Glazer: Kansas City Puts Worst Foot Forward at KCI Airport

Let’s be blunt, we have the nation’s most boring airport…

It’s all wrong for the most part. The best thing about our KCI dead zone is you can get on and off flights quickly. And that, in and of itself, does matter. Rarely are there lines or waits, even on holidays. However, the main reason for that is quite simple.

NOBODY COMES HERE MUCH.

We pretend to be a large, major city, but in so many important ways we just are not.

A city’s airport is kinda like a business card. Ours is boring, slow and all but blank. There’s nothing to do or see at our airport. You can’t even see much, if any, of what our city looks like. Not even as you land. The town looks dead coming into our airport – just like KCI.

Don’t you love it? There are no real restaurants or bars. NONE.

Yes, we have a dump off fast food place here and there…barely. and of course one Starbucks, which is always 500 yards from wherever you might have landed or come in at.

And there’s ONE bookstore that also sells gum and candy. ONE. For the love of….are you kidding me?

I recently flew in from Charlotte, not a city I expected to have much of an airport.

My God, it was hopping! Tons of places to eat, drink, shop – a mini mall. Nowdays most airports have all of this in some way or another. Except ours. People were actually in the airport bars in Charlotte watching the NBA playoffs, laughing, drinking and having some fun while waiting for their flights. And this was at nearly 11 PM on a Monday.

I picked up my friend at KCI this past Friday at 10:30 PM. The TV’s – at least the one I could find – was on, but only in the security area waiting for incoming or outgoing flights. So nobody from the public could sit and watch anything.

AND THERE WAS NOTHING OPEN ON A FRIDAY NIGHT.

Except for a small, self-serve pie and bread shop it looked like Zombie Land. No people.

Five years ago I said Kansas City was the slowest growing of all major cities in the top 30.

I was wrong. Buffalo, New York has us  beat, but just by a hair.

Now KCI is getting a much needed facelift and will be redone into one big, new terminal.

Unfortunately, it’s more about security and the congestion of planes than making our airport modern like the others. I do understand. We’ve lost tons of airlines, routes – and hell – didn’t we used to be a hub for TWA and Braniff?

Those guys are done.

Today we’re a shell airport – empty, usually very slow, more of a stop off to change flights than a place to go.

We do have all those nice photos on the walls of the KC Zoo, 18th and Vine and more.

Wow, that’s exciting.

But Lord help you if you’re looking to get a bite or a drink anytime soon. Something halfway decent.

Pray that your next flight isn’t three or four hours late. The bathrooms are decent. You can hang out there, I suppose.

We have a beautiful city and there are many things to see and do. We just don’t promote it, never have.

Nobody knows much about Kansas City, unless they live here.

So an airport is important. It’s the first thing you people see when you come to our city and the last place they go when they say goodbye.

We can do better, much better.

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34 Responses to Glazer: Kansas City Puts Worst Foot Forward at KCI Airport

  1. mike says:

    what i never understood
    about our airport is why it is so far away. You have to drive half way to St. Joe to go there. It negates all of advantages of getting in and out quickly. It also makes it too expensive to run light rail there. It is very inconvenient for travelers to have the airport in the middle of nowhere. They should build an airport closer to the city instead of wasting money on refurbishing this one.

  2. the dude says:

    Denver ‘s recent
    facelift is interesting, STL’s airport was pretty cool back in the day and is still a throwback to the international movement.
    In the end though, it doesn’t really matter, what matters is if it looks fairly clean on the inside and your luggage didn’t get lost and you are not too late for a flight, that’s all that really matters when you go there anymore.
    Everything else is fluff and BS, wasted money if it works.

