Kansas City International Airport (MCI) Guide

January 3, 2023

At its peak, the Kansas City International Airport (MCI) serviced nearly six million passengers a year. It hosts nearly 9,000 flights a year to four different countries, with 413 routes from 43 airlines! That makes it one of the most in-demand airports in the region.

History of Kansas City International Airport

This success of “MCI” Airport is fascinating as it is a relatively is a relatively new airport, opening in the mid-1950s after the Great Flood of 1951 destroyed the facilities of Mid-Continent Airlines and TWA. Ground was broken in 1954. Finally, the first runway opened in 1956, about 15 miles northwest of downtown Kansas City.

From 1956 to 1966, the airport went through various upgrades because it was, at the time, the “poorest airport” in the country. Large jets regularly overran the runway, and after new construction began in 1966 to expand the current facility, it was completed in 1972. This was the official opening of MCI.

When completed, it was renowned for its “drive-to-your-gate” design, which let fliers drive right to their plane. Unfortunately, this interesting idea proved to be a little dangerous, , so security checkpoints were installed to protect passengers. Throughout the 1970s to the 2000s, the airport has continued to change in many fascinating ways.

MCI Airport Expansions and Renovations

Kansas City International Airport continued to grow throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s and became one of the most popular and in-demand airports in the Midwest. For example, renovations throughout the 70s and 80s made way for supersonic airplanes, one of the few airports in the nation with such facilities. Improvements to terminals and facilities included better restrooms, security checkpoints, and walkways.

More recent renovations included completely redesigning the airport to take its three cloverleaf terminals, which were once so existing, and streamline them into one larger terminal. Approved in 2017, this project was completed in 2019 and is the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history. This new design enhanced the airport’s overall security, safety, and efficiency.

Art and Things to See at Kansas City International Airport

One of the biggest Kansas City Airport amenities that we like at The Parking Spot is its many art destinations. There are multiple concourse paintings throughout the facility, including work by John W. Hans, Israel Garcia, and Bernadette Esperanza Torres. Large-scale public artwork includes SOFTlab (a unique cloud-gazing artwork) and Let the Music Take You, a piece by George Rodriguez.

This public art makes MC Airport one of the most attractive facilities in the nation. Of particular note are Leo Viallrea’s Fountain, a gorgeous sculpture that emulates a water foundation, and Jill Anhol’s Sky Prairie, a giant overhanging piece that stretches down from the ceiling with multiple red pillars. Pieces like these help make this a popular destination for art fans.

Parking / Transportation at MCI Airport

Kansas City International Airport provides multiple airport parking solutions that may work for you, including garage parking and valet parking. However, our team at The Parking Spot also operates near the airport and provides fairly priced service with a variety of Kansas City Airport amenities, including:

  • 24/7 booking opportunities
  • Friendly service from caring professionals
  • Spot Club membership for frequent fliers
  • Shuttle service to and from our parking facility
  • Long-term parking, in case you need it
  • Free bottled water during your trips
  • Coupons and deals that can save you money
  • Instant app-based booking for all your trips

Hotels Near MCI Airport

When traveling through Kansas City International Airport, you need to think of more than just airport parking. At The Parking Spot, we know of a few great hotels that might work well for you and your family. Here are five that provide many amazing amenities, such as pools and dining:

Terminal Map For Kansas City International Airport

Ever since its most recent renovation, MCI Airport has operated primarily out of one terminal. This streamlined design makes airport parking, car rental, and security much simpler. However, the sprawling terminal (which includes all the facility’s restaurants, shopping centers, art facilities, etc.) requires an expansive terminal map to ensure that you don’t get lost. Click on this link to view the map.

Check Wait Times and Flight Status at MCI Airport

Kansas City International Airport provides a simple online arrival, departure, and wait time website that you can easily access on your phone during your trip.

It lets you sort by flight number, airline, and city to quickly gauge the scheduled time, the estimated actual time, the gate number, and flight status. These details help to ensure that your trip goes smoothly and minimize unnecessarily long wait times.

Food/Dining at Kansas City International Airport

If you’re hungry during your trip through MCI Airport, check out these popular dining destinations:

  • The Leagues: This sports bar is near Neighborhood Brookside in Concourse B South, close to gates B54, B56, B57, and B59. It features American-style food, as well as sandwiches, snacks, desserts, dinner, and vegetarian options. Learn more about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum while here.
  • Urban Cafe: If you’re more interested in a healthy dining experience, the Urban Cafe (at Neighborhood 18th & Vine by Concourse A South near gates A14, A16, and A20) is a good choice. It provides healthy and organic small plates, salads, sandwiches, and grilled entrees.
  • Bo Lings: Want to try some of Kansas City’s best Asian food? Bo Lings (at Concourse A North near Made of Kansas City Food Hall close to gates A10 and A8) features authentic Chinese dishes. It’s an offshoot of the larger Bo Lings destination available throughout Kansas City.
  • Big Chicken: A regional legend, Big Chicken (the brainchild of basketball/marketing legend Shaquille O’Neal” is located near gates B60 and B61 near Concourse B South. It focuses on crispy chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and crusted macaroni and cheese. A favorite for the kids!

