Since I’m relatively new here, as a bit an introduction, I figured I would blog about something very familiar to me, but likely not so to many of you. I’m talking about my home airport, Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport (MKE). While it is considered in what’s considered flyover country for some, its actually a nice little airport, and maybe a place to connect for people flying Frontier or AirTran who both have hubs there. MKE manages to deal with snow emergencies quite well, much better than O’Hare, which is only 70 miles away. It certainly helps being smaller and not teetering on the edge of capacity like ORD is on a good weather day.
MKE has 3 concourses, C, D, and E. E is for Delta, some charters, and for a little while longer, Continental Express. D is for Frontier, Great Lakes, and Southwest, and C is everything else; Air Canada Jazz, Airtran, American Eagle, United Express, US Airways. There is a Delta Sky Club in the E concourse and a Frontier club in D. The Sky Club is behind security, but is accessible with a members even if you aren’t flying on Delta that day, but would require an extra trip through security. Each concourse has separate security, and there is no airside connection between them. Each concourse has elite security lines, and C and D have full body scanners (nude-o-scopes) alongside metal detectors. Being a relatively small airport, security lines are rarely more than a 10 minute wait except for the travel rush hours, early Monday mornings, etc. There are elite lines at each concourse. I’m typically at concourse C, and most often any delay more than 5 minutes is due to the fact that the scanners are in use, which causes a big backlog even with a relatively small number of people using the checkpoint.
A view of the most recently renovated terminal C
Food wise, the airport has changed over many of the vendors in the past few years. Each concourse and the main terminal have at least some local options. My personal favorite is Milwaukee’s own Alterra Coffee Roasters, with stands in C, D, and the main terminal. There are of course the typical airport chains available as well, including Starbucks, Chili’s and the like. Probably the best restaurant is Nonna Bartolotta’s, but that is behind security in concourse D. They offer fresh Italian food. As always in airports, and appropriate in Wisconsin, there are lots of options for alcoholic beverages on both sides of security.
Rental cars counters are located in the parking garage, a short walk from the main terminal via a walkway that runs between the main terminal to level 3 of the garage. Parking is $12/day in the main garage. Remote lots are also available for $5/day. These are accessible by shuttle, but there is no protection from weather. Adjacent to the remote parking is an Amtrak station for Hiawatha service between downtown Milwaukee and Union Station in Chicago.
In case of a long layover, the main terminal is probably your best bet. There is a sit down restaurant, an excellent used bookstore, Rennisance Books, and a museum of Milwaukee aviation history with exhibits featuring the airport’s namesake, Billy Mitchell and Astronaut James Lovell. For a souvenir with local flavor, Cheesehead hats, cheese curds, and other Wisconsin memorabilia is available, as is a store selling only Harley-Davidson gear. Another entertainment option is to listen to some live music, as there is a piano in the center of the terminal, which is often being played by local musicians. There is also a bank of TV monitors with radar information on weather and inbound flights which is a good way to know when your plane will really be arriving.
If anyone happens to come through MKE , drop me an email. I can give you more personalized advice if you like. Also, if you are coming through around July 4, be sure to plan a stopover to check out Summerfest, a great 11-day music festival.
Photo credits: mitchellairport.com