  3. harley says:

    sorry glaze…you’re major wrong on this story
    obviously you don’t travel much because kci is one of the greatest airports in the world. Who care how many
    people are in the apirport…i only care about getting on the plane…getting off and getting home..
    its probably the best in america for convenience…ease of use…quality of service for passengers..
    and sure they’re are no night clubs but if you’ve got just a half hour wait who care…i want to get
    where i’m going without any hassles.
    try atlanta…spent a night there because of weather…their airport is so packed you get get run
    over just getting to your gate.
    chicago: omg…its not unusual to get stuck there because the weather is so jacked up…
    try missing a flight in chicago and having to run to your gate…the worst place to fly into
    and thru.
    tel aviv: now thats a trip. They say your flight leaves at 10am…chances are it won.t. It leaves
    when secrutiy says it leaves. Imagine having your suitcase thrown open on the floor…its happened
    to friends…and they do what they want…screw departure and arrival times…everything’s about
    security.
    athens: really bad also. just tough to get thru…
    new york: laguardia/jfk….walk…walk…walk….get lost…ask someone who cusses you out how to
    get somewhere…the toughest airport with the toughest passengers.
    la x…getting in and out of that airport is really bad. I usually try to go thru john wayne…oc…
    but the traffic surrounding lax is just terrible…even at 10pm on sunday nights.
    dallas: love field…easy..smooth…dfw is a little tougher.
    vegas: built for speed and to get passengers to the table. Good luck getting a taxi
    during thrusday/friday…wait and wait..unless you know how to work the lines.
    hobby: big…texas big…make sure to find your gate…you’ll need gps.
    really glaze…nothing like kci…you can walk off your plane…walk 20 feet to baggage and
    walk out the door to your car…….we don’t how great we have it in kc.

  4. the dude says:

    sounds also like
    another attempt to waste tax payer’s money, toy train, 1000 room unnecessary hotel, White Power District, et. al.

  5. Bob Loblaw says:

    Agree with Harley
    I’ve been through just about every major airport in the US and by far KCI is the least pain in the ass of them all. I don’t go to the airport to bar hop, call me crazy.

  6. Lance the Intern says:

    Unfortunately…
    I have to agree with Harley….I spent 2 years traveling to Charlotte weekly…I could care less how much there was to do IN the airport — All I cared about was the ease of getting in and out. KC’s airport has Charlotte’s beat hands down. And it’s 30 minutes from pretty much anywhere in the KC area.

  7. Ron says:

    I’ve been to most US airports…
    And KCI is an embarrassment. I agree that it’s nice that it is so easy to get on and off the plane and get to your car, but the current 3 terminal structure just won’t work anymore. Not to mention those old concrete buildings with that awful lighting is just depressing to be there.

    Give me something like Indy. A nice, open bright building that is still easy to get in and out of. And that includes decent resaurant, bars, shopping.

  8. paulwilsonkc says:

    Glazer is 100% CORRECT on this one!!
    KCI has ONE saving grace; If youre FROM here, flying in and OUT of here, there isnt a better airport anywhere on the face of this planet. You park, walk 100 feet and youre at your gate. That can’t be duplicated anywhere. So, if we are talking about Kansas Citys population using Kansas Citys airport, there IS nothing better.

    But if you’re connecting through, its a hole. And whats worse, if youre a stranger coming here for the first time and connect to another airline, theres virtually NOTHING to tell you how to go about getting that done!! You’re on your own in a cresent shaped pod with no idea of where to go or how to get there.

    Having flown a half million miles a year, year in and year out, anyplace is better than here. Charleston West By God Virgina has a world class knock your socks off breakfast cafe for gods sake! Narita, where most of my international time has been has more shopping food and choices than the Plaza and all our malls combined!

    KCI – If youre FROM here, we are blessed. If youre connecting and need food or drink youre screwed. If you need food or drink after 9pm, you’ll starve.

    Nailed this one, Glazer.

  9. rkcal says:

    you can’t get there from here
    As someone from here, I do appreciate the ease. However, someone needs to explain to me how MCI is an INTERNATIONAL airport……is there a 4 pm crop duster to Toronto or something? You can’t get anywhere from here. Having to go to Chicago, Dallas, or Atlanta every time I want to get away negates the MCI ease. Even Memphis has direct flights to Montego Bay. Maybe the new construction will increase the destination options. I would gladly lose a little convenience for that.

