…Even with a large, delayed flight on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

One of most frequent claims by proponents of a new terminal is the need for restaurant offerings past the security checkpoints. They say that there is tremendous demand that is not being met. Another claim is that there is tremendous revenue potential we are not realizing. Neither of these claims have merit. These people seem to be stuck in the days when there were barely food carts and are ignorant of the fact that full-service restaurants now exist in the two busiest gate areas of the busiest terminal and at least one of them is barely used.

I have written before of the bar and grill in the Delta gate area. I’ve been there twice and on both occasions, it was nearly empty. Of course, one would expect that since one of the conveniences of KCI is speed in and out without having to plan for long delays or connections at the gate. But in fairness to those travelers who DO have to endure the occasional delay, I’ve not seen what happens at that restaurant in that situation.

Until today.

A reader was due to head to Atlanta this morning on a 757. He reported that they made it quickly through security and to the gate, only to learn that due to the storms on the east coast, these 180 Thanksgiving travelers were delayed at least two hours. Up they went to the Top of the Crown Grill and this is what they saw:

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The Top of the Crown Grill sits nearly empty while a few feet away, nearly 200 Delta passengers wait out a delay on the day before Thanksgiving. (Reader submitted photo)

Any open mind can see that we don’t need to build a new terminal to meet “demand” for restaurants beyond security. We can and have done so within the existing terminals and they are meeting demand, even with large delayed flights on one of the busiest travel days of the year. We DO need to consider this when speculating how much more revenue we could generate with more restaurants in a new terminal.

Proponants talk about huge percentage increases in airport revenue that would come from these restaurants and retail. (They like percentages since a “200% increase” sounds like a lot more than “a few million dollars” which would barely put a dent in the $50-60 million annual interest payment on a new terminal.) But we don’t need to speculate when we have real data available indicating the real demand (or lack thereof) for these services.