Archive for Thursday, February 11, 2016

Editorial: KCI future

It’s probably time for Kansas City to do something about its airport. We can only hope it will be a plus, not a minus, for airline travelers.

February 11, 2016

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Lawrence residents won’t get to vote on plans to renovate or replace Kansas City International Airport, but we still feel like we have a stake in the future of our airport.

After more than two years of discussion, Kansas City leaders reportedly are focusing on several options for the airport, but none that preserve the horseshoe terminals that many travelers have learned to love for their convenient access and parking. The options currently drawing the most attention are two plans that would demolish Terminal A and replace it with a single terminal that would house all the airport’s operations and two plans that would make major renovations to both Terminal A and B. All of the scenarios include additional parking garages.

Building a new terminal would cost about $1 billion, and renovating the two existing terminals would cost about $1.2 billion. In both cases, officials say the costs would be paid by for with airport and airline fees, not by tax dollars. Parking fees might rise slightly (whatever that means), they say, but the project wouldn’t have much, if any, impact on airline ticket prices (how would we know?).

Plans to upgrade KCI are driven by several concerns. One of the major changes in the design will be central security points through which all passengers would pass before fanning out to get to their gates. It’s clear that the existing terminals weren’t designed to easily accommodate modern security needs, and the makeshift system that allows one security checkpoint to serve multiple gates is far from ideal. Plans also are expected to provide better access to food and other amenities that are difficult to provide in the narrow bands outside and inside secured areas at KCI.

In other words, the plans will make KCI look a lot more like all other major U.S. airports.

It’s easy to mourn the loss of the three-terminal convenience of KCI, but the reality is that the airport isn’t as convenient as it once was. Terminal A has been mothballed, and Terminal B is serving more passengers causing parking problems and long security lines during peak times. The 43-year-old airport also is showing its age, including infrastructure issues beneath the terminal buildings.

Something needs to be done. As with any new project, there are bound to be things people don’t like about the new plan, but there also may be some things that people find more convenient or comfortable once they get used to them.

Airline travel, in general, isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Hopefully, officials can come up with a new terminal design and facilities that will enhance, not detract, from that experience for travelers passing through KCI.

Comments

Ginny Blum 2 years, 3 months ago

A frequent traveler in and out of the KCI airport, I have to hope this will happen sooner and not later. The truth is, right now the first thing that many visitors see when arriving in Kansas City is not consistent with the line in the song that , "everything's up to date in Kansas City!"

The three pod style doesn't suit current airline travel any more and KC needs to make changes.
Passengers expect more than 3 restroom stall behind security gates and don't necessarily like to have to drag their suitcase over to have it security checked.

Many people drive more than an hour to pick-up or drop off passengers, their chances of being able to park near the airport and go inside to use the restroom before heading back home are slim. The cellphone waiting area is halfway to St. Joe. Good luck getting a sandwich or meal while you wait at the airport, you need to stop at QuicTrip on your way in for some chips.

A good airport is essential to the growth and national viability of modern cities. Kansas City has always been a good airport city with multiple airlines connecting and in and out, which makes it easy to travel. The airport has plenty of space, there is no excuse to cling to the outdated terminals.

Amy Varoli Elliott 2 years, 3 months ago

Lets just get rid of the mall cops, the TSA is a joke and has done nothing but improve safety when traveling

Rick Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't think you just said what you think you just said. Just saying.

Marc Wilborn 2 years, 3 months ago

A single terminal concept (like Santa Ana/John Wayne) is a great concept and can provide much better amenities once inside security.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

How much more are consumers ready to pay for flying in and out of MC!?

Not that much business coming and going to warrant a billion dollar expenditure. Obviously not enough business to keep retail outlets within open.

Too many retail spaces and not enough business......

One of the most awesome attractions to MCI are the floors. Sometime drive out and read and/or interpret the floor.

David Holroyd 2 years, 3 months ago

Even if KCI is upgraded shuttle service from Lawrence is too expensive.

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