New KCI Airport Terminal Aims to Support and Welcome Everyone

Opening day participants describe their experience

Vistors get a little of the KC experience before they even leave the airport.

Belle Yennie, Staff Writer

  An airport with the aroma of Barbeque is the only way to greet a Kansas City visitor – or perhaps invite them home. Teens and adults stop in their tracks to take pictures and videos in awe of the new terminal, sometimes holding up traffic while doing a double take of the iconic City Market arch. 

  The new KCI Airport Terminal opened on Feb. 28 and immediately immerses guests into the Kansas City experience with its restaurant variety and support for local businesses. There is an attraction for everyone, from getting a hair trim during a layover at The Director’s Cut to an indoor, accessible playground. 

  Deepti Manian, a mother of a 2-year-old son, describes the experience of being a parent at the airport while her son plays in a silver and red airplane. He presses the buttons and steers the wheel as she speaks. 

  “Having a playground always helps because we go with this bag full of stuff, like books and toys, but he does get bored of those things one flight after the other,” Manian said. “Being able to move around and touch and feel stuff is good for him.”

  The new $1.5 billion terminal aims to be more thoughtful of parents and children by including rooms for overwhelmed travelers. The Sensory Room is designed for “travelers who are neurodivergent” and the Quiet Room is for anyone who “needs a sense of peace,” as described on the signs outside of the spaces. Additionally, two large all-gender bathrooms are included for parents with little ones, those who require caregiver assistance and others a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

  Around the airport, the sound of mingling travelers dwindles away. Smooth Jazz emerges from down the hall at Soiree Steak & Oyster House. Inside the restaurant is a small stage for live musicians. Herschel Williams from Live Jazz KC said he believes a jazz venue at the airport is “on-brand” for Kansas City. Williams shares his excitement to perform with his trio featuring Kansas Community College students Jordan Faught and Jaylen Ward. 

  “I was really honored to be asked here on the opening day. This only happens once,” Williams said. “If you’re here waiting for a flight, you’d be able to catch a little bit of flavor and what’s going on in this town.” 

  The cheerfulness continues for travelers buying local gifts and goods. Made in KC Marketplace Sales Associate Leslie Wrightfield observes people on opening day. Children pose with the Patrick Mahomes mannequin in the storefront. Later on, a woman and her family land in from New York, excited to buy her kids Joe’s Barbeque Sauce. Upon checking out another customer, Wrightfield was offered a Kansas City delicacy: a singular Christopher Elbow chocolate. 

  “They’re thrilled to see things that mean home to them,” Wrightfield said. “Their reactions have been priceless.” 

  A feature of the terminal includes mimicking Kansas City architecture. Travelers can buy snacks and travel essentials at the Brookside Local and 18th and Vine storefronts. Local businesses like Bloom Baking Co., Messenger Coffee Co., Brown and Lowe and more represent Kansas City at the new airport terminal. Further images and information about the terminal’s construction can be found at

[email protected]