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First flights out of new KCI airport terminal next week

Airport security lines are almost a given when traveling.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City residents packed Kansas City International Airport’s new terminal building for the first time on Saturday, admiring the sculptures hanging from its soaring ceilings as they dreamed of the day – soon – when its gates will be ready for liftoff.

About 10,000 people visited the space before it opened on Feb. 28.

While some had minor criticisms of curbside access and vendor options — KCI spokespeople said they’re continuing to listen to the feedback — most seemed to think the new terminal was a success.

After breaking ground in March 2019, the 1.1 million-square-foot facility built to replace the airport’s aging three-terminal configuration on the same site is the largest infrastructure project the city has ever completed. The new terminal remained within budget by $1.5 billion, according to KCI spokesman Joe McBride.

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The 40 gates of the new terminal have the option to expand to 50 gates in the future. Its 6,200-space parking structure includes curb spaces for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

During Saturday’s open house, attendees explored the terminal via a self-guided tour, passing numerous selfie and local spots along the way.

The new KCI experience

As customers enter the check-in area, they are greeted by large halls and tall windows. Above, colored metal wires whirl and descend from the ceiling.

Nick Cave’s “The Air Up There” is one of the many large-scale works of art that adorn the terminal.

A fake fountain, shooting shimmering light instead of water, waits on the other side of security. Its architecture and interior design aim for a hyper-modern feel, something Rebecca Lawrence has noted.

“It looks very chic,” she said. “I just wish I could come and hang out. I am excited for my next travel adventure.”

Dining options range from seafood to barbecue, with local restaurants serving everything in between, including classic KC staples like Parisi Coffee and Boulevard Brewing Co.

While one of the visitors, June Walters, said she would like to see some restaurants she was familiar with, she appreciated the terminal’s accessibility and liked its design.

“It seems to be structured very well,” he said. “This impresses me.”

Unlike the replaced terminals, the new terminal will have a single security area which, when fully equipped, will be able to funnel travelers into 15 lines.

And the new terminal is already attracting more airlines and flights to Kansas City, along with potentially more passengers from across the region. Sun Country will enter the market this summer and Air Canada will resume service from Kansas City suspended during the pandemic. Southwest is adding new flights in April to Indianapolis and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

By July, airport officials expect a daily average of 160 flights.

New terminal, new services

Justin Meyer, a Kansas City Department of Aviation spokesman, said the terminal emphasizes inclusiveness.

With lots of ramps, adult locker rooms, lower drop ceilings and a flight simulator to prep hesitant flyers, Meyer said he hopes the terminal will accommodate every passenger, going beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We wanted to build a structure where every single person feels thoughtfully designed and curated by the project,” she said.

For those who need to take a breather, the quiet, sensory rooms are designed to calm travelers before their flights. Family-friendly and gender-neutral bathroom options are designed to accommodate everyone.

Digital signs indicate the number of open stalls in the toilets, which according to David McCormick are much more spacious than in the older terminals. In fact, everything in the new terminal is bigger.

“You can actually walk around and stretch your legs,” she said.

For parents hoping to tire their kids out before a flight, an airplane-shaped playground is set between the gates, with a sign saying it’s for all ages and abilities.

A business center calms outside noise and is meant to be an ideal meeting place.

The doors to the Lego store, Made in Kansas City Marketplace and the upscale Delta Sky Club — including an upscale bar with patio seating — remained closed Saturday, but visitors have expressed their excitement at their opening.

‘Cherry on the cake’

Annie Parsons travels frequently for work and said she is excited to fly out of the terminal. While she liked being able to pull up so easily in front of the old terminal, she said the endless amenities and beauty of the new terminal make up for it.

Due to their design, the old terminals had limited services for travelers once they cleared security.

“It makes me excited to welcome friends who come here for a visit,” she said. “There are so many amazing things going on in the city right now, and the airport is just the icing on the cake.”

Over the intercom, the voice of Mayor Quinton Lucas cheerily greeted visitors to the vibrant and grand KCI.

Saturday’s open house took years, and it’s an exciting day for Meyer. The horseshoe terminals to be replaced were made in 1972.

“It was so delightful to see the faces of people seeing it for the first time – the awe and wonder, the appreciation of the art. … We’re really happy with what we’ve done so far,” he said.

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A mostly empty Lincoln Airport terminal building is pictured on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 in Lincoln.

Deb Polacek of Friend (center) prepares to play the accordion to welcome Miloslav Stašek, the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, who tours the state during a stop Wednesday at the Nebraska East Union.

