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Thousands of Kansas Citians volunteered for a day of KCI hassle and no travel. Here's why

A large sculpture made of brass instruments is moved into a construction site.
Build KCI
Kansas City Aviation Department
The Willie Cole “Ornithology” Public Artwork is installed at the new single terminal airport at KCI. The terminal is in the final stages of construction before it opens early next year.

The Kansas City Aviation Department is looking for volunteers to take part in a simulation to test amenities and other operational systems at KCI’s new terminal ahead of its scheduled opening in March.

For many of us, a day spent at the airport — parking, checking in, taking off your shoes in the security line — seems like a headache. But according to Kansas City officials, more than 5,000 residents have applied to do just that — without the reward of traveling anywhere.

The Kansas City Aviation Department is inviting residents to take part in a simulation that will try out the operational capacities of the new KCI single terminal.

For years, city officials have been promising travelers that a new terminal will be more convenient than the current, horseshoe-shaped structures. Now, residents will have an opportunity to put that promise to the test.

The event will take place over a single day in mid-February 2023. Volunteers will be asked to perform tasks around the terminal simulating a busy day of travelers coming to and from KCI.

Justin Meyer, Deputy Director of Aviation, said that the city is looking for around 1,000 volunteers — including children and service animals — to participate in the event.

“We’re certainly looking for age diversity, frequent traveler diversity, ability diversity,” Meyer says. “We’re keen to have some travelers with some mobility concerns that are in the building so we want to make sure the facility works for them as well.”

Participants will be given a list of varied actions to take during the simulation, like checking in for a flight, finding a restroom or finding a restaurant with specific dietary options to test the accessibility and availability of certain amenities.

Unlike the current set-up, where there are several security checkpoints serving a limited number of gates, the new terminal will have a single security screening area that serves all gates.

Some volunteers will also be asked to simulate picking travelers up from the terminal to observe traffic flow. They will also be asked to act out picking up and dropping off passengers and moving to and from the new parking garage.

“We’ve been looking at this project for years now,” Meyer says. “But there’s certainly things we’re not seeing that we need additional eyes to help us identify.”

While more than 5,000 residents have submitted an application to take part in the simulation within the first 24 hours of the announcement, city officials are encouraging other residents to continue applying to increase the diversity of the selection pool.

If you are interested in participating in the simulation, you can fill out the city’s online survey application.

The new terminal is scheduled to open in March of next year.

As KCUR’s Community Engagement Producer, I help welcome our audiences into the newsroom, and bring our journalism out into the communities we serve. Many people feel overlooked or misperceived by the media, and KCUR needs to do everything we can to cover and empower the diverse communities that make up the Kansas City metro — especially the ones who don’t know us in the first place. My work takes the form of reporting stories, holding community events, and bringing what I’ve learned back to Up To Date and the rest of KCUR.

What should KCUR be talking about? Who should we be talking to? Let me know. You can email me at zjperez@kcur.org or message me on Twitter at @zach_pepez.

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