well, but we could walk calmly between the gates, as they were neighbors in the low D’s and low C’s. I had just enough time to see a Starbucks and think to myself “I wonder if I have time to get coffee at Starbucks.” Then they started boarding our flight.

Uneventful.


We saw MSP for the third time, this last weekend, and it was the best layover overall.

Why? Because they took our money in the most clever and efficient way possible. It was such a great way to generate revenue, that I actually enjoyed the experience of watching my money disappear. Here’s the story…

We finally had about an hour to kill in between our incoming flight from San Francisco, and the boarding time of our departing flight to Oklahoma City. As we made our way through the terminal, randomly rediscovering the spot where I collided with that child several months ago, we both decided we were hungry and should explore our food options. We were unsuccessful, but to our good fortune we arrived at our gate, still hungry, to find that they had combined the gate area with a restaurant.

You can now dine and drink in the airport without fear of having too much fun and forgetting why you’re there. You can watch your plane taxi and arrive at the gate. You can quietly observe the gate attendants looking bored. You can spy on your pilots as they walk up, each with one hand casually hiding in a jacket pocket. You can listen to the lovely sound of the dot matrix printers oozing out miles of paper. You no longer have to worry that the gate attendant will make an announcement that you can’t hear. Now they’re standing right there in front of you, and probably thinking to themselves, “damn, that guy is going to need a mint after all those garlic fries!”


This is how you order food while waiting for a flight.

The first step is that you find an empty seat somewhere. For us this wasn’t a problem. There were lots of seats to choose from.

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Next you poke around on this iPad until you find something tasty to eat.

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Please note that I took this photo after already eating a $14 winter green salad with chicken (at extra expense), with dressing on the side, and a lemon wedge. I also ordered a glass of wine, because it was just too easy to do so. Isn’t the app kind to suggest that I order a coffee or a tea though? I mean really. How kind and thoughtful. I appreciate their wording as well. Yes, I do care.

Basically, you order food and drink through the iPad, and a human comes over shortly thereafter with whatever you ordered. You can close out the check before or after they arrive, but I recommend doing so after you’ve received your order. I inadvertently closed mine out with a 15% tip, even though I hadn’t received my food yet. My husband was more intelligent during this process, and waited until his ahi tuna salad arrived to confirm his payment and finalize his tipping amount. Considering this dining experience involves very little personal interaction with another human, it was intriguing that I had to scroll just to tip 15%. Apparently being an anti-social server deserves a better tip? Whatever. It was just so much fun to order and suddenly have a glass of wine appear. I also had to scroll way down to the bottom of the list for the cheap person wine. Clever UI design my friends. I spent $30 in about 45 minutes, and it made me happy, though I can see this having a very negative impact on ones personal finances for layovers over an hour long.

This is Dave being equally impressed by the new “dine at your gate” feature.

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I’m going to wrap up this post by saying that because of our third experience, I really hope to see Minneapolis–Saint Paul Airport again soon. Hopefully for about an hour, but not like our connection to London… and I promise not to run over any more children.