$5.5 million KCI renovation project aims to satisfy more travelers

Posted at 9:54 PM, Oct 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-28 23:50:55-04

A $5.5 million renovation project inside Terminal C of KCI Airport will look to improve the traveling experience for customers and help increase development for airlines.

On Friday, KCI Airport deputy director of aviation marketing and air service development, Justin Meyer, showed 41 Action News some of the renovations taking shape at the airport.

Gates 76 to 84 will see much of the changes, including a new centralized security checkpoint aimed at improving wait times and accessibility through the airport.

The new checkpoint will offer four security lanes for travelers, including a lane for TSA PreCheck customers flying on American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, and Spirit Airlines.

The gate will also allow travelers to walk between more gates without having to go through multiple security checkpoints.

"What we'll have now is the ability to spread that demand across all of our checkpoints, which will end up being a shorter duration in the security process," Meyer explained while showing the current baggage claim area that will be transformed into the new security gate.

Demolition has also already begun inside Terminal C in an area that will house a bigger baggage claim.

Meyer said with the larger area, customers hopefully won't have to wait as long to get their luggage.

"(The new baggage claim) will be significantly longer, which allows for more people to step up and reach for their bag," he said.

The renovations come months after city leaders decided to put plans for a new single terminal at KCI on hold.

The aging facility, which dates back to the early 1970s, continues to try and meet customer needs as airport expectations and the traveling experience evolve.

However, Meyer explained how the airport's current design provides some challenges moving forward.

"That's the most difficult part for us is to try and continue to modify this facility to meet the changing needs of our customers," he said.

The current design, which many customers have grown to love for its short distances to gates, continues to be an issue as the airport hopes to grow its relationships with airlines.

"(The airlines) need more space," Meyer said. "They're running out of space. As airplanes are getting larger, we're running into a lot of constraints with the facility as it is now."

Because of the ring-shaped design and lack of space, Meyer said at least one airline had to change its approach to KCI.

"American Airlines told us that they had to reduce their schedule from what they wanted to fly to send smaller airplanes here because they couldn't get the passenger flow through our facility," he said.

Other smaller renovations, like adding LED lights to the concourse, hope to improve the overall look of KCI.

"They throw so much more light it really makes the floor shine like it's brand new," said Meyer, while showing off the new lights. "We're going to save money. They're higher efficiency and they're significantly brighter, so it's a brighter experience in the airport for our guests."

Meyer said the airport also plans to add private rooms for nursing mothers and more food options for travelers once they get through security.

On Friday, travelers who spoke to 41 Action News welcomed the changes.

"I was born here. It's always been the same, nothing has changed," said Adrien Freeman, who flew in from Arizona. "It needs to be more convenient."

Others said they hoped the improvements could help modernize KCI.

"You got to keep up with the times," said Larry Krull, who lives in Lawrence.

Meyer said the renovations inside Terminal C expect to be completed by mid-2017.



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