MINNEAPOLIS — Anyone who's flown out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport's Terminal 2 early in the morning or over a holiday knows: The security checkpoint bottleneck can feel interminable, with lines stretching across the skybridge to the parking deck.
Now, there's an option to jump the line.
A pilot program that includes seven other U.S. airports has launched at MSP. Called MSP Reserve, it lets travelers who are flying out of Terminal 2 choose the time they wish to pass through security.
Passengers can make a reservation for their entire party — up to 10 people — as early as a week before their flight by visiting the airport's website. A QR confirmation code is sent to their phone, giving them access to a special lane and quick access to screeners.
Reservations can even be made at the airport by scanning QR codes throughout the terminal if time slots are available. The service is free.
"It will be a nice option for people who don't have TSA PreCheck or Clear," said Lynn Klonowski, a queue line agent at Terminal 2.
TSA PreCheck is the government-sponsored known-traveler program that for a fee provides passengers with expedited screening. Clear is a separate subscription service that uses biometrics to verify passengers' identities. The New York-based company is partnering with the airport to offer MSP Reserve.
MSP is the eighth U.S. airport to offer the service, joining such airports as Orlando, Miami, Seattle and Denver. At MSP, the pilot will run for the next 90 days only in Terminal 2, with slots available between 3:45 a.m. and 8 a.m.
About 4,000 travelers a day pass through Terminal 2 checkpoints during those hours, accounting for 40% of the terminal's total daily traffic. The goal of the program is to give passengers an incentive to arrive early and "take control of their journey from home to the gate," said Scott Skramstad, director of Terminal and Landside Operations for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which operates MSP.
Even passengers who don't use MSP Reserve can benefit. By spacing out travelers, those in the general lines won't have to wait as long, Skramstad said.
On its first day, three parties had booked reservations but only one was used. Airport officials said they expect usage to pick up as word gets out and the summer travel season gets underway.
Airport officials said they will evaluate demand and the reservation system's performance over the summer. If it's successful, it could be expanded to afternoon hours at Terminal 2.
"The aspiration is to bring it to Terminal 1," Skramstad said.
On Wednesday, the amenity was already getting praise from airport workers.
"At 6:45 a.m. when lines are long, that is when this will pay off," said Matt Michalski, manager of airport contracts for Innovative Handling Solutions, an airport contractor. "It will be a great program."
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