Travel Scene: Passenger numbers soar at Rochester, Twin Cities airports

Travel Scene: Passenger numbers soar at Rochester, Twin Cities airports

Both Rochester International Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport enjoyed banner years in 2017, final yearly passenger totals show.

At RST, passenger numbers soared by some 60,000 to a total of 290,834, reflecting a 27 percent gain over the previous year’s total of 229,062. Last year’s total was the highest in years, eclipsing the 2015 total of 231,965.

Meanwhile, at Minneapolis-St. Paul International, more than 38 million people flew in and out of the airport to break a record that held for more than 10 years. The previous record of 37.5 million people was set in 2005.

In Rochester, the higher numbers reflect several factors, including an increase in service — United Airlines inaugurated three flights daily between RST and Chicago’s O’Hare, and Delta upgraded its schedule — plus Mayo Clinic changed its policy to require its employees flying for work to use RST rather than MSP.

In addition, the airport has employed an extensive “Fly Local” campaign among business and industry firms here and in the area.

The months ahead in 2018 should be noteworthy for both airports as well.

RST is in the final stages of a $12 million, 12-month terminal construction project that began in April 2017.

The project is resulting in an “enhanced customer service experience,” say airport authorities, and it involves such changes as centralized ticketing counters, a consolidated baggage claim, additional restrooms, expansion of the TSA checkpoint area and relocating stairs in the main lobby.

Also, U.S. Customs, which serves as a port of entry and processes passengers from more than 100 countries, has been expanded.

At Minneapolis-St. Paul International, 2018 started off very busy with the airport setting a one-day record for passenger traffic with 60,883 on Feb. 5, as throngs of Super Bowl visitors headed home, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.

MSP has experienced steady growth the past few years, and the major carriers there are Delta Airlines and Sun Country. Eight airlines have launched service from MSP since 2008, and in May, Jet Blue will become the ninth, with daily services to Boston.

Here and there

Orlando, Fla., and Cancun, Mexico, again are the most popular domestic and international destinations for spring breakers, reports Allianz Global Assistance, a leading travel insurance provider. The spring break season is the time between March 23 and April 16 and consists of travel between five and eight days in length.

Orlando was followed in popularity by Phoenix, Honolulu, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Las Vegas and Fort Myers, Fla.

Internationally, the top three destinations are in Mexico, with Cancun leading, then San Jose De Cabo and Puerto Vallarta.