The fall colors, down-home yet sophisticated city, and extensive music and people watching made our recent visit to Kansas City worth writing about. But what really got me excited was the airport. I have never seen a design like this, and probably never will again, unless in KC.
The Kansas City International Airport has 3 terminals, all in the shape of a horseshoe, or ‘C’ configuration. The style is mid-century modern, and the ease of accessing one’s gate and baggage claim is unheard of. Picture this; you find the terminal you need based on the airline you are flying. You get dropped off, or park in the front of the horseshoe (across from your corresponding gate) and voila, you need not move an inch more. You walk into the airport at your gate, which has the check-in table, and right next door, 3 or so gates share the security check-in. It took us about 8 minutes to check our luggage, go through security, and sit at our gate. Conversely, when you arrive at KCI, you de-board, and your baggage claim is literally steps away.
Living in the Savannah area, life is definitely easier while navigating the small and quaint Savannah airport, rather than the Midway (Skidway) and O’Hare (O’Scare) airports of my past. But KCI wins, hands down, with their sweet 60’s lines and ease of their airport design. Too bad there is talk of restructuring it, due to the increased operation costs of having separate security for every 3 gates or so. This same problem is what made TWA move to St. Louis years after commissioning the airport with the architectural firm of Kivett and Meyers.
I love KCI airport too! I used to fly in & out of there on my way back to MO for college. I hope you both got to sample some of KC’s fine BBQ while you were there. I prefer Arthur Bryant’s and Gates & Sons, but there are a ton of great places. Miss you guys!
We went to Arthur Bryant’s for pulled pork!
I’ve been to a lot of airports, and KC is by far the most boring, lamest, most uncomfortable airport I’ve been to in America.
I grew up in KC, so I grew up with KCI airport. I’ve always loved its design concept, but it’s definitely an airport for arrivals and departures, not changing planes. Its “drive-to-you-gate” design was heralded as an incredible innovation when it was built, and several subsequent airports were built in its image albeit with significant modifications. KCI was built before security checkpoints, so they’ve been retrofitted from the start.
Dallas/Fort Worth was built in KC’s image but with an important modification: two concentric rings in each terminal. Therefore, departing passengers can still drive to their gates like at KC, but once they’re through security, they’re in the outer, secure ring that goes all the way around the terminal, complete with lots of restrooms, retail, and restaurants. Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris is also built to a similar design. Both DeGaulle and DFW are also blessed with a people mover that connects the secure rings of all the terminals together, a feature never put in at KCI.
Notice also that KCI, despite its huge capacity (90 gates), rarely sees widebody aircraft, and currently has no international flights. There simply isn’t enough space in the narrow rings of the terminals to handle a flood of passengers stepping off an 747 from Hong Kong. Although building a new terminal would be the easiest solution, I think it would be possible to add a secure outer ring to the existing terminals and therefore make it possible to add better international arrival infrastructure.
ohhh i’m excited to see if the changes actually happened as i venture there in a few weeks. looks lovely and manageable, my type of airport.