MSP airport

Airport loos land top spot in America’s Best Restroom contest

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My “At the Airport” column in USA TODAY this month is all about airport bathrooms and celebrates the fact that Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport took first place this year in the annual contest to choose America’s best public restroom.

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The last time there was news about the stalls at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was in 2007 and the story centered about a senator and a sex sting.

But now MSP and its loos will get more respect.

The first batch of airport’s updated restrooms was named the 2016 winners in the 15th annual America’s Best Restroom Contest.

Hosted by Cintas, a Cincinnati-based company that cleans and provides supplies for public restrooms, the contest lets the public pick the winner from a set of 10 finalists and this MSP’s lavs were pitted against the likes of a Dr. Who-themed Tardis bathroom at a bar in Brooklyn, N.Y., a bookstore in St. Louis where the bathrooms are papered in classic books, and the restrooms at a Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA, (home of the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs) which feature a hands-free, motion-control urinal gaming system. (Scores get posted!)

The restrooms MSP entered in the contest are part of a terminal-wide restroom renovation plan that started in 2009 and will continue through 2025 and encompass more than 100 sets of public restrooms throughout the airport.

In addition to overhauling each restroom to stalls with out-swinging doors and niches for rolling luggage, baby changing stations and shallow trough sinks that minimize splashing, MSP created “restroom zones” throughout the airport.

Each zone has out-the-way where travel companions can wait and amenities such as flight information boards, AEDs and others emergency devices, water-bottle refill stations and curated art display cases.

Mosaic art with a Minnesota theme marks the entrance to each restroom, with each set created by a different regional artist.

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This isn’t the first time airport thrones have been in the running for the Best Restroom Contest crown.
Tampa International Airport’s renovated restrooms were among the finalists in 2013, losing out to the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis.

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And back in 2005, the loos at Fort Smith Regional Airport in Arkansas took first prize.

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(Read the full column – and see more photos here.)

Some options for workouts at airports

MSP Walkway workstation - photo by Robert Little

MSP Walkway workstation – photo by Robert Little

 

*This story is by Robert Little, a high school student who has been working with StuckatTheAirport.com on a variety of project this summer. Thanks, Robert, for all your help!

Most travelers don’t associate airports with exercise, beyond the dreaded run to catch a flight, but some airports are putting these two together. Wishing to help maximize travelers’ precious time, some airports are providing experiences that allow passengers to exercise, while at the same time hopefully ensuring their continued business.

We found two great examples:

Partnering with Minneapolis International Airport since April 2015, Kari Severson, CEO of Minneapolis start-up Walkway, wants to kick the habit of sitting; seeing it almost as the next taboo.

Severson’s Walkways are treadmills that can be bought or leased through a partnership with the company.

Travelers passing through Terminal 1 of MSP airport are offered two free of charge.

Passengers can simply walk up to one for 30 minutes sessions before or between flights. The machines are programmed not to go above five miles an hour, which ensures the traveler will not break a sweat,  but will still receive a beneficial workout.

While the user is working out they’re shown a short commercial, after which they get free charging of their mobile device and Wi-Fi access.

Walkway hopes to expand to more airports in the future and has already partnered with the American Diabetes Association and other Fortune 500 companies in the Minneapolis area.

For the traveler looking for a more comprehensive workout, GoodLife Fitness has a club at Toronto Pearson Airport in Terminal 1. The advantage to having it on the pre-security side is that more airport visitors are able to access it, but it does limit the number of those are willing to clear security again.

All GoodLife members with “all clubs access” are able to access the club everyone else can use the club by purchasing a $15 day pass.

In addition to wide variety of cardo machines and free weights, the 10,000 sq. workout facility at Pearson Airport offers features that make it easy to work out, including luggage storage, showers and clothing and shoe rentals.

Toronto Pearson also boasts other health benefits for travelers, including two massage studios, (one in Terminal 1 and another in Terminal 3), as well as a walk-in clinic and pharmacy.

An even simpler option for the passenger just connecting to another gate are various walking paths in airports.

The American Heart Association has created a list of airports and the provided distances. Airports to look out for include Dallas/Fort Worth (1 ¾ mile), Indianapolis (~2 mile), Minneapolis (1.4 mile), Cleveland (1 ½ mile), and St. Louis (1 ½ mile).

 

MSP claims 1st airport chiropractic clinic

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Traveling puts a lot of stress on bodies and spas offering relaxing massages are now a welcome amenity at many airports.

But Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport now has a new service for aching muscles, sore backs and cricked necks: an in-airport chiropractic clinic.

The Chiroport (get it?), on Concourse C, near Gate 12, opened in April 2016 and offers walk-up service – although you can text “chiromsp” at 612-294-7739 and find out how long you’d need to wait to be seen.

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The cost for an exam, muscle work and a full spine adjustment is $39. Insurance is not accepted, but customers may use HSA and SFA savings accounts or a major credit card to pay.

Art of Food exhibit at MSP Int’l Airport

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A new exhibit at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is all about the foods and branded edible items that hail from Minnesota and show up on plates around the world.

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Some of the Minnesota-based brands in the exhibit include General Mills Inc.
Land O Lakes Inc, Hormel Foods, RyKrisp and Summit Brewing Company and, in addition to food items, the exhibit includes reels of vintage commercials and their familiar jingles.

The exhibit opened at the end of April and will run through November 15, 2016 in the art gallery near Gate 12.

So far, “the response has been amazing,” said Robyne Robinson, Arts & Culture Director of the MSP Airport Foundation, “It strikes a chord with travelers – They burst into the Spam song from the 1970’s Monty Python sketch, or playfully spar over which cereal was best – Cheerios or Lucky Charms.”

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Photos courtesy MSP Airport and and the Minnesota Historical Society

Geek squad on duty at MSP Airport

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Best Buy’s Geek Squad will be on duty at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from Monday December 14 through Sunday December 20 offering free technology advice, charging stations, product demos and complimentary device setup on purchases from in-terminal Best Buy Express Kiosks.

The Geek Squad “Pop-Up Tech Experience” will also include tablets and desktop workstations for going online and offer activities for kids.

The Geek Squad will also be distributing more than 20,000 giveaway items, including gift cards (of up to $100) for Geek Squad in-home services, Geek Squad service discounts, Best Buy gift cards, device sanitation wipes and other travel-themed gifts.