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Old 04-09-2013, 07:02 AM
220 posts, read 359,292 times
Reputation: 180


The things I like about KCI:

I can go into the airport with my friends and family, eat at the restaurants, and wait with them until they're ready to go into their gate and fly out.

The baggage is right next to the gates typically.

It literally takes me 5 minutes to walk from my gate, to baggage, to my car in the underground parking garages at the terminal. It's by far a shorter distance than walking from one terminal to the next at O'Hare.

That said I'd absolutely hate to have to catch a connecting flight there. Definitely not an airport I would want to be stuck at for a few hours.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:55 AM
Location: Kansas City, MO
40 posts, read 58,740 times
Reputation: 18
Let me preface my post with this: as a frequent traveler, I do enjoy the convenience of MCI. There are very, very few major/mid-major airports in the country where you can check your bag, be through security, and be at your gate in 10 minutes time. At the end of trips, it's great to walk off the plane, be at your baggage claim, and be on your way and not have to worry about the hustle and bustle of a long walk/hectic encounter finding your baggage claim, etc.

With that said, there are some major qualms that I do have with the current setup:
- Parking: I realize they've done a major renovation recently and the service to the economy lot is evolving. However, I've tried parking in economy, the Parking Spot, and Park Air express, and there have been multiple times during peak hours where I have waited for a shuttle for well over a half an hour. This inconvenience is especially annoying at the end of long trips. I realize that there is the garage at each terminal, and the "loop" parking between the terminals - however, as a business traveler, these are typically not options.
- Food options: While MCI has made progress in adding some food places/bars within the terminals (Top of the Crown is one that comes to mind that is past security), not having many options poses an issue for me. When I travel, I typically like to take my time and keep the experience as stress-free as possible - a practice that usually leads to me getting to the airport an hour or so early. In most airports, I'll spend this downtime having a drink at the bar or enjoying some food - something that is difficult to do in the KC terminals the way they stand now.

I know that both of these have been discussed already, so let me throw a wild card out there: perception.

While I realize this is the last thing on most councilmen's/investors radar, I think this is quite possibly the largest issue with the MCI airport. Allow me to elaborate:

First, let's define a "first impression": a first impression is the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person. It can sometimes form an accurate representation of the person/place, depending on the observer and the person/place being observed

As somebody who isn't from Kansas City, the first time I flew into MCI, my first thought was "this is fitting". Unfortunately, given some of the non-KC natives who post on this forum, I'd assume that this was their perception, too. The other areas of the country - anywhere, really - already have the "cowtown" or "fly-over" country perception of the city. As somebody who has had the chance to live here for a few years now, I know that perception was ill-founded, but the fact of the matter is that the perception is widespread and it exists. For those who may be flying in for a weekend or a few days - flying into an airport like that only farther enhances that perception.

Now, I get the fields around the airport, and I don't see that as a big deal. However, if Kansas City ever wants to start to do anything to defeat the perception that most other parts of the country have of the city, we have to make a move to a modern airport. Sure, it may not attract other airlines (I'm a Pittsburgh native and I've seen the results of that), but if it does anything at all, it will create a modern point of entry for the 5 million or so passengers who fly into MCI every year - something that I believe will go along way in defeating the boring "midwestern" perception of our city.
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:24 PM
220 posts, read 359,292 times
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As a business traveler, the garage and loop parking are always my first options!

When traveling for personal I use the parking stop, which can have very slow bus service, especially late at night. It's a bit of a trick to get a large truck into one of their parking spots too.

It typically only takes 10 minutes to get through security so stopping at one of the bars outside of it is usually doable. I have noticed them improving bar/food access from inside the gates though.
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:52 PM
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,488,746 times
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Great post stevman22889! I agree 100% on all counts.

First off, parking kinda sucks at KCI. Here is why.

