Ready for take-off?

The new KCI airport has taken over four years to build. On Feb. 28, the $1.5 billion project opened to the public, offering a brand-new experience to travelers.


by Ellie Buttell, Opinions Editor

The Kansas City International Airport was first built in 1972, and its dated layout has consistently been controversial in Kansas City and beyond. The original airport, costing 250 million to build, was known for its “drive to your gate” convenience. With the curbside of the airport and the terminal being so close, most airports have been completely redesigned to better security since 2001.

Kansas City voted on building a new airport in 2017, however the city broke ground on the project in 2019. Developers of the airport have stressed the need for convenience, accessibility and efficiency leading to the development of the new airport seen today.

The new airport has taken more than four years to build. Over the four years, 1.5 billion dollars have been put into the new airport. This project is the most expensive single infrastructure in Kansas City’s history. The developers expect the airport to live up to its name, as it has attracted media attention for its new attractions.

The new airport has been estimated to have over 50 shops, including some Kansas City favorites: Made in KC, Parisi Coffee, and Bo Lings. Kansas City airport officials say 80% of vendors are local to the KC area. Kansas city locals, and those with layovers, are especially excited for this change as the past airport lacked a food court and had limited options.

The new design also includes better accommodations for accessibility. There is a multi-sensory room that provides a quiet place for children and adults with autism, dementia, or a sensory processing disorder. It also includes a meditation room, an airplane simulation room, an inclusive play room, service animal relief areas, and many more. 

One of the most awaited features of the new airport is the air travel experience simulation. The simulation allows its users to walk through and experience every part of flying before actually boarding a flight. This simulator includes scanning tickets, walking down a jet bridge, stowing their suitcases, and even an in-flight safety video. The experience is able to be booked online before their travel day. This feature allows for adults or children with an extreme fear of flying to feel more comfortable on their flight.

The new airport will open Feb 28th. The terminal will operate as a single-terminal airport. Unlike the old airport, every commercial airline operates out of the same building. This will allow travelers from all airlines to enter the same terminal.

While most locals from Kansas City enjoyed the swift security process in the old airport, developers have promised that security will be different, but still very efficient. 

The structure of the airport is groundbreaking, as it is the largest all-glass facility in the United States. The airport measures just over a million square feet.  

It represents Kansas City by including staples like fountains and barbecue restaurants. The title “City of Fountains” does not stop at the airport doors. It also includes a barbeque restaurant. There was a BBQ contest held in order to decide what restaurant would be featured in the new terminal. The winner, Meat Mitch, now has a storefront in the new KCI.

The new airport also supports local artists. It features the largest public art program in Kansas City’s history. It includes 5.6 million dollars of newly commissioned art.

The airport includes two lounges. The USO airport lounge is available to active, reserve and National Guard members. The second is the Delta Sky Club, which offers complimentary food and high-speed wifi.

When Feb 28th arrived, thousands of travelers were able to experience one of the most-awaited events in Kansas City. Some travelers booked a flight just to be one of the first people to experience the new airport. 

The new airport offers opportunities that are not available in any airports around the country From the air travel experience room built for first-time travelers and neuro-divergent travelers, to the largest public art project in KC history. The new airport offers a safer and more accessible experience for locals and those traveling to KC.