Construction, lack of parking to cause delays for travelers at KCI

Travelers using Kansas City International Airport should factor in more than just long lines through security. Construction and full parking lots could also slow things down.

Because of construction on the main freeway into the airport, drivers are being funneled into one lane, causing some traffic delays. In addition, police have stepped up enforcement because drivers were coming off Interstate 29 and into the work zone too quickly, airport spokesman Joe McBride said.

Although the traffic snarls are a little unpredictable, McBride said he’s usually seeing more traffic congestion when many people are leaving the airport.

The work started July 17 and could finish next Sunday. After that, construction crews plan to move on to International Circle nearer the terminals, but that work is scheduled for late at night and shouldn’t affect most people.

All the construction work should wrap up in November.

The other issue — lack of parking — isn’t likely to disappear so soon.

Terminal B houses Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines, and it added AirTran Airways on July 12 after Southwest purchased it earlier this year. All of that means 60 percent of KCI passengers now fly out of this terminal.

McBride said the fix isn’t quick or easy. It would take moving Southwest or Delta to really change things, and that could take millions of dollars and airport infrastructure adjustments.

To alleviate the strain on the garage, airport officials added an hour of free parking in the economy lot to encourage those dropping off or picking up passengers not to take up a spot in the garage. The parking management also is directing travelers to specific spots in the garage as they open up.

For real-time parking information, check flykci.com.

McBride suggests parking in other lots and hopping on a bus or using one of the parking services.

Although AirTran’s move bumped passenger traffic up some, McBride said parking isn’t a new problem, nor is it a source of major complaint. He estimated that the percentage of passengers through Terminal B is already well into the 50s.

But for Overland Park attorney Brett Votava, who has been using the airport for 10 years, this was the first time he found himself without a space in B’s garage. He ended up parking in C’s lot and walking to B, saying the buses can be inconsistent.

“I was walking in business attire, soaking sweat. Then I cram onto a plane,” he said. “It was just not a good way to start off a three-hour flight to Oakland.”

On Tuesday, Votava has another business trip. He’s flying out of Terminal C, something he expects to be an “absolute joy” comparatively.

He flies out of Terminal B again on Aug. 16. He plans to leave much earlier.