Another look at airport signs

Few controversies — real or imagined — have died as quickly as the one over new airport signs on roadways leading to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

Critics jumped on a plan to replace the Humphrey and Lindbergh terminal signs with signs telling people which terminal — renamed Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 — hosted which airlines. But once the signs went up, the controversy ended.

Why? They made much more sense than the previous signs.


The only criticism we’ve heard is that if you miss the first sign, you might think the second one for Terminal 1 is the first sign, in which case you’d probably wonder where to go for your Delta flight. Ask me how I know.


But a logical person would figure it out by the time the third sign came along (the one for Terminal 2, if you’re traveling westbound on I-494). If your airline isn’t listed there, it must be at Terminal 1.


Compare to the old sign…

  • Terminal 1 and 2 are no more helpful though than Lindbergh and Humphrey, it’s the addition of the airlines to the signs that make them more clear. They could have kept the Terminal names.

  • vjacobsen

    I drove to the airport late Monday night to pick someone up, and I completely agree with Moe. Yes, the signs are MUCH clearer, but renaming the terminals has nothing to do with that.

  • doughhead

    I am posting this under an alias (or is it a description?) cuz I’m embarrassed to admit it.

    But, even after living in the metro for 20+ years and flying out of both terminals several times, I mixed up the terminals.

    A few months ago I was flying a small airline I’d not flown before, and as I was booking this was on the screen “NOTE – this airline flies out of the Lindbergh Terminal”. I read that and said to myself – “oh good, it’s telling me to go to the charter terminal and not the main one. it’s such a small airline, that makes sense it’s going out of the charter terminal.” never once remembering that humphrey=charter and lindbergh=main. however, if the note on the screen had said Terminal 1, I would have known that was the main terminal.

    so, imho not only are the signs better, renaming the terminals is good too.

    ps – if you remember, the issue (was with spending the money on the highway signs, so the fact the signs are better is very relevant.)

    pps – luckily the person that dropped me off wasn’t yet too far away to turn around, pick me up and drop me at the correct airport in time for my flight.

  • vjacobsen

    Fine, doughhead, I see your point about names, and….I agree. I get it now. I’ve had the same issue, I guess I’m so used to having to over-think which name goes with which terminal it had been a non-issue to me. But you’re right that numbering them makes it more clear which terminal is the main one.

    Thank you for changing my mind! I feel better now about all the money dropped on new signs..

  • doughhead

    oh, vjacobsen, you just made every internet commentators dream come true for me! not only did I change your mind, but you responded and told me I did. life is bliss.

    (I know this sounds like sarcasm, but I am serious.)

    Thank you!!

  • Unfortunately, the fact that got lost amid all the controversy about the signs is that referring to the terminals by number rather than historic name was a necessary step to win state and federal highway regulators’ approval to post the airline names on the highway. Highway officials were concerned about the amount of information on the signs, so MAC offered to split the Terminal 1-Lindbergh airlines between two signs and to list the terminals only by number. That way, drivers can quickly scan the signs for the information they need rather than slowing down to read them, possibly creating a traffic hazard.

    The real goal from the outset, though, was to get the airline names listed by terminal on the highways, where people must make a decision as to which terminal and exit they need. Listing the terminal by number was simply a means to get to that end. Elsewhere, the terminals are listed both by their historic name and numeric designation: Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey.