Tips for navigating Metro Airport Thanksgiving week

Over the river and through the woods -- Michigan's holiday travel period begins Wednesday.

About 1.5 million Michiganders will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving holiday, the most since 2007, according to AAA Michigan. Gas prices also are cheaper than last year.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period this year is Nov. 23-27. The most popular travel dates are the Wednesday before the holiday and the Sunday after the holiday.

Meanwhile, at Detroit Metro Airport, it's going to be a Supremely good holiday.

Just in time for Thanksgiving travel, the airport in Romulus has swapped out the constant zen-like mood music in the underground light tunnel between Concourse A and B/C at the McNamara Terminal, adding a rotation of tunes by the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations and other beloved Motown artists.

Travelers can dance their way through the 700-foot psychedelic tunnel as the colors change on the wall, coordinated to the sound. Both airport staff and Delta Air Lines worked on the project. The production was created by Luminative Design LLC.

The groovy tunnel is one of the most famous features at Metro Airport. It features moving walkways and banks of glass panels created by Foxfire Glass in Pontiac. Behind the glass are 9,000 feet of LED lights, which are synchronized and change colors — purple, red, green, yellow — with the music. Motown songs are in addition to holiday tunes and the mood music that also will play, said Erica Donerson, airport spokeswoman.

Travelers also will notice other changes at the airport as they travel over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays:

♦ New interactive directories in eight languages that help travelers find shops and restaurants and get to their gates at the mile-long McNamara terminal. Scan your boarding pass and it will show you how to get to your gate.

♦ Busier gates. Detroit Metro is expecting that 2016 will end up as the busiest year at the airport since 2008, said Joseph Nardone, interim airport authority CEO. New airport runway infrastructure built this year has also helped speed up arrivals and departures. The airport has also added several new routes, including nonstop flights to Munich.

♦ A recently opened Freedom Center military lounge at the North Terminal, open to military members and veterans. It's at Gate D-17. The Freedom Center at the McNamara Terminal is at Gate A-43.

♦ A new Service Animal relief area at D-17 in the North Terminal (other service animal stations are outside the North Terminal, gate A-34 at the McNamara Terminal, and at international arrivals at McNamara.)

♦ A new Be Relax Spa at the McNamara Terminal, as well as a new Chili's and Papa Joe's Market.

♦ Faster free Wi-Fi, airport-wide.

The airport's tips for holiday travelers are the same as in previous years: vehicles can't park or stand at curbs in front of the terminal unless you are actively loading or unloading a passenger. Arrive early, especially if you don't fly very often or are traveling with a family or group. Don't wrap gifts: security might need to unwrap them.

More Metro Airport tips

Parking: Airlines Parking (www.airlinesparking.com), U.S. Park (www.us-park.com) and Qwik Park (www.qwikpark.com) all have online coupons for $11 a day. Park-n-Go lot $9.50 per day.  Big discount for AAA or AARP cards. On airport grounds, the Green Lot is $11 a day; the Big Blue Deck long-term parking is $13 a day, and the McNamara Terminal long-term parking is $23 a day. For parking lot status, call 800-642-1978, extension 3.

Picking up passengers: At the North Terminal, drive past the arrivals level bottleneck at the near doors to pick up your party at the far end of the terminal. At McNamara, if arrivals level is crowded, pick up your party one level down at International Arrivals. The airport also has two cell phone waiting lots. 

Disabled passengers: Call your airline ahead of time and a wheelchair will be ready for you. Flying out? Look for "Wheelchair Assistance" signs on the departures level of the McNamara and North terminals. For disability questions about airport security, call TSA Cares at 855-787-2227.

(2016 © Detroit Free Press)


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