KCI valet promises are greeted with doubt and worry

07/29/2014 5:02 PM

07/29/2014 5:55 PM

The customer is always right.

Even when being demanding, pitching conspiracy theories and displaying the human tendency to fight change instead of adapting.

The customer is always right.

And at Kansas City International Airport, officials know it. Time will tell if they keep the adage in focus.

The latest plan to alleviate the lack of parking around Terminal B is valet service. The cost will be $27 per day, $5 more than the current daily charge to park in the overcrowded garage. That is, if you can find a space.

The intended customers, frequent business travelers, were quick to speak out. Feedback before the service even begins in August. That’s a planner’s dream, a way to correct a mistake before you make it.

The comments are telling and on target.

“Really, they call this ‘paying attention to flier habits’?” wrote one such business flier when asked for input for this column. “This is two years late.”

True. And that is the public relations challenge for Standard Parking, which will manage the valet service. People asked for valet service repeatedly when Standard surveyed them about what they wanted. But it never materialized. That’s part of the frequent flier frustration. As airlines consolidated, parking only got worse.

The rumors took off as the city continues to decide on future upgrades — single terminal or not. Some think the parking problems are part of a plot to swing the decision. Not true.

But the fear among some travelers is that even with a valet to bring the car curbside, the vehicle would be parked too far away to be convenient for pickup at landing. It won’t, airport officials promise.

Standard plans to have the car “staged” nearby when flights are scheduled to land. Travelers will give returning flight information when they drop off the car. When the flier returns to KCI, the car can be moved from Terminal A’s parking garage and shuffled closer for faster pickup.

If all of this works well at Terminal B, the airport might expand the service to Terminal C. Time will tell.

There will also be a more concerted effort to get people to use the cellphone wait area when arriving to pick someone up at the airport.

Apparently, people don’t seem to notice the signs announcing the area within the economy parking lots. Either that or Kansas Citians prefer to drive round and round the terminal, growing more frustrated with every circle.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to msanchez@kcstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at msanchezcolumn.

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