Here is 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. Nowadays, the largest carrier isSouthwest, and the majors have flights to hubs with a few exceptions. There are a few charter carriers as well with flights to warm weather destinations.
Post updated January 2019
Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport
MKE airport markets itself to travelers in northern Illinois as an easier alternative to O’Hare, or even Midway. The smaller airport is certainly easier to deal with most of the time. 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 was the long time home of Northwest and occasionally some other carriers. Now it is closed, with eventual plans to become an expanded international arrival facility. Currently there is a separate International Arrival Building.
Concourse D is home to Alaska, American, Delta and Frontier. There are also seasonal flights to Guadalajara on Volaris, and various charters to warm weather destinations from this concourse. There is a Delta Sky Club here that took over the space of the Midwest Airlines club.
Concourse C is home to Southwest, United and Air Canada Express. Southwest is over 40% of the market share, so Concourse E can be busy.
Each concourse has separate security, and there is no airside connection between them. Each concourse has elite security lines, and Pre-Check, that is open during most hours of airport operations. 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. I’ve only rarely had more than a handful of people in front of me in Pre-Check lines.
Destinations from Milwaukee
Besides the domestic services, there are also international flights. Air Canada Express flies twice a day to Toronto, and there are seasonal flights to warm weather destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Services in the airport
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. 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, 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. And fresh cheese (and annoyingly, foam cheesehead hats) are available on both sides of security. Those who love New Glarus Spotted Cow can get their fix to take home in both airside terminals. Beer and cheese…go Wisconsin.
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. Daily parking is $14/day in the main garage. There is an hourly lot for $2/hour, but the first 30 minutes are free. Remote parking lots are also available for $6/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, Renaissance Books, and the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, an excellent showcase of Milwaukee aviation history. This includes extensive exhibits featuring the airport’s namesake, Billy Mitchell and another local boy, Astronaut James Lovell. Milwaukee is also the home to Harley-Davidson, and a store is available for your souvenir needs. 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, let me know and I’ll try to provide 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