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Attention Iceland: Visitors Will Soon Be Arriving From Kansas City International

Kansas City's first-ever nonstop transatlantic flight departs from Kansas City International Airport on Saturday.

Jen Houston got word back in January that Kansas City International airport was announcing its first-ever nonstop transatlantic flight.

"While I didn't know where it would be going, I knew that I would be on it. So when the announcement was made January 9, I booked my ticket," Houston says.

On Saturday at 5:15 p.m., Houston, an avid traveler and airport enthusiast, will depart on Kansas City's inaugural flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. 

"I'm really excited because that has been on my bucket list," Houston says. 

'A really important get'

While it's not mainland Europe, Iceland has been growing in popularity, both as a destination and a connector to the rest of Europe. 

"Iceland has become the first foray into international service for many communities around the country, so I consider it a really important get," says Bill Swelbar, chief industry strategist at Delta Airport consultants.

Swelbar says Icelandair, the carrier serving Kansas City, has had success targeting underserved cities in the United States. And, he said, some major airlines, such as United, have begun direct service there.

The more success Icelandair has with its Kansas City flight, he says, the better chance KCI has of attracting more international flights. 

"If Kansas City supports this service," Swelbar says, "it would be my guess that within the next two to three years, indeed there will be more."

A celebratory departure

Airport officials are drumming up excitement for the service to Iceland with a grand send-off for those who booked the first flight.

Though their flight isn't scheduled to depart until four hours later, passengers are being asked to arrive at the international terminal at 1 p.m. The airport is finishing $12 million in improvements to its international gates.

Iceland's ambassador to the United States will be on hand, as well as the president and CEO of Icelandair.

Passengers will all receive goody bags of Icelandic souvenirs, and, according to a press release, "as the jet taxis to the runway, the City of Kansas City, Fire Department’s Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting trucks will send off the flight with a spectacular arched water salute."

Michelle Davis is another one of the passengers who booked her ticket the day after the announcement in January, even though she's afraid of flying. For her, it will be a celebration of Kansas City. 

"We have a lot of friends from around the country and many people, even people in this city, seem to accept the idea that Kansas City is merely a spot in the middle of flyover country," Davis says. "So we wanted to be a part of this event and this group of people that reject that notion."

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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