Find yourself fortunate enough to be attending Super Bowl LII? Whether you're a fan of the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, the NFL, or just spectacles in general, we wish we could be there as well. The cost for us to attend a Super Bowl would involve deferring a lot of rental cars, racing experiences, concert tickets, and RV purchases, so we probably won't be at a Super Bowl until some commercially undesirable matchup arises. And while we won't be there in person, we're well aware of the guidance proposed by the Metropolitan Airports Commission for individuals leaving Minneapolis the day after the Super Bowl. Their guidance is not amusing for the flyer/renter that day but might also provide some nice takeaways for other major events that tax airport capacity (like the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, and other "at least once-in-a-lifetime" activities).

We would have to sell our beautiful houses to attend the Super Bowl.

The part that's related to rental car users? The airport authority is recommending Super Bowl attendees with flights Monday follow a 5-4-3-2-1 rule. Think 3-1-1 is bad when clearing security with liquids? While we ordinarily like flying through MSP, the guidance for Monday just seems phenomenally unpleasant.

  • 5 -- Leave your hotel 5 hours before the flight,
  • 4 -- Return the rental car 4 hours before the flight,
  • 3 -- Check in at least 3 hours before the flight,
  • 2 -- Clear security 2 hours before the flight, and
  • 1 -- Be at the gate 1 hour before the flight

Booked that 6 a.m. flight because it was comparatively cheap after the remainder of the trip's expenses? Verily, Monday might be one of those "why do I even need a hotel" mornings. The airport believes their rental car return process will create a bottleneck despite admitting previous Super Bowl hosts haven't really seen increased rental volumes. And we would hope that AutoSlash users -- many of whom are frequent travelers -- take some shortcuts that help alleviate the pain of heading to the airport five hours before departure. 

Our Take

Flying out after a major event? We face that problem every year and start by using alternative airports, where flights, hotels, and rental cars are cheaper (such as flying into Kansas City instead of Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting). A little too late for alternative airports? Online check-in, carry-on bags, PreCheck, and access to one of the Terminal 1 lounges or Armed Forces Service Center might help ease the pain (if not capacity restricted) -- focus on avoiding queues. Flying out of Terminal 2 (Humphrey)? There's sadly no airline lounge or Armed Forces Center available.

The airport's going to be crowded if flyers follow the given advice -- tell folks to arrive 4 hours early while expecting twice the everyday number of passengers and one inadvertently manufactures an overcrowding problem. Twice as many people staying in the airport terminals twice as long as normal means each limited resource gets used four times as much as ordinary. So while Monday at the airport might only be a fantastic day for airport concessionaires selling noise-canceling headphones and fans of the winning team, remember one thing -- we're still going to be envious of our fellow travelers who got to attend the Super Bowl!

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