Things to Do During a Long Layover at MCI Airport

If you and your family are stuck at Kansas City International Airport during a long layover, boredom doesn’t have to be your worst enemy, as there are many ways to have fun here, including:

  • Shopping Destinations: Kansas City International Airport includes multiple fun shopping and retail destinations you and your kids may enjoy. These include Made in Kansas City Marketplace, The Pitch, Turn The Page KC, and 18th and Vine Travel Essentials, which feature fresh food, books, and more.
  • Business Center: Are you on a business trip and need a place to work? MCI Airport offers a rentable business center (available by the hour) where you can hold conferences, use high-tech computers, and even get delicious food delivered right to you while you work on your next big project.
  • Specialty Rooms: Do you need a quiet place to relax during your trip? Visit the Quiet Room near Gate 12 to meditate. Are your kids getting a little bored? Head to Concourse B to enjoy the Variety KC Inclusive Play Zone. Other specialty rooms include a sensory room and USO entertainment.

Kansas City Airport Amenities

MCI Airport provides multiple amenities, including:

  • Lost and found services
  • Ground transportation and rental car services
  • Special accommodations for military members (discounts, etc.)
  • Nursing rooms for new mothers
  • Kansas City Air Travel experience room for people who need help

Pet Areas for MCI Airport Travelers

Kansas City International Airport provides extensive accessibility and inclusion support for its travelers, including pet relief areas for service animals. Note: these areas are only available for trained service animals – general pets should be kept in the proper travel cages.

Located near gates A8, B54, and A18 and near the baggage claim level, these areas include artificial grass, a water spray nozzle, plastic bags, and other supplies. They should help service animals get the relief they need during a long trip.

Fun for Kids and Teens at Kansas City International Airport

Beyond the many shopping and dining options, MCI Airport provides a sensory room where children with autism or other sensory processing challenges can relax in a calm and safe area. It’s located in Atrium B near Concourse B and is available 24 hours a day. Young children may also enjoy Variety KC Inclusive Play Zone.

Here, they can play with smaller versions of planes, air traffic control towers, transfer stations, and much more. Teens will likely venture more towards the shopping areas, particularly book, electronic, and snack shops, so bring a little extra cash when visiting this airport.

Lounges at MCI Airport

Kansas City International Airport currently provides two lounges for its visitors. The first of these Kansas City Airport Amenities is Delta Sky Club. This 11,200-square-foot destination in Concourse B includes beautiful views, a premium bar, a full buffet, and easy access to airport parking.

The Parking Spot also wants to highlight the USO airport lounge located near Baggage Claim 5. It’s open seven days a week and serves active, reserve, and National Guard military members and their dependents. It includes lounge seating, a cafe, and entertainment options, such as musicians.

Moving Walkways, Light Rails, and Wheelchair Assistance at MCI Airport

When the new 40-gate, single airport terminal opened at Kansas City International Airport in February 2023, multiple moving walkways were included. These help speed up your transportation and minimize exhaustion risks. They move between various gates to speed up your travel.

Currently, there are no light rail options at Kansas City International Airport, though some have predicted future expansions might place a facility on the north side of the airport parking garage. As for wheelchairs, MCI provides reservations by calling 816.243.5237 before arrival.

Security at Kansas City International Airport

MCI Airport includes multiple security checkpoints throughout the security and works with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide extra safety. They also work with VMD Corp, FAA, and airport police to provide extra security when traveling through the air.

Note that they, like other airports, have a strict difference between global entry and TSA Precheck. The first is suitable for international flights, including to Canada and Europe, while the latter is better for domestic trips. Understanding the differences between these two can streamline your trip.

Note that the simplified single-terminal design of the modern Kansas City International Airport has helped make travel quicker and easier. It’s one of the major Kansas City Airport amenities that have made this airport more trusted and respected in recent years.

Wi-Fi Options at MCI Airport

Kansas City International Airport provides free wireless internet. Open your phone/computer/tablet and connect to “MCI_FREE_WiFI” to get started. The airport portal page opens immediately, so you can check flight information and other important details. You get unlimited access to the internet and email and can even stream videos – an excellent option for your easily bored children.

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