  10. smartman says:

    To Air is Human
    If a strip club won’t send a comp car to pick you up during your layover you’re in a shit hole. We will NEVER get the volume of traffic necessary to get more destinations, world class food or shopping. Products like gotomeeting.com and skype have killed 20% of business travel. We might as well be Des Moines or Omaha. Hell, that would actually be an improvement as it relates to our “urban” problem. At some point we will lose the convenience of the three terminal system. As long as Southwest continues to operate here, sexy destinations or connections are just a flight away. Day may come where we have to take puddle jumpers to STL if the knee grows and messkins keep humping like bunnies. Can the Muslims be far behind? We’ve already got a Somali cab driver problem. The future for general aviation is not bright for KC.

  11. PB says:

    Usually I’m More A Defender
    Of KC than most but on this topic, I agree with Wilson and Glazer. KCI is great for us locals, whether flying in or out or picking somebody up, but it is seriously lacking in amenities and like it or not, that is a reflection on our city as sometimes, especially in the case of a non-destination burg like ours, it is the only slice of KC that travelers are exposed to. Having said that, who’s to say there won’t be major improvements with the new, single terminal? Besides addressing the so-called security issues and technological advancements, I believe there are certain standards that are applicable for new airport construction and some of those involve traveler comfort, convenience and accessibility. Perhaps this new facility will still maintain some of best features of the current airport while improving in other making it an airport we can all be proud of.

    This article that ran in last year’s Star spells out alot of the pros and cons of a new airport, mind you this involving the original plan of a new standalone terminal to the south of KCI.

    http://www.kansascity.com/2011/11/19/3276094/like-it-or-not-kci-needs-to-change.html

  12. The Truth says:

    Hey, Lets hangout at KCI….
    Wow, the airport is for …… Guess what…… AIR TRAVEL.

    Its not a “bar scene.” You are lost!!! What kind of loser would complain about the bars in an airport???

  13. PB says:

    I Want To Travel
    With The Truth then because apparently he’s never had to deal with a layover. Since I’m not flying the plane, yes, I wouldn’t mind having a cocktail at something fancier than a kiosk when waiting for a flight. As with almost any business in recent years, it’s no longer about the main service that business provides and is known for, it’s all about added revenue and bars/restaurants/boutiques bring in extra dollars and prestige for an airport. Just like going to a ballgame where the game itself just becomes another element of the whole experience.

  14. the dude says:

    Then just put in a
    Trader Vic’s and a Taco Hut and BAM! I just saved the tax payers 2 billion dollars. Where do you think this monopoly money is going to come from to build this waste of money when they also want the taxpayer to finance a useless 1000 room hotel and a toy train that goes about 10 city blocks?
    The can has been kicked repeatedly on the sewer system that needs separating and the last time I checked that was a few billion dollars to fix and the EPA will not be kind when it comes to fining the city.

    More pressing things to tend to here…

  15. the dude says:

    And guess what people?
    Last time I checked KC is still a cow town in flyover country, always has, always will be no matter what you buiild here.
    Embrace the suck and fix the water and sewer systems before throwing money away on boondoggles.

  16. Bob says:

    Weren’t u like
    Weren’t you like 50 when the Airport movies came out? Why don’t you write an article about the passing of Jardines?

  17. PB says:

    As Far As The Costs Go, Dude
    This from that article I posted earlier…

    VanLoh cites one common misconception the city must overcome: People think Kansas City will have to raise taxes to pay for a new terminal. It will not.
    The money for the new facility

  18. the dude says:

    KC will have to pad
    the kitty with a couple hundred mil, the gubment don’t pay for it all on any fed projects, except maybe corps of engineers.

  19. smartman says:

    @PB
    Excellent points! Since there is no real LOCK BOX for federal funds lets just take the airport money and spend it on infrastructure, public safety and schools…..things which improved might very well change our destiny. We can tap the keg for a new airport in 2022.

