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KCMO officials, travelers reflect on successes, concerns of new KCI terminal

Kansas City International Airport Press Conference
Posted at 9:38 AM, Mar 20, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, officials reflected on the successes and addressed concerns of the new Kansas City International Airport terminal Monday morning, nearly three weeks after its launch.

"This is such an exciting moment for Kansas City," City Manager Brian Platt said. "This is by far the best flying experience in the country right now. This is the most beautiful and thoughtful airport I've ever been to in this country."

Passengers KSHB 41 News reporter Leslie DelasBour spoke with Monday add they too are pleased with the new terminal.

"It's so easy to function and the previous one was so confusing this one is excellent," said Daniel Lopez.

Since opening its gates on Feb. 28, the new KCI terminal has screened over 300,000 passengers.

One of them being Sasha Rahmati, who visits Kansas City frequently for business.

" I know there are people complaining, bring back the old Kansas City," Rahmati said, "This is modern, this is nice, this is good for revenue, there's restaurants, there's bars, there's things to do."

"We are seeing incredible activity here at KCI, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said. "We're seeing more people who are spending money."

Lucas celebrated the increase in new flights coming to and from KCI following the opening of the new terminal.

Among the additions is new nonstop service to Long Beach, California, from Southwest Airlines. The airline also is restoring nonstop service to Indianapolis and Albuquerque, New Mexico in April, as well as to Milwaukee, San Antonio and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.

Sun Country Airlines will also be joining KCI as a new airline partner, which also offers flights to Minneapolis.

Lucas also said there will be international flights going to Montego Bay, Jamaica, and "many" destinations in Mexico including Cabo San Lucas and Cancún.

"The new KCI terminal gives us an opportunity for new flights, new business," Lucas said.

He also touted the efficient security wait times at the airport, stating that the average wait time through security is 4.2 minutes.

"That is exceptional," Lucas said. "I think we're seeing that efficiency that people have known for generations at KCI still being apart of it."

Lucas also said that the concessioners at the airport have been successful, earning over $3 million in sales across over 150,000 transactions since opening.

Platt said that $3 million is staying in Kansas City, due to the presence of local businesses in the terminal.

"One of the coolest things about this airport is the representation of Kansas City that we've got here, Platt said. "We've got 50 storefronts, and 80% of them are local small businesses. We're reflecting our city and celebrating our city in a way that no other airport does."

One local business in the terminal is Directors Cut Take 2 Barbershop, which owner Armon Lasker says is one of five barbershops inside of an airport.

"This airport is amazing, and with us having the local businesses, it speaks volume to what Kansas City is trying to do," Lasker said. "Has it been all roses? No, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world."

Kansas City officials also acknowledged that the opening of a new terminal hasn't come without a few hiccups.

Those behind the terminal are working to address traffic congestion around the single terminal.

In response to traffic concerns, Lucas says new traffic control officers have been hired to help keep vehicles moving around the pick-up and drop-off areas.

However one passenger Charlie Fulk says he had an easy time navigating traffic dropping off his family for a flight.

"It really seems simplem there is one drop off and there is one pick up, and as I drop my family off last week it was so simple." Fulk said.

There is also more visible signage that has been implemented around terminal to help guide traffic.

Drivers in the area are asked to wait in the cell phone lot or to park in the garage, and not to create long lines around the terminal, while waiting for a passenger to arrive.

Fulk adding this is aspect of the new terminal he has some questions about.

" I’ve not used the cell phone lot yet, I just assume I pull in there and then when I get my text I leave I don't know that for sure," Fulk said.

"The way we take care of all these different traffic issues is working together," Lucas said.

KCMO councilman Dan Fowler also said another complaint about the terminal the city has received is scuffing on the floors.

"If scuffing on the floors is the biggest complaint we've got, we're doing really, really good people," Fowler said.

KSHB 41 News reporter Leslie DelasBour asked passengers about the scuffs on the floor, and they tell KSHB 41 it is not a deal breaker.

"Who is going to complain about this, there are a couple of scuffs on the floor because of my luggage who cares get over it," Rahmati said.

Lucas said more people are being hired to help keep the terminal clean.

"We continue to hire more folks to make sure we’re buffing the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, adding more soap to the dispensers," he said.

KSHB 41 News Reporter Charlie Keegan also asked city officials about reports from the public on concessioners not being open, or not offering all of their menu items.

Lucas said just three weeks ago KCI had a terminal with "severely curtailed" concessions and is adjusting to the rise in demand, and that all concessioners are staffing up and making sure they have enough supplies to address the demand.

"I think folks are seeing as we get adjusted, things will be great," Lucas said.

KCMO Aviation Director Pat Klein also clarified that not every concession is open 24 hours a day. He said the first 15 shops open at 4 a.m., before a second wave of shops open at 6 a.m. and the final group of concessions open by 10 a.m. Most concessions remain open until 11 p.m., but will stay open if flights come into the terminal later.

Klein also said there haven't been major baggage delays, though there have been some small issues behind the scenes. He says with brand new systems they sometimes don't work as designed, and it is all hands on-deck to fix them.

Platt thanked the Kansas City Aviation Department for working to constantly improve the airport as they receive feedback from the public.

"The couple of minor issues that we've had over the first couple of weeks here, we've resolved, and improved, and we're building on that success," Platt said. "We're making improvements and we're going to continue to do that. Nothing is perfect in any moment at any time."