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).