Indianapolis opened their new 1.1 billion dollar terminal in 2008, replacing what was a very dated and mediocre customer experience. I’d been there. I’ve not been to the new terminal yet but as one prolific commenter here reported, they won an award in 2012 for best airport in the region for customer experience.

In their presentation to the Kansas City Council last week, the new terminal proponents noted “Poor Passenger Experience” as the first reason under “Why A New Terminal.” Of course, as evident in the dozens of comments here, most Kansas City passengers disagree. So did the Kansas City Council, saying that KCI was in fact a good customer experience most of the time. They advised the proponents not to try to sell the idea of a new terminal that way. So for now, it appears that one of the new mantras is: We’re losing flights because the airlines don’t like the airport. Build a new one and they will come.

Let’s momentarily set aside echoes from the Sprint Center sales pitch to voters and the promises of NBA and NHL franchises, as well as the seemingly obvious assumption that airlines send flights to where the passengers are and not simply to where photo ops of planes in front of shiny new terminals are. Let’s look at Indy as suggested, now nearly 5 years since opening.

From the Indianapolis Business Journal, January 2013: “Indianapolis Airport Boardings Hit 10-year Low

If you thought Indianapolis International Airport didn’t seem as busy in 2012 and that tickets were pricier, you’d be correct.

Passenger boardings fell by 2.2 percent last year, to 3.68 million, assistant treasurer Marsha Stone told airport board members on Friday. That’s a low not seen since 2003, according to airport records.

And it was nearly 6 percent less than what officials had projected for 2012.

From, July 2011: “Fewer Flights Are Taking Off From Indy

Nonstop flights have been halted from Indianapolis to Austin and San
Antonio, Texas; Hartford, Conn.; and San Francisco. And the number of daily
round trips to New York’s LaGuardia has been reduced.

An average of 153 flights depart each day from the airport on non-stop trips
to 35 other cities. In 2006, an average of 177 flights took off daily to 40
cities, according to the Indianapolis Airport Authority.

So both Indy and KC are losing flights. The only difference is that they have a shiny, 1.1 billion dollar airport terminal from which to lament.

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