A story about trying to leave the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport [MSP] to get to an important family event an hour and a half drive south of Birmingham, Alabama [BHM], via a connecting flight in Atlanta [ATL] on a day that was impacted by the lingering effects of a thunderstorms and flooding in Atlanta, which caused over 3,000 flights to be canceled during a several day period with ripple effects for travelers across the country. No, I never got there.
1. MSP has a space for travelers called The Quiet Room. It is not actually quiet.
To find The Quiet Room, go to the Delta Sky Club entrance in the main terminal (near F & G Concourses) and take the adjacent elevator (or stairs) to the upper level. Off the elevator, go right and The Quiet Room will be on your right. It's nestled amidst the airport's offices and is a long, narrow, open-air balcony overlooking the main terminal. This is why it's not actually quiet. You can hear everything going on in the main terminal, but they pipe in harp music and it's definitely quiet-er than the lower lever. Plus it has comfy chairs and lots of plugs for electronic devices. It was nearly empty when I got there, but there were signs that many stranded travelers had slept there overnight. The sign says the room is for travelers only but airport staff seem to use it for making personal calls so you get to hear what they talk about that they don't want their co-workers to know.
2. There is only one Place in MSP that serves breakfast all day: Champions GrilLE.
Champions Grille is run by Ike's and is in the space directly above Ike's restaurant. A bit of a hidden gem. If you are facing the host stand at Ike's, go to the left instead of right and you will find an elevator just inside the restaurant that will take you to Champions. Alternatively, you can take the wide staircase that's outside the restaurant, adjacent to it, if you don't have heavy luggage or if you do have heavy luggage but like carrying luggage up staircases. Champions only has two breakfast options after 10:30 a.m. but if you have your heart set on eggs and no one else is serving them, two options will work just fine. There's steak and eggs or the All American Breakfast (2 eggs any style, hash browns, bacon and toast). I had the latter (eggs over medium) and thought the quality was pretty darn decent for an airport restaurant. Friendly service, as well.
Like The Quiet Room, Champions Grille is on the magical upper level of the airport. When I say magical, mostly I just mean "an area I never knew existed before." Also of note, Champions seems to be a golf-themed restaurant. They sell golf bags, golf goods of all kinds, PGA stuff, Ryder cup stuff, and every TV screen in the place is tuned to a golf channel. Not sure if that's simply because the Masters was on yesterday. If you like golf, this is a huge plus. If you don't like golf, it's still a good spot because it's way less crowded than any of the main level restaurants. And also, Breakfast.
3. Even on days where almost everyone in the airport is impacted by huge delays, a large majority of people will still smile back at you if you smile at them.
4. The earliest plastic bottles ever made (1947) are still approximately 380 years away from biodegrading.
5. Delta Airlines will not serve alcohol to people in the economy cabin while The plane is still on the ground.
6. Getting the best parking spot in the airport ramp that you've ever gotten is not a guarantee that your day will go well.
7. When you call your mama while walking to a gate with an alternate flight to see if you can get on, knowing you probably can't, your voice will break a little with emotion.
8. There are a lot of GOOD people in the world.
Seriously, I am not joking when I say that. On one of the most backlogged travel days ever, I met the nicest people, all of whom were stranded or way laid to one degree or another. Thank you "Lady Going to Nicaragua" for your gentle calmness. Your attitude inspired me. Nice to meet you "Older Couple Trying to Get to Tallahassee." I had run out of things to do to help nudge my own travel forward and was too fidgety to read so was grateful for the distraction of looking up your connecting flights for you on my Flight Aware app. Appreciated the heads up, "Guy in Row Ahead of Me," for letting me know Hertz in ATL had run out of rental cars saving me from potentially using that as a back-up strategy for getting to my final destination. And even "Delta Flight Crew Who'd Been As Delayed As the Rest of Us" impressed me. I don't know how on earth you all maintained such a warm and understanding attitude.
9. Having a seatmate with a good sense of humor helps when, after 6 hours delay, you've finally boarded, only to find out your plane actually has no pilot.
In the nice people category, biggest thanks of all goes to my seatmate, "Guy Who Called His Husband Regularly to Give Him Travel Updates (Very Thoughtful) Who Dresses Like A Hip City Guy But Says He's A Country Boy at Heart Whose Mama Taught Him So Well That He Cleaned Up Every Peanut He Accidentally Spilled When He Checked His Apple Watch Notifications And Who Had Been Up Since 4 a.m. But Who Genuinely Seemed to Care That I Was Potentially Going to Miss An Event That Meant A Lot to Me." When we had to deplane at the 8-hour delay mark (see #10), you looked at me and said, "Go home. You're not going to get there tonight. Your mama and your family will understand," and I appreciated your honesty and knew you were right. I saw that our plane did eventually get off the ground and I knew you'd know the empty seat meant I valued your advice. I hope your hour and a half drive home from ATL went safely.
10. If you get a new pilot, but your co-pilot's on-duty time Expires, Your plane will not take off, even if you have already taxi'ed out to the runway.
11. With World news constantly on airport tv MONITORS, you can't possibly lose sight of the fact that there are FAR worse problems than EVEN THE WORST TRAVEL SNAFUS.
12. A man who has a glass of wine waiting for you when you get home, who happily makes you a dinner plate and refills your glass as needed, listening to your troubles all the while, is a silver lining in a shitty travel day.
The events narrated here are just my personal experience, not fact checked but I do not believe contain any alternative facts, and are reported to the best of my abilities. It was just one travel day that didn't go well out of many that have gone flawlessly. May your travels be smooth. And if they are not, I hope you find some nice people and a silver lining. Godspeed.