A few months back we shared the story of the mock airplane cabin installed at Minneapolis International Airport (MSP) designed to give flyers with a wide range of special needs an opportunity to become familiar with a realistic aircraft cabin.
The 33-foot-long cabin was once used to train Delta’s in-flight teams in Atlanta and includes a (nonworking) lavatory and 42 standard coach seats from a retired Boeing 737.
Delta shipped the cabin in pieces to the Minneapolis airport, where it was reassembled in an unused retail space. Airport carpenters added cutouts so that every row has a window, and local youth artists painted the cabin and the surrounding walls with blue skies and landscape to make it sensory-friendly.
Kansas City International Airport (MCI) Has a Mock Cabin Too
When it opens to the public on February 28, the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) will also have a mock airplane cabin. Like the one at MSP, this one is designed to help ease the fears and anxieties of first-time fliers, children, and those with special needs. That includes those with sensory issues, autism spectrum disorders, auditory and visual disabilities, and more.
Called the Kansas City Air Travel Experience and located just past security in the Concourse A Concessions Atrium, this mock airplane cabin is part of a decommissioned Airbus A321 and includes seats, windows, overhead bins, and other true-to-life aircraft parts.
“Passengers” who book a mock airplane flight go through all the steps of a real flight. That includes checking in at a kiosk that is like one being used at the airport and receiving a boarding pass to show at the ‘gate.’
They then enter a ‘jet bridge’ with floor-to-ceiling wall graphics that mimic the glass jetways of the new terminal.
Once on the mock plane, passengers have a 15-minute ‘flight’ experience that covers boarding, the safety demonstration, taxi and takeoff, cruising, landing, and deplaning.
To make it feel as real as possible, a video simulation created by Kansas City-based Dimensional Innovations plays outside the cabin windows while ambient audio plays inside the cabin.
Here’s a video that shows what the experience is like.
Over the past week, the Stuck at the Airport team has shared news of how Kansas City decided to replace an old terminal with a brand new one at Kansas City International Airport (MCI). And of a new museum in Atchison, Kansas dedicated to iconic aviator Amelia Earhart.
Today we share some news about Long Beach, which is keeping and preserving its historic Long Beach Airport (LGB) terminal. The airport, also known as Daugherty Field, is where Amelia Earhart took her first airplane ride in 1920.
Long Beach Airport Historic Terminal
The terminal building at Long Beach Airport was built in 1941 in the iconic Streamline Moderne Style. It is the oldest municipally-owned airport in California.
Designed by William Horace Austin and Kenneth Smith Wing, the groundbreaking for the Historic Terminal took place on Jan. 11, 1941, with the building scheduled to open on Dec. 8 of that year.
The Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7 delayed the opening, led to the cancellation of all commercial flights, and resulted in the building being painted in camouflage and used as lodging for soldiers and military equipment.
The formal opening occurred on April 25, 1942.
Now a Long Beach Historic Landmark, the terminal building is also home to recently restored mosaic masterpieces created by Grace Clements under the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project.
LGB Terminal Renovation Project
Starting this week, Long Beach Airport (LGB)’s Historic Terminal temporarily closes for a year-long renovation that will include a seismic retrofit and restoration of many of its classic 1941 design elements.
Preliminary renovation efforts began while the Historic Terminal was partially open to the public. But now, airport officials say, a full closure of the building is necessary to complete the renovation of the restrooms and building infrastructure, restoration of covered mosaic tiles, and other Art Deco design elements.
The restored terminal building is expected to reopen in early 2024 and is one piece of a multi-part terminal improvement program. Two major components were completed in the spring of 2022, including the new Ticketing Lobby and Checked Baggage Inspection System (CBIS) facility. A new Baggage Claim is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the coming months.
Phase I of the Terminal Area Improvement Program created an award-winning indoor-outdoor passenger concourse in 2012.
Stuck at the Airport and more than 600 Kansas City area residents participated in a simulation test at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) on Tuesday.
The modern $1.5 billion new single terminal officially begins operating on February 28, 2023, and will replace a trio of 50-year-old terminals scheduled to host their last flights on the evening of February 27.
Here are some snaps and observations from our visit.
The test passengers, all volunteers, had a variety of itineraries and were ta. sked with going through the steps of a trip. That included parking in the new 6,100-space parking garage, checking in at the counter, dropping off baggage, finding their gates, and heading to the baggage claim to retrieve luggage.
Area resident and test volunteer Barb Schulte received a “ticket” that had her flying from Kansas City to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She was instructed to bring an oversized bag that weighed at least 20 pounds and had filled her bag with magazines, an afghan, and a pair of winter boots.
The 16-lane central TSA checkpoint area is still being completed, so travelers didn’t have to go through the security checkpoint experience. Shops, bars, and restaurants are not yet open, either, but the volunteers could see that branches of many familiar local brands will be represented.
Travelers also got a first look at amenities that will be available to ticketed passengers, including $5.65 million worth of public art, all-gender restrooms, a sensory room, indoor and outdoor pet relief areas, all-glass jet bridges, an inclusive play zone, and more.
KCI’s commitment to inclusiveness includes gender-specific and all-gender restrooms (all with red light/green signals on the stalls to let users know what’s open) as well as 15 family restrooms and restrooms with both child and adult-sized changing tables.
Chairs and work tables throughout the airport include plenty of power ports. And we are pleased to see that the high work tables are equipped with wireless charging spots.
Most test travelers we spoke with were, like us, impressed with all the natural light, the wide-open corridors, the increased seating, and all the amenities the new terminal will deliver.
Airport officials will be reviewing the feedback testers share in online surveys in advance of the February 28 official opening. But right away it was clear that easy-to-fix issues such as larger and increased directional signage would be helpful in some areas.
We’re looking forward to returning in a few weeks when the shops and restaurants are open, when the first in-airport barbecue smokers are in use, when the live music stages are operating, and when thousands of passengers are taking off and returning from adventures.
And we’re looking forward to learning more details about the gate-pass program for non-travelers that will be rolled out by the end of the year.
For now, the City of Fountains is definitely ready to wow with a brand new airport terminal.
(Stay tuned for more stories from our pre-opening visit).
This is Kansas City’s moment. Not only did the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LVII, but on February 28 the city will celebrate the long-awaited opening of a brand-new airport terminal.
The new 1-million-square-foot, $1.5 billion single Kansas City International Airport (MCI) terminal will be one of the most inclusive in the U.S. and will include $5.6 million in commissioned art.
Dining options will include many unique to the region and there will be stages for live music
In addition to more than 6,000 parking spaces, there will be 15 family restrooms, 10 infant feeding rooms, a family play zone, and 39 all-glass passenger jet bridges – the most glass jet bridges at any US airport.
As you may imagine, there are a lot of details to attend to before the official switchover from the 50-year-old terminal to the brand-new one.
And one of those details involves testing the usability of the terminal for passengers.
So on February 14 – Valentine’s Day -hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people who volunteered back in January and ‘won’ a test-day ticket will show up at the new KCI terminal to participate in a simulated travel day.
The Stuck at The Airport terminal testing team will be there too. Because we love airports. And because we especially love new airport terminals.
We’ll share notes and images on social media during the test day but will include a full report about what we see here.
And, oh yeah, we’ll also be in town for the parade and other festivities for the new Super Bowl winners.
Stand by for souvenirs.