I’m back: complaining about the airport. Sorry, but not sorry, because I was trapped in the Southwest departure stockade and it was excruciating. Luckily, because I’m a multi-tasker, I turned my long, arduous wait into a fact-finding tour about the airport.
Phase one of the tour began in the lady’s room. Correction, it started in the line to the lady’s room, which, as always at KCI, was meandering like the Missouri River.
The line was at least two dozen women long and stretched from Gate 37, past the lame beverage area that looked like the proprietors desperately needed to make a Costco run, and ended by a Southwest desk.
As we played bladder bingo waiting for the line to move I started asking my bathroom-goers what they thought of KCI. The three women in front of me, who were not KC residents, were horrified by our airport.
They cited, in no order, the current line they were in to use the restroom, the inability to buy any decent food once you’ve gone through security and entered into what is basically a lock-down situation that has a lot more in common with a state prison than a major metropolitan airport, and the lack of space that makes you feel like a caged, incontinent, grizzly.
I was asked, “What’s wrong with Kansas City?”
I shrugged and said, “Believe or not people think our airport is convenient.”
The women didn’t believe me. One responded, “Convenient to whom? The TSA?”
I hated to be the one to tell them to hold on their boarding pass because it gets worse, but I felt it was my civic duty.
“Just wait till you see the restroom you’re standing in line for. It’s got an abandoned interstate gas station vibe.”
I could tell they thought I was exaggerating until we finally reached the front of the line and they experienced the two battered stalls with not only paint peeling off, but the bottom of the wooden doors disintegrating.
How do you explain to visitors of our wonderful city that a two-stall airport bathroom, which has a lot in common with a meth dealer’s outdoor latrine in the deep Ozarks, is considered “good enough?”
You just can’t. There are really no words because it defies logic. In 2017 the nation’s 29th largest city with a population of more than 2 million people shouldn’t have an airport with facilities that freak you out.
After I left the bathroom I began chatting up a flight attendant who shared that KCI is basically the airport they all hate. She called a layover here “torture.”
Then after a plane landed from Nashville a husband and wife got off and seemingly in unison audibly sighed. The middle-aged gentleman asked to no one and everyone, “When are they going to do something about this airport?”
After that I found a seat and perched myself in the middle of what I think was a team of convention-goers heading home. They were steamed about their delayed flight that was “made worse by being at this airport.”
The group purposely planned to arrive at KCI as late as possible to avoid spending any more time than they had to be here. A lady who looked like she could run a couple of Fortune 500 companies announced that being at KCI was “a sorry way to end a good trip.”
I asked if the airport situation would make her not want to come back to Kansas City and she quickly replied that the “airport leaves a bad taste coming and going.”
We’re at a crossroads. We either get a new airport or attach a giant banner that reads, Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.