Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) airport opened a COVID-19 testing site on Thursday, Nov. 12, becoming the lastest major airport in the country with an onsite COVID testing option.
Airport officials first raised the prospect of setting up a testing site just weeks earlier but couldn’t provide a timeline to set up shop as they searched for a testing partner. By mid-November, the airport announced it had opened a testing site offering free saliva PCR tests to Minnesota residents. And it's not just for travelers flying out of Minnesota.
Watch our YouTube video and see what it's like for yourself.
The new airport testing site is located at Terminal 1 on Level 2 of the Blue Parking ramp, the former location of the car rental service counter. That’s located before airport security, which means you don’t need to be traveling in order to get tested at the airport. It’s one of several free community testing sites in Minnesota, providing results within 24-48 hours.
That timing may be tricky for travelers seeking a COVID-19 test before departing for a trip. Many destinations from the Caribbean to Croatia require a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. With test results that take up to 48 hours, travelers taking a test before boarding a plane could risk being forced into a mandatory quarantine at their destination until their results arrive.
“It’s really going to be up to the traveler to make sure that the tests are going to satisfy whatever the requirements are where they’re traveling to,” airport spokesman Jeff Lea said.
Tests are free for Minnesota residents – and though you may be asked to provide health insurance information, you don't need to provide health insurance to get tested for free. Visitors and travelers connecting through Minneapolis who wish to take a test will be charged $94.
Like all community testing sites across Minnesota, you can walk-up for a test or schedule your test in advance. The Minneapolis airport testing schedule shows wide-open availability to schedule an appointment next week. From our own experience and what we've heard from readers, walk-up appointments are easiest. The testing site is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
The airport testing site is run by Vault Health on behalf of the state, which is great news for Minnesotans looking to make their way to Hawaii. Vault Health is one of Hawaii’s few trusted partners for its testing requirements since restarting travel to the islands last month.
A Vault Health spokeswoman confirmed that one of these tests will satisfy Hawaii’s travel requirements so long as it’s taken no more than 72 hours before your final flight to Hawaii. If you don’t get your results in time, Hawaii requires you to quarantine until you can upload a negative result, at which point you can leave quarantine.
Our Experience with the Minneapolis Airport COVID Test
Our team has used the new airport testing site several times since it opened. And it's just as seamless as promised.
You can park at Terminal 1 and easily make your way to the testing site following the signs. Parking typically costs at least $5, but you'll go into a lane for free parking.
Over the course of two walk-in appointments, we never saw a line – though other Minnesotans have reported waits of about 30 minutes or so. The testing process itself is easy and takes just five minutes or so: You simply spit into a plastic tube and hand it over.
Within 48 hours, our team got their results. Just keep in mind that because of COVID-19's incubation periods, a single negative test does not guarantee you don't have COVID-19. Multiple tests mixed with some quarantining is the best way to ensure you don't unwittingly spread the virus to others.
Do I need to be flying in order to get a test? No, the airport testing site is located before airport security, which means anyone can access it.
Is it really free? Yes, but only if you're a Minnesota resident. Residents of other states will have to pay $94.
Do I need an appointment? No. While you can schedule an appointment online through Vault Health's scheduling platform, you can also walk in for a test. And in our experience, that is much faster and easier.
Can I get tested on a layover at the airport? Yes, but you'll have to exit the airport in order to get to the testing site, which means you'll have to reclear security.
Will this test work to enter Hawaii?Hawaii's entry requirements Yes, Vault Health has confirmed that these tests will satisfy – so long as your test is taken no more than 72 hours before your final flight to the islands departs.
When is the testing site open? It's open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., though it will be closed Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 for the holiday.
Where should I park? Park in the blue ramp at Terminal 1, which is clearly marked for COVID-19 testing. From there, simply follow the signs to the testing site.
Is there testing available at Terminal 2? No, not currently. You can take the free light rail from Terminal 2 over to Terminal 1.