Reporting on Wichita’s new terminal

A Wichita Eagle article published on June 29, 2006 explores the need for a new terminal at the Wichita Airport. I have some issues with the reporting in this article, as it is quite biased in favor of those advocating the new terminal. When you combine people eager to spend others’ money with sloppy newspaper reporting we have a situation where reason — not to mention sanity — is not likely to prevail.

An example of the sloppy reporting is when it is noted that the existing terminal was dedicated in 1954, and the director of airports is quoted as saying the terminal “is functionally obsolete.” Never mind that the terminal has been expanded greatly and reworked and remodeled several times since then. Now I can understand the director of airports wanting a shiny new terminal to work in, perhaps even to be named for him after he retires. Neither is a good reason for building it, however.

Advocates for a new terminal say we need one because the present terminal “Doesn’t have space for adequate security.” If this defect is actually present, I recommend we close the airport immediately! We can’t have an airport without adequate security. I hope no one from out of town — certainly no terrorists, at least — is reading this article.

In the article, a photograph was captioned “Fliers must wait in line at the ticketing counter, then in another line at the checkpoint. A larger terminal, officials say, would lessen crowding.” I might ask, is there any airport where there are not separate lines for ticketing and security? Or are there plans for airports to be built that integrate check in and security? I realize that newspaper reporters are merely quoting someone, but to print a statement like this implies that a new terminal will somehow fix this problem.

Also, many people today check in at home or office through the airlines’ websites, and therefore are able to bypass the ticket counter entirely if they don’t have checked baggage.

Another photograph was captioned “The baggage claim area can get crowded very quickly, airport officials say, and there is no space available in the existing terminal to expand it.” I might remark that the baggage claim area is crowded not with travelers, but with the people who came to greet them. This is also a problem at the Wichita airport as arriving passengers depart the secure area. The throng of greeters makes it difficult to get by, sometimes. But a little remodeling might fix this.

Also, advocates say the present airport “Doesn’t give visitors a good first impression of the city.” I guess whether this is true or not depends on one’s viewpoint. When I travel, I appreciate facilities that look like they were built economically and are operated efficiently, as I know it is I, the traveler and taxpayer, who pays for these things.

Advocates claim that no local tax money will be spent to build a new terminal. They may be correct. But someone has to pay for it, be it the federal taxpayer or Wichita Airport user, and there is bound to be much local tax money spent on infrastructure improvements surrounding a new terminal. If airline tickets were itemized like hotel bills and rental car bills, showing the various taxes and charges that fliers pay, we would be more aware of who will pay, and how they will pay, for a new terminal.

We should also remember that travelers to our city pay a lot of tax. As I travel, I am very aware of the huge taxes I pay when I use hotels and rental cars. As an example, a recent hotel bill in Pennsylvania with a room rate of $109 swelled to $124 with taxes. A car rental bill there for $409 really cost $532 after taxes, fees, and other charges imposed by local governments, taxing authorities, and airports. Many local governments, ours included, use these taxes to painlessly raise revenue, they say, as locals rarely pay them. But visitors do pay them, and they leave a bitter impression about the local governments that levy them.


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