When Steve and Lisa Eddy leave for Israel in a couple of weeks, they’ll fly out from the old Wichita terminal.
But when they come back from their trip, they may land at the new Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.
“There’s a good chance,” said Steve Eddy, who flies at least five or six times a year. “Once we land, we’ll find out where we’re going.”
The Eddys were among hundreds of people who went to an open house for the new airport, which is slated to open sometime next month.
The new $200 million airport will be able to handle 2 million passengers a year, about 500,000 more than the airport does now.
Five airlines – Allegiant, Southwest, Delta, American and United – plan to make 72 flights daily from the new terminal.
During the open house Saturday, buses of people were transported to the main doors from parking lots.
Vicki Barbe of Wichita had several adjectives to describe the new terminal: aerodynamic, sleek, roomy, open, inviting.
“I’m hoping it brings in more air travel traffic, more business,” she said.
“It’s about time,” said her husband, Rick Barbe, a retired manufacturing engineer for Cessna. “It was pretty outdated. I’m excited for it.”
He especially liked the glass jetway from each gate.
“There’s a lot of good engineering that went into those. I’m impressed,” he said.
Their friend, Judy Norton of Park City, initially didn’t like the idea of spending money to rename the new airport. But she said after seeing it in person, she changed her mind.
“Being here now, it looks like (it needed) a new name,” she said.
Orlando Misaalefua, a member of the Air Force, flies frequently, sometimes on civilian flights.
“I think it’s a huge upgrade from the original Wichita ICT,” he said.
His wife, Nicole, said the new airport is now comparable to other airports across the country that they’ve seen. She especially liked the outlets on the chairs near gates.
“I like how they’ve integrated the outlets into the chairs. It’s more convenient. It’s not like a stand that you have to go to charge at,” she said.
The new building is 275,000 square feet, slightly larger than the old building, and features large windows and skylights throughout.
“I love all of the skylighting,” she said. “It makes it seem more open and bigger.”
The new security area, which is on the second level of the airport, is larger and will eventually include a new body-imaging machine often found in larger airports.
Funding for the new airport comes from airport-generated revenue and user fees.
The new airport features more options for travelers who want to eat and drink while waiting for their flight, with several restaurants available after the security checkpoint, which was not part of the layout at the old airport.
“Better food is a big thing, and the nice open feeling,” said Steve Eddy. “On those days when you’re stuck waiting for a flight for two hours it’s going to be a nicer wait.”
By the numbers
3 baggage claims
3 retail shops
4 security lines
6 food options
9 nonstop destinations
9 rental car companies
29 ticket counter spots
111 bathroom stalls
143 security cameras
275,000 square feet
1,600 parking garage stalls
Source: Wichita Eisenhower National Airport