  20. harley says:

    ahh….we send so much money to washington
    its kansas citys turn to put some people to work..
    I’m sure my conservative friends choked on that comment. But thats typical for this country and its
    why we are in the mess we are in.
    KC doesnt.need another airport. We can barely use the one we have. Its too big for what we need for te
    next 20 years. But lets build another airport so we can give jobs to people…and yes infrastructure projects
    are great…put people to work…turns dollars and increases tax revenues but we have bridges and
    roads that need work…schools that need work…more important progects that really need to be
    done before that. I m not familiar with the kc sewer system but would it be better to fix that than
    build another air port we don’t need. And i’m sure local tax payers will have to pay something.
    We need to get rid of that thinking. We have more important projects to do…and not another
    courthouse luxury building.
    We are not a financially broke nation…we are a politically broke nation. If thye build another airport
    in kc its goining to be another bullshit waste of money.
    I’ve been to probably 20 airports in america…my sister and brother law have traveled for over
    25 years nad probably been in every major airport in he world….and i can honestly say that
    I can’t remember an airport for its bars…the lounges…the food…the service. Its just not that
    big a deal to me. I’m sure few people if any cna remeber the “great food” at hartfield…or that
    cool bar in laguardia (which was picked as the third worst airport in america)…or that
    delicious donut at newark. Airports have one purpose…to move people. I can’t rmember any
    thing about any airport that distinguises that airport from another…except for one….the
    slots at vegas airport don’t pay out shit. Worst machines anywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. the dude says:

    No shit,
    when was the last time you visited an airport, got frisked and cornholed, get a half a years worth of radiation and a nudie pic snapped to be “scrutinized” by drooling, parvert security, get your flight bumped because they oversold the flight and said to yourself, “WOW, THAT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE WE NEED TO DO THAT AGAIN!!!! THE AIPORT IS SUPER DOOPER AWESOMESAUCE!!! I WANNA GO THERE AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!!

    Not fucking likely.
    Airports suck sweaty old man balls no matter how much you try to glitz it up with a TGI Fridays or a massuse staiton or Wolfgang Pucks restaurant. They are glorified bus stations, period.

  22. HARLEY says:

    i hate to say this
    but the dude hit it out of the park….pretty nice complete assessment of traveling now adays.

  23. Fellow Traveler says:

    City of Fountains?
    There was a really cool fountain in the median just before you reach the terminals. In fact IT’S STILL THERE!! But in the infinte wisdom of the powers that be, it hasn’t been turned on in years. Oh there’s a small lake underneath it to feed the fountain, but it doesn’t matter because the dang thing IS TURNED OFF! To make matters worse, they have the unique sculpture lit at night in red and blue. When the water used to cascade from the top into the lake it really was beautiful. Now, think of people arriving from out of town to the so-called city of fountains, only one of the first things they see is one that isn’t working. Anybody else know what I’m talking about? I always have to make up some bs story about the pumps being broken or the weather to blame this mistake away.

  24. expat says:

    The Dude is right that the security measures are a trial but what makes MCI worse is once you go into the loading area, you can’t go to any of the shops without going out and doing the security thing all over again. There needs to be one centralized security area and all the shops/restaurants are inside it.

    Paul, Narita is getting really run down and the shops aren’t good especially compared to say Hong Kong. HK also has the brilliant in-town check in. Narita is about to get massacred by Haneda which is a lot closer to Tokyo and recently opened to international flights.

  25. dastruth says:

    KC Got It Wrong Back In The Day… As Always
    How much better would KC be if the Truman Sports Complex had been put where the old Downtown Airport is and KCI where the Sports Complex is… Huh?

  26. chuck says:

    Barbara Hale
    Was Della Street on Perry Mason.

    What a great show.

    “Della, get Paul Drake on the phone.”

    Paul Drake had a fuckin car phone, no shit.

