Airport #92/100: Kansas City (MCI)

Kansas City International Airport
Kansas City, Missouri, United States

First visit: 29 July 2019
flighthistorian.com/airports/MCI

I have a love–hate relationship with Kansas City International (KCI): it’s a beautiful terminal concept that absolutely doesn’t work as a modern airport.

KCI was designed to minimize walking from one’s parked car to the gate, and so each of the three terminals is a thin circle wrapped around a parking garage.

Satellite imagery of all three terminals
Interior of Terminal C
Interior of Terminal C. The entire interior width of the terminal, as can be seen here, is only about 50 feet (15.5 meters).

However, this design was built before airport security was required, and the terminals weren’t wide enough to have singular landside and airside areas separated by a security checkpoint. Thus, the terminals had to have multiple security checkpoints, with only a few gates behind each, in order to make security fit.

Landside interior of Terminal C
Landside (non-secure) area of Terminal C. An airside (secure) portion is behind the glass panels in the center of the photo.

Given those limitations, the airside seating areas past security are exceptionally crowded and have very limited amenities. My particular gate area had rows of seats that were crowded so close together that two people couldn’t sit across from each other without interweaving their knees, and yet there still weren’t enough seats for everyone to sit down.

Effectively, KCI is a pretty unique airport design, which I appreciate – but I also have no desire to ever fly out of it again until its upcoming new, modern terminal is open.

Airport #90/100: Pittsburgh (PIT)

Photo of PIT central core

Pittsburgh International Airport
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

First visit: 24 June 2019
flighthistorian.com/airports/PIT

Pittsburgh is about a four hour drive from my home near Dayton, which means that it’s in what I call the doughnut zone – airports which are too far to fly from, but too close to fly to as a destination. The only airports I have in that zone tend to be hubs that I connect through, and Pittsburgh is not a hub for any airline I routinely fly, so I’ve never had a chance to connect through there.

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Airport #89/100: Fayetteville (FAY)

Fayetteville Regional Airport
Fayetteville, North Carolina, United States

First visit: 11 June 2019
flighthistorian.com/airports/FAY

For the most part, the small airports that I’ve been to tend to feel old – understandably so, since less passenger traffic means less need for (and money for) frequent renovations.

FAY fell squarely in that camp. As I stepped off the plane, I was immediately inside a rusty jet bridge painted 1970s orange, and the terminal felt similarly dated. Fortunately, it appears that the airport is getting some upgrades, so the appearance may improve in the near future.

That said, like most small airports, it was functional and easy to get in and out of. I certainly wouldn’t have any problems with flying through FAY again.

Airport #88/100: Fort Lauderdale (FLL)

Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States

First visit: 16 March 2019
flighthistorian.com/airports/FLL

I’ll be honest that I wasn’t too impressed with FLL on my visit. It’s certainly possible that I was visiting at a peak season, but the airport just felt crowded in a way that I wouldn’t normally expect for an airport its size. The arrivals road loop could not handle the amount of traffic flowing through it, leading to a much longer (and much more stop-and-go) shuttle trip to the rental car center than I would have expected from the distance traveled.

It’s also one of the airports whose terminals don’t seem to be connected past the security checkpoints, which does tend to get in the way of exploring the airport before my flight. At least Terminal 3 (E/F gates) and Terminal 4 (G gates) had a connector, so since my flight departed out of 3 I was able to visit half of the airport. Though it was still under construction, the parts of Terminal 4 which were finished looked pretty nice.