Liam Rosengren endures stormy conditions as he trains with a portable punching bag outside at Holmes Lake Park on Thursday February 2, 2023. A windy day at Holmes Lake didn’t stop Liam from training outdoors on Thursday afternoon. with a chilly southerly wind that made it seem like it was just over 11°F. “I do it just for the sake of being outside,” Rosengren said. “I mean, I bought this bag and it’s portable, so I can take it wherever I want.

Former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne speaks during a Capitol news conference Monday about Governor Jim Pillen’s mentoring program for Nebraska youth.

Lincoln Northeast’s Doneelah Washington (back) tries to stop Lincoln Southwest’s Eleanor Griffin in the second half Friday at Lincoln Northeast.

Dean Thompsen reacts after he spelled the word ‘rich’ correctly after believing he had spelled it wrong during the second round of the annual Lincoln Public Schools Oral Spelling Bee on Saturday at Culler Middle School. “I can’t believe I got it right,” Thompsen said stepping back for him.

Bennington’s assistant coach Jarod Owens (left) and head coach Craig Pokorny celebrate after Kianna Wingender won the 120lbs Consolidation Semifinal at the District A-3 meet in Lincoln Southeast on Saturday.

Leaves frame the sower atop the 400-foot-tall Nebraska state capitol on Friday, February 3, 2023. The sower statue, modeled after the traditional method of hand-sowing grain for planting, is a symbol of the importance of agriculture for Nebraskans. A respite from cooler temperatures will come for Lincolnites this weekend. With highs around 40 degrees and mostly sunny weather, it will say goodbye to Saturday and Sunday.

Nebraska’s Axelina Johansson busts the second-longest throw in NCAA history — 63 feet 4 inches — at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational Saturday at the Devaney Sports Center.

Jaxson Bowman, 1, holds the finger of his father, Josh Bowman, during a deployment ceremony for the 1-134th Cavalry at the Lancaster Event Center Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. Bowman, along with other Soldiers at the ceremony, did not deploy but he attended to support his fellow soldiers.

Niskithe Prayer Camp supporters block a bulldozer preparing to cut down trees in Wilderness Park on Monday.

Bellevue West’s Josiah Dotzler (left) clashes with Lincoln Southeast’s Wade Voss in the first half Tuesday at Lincoln Southeast High School.

Wayne’s Jersi Jensen (center) gets a high five as she approaches to earn her first place medal at the Class B State Bowling Singles Championship on Wednesday at Sun Valley Lanes.

Norfolk’s Carter Jackson capsizes in the middle of a dive Thursday in the Heartland Athletic Diving Championships in Lincoln Southeast.

McCool Junction’s Garrett Hansen celebrates during the Class B State Bowling Championship Wednesday at Sun Valley Lanes.

Julia Kennedy (right) shares a piece of cake with her granddaughter Samara Quwa as she attends a booth of FAQs about the 16th president on Saturday.

Wisconsin’s Max Klesmit and Nebraska’s Blaise Keita battle on the floor for possession Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Nebraska’s Dayne Morton (left) fights Rutgers’ Tony White in the 149-pound match Sunday at the Devaney Sports Center.

Members of the 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry — Ron Rockenbach (from left), Gage Stermensky, Paul Hadley, David Smith and Keith Rockefeller — guard the statue of Abraham Lincoln on the west side of the Nebraska Capitol on the 214th anniversary of his birthday on Sunday.

Lincoln East’s Westin Sherlock (top) fights Bellevue East’s LaBrian Sherlock during the 152-pound final at the A-2 district meet Saturday in Lincoln East.

Lincoln East’s Carter Toomey and Lincoln North Star’s William Schafer battle for a rebound in the net in the third quarter Tuesday at Lincoln East High School.

Aven Larson, 7, throws snow in the air and tries to catch it with his tongue at Pioneers Park during a winter storm in Lincoln on Thursday, February 16, 2023.

Shawn Fauver shovels snow outside El Chaparro on F Street Thursday in Lincoln.

UNL student Paxtyn Dummer (from left) and Maggie Mienhueser complete work on a whiteboard, while Miles Kastl and Katelyn Petry do the same on the other side, during a mentorship session at the UNL Reading Center on East Campus. The reading center matches student teachers with community students who are reading below grade level.

Shoun Hill passes through Tower Square Thursday in downtown Lincoln where nearly 9 inches of snow fell overnight.

Norfolk’s Jackson Bos (front) fights Bellevue West’s Ryland Schweiss during a Friday 220-pound Class A consolation match at CHI Health Center in Omaha on Friday, February 17, 2023.

Lincoln Southeast’s Bangot Dak dunks the ball against Lincoln North Star in the final minute on Friday at North Star High School.

Blood covers the face of Chadron’s Kenli Boeselager as he grapples Conestoga’s Maggie Fiene during a 145lbs semifinal on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.

Nebraska’s Sam Hoiberg (1) scores on a steal against Maryland Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

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