Kansas City Airport Guide
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Your Complete Guide to Kansas City Airport

Kansas City Airport is one of the larger of American airports, and is found in the state of Missouri, approximately 15 miles, or 24km northwest of the Central Business District of Kansas City. The airport sees over ten million passengers per annum, and is served by a number of airline carriers, although is not a hub for any airline company. The former name of the airport was Mid-Continent International, and for this reason it is referred to by the IATA code of MCI. Airport authorities would, however, like to change this to KCI. Passengers of this American airport have access to a wide range of facilities, as well as several forms of ground transportation.

The airport of Kansas City can be accessed by a few interstates from the downtown area, and from surrounding areas. Leading from the north (past St Josephs) and from the city is the Interstate 29. Off this road is the exit to the airport terminal buildings. Important as well is the Interstate 435, running to the west of the airport grounds and joining the Interstate 29 to the north of the airport facilities. The airport is also particularly nearby to Leavenworth, Smithville and Platte City, and to the Platte Falls Conservation Area, Tiffany Greens Golf Club and Tiffany Spring Park. Once at the airport, passengers may park in one of the terminal garages, with are within walking distance of the check-in areas, or in one of three economy lots, which are linked to the terminals by free shuttle buses that are blue in colour. All on-site airport buses are colour-coded.

Passengers travel to and from the airport on buses and taxis as well. Every day about twenty-five trips are available by public buses (Route 129x), or a trip by private shuttle can be arranged. Taxis are very convenient, and are found outside of each terminal building, however, they will be much more expensive than a public bus service. At this point in time, Kansas City Airport has no railway station, and there are no light rail train services in the city either. Future plans may include a North/South Corridor light rail running from Vivion Road in the north to Meyer Boulevard in the south. Only time will tell if the light rail system will be built, and if it will ever be linked to the airport.

Kansas City International Airport was not the first airport of Kansas City, as it’s site was only selected in 1953, and its first runways were opened in 1956. Back then it was named as the Kansas City Industrial Airport. The other two airports of the city were the Kansas City Municipal Airport and the Fairfax Airport. Fairfax was the city’s main hub for passenger traffic, as well as for airmail traffic, but the Great Flood of 1951 destroyed much of its facilities that were used by the airlines Mid-Continent Airlines and TWA. The city realized that the downtown airport had limited space for expansion, and although they owned Grandview Airport in the south, decided to build an entirely new airport, one which was away from the banks of the Missouri River. Grandview Airport was later donated to the United States Air Force, and became known as the Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base.

Since that Mid-Continent Airlines were such an important part of airport history in Kansas City, the new airport acquired the name Mid-Continent International, and hence its IATA code of MCI. Terminals were constructed that required no people movers, unlike the Washington Dulles International Airport and Tampa International Airport, with airline gates within a few metres of the roadway. However, a few flaws were discovered in the design and layout of the airport. The layout did not work well with 747 passengers, and because there was no central area, new security checkpoints to deter hijackings had to be built at each gate, which proved difficult and expensive. Various passenger facilities were also not accessible once passing through the security check-points, such as restroom facilities, shops, restaurants, ATMs and newsstands. The terminals then needed to be rebuilt to solve these problems.

Today, Kansas City Airport boasts a unique design with three terminals in the shape of rings. They are referred to as the buildings A, B and C, and there is still no central terminal area. Each, therefore, has their own check-in facilities, baggage reclaim halls and airline departure gates. Since there is no people mover system in place, shuttle buses run between the terminals. These shuttles are red in colour. At first passengers needed to pay a small fee to use them, but due to a major public outcry the airport was forced to ensure that the shuttle services were free of charge. A fourth ‘ring’ was planned, however, it was never built. Instead, the airport acquired a new consolidated rental car facility which is now home to several popular car hire companies, including Hertz, Budget, Avis and National. Grey shuttle buses are available from all terminals for passengers who need to rent a car.

Future ideas for the airport’s development may be to reconstruct Terminal A, turning it into a large central passenger building with all facilities for arrival and departure flights. Terminal B will then be demolished and Terminal C will be used for hired office space. Originally, authorities planned to build a new central terminal on vacant property just south of the airfield, but this project was deemed too expensive. New construction work for Kansas City International Airport may begin in 2014, and be completed by 2016.

Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines carry the largest percentage of airport passengers, and other important airline companies at the airport include United Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines. The main destinations of these companies are in the United States, and include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Las Vegas and Charlotte. Overall, 45 destinations can be reached from Kansas City Airport on non-stop flights. Some of these destinations are international, such as Toronto in Canada and Cancun in Mexico. Air Canada Express and Frontier Airlines are two companies offering international flights. SeaPort Airlines is present as well, but do not operate from the main terminals. They have a private aviation terminal for their flights to Memphis, Harrison (AR) and Salina.

Passengers will find that Kansas City Airport is well equipped for their needs, with facilities such as banking services, currency exchange outlets, shops, restaurants and fast-food stores, duty-free stores, lost and found services and free Wi-Fi connections. The airport is completely accessible to disabled passengers as well. Further information is available at the following number: 816-243-5237. Parking details can be found at 816-243-5870.