Kansas City International Airport makes travel convenient for area residents.
By LEWIS W. DIUGUID
The Kansas City Star
No other airport I have visited in this country or elsewhere is as easy as KCI to find parking, hop on a shuttle, get a boarding pass, clear security and be in a seat on a commercial flight to some faraway place for business or pleasure. Its only natural that efforts to change the three-terminal system are meeting stiff resistance.
Airport officials thankfully are listening to what KCI customers are saying. Theyre generally right in their assessment.
KCI officials heard people loud and clear a few years ago gripe about the airport not having a cellphone lot. It was a convenience put in place at other airports nationwide to enable people going to pick up someone flying into town to know when that persons plane arrived after receiving a call or text message from that individual.
Security at airports and traffic make waiting at terminal curbside impossible. And just try to find parking in the nearest lot by busy Terminal B on any day. Motorists end up circling the terminal waiting for friends or family to arrive. Thats wasteful, and its not good for the environment.
Cellphones and computers take the guesswork out of wondering whether a flight will be on time. A cellphone call or text from people on arriving flights confirm it. But until a couple of years ago, KCI had no cellphone lot or a place where people could conveniently wait for a call.
I have been among people rushing to KCI to pick up friends only to find no parking available. Its worse to learn that the flight had been delayed or canceled.
The drive back downtown or home in the Northeast area is no picnic. I always tell people asking me to take them to KCI or pick them up that they dont realize that only a true friend or devoted family member would do that.
Its at least a half-hour drive from downtown to KCI if there are no traffic tie-ups. When I lived near Martin City, it easily was a two-hour round trip. Being stuck without parking or enduring a long wait made that bad situation worse.
Also imagine the wasted gas. Keep in mind that KCI was planned and built in farm fields far from downtown before the Arab oil embargo.
People were not worried about the price of gasoline or global warming. In America back then cars mostly had powerful engines, and many were as big as boats.
Regular gasoline on average was just 39 cents a gallon. Were a bit over $3 a gallon now so every trip needs to be as energy-efficient as possible, and circling the terminals doesnt count.
Thats why designating Economy Lot A as a cellphone lot helps. I have used it a lot since it opened to retrieve my frequent-flying partner.
Once her plane was to arrive at 9 p.m. Delays out of Denver, where the unexpected often happens to travelers, pushed off the KCI arrival more than an hour.
I got to the airport way too early and just went to Economy Lot A to crank the car seat back, listen to the radio and relax without stress. That fits most travelers view of KCI anyway.
The cellphone lot saves the cost and hassle of parking close to the terminal. And seats inside the airport dont crank back for greater comfort. And theres that annoying airport public address system.
There are always plenty of spaces in Economy Lot A. I got a ticket at the automated machine and easily found a parking place.
When resting gets tiresome, theres also reading, computer work and even cleaning out the inside of the car. Trash cans at the shuttle stops make that possible.
My partner, Bette, is quick to text when her plane touches down. I drove out of the parking lot to the exit gate. Theres no charge for cellphone lot users.
I usually get to the terminal about the same time it takes Bette to pick up her bags and be at curbside. The cellphone lot is efficient, like KCI. More people should use it to save time and money.