The economy parking lots are split up by terminal as you mentioned and therefore if you fly out one airline and back another, you have to take a little red bus to another terminal to catch a little blue bus (or take the blue bus to a bus stop at the parking lot entrance and wait for the correct blue bus there). What a freaking nightmare that is if you have to go through it and as you mentioned, the frequency of the buses can be brutally long.

Another problem with the current parking. Why are the parking buses so freaking small? I have never seen such small buses used at major airport's parking lots before (only small parking lot companies) and to make things worse with those little buses, KCI is the only airport I know of where travelers must fight with people getting on and off at terminals. So as the little buses navigate the terminals, it's dropping people off AND picking them up which makes the logistics of keeping track of your luggage a nuisance. In most airports, everybody gets picked up at the arrival level and dropped off at the departure level. Same with the rental car facilities, but at least the rental car center has full size buses. This is the same reason you can't walk outside and catch a cab in KC (which is another first impression embarrassment). Cabs used to try to pick up passengers arriving at the same time they dropped them off because it's not separated so they don't have to wait for a fare. The airport fixed this by putting them in a parking lot and forcing people to find a phone and call one like they are in a small town or something. You should be able to walk outside and catch a cab. Another delay that offsets the "short walk".

Other parking issues. With the way KCI is set up, the close by structured parking is always near full in terminal B so if you can find parking, you often face a long walk. Parking in the other garages and Red bussing to a different terminal is out of the question unless you have all day.

So parking at KCI is not near as great as people in KC think it is.

The baggage claim. I don't get any advantage to how KCI is set up for this. First off, the carrousels at KCI are about 1/4 the size of a normal baggage carrousel forcing people to be 3-4 people deep trying to fetch their bags. It's a good thing KCI doesn't get anything larger than a Southwest Jet! Anyway, it takes 15 plus minutes for the bags to even reach the carrousels even though the plane is 100 feet away. One reason for that is because KCI has no automated baggage system, it's all done by hand with carts. Which is also why they give your bags back to you when you check them so you can drag them back through the crowd and stick them in a pile of bags. Most ticketing counters take your bags when you check them. So in this down time while waiting for the bags to reach the carrousels, what is wrong with walking 5 minutes especially since it will give you a chance to use one of the bathrooms that is not overcrowded. Another pet peeve of mine with baggage claim is that you have no idea where to go when you get off the plane. Most people are used to simply following baggage claim signs, but KCI they are all over the place and the actual carrousels don't even have digital signs to tell you which flights the carrousel will have bags for. You have to guess or ask people.

I also agree with the first impression thing, but that is something most people in KC don't seem to get. Just like keeping the baseball stadium where it's at. Metro residents are not interested in "impressing people" and trying to overcome the absolutely terrible cowtown image that KC does have and after living on the east coast for over four years, I think the image of KC is much worse than even I had imagined. It's just been too long since the rest of the country has seen the urban side of KC and I think more people think the city is in Kansas now then they did before the internet because the city is so out of sight and out of mind nationally. In the 1950's, KCI was downtown, the ballpark was downtown, KC was a huge convention city and had a busy center city and KC area people didn't run around the country in KU clothing (had to get that in). KC people should want people to think positively about KC. The way it is now, very few people outside of KC have even an iota of interest in visiting KC because its image is so screwed up or not known at all and they are missing out. And what's wrong with getting people to take 29 through the city to reach the stadiums, overland park etc rather than the long treck thru the middle of nowhere via 435. KCI to Kauffman Stadium via 435. Other than farms, you might see a few houses and some junk yards along that entire 40 minute drive. Nice!

The fact is that KCI is not only not that far from the city, it's one of the few airports that backs up to a really nice suburban area with plenty of shopping, hotels etc very close by. But the way the terminals and road system is set up, it may as well be in Omaha because people generally have to drive clear around the airport and enter from the north. Accessing KCI from MO or KS via 435 is the most country bumpkin first impression of Kansas City there is. It makes KC seem like nothing but farms even though KCI is on the edge of the built up metro. 152 and 29 should be the primary entry point to KCI. This is why the original plan was to build a new terminal down by Highway 152 south of the east/west runway and build new access ramps to the new terminal from 152. This would put the airport very close to Zona Rosa, 4-5 miles closer to Downtown for transit (and no tunnels would be needed) reducing the cost to bring light rail to KCI by 200-400 million.

