Way back in 2013, with the goal of trying to eat as much KC barbeque as possible, I flew to Kansas City, MO’s international airport (MCI).
After a long weekend of trying local staples such as Arthur Bryant’s and Gates Bar-B-Q, I headed back to the airport. Indeed, when MCI opened in 1972, the idea behind the design was drive-to-your-gate. That expression certainly rang true during my visit.
I remember that heading from the curb to the gate was really fast. The airport’s design, three nearly circular terminals, was unique — at least for the U.S. — meant you were never too far from your gate. Furthermore, the architectural style was Brutalist, one of my favorites styles, being particularly common east of the Iron Curtain.
However, even when the place wasn’t crowded, it still felt cramped. Fortunately, for folks who are critical of the anachronistic design of Kansas City’s main airport, and for those who support any new infrastructure developments, 28 February comes bearing a nice surprise for you: the brand new, single terminal is slated to open.
Measuring more than one million square feet in area, the new MCI will be bilevel — upstairs for departures, and downstairs for arrivals — with 39 gates, local food and shopping brands, and a demarcated space for public transit and rideshare companies.
In other words, it’s an airport.
Having personally flown to nearly 400 of them, my armchair CEO mind typically lament new terminal openings. Transfers seem interminable — particularly when you’re in a rush, HVAC systems don’t equally control air conditioning (or heating) throughout the massive structure, and even with all of those gates, you still might have to get on a bus.
To be fair, buses aren’t so common at U.S. airports, and Kansas City isn’t exactly a major transit hub. But compared with its three predecessors, passengers at the new terminal will have to kiss that drive-to-your-gate concept goodbye.
Nevertheless, good luck to MCI, and I hope to return soon for more bbq.
Have you flown to Kansas City, Missouri? What’s your armchair CEO take on new terminals?
They should have remodeled the old airport. They should have created a central hub with single-point security and then connected the other two terminals. The only reason the old MCI gates got cramped was because they had to build a divider wall between each gate and the main hallway with security in between each section of gates. This also prevented many other services such as most restaurants, lounges and really limited access to restrooms. They could have added more close in terminal parking once the drive up lanes shifted to only one terminal. An additional parking garage would have also been welcome. Unfortunately the grifters with city of KCMO wanted it to a be a big project so they could grab cash.
Hi Dan, thanks for your comment about MCI! Yes, you’re right about the dividers. They were unsightly and made movement that much more restricted. It was an awkward afterthought of a design.
What are your thoughts on the new MCI design?