Airport arrivals aggravation persists 1 month into new terminal’s operation

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 10:56 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - It’s been exactly one month since the new KCI terminal opened to much fanfare. There have been hiccups along the way. One that persists is people stuck in traffic snarls trying to pick up passengers at the arrivals area.

Garrett Reilly has flown into the new terminal three times.

“I love the new terminal,” he said. “I think it has a lot of amazing artwork, good food, and all the things a modern terminal should have.”

His love for the new digs comes with one exception. He posted a photo online that he took late Saturday showing headlights as far as the eye could see. It was all drivers trying to exit to arrivals.

“When I arrived at midnight,” Reilly said, “there was a long queue at arrivals and my wife sat for 30 minutes trying to pick me up.”

When KCTV5 visited on Tuesday, it was clear a lot of people are still unfamiliar with the layout and the rules. We saw people stopping beside traffic enforcement, more than once, asking where to go. At the curb, for every car loading, there were at least five just sitting, a string of blinkers flashing. We shot video from one corner for at least ten minutes with many of the same cars still stopped.

The first attempted fix from airport officials was to add more obvious signage to the cell phone lot. That’s where you’re asked to wait for your passenger to call once they are standing at the curb. Not getting off the plane. Not waiting at baggage claim. Standing at the curb.

“Then go ahead and say they’re at, say 1F, or whatever the column [is],” instructed KCI spokesman Joe McBride, “and that way the car can be in that second lane over [and] perhaps dive in when they’re close to that very column.”

That second lane is not just underground where the pickups happen. There are also two lanes leading there. The photo Reilly took shows most of the left-hand lane wide open. Nearly everyone is stacked up in a single lane.

Just today, after we sent Reilly’s photo to airport officials, the airport added two more signs instructing drivers to use both lanes.

Some people say they also need staff to be more aggressive in getting the sit-and-wait contingent to move along. That’s the message a viewer sent with a video she shot Saturday. She pointed to an officer getting pedestrians through the crosswalk while no one was addressing cars idling at the curb.

McBride said they’re still figuring out how to strike the right balance on the enforcement front.

“Being stern but also customer focused, because we know that this is a front door to the community and Kansas City is a friendly city,” he described. “But, by the same token, we need cars to keep moving.”

“I think it’s just a growing pain,” said Reilly. “I think when people realize how cool this airport is, and figure out how to do arrivals correctly, I think it’s going to be a great experience for everybody.”

McBride said they recently put together some how-to videos to help air travelers and drivers navigate all the new elements. He said they will be going up on the airport’s new website on Wednesday. The new address is