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MSP, also known as Wold-Chamberlain Field, opened on the site of a former speedway in 1923. Northwest Airlines began operations from Minneapolis a few years later, and soon became the airport's biggest tenant. In 1948, MSP became North America's principal air gateway to the Far East when Northwest began service to Japan and Korea via Alaska. Minneapolis is now the seventh-busiest airport in the world (by aircraft movements: it's #16 in terms of passengers), and NWA accounts for 80% of its 32 million passengers a year.

Northwest connects Minneapolis to most major cities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as to the Orient and to London. KLM flies to Schiphol, and Icelandair flies to Keflavik. All of the U.S. majors serve MSP as well. A few cheaper airlines, including AirTran, ATA, and Frontier Airlines, also fly there.

Minneapolis is one of my favorite airports for a number of reasons. One of its most unique features is a miniature shopping mall right in the terminal, which you're likely to pass through if you connect between flights. The layout of the terminal, with many moving walkways and shortcuts from pier to pier, makes it easy to get from one side of the airport to another. Aesthetically, the place is beautiful (a welcome contrast to Northwest's aging planes).

Although most air travelers don't appreciate it, MSP is a very well-managed airport. Even in the worst Minnesota winter conditions, flights usually run on time, a marked contrast to the comparably situated O'Hare hub. The IATA has given Minneapolis its Best Large Airport award year after year.

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