Just two weeks after celebrating its Super Bowl LVII win, Kansas City is giving locals another major reason to beam with pride: a shiny new $1.5 billion airport terminal.
After more than five years of planning and construction, Kansas City International Airport (MCI)’s single terminal officially opens on February 28—replacing the airport’s outdated trio of Brutalist concrete terminals, which had been in operation since 1972. The original MCI opened about a month before the FAA started mandating physical screenings of passengers in January 1973 (aka the dawn of metal detectors and baggage scanners), so the airport never really made logistical sense in terms of security processes, restaurant placement, and square footage.
The new terminal, however, is exactly what you would expect from an airport in 2023. There are separate levels for curbside departures and arrivals. There are Clear kiosks and designated TSA PreCheck lines. A Delta Sky Club is available for folks with lengthy layovers. And aside from a Dunkin’ Donuts counter at the main entrance, all of the restaurants and bars can be found after the security checkpoints. (Seemingly basic features, yes, but ones you wouldn’t have found in the three old terminals.)
Inclusivity at the forefront
But the upgraded MCI does a lot more than check a few standard boxes—it shows what an airport should look like beyond 2023. Throughout the entire design process, the Kansas City Aviation Department worked closely with local organizations like The Whole Person, Variety KC, and Dementia Friendly KC to ensure the terminal was as absolutely inclusive as possible. (“We considered ADA regulations to be just the starting point,” said Justin Meyer, deputy director of aviation at the Kansas City Aviation Department, during a media tour last week.)
Every information and check-in counter is set at ADA-compliant heights; restrooms feature adult changing tables (along with baby changing tables); and visual paging boards alert deaf passengers of any flight changes. Alongside gendered restroom options, there is also an “all-gender” restroom in the terminal with extra features to ensure safety and privacy like floor-to-ceiling partitions between stalls—a great option not only for gender-nonconforming passengers, but also anyone traveling with a caregiver of a different gender who doesn’t want to separate.