MARILYN HAGERTY: Happy holidays; may your travel hassles be light

They want $20 to check your bag. They let you park sometimes it seems 20 miles from your gate when you get into Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. They stack you into airplanes with little leg room and people tilting seats back in your lap. There are ...

They want $20 to check your bag. They let you park sometimes it seems 20 miles from your gate when you get into Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. They stack you into airplanes with little leg room and people tilting seats back in your lap. There are delays. If you can't make your flight because of illness, you probably won't get a refund. At least that's what happened to a friend who couldn't make her scheduled trip to Arizona last winter.

Welcome to the season for holiday travel.

I have long believed that when we die, we will first go to the airport in the Twin Cities. From there, we will get our orders for our next stop.

Even in life, and especially during the holidays, most of us in this area deal with Minneapolis when we fly.

To get there, we first have to deal with Grand Forks International Airport. I like it because it's easy. You can breeze through security without waiting in a long line. Still, there are things a person should know about Grand Forks International Airport. You have to clear GFK before you can worry about MSP.


Right now, there are five flights in and out of here on Delta Airlines every day. There are a couple of flights in and out of here weekly on Allegiant Airlines at low rates to Las Vegas.

Travel out of the Grand Forks airport is easy, and it can even be good. It's better than it used to be.

For one thing, there's a visitor-friendly free parking lot about 32 steps from the entrance to the terminal. There's a convenience store area connected to Cross Winds, the restaurant in the airport. There, early and late, you can find freshly baked pies and rolls. And there is full service in the restaurant from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day.

There are homemade soups made in the facility, which has been operated by Shirley Elder for 30 years. And Jan Bratvold, whom you often meet at the counter, has been on the job 22 years.

You can park your car out there for $6.50 for 24 hours. There is some economy parking for $1 an hour. It works pretty well, except when there is a rush of people paying inside the terminal. Then, one person on the job is hardly enough, but the people who lined up after an Allegiant flight from Las Vegas last Sunday morning seemed to be quite calm about it. The sign says you have 20 minutes to activate your ticket to depart the parking lot. So, it might be wise to get your luggage before you pay up.

And when it comes to luggage -- the less the better. I think on my next excursion, I will carry a minimum of clothing in a small bag. You know, the old black routine. You can carry an extra blouse or shirt. At the very least, I would remember to check my bag online before going to the airport because it saves you $5. And that's enough for a latte at least in the next airport.

On the plane, most people know you get very little these days. But on recent Delta flights, I was served a beverage and two 70-calorie packets of peanuts for free. And between Minneapolis and Denver, another snack and a beverage. If you want anything more, you can purchase for $14 a snack pack that has a lot of overly salted and processed items in it. My game plan is to use up the eggs in the refrigerator making egg salad sandwiches to carry with me.

I can sit there in Minneapolis-St.Paul and eat a good homemade sandwich without laying out a big bill for a sandwich not half as good.


Airline employees say the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the single highest passenger day of the year. The days leading up to Christmas are heavy, but not as concentrated as Thanksgiving. And this year, the jury is still out on the amount of air travel there will be. The forecast generally is for lighter loads on airplanes than in previous years.

Because of new regulations, I have found the airlines are paying careful attention to your first name or initials to make sure they match the names on your boarding pass. It is well to always use the same first name and middle name or the same name and initials on all documents.

Most people know before they go that they shouldn't wrap Christmas gifts because they may need to be unwrapped for instruction. It's a good idea to tie colored ribbon or use other markings to quickly identify your bag. And you should know your rights. The airline is responsible for meals and hotel costs if your flight is canceled for a mechanical or scheduling problem, but not for weather problems.

To me, it's rather disgusting to see what some people wear for travel. They look like unmade beds. But nowhere is it written that you must show up in your Sunday best. I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Reach Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.

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