The security configuration at KCI has been near the center of terminal planning discussions since the beginning. Proponents of a single terminal cite cost savings in security personnel while opponents point to the shorter lines at the current checkpoint and minimal savings vs job losses. Additionally, security personnel have said that the current configuration offers better screening because there are fewer passengers at each checkpoint and the screeners are more rested and focused.
One thing that has been discussed quietly at the Mayor’s Airport Terminal Advisory Group has been the security of passengers outside the screening area. The tragic incident at LAX yesterday where a gunman shot his way through a terminal has brought this consideration into the light. There is no question that pre-screened passengers spreadout over a large area or multiple terminals present a much less attractive target. Moreover, smaller crowds are both easier to monitor for trouble and easier to manage in a crisis.
A former FBI agent echoed this view in a report on KCTV.
But former FBI agent Michael Tabman said KCI’s multiple security checkpoints at multiple gates at multiple terminals spreads out the crowds and makes it easier for security agents to keep an eye out of passengers and others. He said it’s more manageable in pieces.
“If you look at KCI, those terminals are very lightly traveled. We don’t normally have big lines or big crowds. From a security perspective, it’s easier to monitor,” Tabman said.
Smaller crowds at KCI also mean less chance of injuries during an exchange of gunfire between gunmen and law enforcement officers, Tabman said.
“If there’s a shooting, we will have less chaos. So from my perspective on the outside looking in, I think it would be better to keep it the way it is,” Tabman said.
Here is a related security point to consider, centering more on passenger convenience and lack of disruption to the airlines. We’ve all read the stories from other airports where someone gets past security and triggers a security lock-down. The entire airport is then evacuated and everyone needs to be rescreened causing major delays and missed connections. KCI’s current configuration not only limits that exposure to a single terminal but to a small area within the terminal. Were we to move to a single terminal with one screening area, that advantage to both passengers and airlines goes away.
There is no perfect design nor will there ever be since our needs are constantly evolving. Once again though, it’s amazing to see how well the innovative current design provides for needs that were never anticipated. It’s yet another tribute to the archtectural teams that gave us both KCI and the Sports Complex.
It’s also important to consider the half-full glass that some want to give up in exchange for the glass they always see as half-empty – especially for a billion dollars.