clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What You Need to Know About Eating, Drinking, and Flying Through Michigan Airports During the Pandemic

Yes, some restaurants are open at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) right now, but only for takeout, and the CDC is recommending people don’t travel at all

People pass through a tunnel at DTW that’s filled with purple light.
Remember to wear a mask.
Wayne County Airport Authority/Vito Palmisano

Under normal circumstances, Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) seems to defy the odds with its relatively pleasant, easily navigable terminals and recently updated food options. But these are not normal circumstances. As travelers commuting by plane this fall undoubtedly realize, the pandemic has altered the way people fly and interact with spaces like airport terminals and their restaurants. The Centers for Disease Control is also recommending against Thanksgiving travel. Here’s what Michigan airport visitors should know before they go:

Are restaurants open at DTW right now?

Many restaurants and bars in the North and McNamara Terminals are currently closed. A representative for DTW tells Eater that the airport anticipates more restaurants and bars will reopen over the coming days to try to meet the needs of holiday travelers.

Can I eat inside a restaurant at DTW right now?

It might seem plausible to conclude that if restaurants are open inside the airport — an enclosed space with people from different households — then they would be permitted to allow customers to eat inside them with six feet of distance between groups. However, that is not the case. Airport restaurants and bars that remain open are only permitted to provide takeout service, per a new order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that closes indoor dining rooms for a period of three weeks.

The order, of course, is designed to deter people from different households communing in indoor spaces with their masks off. Essentially, travelers can purchase and eat food within the confines of the airport terminal, but should consider eating and drinking before their flight — maybe even before arriving at the airport.

Can travelers bring food to the airport?

Yes, they may. Any food items should be removed from carry-on bags and placed in bin at screening checkpoints. There are also rules about what you can bring on the TSA website; but, maybe for everyone’s sake don’t snack with your mask off at the airport or on the plane.

Have there been any positive COVID-19 cases linked to DTW?

Yes, as recently as Saturday, November 14, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported employees testing positive for COVID-19 at DTW. As of Wednesday, November 18, the TSA has reported 33 total confirmed cases of employees testing positive at DTW this year, including three non-screening employees and 30 TSA screening officers.

Is traveling by plane even recommended right now?

Experts across the country are strongly encouraging people to cancel holiday activities involving more than one household especially when masks are off like, say, at Thanksgiving dinner. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a very long explanation on holiday gatherings with recommendations like bringing your own food and sitting outdoors, but recently updated its guidance to strongly discourage people from any form of holiday travel or gathering. Airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops are considered possible exposure sites for travelers. In regards to the risks travel, and air travel specifically, the CDC writes:

Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.

Also consider how you get to and from the airport, as public transportation and ridesharing can increase your chances of being exposed to the virus.

Please also note that the CDC has also adjusted its travel recommendations and now lists basically the entire world as level three for high COVID-19 risk. That includes all of North America. Some states have strict rules for quarantining and travelers should read those rules before planning a trip.

What if I’m sick or think I’m sick or may have been exposed?

Stop what you're doing, cancel your plans, self-isolate, and get tested.

I’ve decided to cancel my plans, but how do I break the news to my family?

Eater.com has some advice for how to break the news properly and also how to have a safer holiday at home.

Which restaurants are open at the McNamara Terminal?

Andiamo, Cat Cora’s Taproom, Chili’s, Embers Fire & Ice Bar, Illy Espressamente & Fountain Bar, Leo’s Coney Island, McDonald’s, Plum Market, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Sora Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar, and Subway are open.

Which restaurants are open at the North Terminal?

National Coney Island, McDonald’s, Detroit Street Café, Atwater Brewery, Anita’s Kitchen, and Air Margaritaville are open.

Where can I find the most-up-to-date information on dining options at DTW?

Visit the DTW directory for the most up-to-date information on what’s opened and closed at the airport.

What are the dining rules right now if I’m traveling to DTW from outside of Michigan?

Find the latest information on restaurant and bar procedures in Michigan during the pandemic in this handy guide.

Many Restaurants Will Have to Close Down or Reinvent Outdoor Seating Under New Michigan Health Order [ED]
ExpressTram, Parking & Restaurant Temporary Changes – Know Before You Go [DTW Official]
Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic [CDC]
Holiday Celebrations and Small Gatherings [CDC]
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information [TSA]
Where to Eat at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) [ED]

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)

1 Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Romulus, MI 48242 (734) 247-7678 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Detroit newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world