  27. jimmyneutron says:

    Historical Perspective
    There are things I hate about KCI – lack of food/beverage options once through security is one as are some other items mentioned in the article. That said, you have to remember how this was in the 70’s when the airport was “new”. At that time TWA, Braniff, and others were here with TWA being based here. KCI was busy, and the layout – think currently but without the walled-off areas behind security – was amazing. The airport was convenient, much busier and because they didn’t have the walled off secured area it was open and light – not somewhat claustrophobic like now. KCI back in the day was a really neat airport – but like all things having to do with commercial air travel KCI has started to resemble a turd – this is due primarily to the airlines shrinking/leaving/going BK and also due to security (Thanks Jihadists!) and the overeaction to security. KCI was neat in its day though – take my word for it. But, just as the 20 something girls that served as the comely TWA flight attendents in the 1970’s have turned into the bitter 65 year old American Flight Attendents, KCI has not aged well.

  28. BarKeeper says:

    Sky Caps Suck Too
    Last time up there, this blank-faced illiterate half-wit checks in my two pieces of luggage, and then “hints” that he should get at least five bucks for dissing me. Somebody needs to regulate this bunch of Mcdonald’s rejects. They aren’t qualified to dislodge turds in the restrooms.

  29. harley says:

    now you got me started…
    the stewardesses…the flight attendants…wow!!!!
    Back in the 90’s they were incredible. Dated one stationed out of dallas/austin. They’d stay on the plaza during
    layovers and about 400 of them lived at the villages apartments in dallas by greenville.
    They had to look good…be in shape…gorgeous…and sweet….
    I think an age discrimination lawsuit changed everything and they had to rehire the older f.a.
    But in the day flying was an affair..people dressed up to fly…now they dress down.
    I talked with an southwest flight atendant coming back from lauderdale in march and we
    discussed the weight issue of passengers. She said s.w. had a policy of making
    passengers who couldnt fit into the safety belts at full extension buy an extra ticket.
    I got stuck between 2 sumo wrestlers on a flight and was stuffed in the middle seat.
    Hopefully they take care of the weight issue because its getting crazy on those flights.
    but yes…the flight attendants were incredible years ago…miss those girls.
    OH AND BARKEEPER…yes..the sky caps expect money…if you don’t tip em your
    bags might end up in peoria….it happens…always give them mmoney and have
    them hand carry the bags to the plane (right!) or you might have no clothees.
    If you think the sky caps in kc are tough for tips…try the shoe shiners..the doormen..
    the maitre d’s…the waiters…the keno girls…the cabbies…the room service..
    the maids…the pool attendants…the lounge attendants…the drink girls..
    the floor sweepers…the dealers…the chaise lounge attandenats… the
    bag claims…the masseuses…the spa people…the glass cleaners…the vacuum
    cleaners…the cooks…the bus boys…the wine stewards…the mop guys…the
    dish washers…the greeters …the pit boseese…every one of them mf’ers in vegas
    want a tip!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. balbonis moleskine says:

    hey barkeep,

    I hope you realize that the curbside bag check in is a luxury service. You should be tipping skycaps. If you work in the service industry you should know better.

    If you walk them inside and check them in the line like a bigboy no tip is needed.

    man the cheap shit people will try to get away with in this city!

  31. tiad says:

    100%
    Paul,

    The only times Glaze is 100% correct is when the VD tests come back positive.

  32. Harley says:

    Im a fraud
    I only no about 2 airporst, kci and vegas. I skrimp and save so I can ta
    ke my hores to vegas and act like glazer
    for a weekend
    then come back to my life where my girlfriend
    hate me…..
    thats it… my knew fake name… shehateme, its perfect.
    no one bought the fake harley real harley slurable harley thing
    so now
    I have to really
    go under gound

  33. REAL Harley says:

    stop this character…………
    assassinashunn right………. now fake……… harley!!!
    I own…….. numerous biznesses………worldwide………
    craig and dare……….are my best buds………….. wilsun wants……
    to have……beer with me……. my lawyer law4life@yahoo.net………
    says so……. so stop this now……. talk to my lawyer………. immediately….
    slurp

  34. Dead horse@dead-horse. com says:

    Music/food like our neighbor to the south…..Austin, tx
    It would make air porting fun again ……

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