MEA weekend travel rush nears for Minnesotans with school-age kids
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It could be the busiest week of the year at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and officials are urging travelers to plan ahead.
The annual state teachers union convention, known as MEA weekend, will bring lots of traffic, said airport spokesperson Melissa Scovronski.
"MEA is always one of the busiest times at MSP airport," she said. "In fact, it's as busy as, or sometimes busier than, some of the days during spring break here."
The teachers convention held during the third week of October is a fixture in Minnesota life. Because of the convention, public schools close on Thursday and Friday, creating a long weekend. Many private schools follow the same schedule. For many families with school-age children, it offers a chance for a mini-vacation.
Airport officials are expecting 40,000 or more travelers a day to go through security later this week. The airport has added additional K-9 security teams to help screen travelers, and automated screening bin equipment at the south checkpoint to help move lines along more quickly. Last winter, the airport added signs estimating wait times.
Travelers should heed the suggestion to arrive two hours early, and be prepared to park away from the airport and take a shuttle from their vehicle to the terminal, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday, Scovronski said.
Packing carefully to comply with size restrictions and the federal Transportation Safety Administration's liquids policy will help avoid delays, Scovronski said. Keeping laptops accessible and checking luggage when possible will also help travelers get through security more quickly, she added.
"Children under 12 can keep their shoes on and their light jackets on, so that's a good thing that will speed people through a little bit better," Scovronski said.
Construction is also ongoing at the airport, and Scovronski said people who drive in and out of the airport should expect to encounter lane closures and road work, particularly at Terminal 1.
Inside the terminals, the Metropolitan Airports Commission and the Science Museum of Minnesota are also teaming up to offer science demonstrations this week. Here's the schedule for the events:
• Monday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., near Gate H7 at Terminal 2
• Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., near Gate C12 at Terminal 1
• Thursday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., near Gate C12 at Terminal 1
Airport staff will also be handing out drawstring backpacks with giveaways and maps with science and airport highlights. Restaurants and shops will have special deals throughout the airport.
Tuesday afternoon will feature an attempt at the world donut stacking record at the airport's Angel Food Bakery and Donut Bar. That will start about 1 p.m. Tuesday, inside the north security checkpoint at Terminal 1. The airports commission said the previous record was 43.5 inches, set in 2007 for the British premiere of "The Simpsons Movie."
MEA stands for Minnesota Education Association, once the name of the state's largest teachers union. The state union is now called Education Minnesota, but generations of Minnesotans called it MEA weekend, and the initials remain firmly