That's why I don't get this terminal A replacement thing. Seems like another terrible Band-Aid approach to cram a terminal into that small space while only fixing half the problems with KCI. If you are going to spend over 1.2 billion dollars on a terminal, why not spend the extra 200 million for infrastructure improvements (ramps, roads etc) to build it at the preferred site where it will fix "all" the problems with KCI. Just another Kemper Arena / Kauffman Stadium situation.

And finally, I'm with you. Even at KCI, I like to have 20-30 minutes even to relax and do that "past" security knowing that I have my boarding pass and I'm through security. I would rather do that than rush to eat before I go to the airport and then wait and do nothing. But that's just a personal thing I guess. Either way, having to wait 45 minutes into a flight to get a drink is dumb and not being able to bring drinks into the gates is enough to start out a flight wishing I were taking off from some other airport .

Last edited by kcmo; 04-09-2013 at 02:06 PM..
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:21 PM
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,488,746 times
Reputation: 5405
One more thing. People keep saying that a new terminal won't add flights, but KCI only has 68 daily departures for Southwest now, which is most of KCI's traffic, but pretty far from being a top Southwest city and down quite a bit I'm pretty sure from recent years.

Denver barely had any Southwest flights just five years ago and now has 152 even though that city is already a hub and didn't need the flights. I firmly believe that could have been KC rather than Denver if KCI had a more accommodating terminal for Southwest and its customers. Southeast wanted to have that many flights at KCI, but over time found out the terminal setup just wasn't going to work for that. So instead of KCI being a major hub for the middle of the country for Southwest, Denver is. Just like I think KC could have a busy airport today had they replaced MCI's terminal before Denver replaced Stapleton with DEN. A little more progressive thinking city. Denver is actually not afraid to build new airports, light rail, convention hotels and they like to fund things like transit, museums and stadiums regionally. It's paid off. They left KC in their dust long ago even though KC used to be a much larger city and it even had the huge TWA hub at downtown airport. It's almost like moving the airport from Downtown to MCI was the beginning of the end of KC's glory days of being a true major top 20 city. Kind of interesting really. Never though about it, but KCI may have done more harm than good to KC (combined with the whole state line / JoCo thing). Sorry, always trying to analyze why KC has been so stagnant for so long.

Cities Daily
Departures Number of Gates Nonstop Cities Served
Chicago (Midway) 198 29 57
Las Vegas 192 19 50
Phoenix 167 24 46
Baltimore 156 26 46
Denver 152 19 55
Houston (Hobby) 143 17 38
Dallas (Love Field) 126 15 16
Los Angeles (LAX) 102 11 23
Oakland 96 13 18
St. Louis 87 10 33

Last edited by kcmo; 04-09-2013 at 02:37 PM..
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:44 PM
Location: Blind-casting for Snook.
129 posts, read 214,612 times
Reputation: 167
Dude... it's an airport. They all suck.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:03 PM
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,488,746 times
Reputation: 5405
Yea, but some suck more. Read the yelp reviews for KCI and you will see why Southwest has moved on to other markets to build bigger hubs. The locals might like KCI (I never did), but airlines still have to make the non-locals and even thru and connecting people somewhat happy even if they are a very small percent of the users. People connecting in KC (as well as many who’s destination is KC) give the airport terrible reviews and people use those reviews to book travel and people avoid KCI like the plague. KCI’s design hurts the airport’s ability to sustain a decent amount of traffic and this goes all the way back to the day it opened and TWA wanted a new design long before 9-11. TWA wanted a new design while it was being built actually and because the city didn't accommodate, they left for St Louis. Of course that era finally came to an end in StL, but had KC redid the terminal and remained a hub, it would probably still be a hub today of some sort today because KC actually it a better fit for a major hub than StL is as it has more small metros around it and it closer to the west. It was a poor design then and it's a terrible design today for anything other than a small city regional airport which is odd since it has 90 gates.

