Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in the five-state upper Midwestern region of Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is the sixteenth busiest airport in the world as measured by daily passenger traffic.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport straddles the southern border of the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis but is mostly located in the Fort Snelling vicinity. The terminal exits of the airport are minutes away from the Mall of America and careful flight pattern planning ensures that aircraft never fly over the mall at low altitude.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is a major hub for Northwest Airlines, Champion Air, Sun Country Airlines, and Northwest’s Airlink partners Mesaba Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines all of which except Pinnacle are headquartered nearby. Northwest accounts for more than 70% of the airport’s passenger traffic.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is operated by the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which also handles operation of six smaller airports in the region.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport first came into being when several local groups came together to take control of a former speedway, giving the airport its original name, Speedway Field. Soon after, in 1921, the airport was renamed Wold-Chamberlain Field for the World War I pilots Ernest Groves Wold and Cryus Foss Chamberlain. In 1994 the site was renamed to Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airport/Wold-Chamberlain Field, with “International” replacing “Metropolitan” four years later. Today, it is very rare to see the Wold-Chamberlain portion of the name used anywhere.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport has two terminals, both of which are named for famous Minnesotans; the Lindbergh Terminal (named for aviator Charles Lindbergh) and the much smaller Humphrey Terminal (named for former US Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey). Lindbergh Terminal officially has seven concourses, lettered A-G, with the Humphrey terminal labeled as Concourse H.
Like many other airports, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport interconnects with several other forms of transportation. The adjacent Transit Center has city and shuttle bus, taxi, light-rail and rental car service. Two trams are at the airport. One carries passengers from the main section of Lindbergh Terminal to the Hub Building, and another runs along the long Concourse C in that terminal.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is near Fort Snelling , the site of one of the earliest white settlements in the area. Both the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers flow nearby. Minnesota State Highway 5 provides the closest entrance to the Lindbergh Terminal, just a short distance from Interstate 494. The Humphrey Terminal is accessed via the 34th Avenue exit from I-494, which runs past Fort Snelling National Cemetary. Northwest Airlines has hangars arranged along I-494 and 34th Avenue, so it’s possible to see airliners undergoing maintenance while driving past.
The Hiawatha line light rail project has stops at both the Hub Building and Humphrey Terminal . It connects the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport with downtown Minneapolis as well as with the Mall of America, and operates as a shuttle service between the two airport terminals. Travelers can use the rail line to go between the two sites at all times of day – it is the only part of the line that operates continuously through the night (the rest shuts down for about four hours early in the morning). Passengers going between the two terminals may ride free of charge, but those riding beyond the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport grounds must pay a standard fare.
Northwest Airlines has expanded operations at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport over the years. In the past, Northwest and others have proposed moving out of Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport airport and building a new airport on the fringes of the Twin Cities metro area to handle large jets and international traffic. Minneapolis and other neighbouring cities were concerned that such a move would have a negative economic impact, so an arrangement was made where the Metropolitan Airports Commission would outfit many homes in the vicinity of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport with sound insulation and air conditioning so that indoor noise could be reduced.