PREVIEW: Raleigh-Durham’s Terminal 1 upgrade

Michael Garko, In Airline News

The buzz about Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s newly upgraded Terminal 1 is picking up with less than one month until its opening.

The new ticketing area features tall ceilings, and natural light.

The new ticketing area features tall ceilings, and natural light.

“We wanted to create a world class experience for passengers” said airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer to reporters on Wednesday.

ORIGINAL POST: Raleigh-Durham to expand Terminal 1 renovation project

The team at Raleigh-Durham has nailed that vision after my touring of Terminal 1.

Long gone are the days of small, tinted windows and drab blue and red colors of the old terminal known as “the big, blue box” by locals.

The much improved passenger flow is apparent as soon as you step into the bright, spacious new ticketing area.

MORE: See more photos of In Airline News’ behind the scenes tour of Terminal 1 on Facebook.

One security area, featuring four security lanes will decrease waiting time for passengers.

Security has been consolidated to one area, including four security lanes that will decrease queue time for passengers.

In the old days, security was conducted on two separate levels to be able to comply with post 9/11 regulations.  Passengers would have to wait for tickets to be checked by a TSA agent on the ground floor, then join a queue for an elevator to go upstairs, only to wait again to get through the overcrowded security area.

With the opening on March 2, all security checks will be completed on one level, with four lanes available for TSA usage.

Once through security, passengers will arrive onto the 9-gate concourse that will be home to Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, new restaurants, and several new convenience shops.

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The expanded gate area is likely to win over Southwest's roughly 1.5 million passengers annually at RDU.

The expanded gate area is likely to win over Southwest’s roughly 1.5 million annual passengers at RDU.

Southwest and its subsidiary, AirTran, will utilize five gates at terminal opening, leaving four for future growth for Southwest or new carriers.  The former Terminal 1 was operating at gate capacity, including several temporary gates that were used by the old Continental Airlines.

The gate areas have been expanded greatly, and will feature RDU’s popular seating with built-in power outlets that debuted in Terminal 2.  Passengers will quickly notice the larger windows that have brightened the concourse considerably compared to the previous terminal.

Other amenities throughout the terminal include three permanent art installations (see pictures on Facebook), multiple pre-security checkpoint stores, and the first Atlantic Coast Conference themed cafe.

For those interested in seeing the terminal before it officially opens for operation, the airport will host an open house for the public from 10AM-2PM on Saturday, February 15.  Guests will be able to view more than 30 exhibits, partake in food sampling from restaurants, participate in giveaways, and listen to live music.

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