KC may never have a hub, but it should be a 20 million passenger airport because it’s the only large airport around serving like 4 million people and could be a major option for another 4 million people that live in places like Omaha, Wichita, Springfield etc. Places like Cincy which have fallen down to KCI’s level have four other airports just an hour or two away to choose from. Cincy’s airport truly serves the 2 million people in Cincy. KC should be a major super regional airport like Denver is. There is actually more potential users of KCI than DEN.

KC has dropped the ball.

Last edited by kcmo; 04-09-2013 at 08:13 PM..
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:47 AM
1,830 posts, read 3,109,249 times
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Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
KC may never have a hub, but it should be a 20 million passenger airport because it’s the only large airport around serving like 4 million people and could be a major option for another 4 million people that live in places like Omaha, Wichita, Springfield etc.
You often say this but is way off base. Omaha, Wichita and Des Moines will use Denver and Chicago as connections before they would drive to or even connect through KC.

I'm all for KC building a new terminal but it doesn't at all guarantee improving flights with all the airline consolidation going on. The 15th-25th ranked airports are at huge risk of losing flights and hub status too at this point. KC needs a better configuration for its own operations, not particularly to become a hub. Indianapolis built a new $1B terminal yet actually lost flights and passengers - they are now ranked 50th, yikes. At least KCI is ranked about the same level as market size, much better than STL compared to market size.

I can understand why some don't want to pay for a new terminal. If the Feds paid for it great, but for locals KCI is an easy to use airport. It just sucks to hang out in and terrible for a hub. If a new terminal means a big increase in fares, I can understand why some are fine with the current one. The original design was passable until the Feds required security gates, which then completely screwed up the design.

Overall, KC needs a new terminal but it will be a challenge to get mass buyin. The ecodev minded people understand it, average joe who doesn't think about that doesn't want increased fares. I have no idea what you mean that KC has 'dropped the ball' - KCI has maintained flights better than many other airports relative to market size. Indianapolis didn't 'drop the ball', built a new terminal, and lost lots of flights, now ranked 50th (from 44th).

KCI ranks 32nd, STL ranks 31st. Houston Hobby will likely pass KCI given SWA is focusing on Hobby but overall KCI is doing OK compared to market size and considering massive flight reductions with airline consolidation.

Last edited by xenokc; 04-10-2013 at 10:46 AM..
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:23 AM
Location: Middle America
35,817 posts, read 39,334,463 times
Reputation: 48613
I might be the only person who doesn't care AT ALL if people who fly in have a "What a cow town" perception. I grew up in the Midwest (although not in KC or Missouri, and had absolutely no mental image of KC whatsoever before moving here; I didn't have a negative or positive preconceived notion at all, I simply had never considered it one way or another), and have always had the "flyover country" barbs roll right off my back. I like it, and really don't care how people from either coast consider it. KC's a cool place, and if it's off others' radars, or they have an erroneous impression of what the city is like because there are lame vendor kiosks in the airport, it really doesn't bother me all that much. I've lived in overrated cities, and truly appreciate an underrated one.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:34 AM
Location: 3219'03.7"N 10643'55.9"W
7,962 posts, read 16,769,780 times
Reputation: 6907
Originally Posted by GraniteStater View Post
I am familiar with Oklahoma as one of my family members lives there and I have to agree that the roads and highways there are in bad shape, and many of them are turnpikes (toll roads). Tulsa roads are an even bigger joke. You have to wonder where the money goes
Having been through Tulsa 3 times in the last year on 44 and 344, I can say this is an understatement. Tulsa might very possibly have the worst system of any major city in the country. An absolute disgrace. 44 from the MO line to Lawton is horrible.
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