© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kansas City's new airport will have a busy first Thanksgiving travel week. Here's what to know

People walk back and forth with luggage on a crosswalk inside an underground driveway where many cars are lined up behind them.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
During the week of Thanksgiving, jazz musicians will perform at Kansas City International Airport's baggage claim to welcome travelers to the city.

The new terminal at Kansas City International Airport has been operating since February, but this upcoming week might just be the busiest stretch of travel it has seen since opening.

The week of Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest travel times of the year. For Kansas City International Airport, which opened its new single terminal in February, that means preparing for the most travelers that it's seen at one time.

KCI says it expects 405,000 passengers to pass through the new terminal from last Friday through next Tuesday — a 15% increase from last year. The airport will add security and parking officers to try and smooth what can sometimes be a long line.

Melissa Cooper is the director of aviation with the Kansas City Aviation Department, which owns and operates KCI. She says visitors need to give themselves more time than usual to get to their gate.

"We are asking anybody using the airport to arrive two hours early," Cooper told KCUR's Up To Date. "And that's not much earlier than normal, but we want to see people here. We want people to not have the added stress of holiday travel."

Cooper says they encourage people to plan way ahead for parking. And if you're waiting to pick up passengers, make sure you're using the cell phone lot — or else watch out for the tow truck.

"If you're not following the rules, expect whistles and tickets," Cooper says.

The TSA isreminding flyers that some food like gravy, jam and cranberry sauce must be in checked bags, unless they are frozen solid, in which case you can carry them on. The TSA also says if you’re traveling with a gun, it must be packed in a hard case and checked.

So far this year, the TSA says its already confiscated more than 75 guns at KCI.

Cooper says the record level of passengers will serve as a kind of stress test for the airport.

"We'll learn things this week through Thanksgiving, and we'll continue to be better and implement ways to improve that traveler experience for the winter holiday season," she says.

But it’s not all going to be gridlock — a live jazz band in the baggage claim will let people know they’ve really arrived in Kansas City.

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.