Why Kansas City Airport’s New Terminal Will Be A Gamechanger

Kansas City International Airport (MCI) is pressing full steam ahead with a brand new terminal. Looking to shed the cramped and outdated existing infrastructure, the airport is not holding back and moving forward with plans to create a game-changing new terminal that will be a huge upgrade for Kansas City passengers. Simple Flying spoke with Justin Meyer, Deputy Director of Aviation – Marketing and Air Service Development at Kansas City International Airport, to learn more about the project.

KCI Airport
Kansas City International Airport’s new terminal will be a gamechanger for passenger amenities in the US. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

Kansas City’s new terminal

The new terminal is taking a very different approach to the existing ones. The horseshoe-style terminals that marked the airport’s introduction to the world in 1972 have seen a lot since opening, including becoming a headache soon after opening.

The new terminal features 39 gates with room to grow if the airport needs it. Where the old terminals are horseshoe-style, the new terminal will look a lot more like a 21st-century airport terminal with a largely rectangular shape.

KCI Main Check-in Area
The new terminal will have a consolidated main check-in area and security screening point. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

Sitting where the old Terminal A was, the new terminal is rectangular in shape. This leads to more efficient use of space within the terminal, more efficient landside roadways, and brings the airport up to 21st-century layouts and cater to all the attention MCI is receiving, including from new airlines.

The old layout has a lot of shortcomings, as Mr. Meyer explained:

“When you’ve been running an airport terminal structure like we have for 50 years that fails so frequently on so many amenities, the layout has been so non-conducive to delivering the things that our passengers need – and even are mandated to us. We struggle because of the layout of this of the space, a third of a mile long and 72 foot deep with multiple entry points around that horseshoe, there’s not a single place where we can put an amenity and make it available to all of our passengers.”

Why Kansas City Airport’s New Terminal Will Be A Gamechanger
The concourses will be far more spacious than the existing terminals. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

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Developing a new terminal with top-notch amenities

With a new terminal, the airport gets a blank slate on which to mold a brand new passenger experience, and the airport is certainly looking to create a travel experience that welcomes all who board an aircraft. For all types of travelers – families or solo travelers – with all backgrounds and abilities, the airport wants to create an experience that is far more welcoming and positive than the existing terminal.

Why Kansas City Airport’s New Terminal Will Be A Gamechanger
One of the more inclusive amenities the airport will offer is a meditation room. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

One such aspect is the multi-sensory room. This amenity will be a quiet and secure place. With activities that encourage exploration and discovery, this room is designed to appeal to children and adults with autism, dementia, or sensory processing disorders. There will also be a meditation room.

Why Kansas City Airport’s New Terminal Will Be A Gamechanger
The multi-sensory room will, likewise, cater to travelers with different needs. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

One of the highlights of the new terminal will be the Airplane Simulation room. Mainly geared toward new flyers or those who have anxiety surrounding the flying process, the simulation room will be a place where people can learn about air travel. Including features like a life-size and authentic ticketing kiosk, passenger jetbridge, and simulated aircraft cabin, this will certainly delight those who want to learn more about the flying experience.

Simulation Room
The Airplane Simulation Room will help take some of the guesswork out of the experience for new flyers. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

Mr. Meyer added the following:

“This project was providing an opportunity for us to step up and be leaders in the space of US airports when it comes to delivering the guest experience that caters not only to one kind of traveler, but to all of our travelers. I want all of those passengers from frequent flyers to infrequent flyers, from abled to disabled, to feel cared for and that we saw them before they even entered our building. We want to create a space that is welcoming and accommodating for whatever their needs are.”

Why Kansas City Airport’s New Terminal Will Be A Gamechanger
The existing terminals do not even come close to the new terminal’s space for passengers. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

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The restrooms

One of the most important parts of the airport experience is actually restrooms. Coming off of a flight or preparing to board one, the availability of restrooms is a problem in the existing terminal, but it is not going to be one in the new terminal.

Air travel has the ability to bring people from all walks of life together. As a result, MCI is looking to build up more passenger-friendly amenities. For example, the airport is doubling down on ensuring facilities for people who need assistance.

Two amenities may lead to a far more comfortable passenger experience. For example, the airport will offer all-gender restrooms and adult-assist changing rooms with changing tables. One large all-gender restroom will be available in each of the concourses. This amenity is designed to cater to those who require the assistance of a caregiver of a different gender – say, a son traveling with his elderly mother – and transgender and gender-diverse individuals. This will be in addition to the traditionally gendered restrooms.

Why Kansas City Airport’s New Terminal Will Be A Gamechanger
Restrooms may often be an overlooked feature of airports, but they are one of the most important amenities an airport can offer. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

Family-friendly restrooms will also be available. These facilities will include integrated trash receptacles, lower-height sinks, integrated shelves, and varied-height hooks in each stall. These small details can take a lot of the stress out of the travel experience. With easier-to-reach sinks for kids, storage for backpacks or bags while using the restroom, and offering more integrated changing stations, this can be a huge help for passengers traveling with younger children.

Opening in 2023

The new terminal remains on track and on budget to open up in spring 2023. When it does, it will certainly be a game-changing leader in the sphere of US airports. This comes even as airlines across the country are investing heavily in new terminals, refurbishing existing terminals, and upgrading their runways.

KCI Development
Construction is continuing on the new MCI airport. Photo: Kansas City International Airport

Many airports worldwide have gone for glitz, glam, and a unique experience that may, at times, be lacking in terms of functionality. While the new terminal will certainly have its fair share of aesthetic appeal, the usability of the space and all the different amenities it can offer will certainly set it apart from the rest in the airport world.

From looking at the smallest of details and amenities in restrooms to creating spaces that cater to passengers of different abilities and families, MCI is gearing up to be the airport designed and proven for the 21st-century.

What do you make of Kansas City International Airport’s new terminal and amenities? Let us know in the comments!