"Well, this is new." That's a common refrain around here. Usually, folks are talking about our modern, new terminal. You'll find a story on that inside, in fact. But this time we're talking about our newsletter. We've changed the name, the format and the look. It's going to be a lot more fun, interesting and shareable. Welcome to the first edition of Eisenhower Air.
Our new name alludes to a few of our favorite things — our airport, airplanes, the sky and to limitless possibilities. You really can get to your favorite places from here, and we hope to tell you stories on these pages about those adventures. We'll update you about new connections, amenities at the airport that can ease your travel and insights and information that you will find useful when booking your next trip.
There's a lot going on at the airport, more than passengers realize. The airport and surrounding facilities are some of the largest economic engines in the region. On this campus alone, there are more than 6,000 jobs. The airport is a driver of economic development. And it is the portal that thousands of travelers pass through each day. What's happening here is often an indication of what is happening, or about to happen, out there, in the community.
So, we hope you'll enjoy this issue and share stories that you find entertaining or useful. If you've had an amazing experience with our airport please share it with us. We're always looking for positive stories. We'll spread the news, and keep working to make the airport even more vital. A healthy airport is essential. You know, like air.
Victor White, director of airports, Wichita Airport Authority
and Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport still dazzles. The airport, which opened in June of last year, still gleams in all the right places. The glass and stainless steel get frequent attention — the boss has been known to come in on Saturdays to help — and crews have made a special effort to make sure that the terrazzo floor dapples the light just so, including experimenting with new wax.
"They probably curse me and the architect everyday because we made it so shiny," says Victor White, who is director of airports for the Wichita Airport Authority. It's an executive position, but White has been known to roll up his sleeves and wipe a surface or two.
"I've come out on weekends with my rubber gloves and my spray bottles, wiping things down just because I am trying to help," he says.
It's light, it's bright, it's airy.It has a psychological effect, it's calming.
White knows that the airport is the first and last impression of the city for many travelers. That means keeping the place looking like, well, new.
Not that you've noticed, busy traveler. You've seen it. You've got places to be, a plane to catch, and the way the sunlight plays in the terminal is probably no longer on your mind. Or is it?
"It's light, it's bright, it's airy. It has a psychological effect," says White. "It's calming."
It's working in other ways, too.
"What we have seen in the year that it's been open is a psychological boost in the employees that has created a higher level of customer service," White says.
White recalls the old airport, which was built in the 1950s and lost some of its luster over the years. The new airport has "translated into a better work environment where happy employees create happy customers. We like to use the phrase raving fans," White says.
White hears them, in person and online, nearly every day. Most first-time passengers to the airport are surprised.
"You can't imagine how many of my peers say 'We love your new terminal' even though they have never been here. They've seen pictures of it all over the internet."
"Wow, I wish LaGuardia was as nice as this," he's read online.
They linger near the history exhibit, taking in the story of aviation and the Air Capital.
He's seen passengers snapping selfies in the glass jetways. "You don't see that at an airport very often," he notes.
And just the other day in the terminal he heard a passenger say, "Oh, shoot, I don't think I'm in Wichita."
More fans have meant more passengers. Despite a mostly unchanged local economy, the airport has seen an uptick in passenger traffic. And parking.
"It's not just the terminal," says White. "Our parking facilities are brand new, too. For the first time in the history of this airport, we have a garage. We have covered parking. That's huge to a lot of people."
It is also a big deal that the rental car facilities are easily found just across the street in the garage, rather than down the road. Getting in and out of the place these days is a breeze.
"We've had an increase in passengers every day I think except one," White says. "It may just be that people are happier to use the airport than they ever were."
It's certainly easy to navigate, and White says they've made improvements over their first year to make it even easier — including new wayfinding signs pointing toward baggage claim and rental cars.
Wow, I wish LaGuardia was as nice as this.
Even that was carefully considered, says White, as "you don't want to gunk up your brand new building with crappy looking signs. You have to be very careful. It's a balancing act."
They've recently added a playroom for kids, located at Gate 1, and there are plans to install a restroom for service animals.
It all adds up to a modern airport with luxury amenities that makes a good first and last impression of the city.
"When we were starting the design of the terminal what we heard from the business folks and the CEO types, more than anything, was DO NOT BUILD AN OLD — FASHIONED LOOKING BUILDING," White says, slapping the table for emphasis. "Build modern, high-tech, glass, steel — you know, shiny stuff."
One year later and the new surfaces still cast a reflection.
"It's a reflection on Wichita," White says. "It shows that this community is modern and high-tech and we're with it. It's not a cow town. This is the new Wichita."
said Stephanie Galichia, a well-traveled freelance marketing consultant from Wichita who recently made the connection.
She's made several trips to the city over the years but says none of her Big Apple flights have been as easy as her most recent, where the connecting flight in St. Louis was in the same terminal, only two gates away. "It was like nothing," she said. "There's no mystery, no shuttle, no tram that you have to get on. And, frankly, that is all we were looking for from that experience, we just wanted to get there."
She and her boyfriend, an investment banker, were in New York City by noon.
We were still going by 1AM that morning. That's not bad. It was good to still have that much energy after traveling.
"We packed a lot in that day," she said. "He had three business meetings, drinks together at the Hudson Hotel and we made it to dinner by 8 in Jersey City. We were still going by 1. That's not bad. It was good to still have that much energy after traveling."
The trip was mostly business, but Galichia found some time to enjoy the city, including shopping, a visit to a few galleries and some urban exploration.
"I have a forte for getting a little lost, like I did once in London," she said. "If you can get a little lost in an area that has museums, you're going to be OK."
The couple also found time to catch up with friends.
"We had dinner with friends at Balthazar. It's kind of noisy and French, but ridiculously good — exotic enough that you really feel transported. It was interesting meeting up with friends from home in a different city.
"You are sort of seeing who you are in different places. It's like we were discovering our other selves. That was interesting. And the food was phenomenal."
There are a million things to do in the city that never sleeps. You can schedule them, or you can just discover them.
"You know, a romantic walk through New York at night," Galichia said. "That makes for a nice time."
Elisabeth Ryherd Owens simply submitted a photo tagged #FloridaFun on Facebook.
(To be fair, it was a super cute photo.)
The result is that she and her family reap the rewards of a week in the Sunshine State.
The family won free airfare from Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport to Orlando Sanford International Airport. The contest was a way for the airport to celebrate and highlight Allegiant Airlines' summer nonstop service to Orlando,
which started last month and is only
available through August 13. Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found only at AllegiantAir.com.
Owens' photo was randomly selected out of 662 entries. She and her family will receive round-trip airfare to Orlando Sanford, a $500 Visa gift card, and up to 7 days of free parking at the airport.
We hope she has fun and remembers to pack sunscreen.
United Airlines is offering flights to Chicago out of Wichita aboard a mainline jet rather than a regional jet for the first time in more than a decade.
Seeing a need for more capacity, the airline has upgraded one of its four daily Chicago flights to a Boeing 737 or Airbus 319 or 320. Passengers aboard the larger planes will enjoy snack and beverage service and
United personal device entertainment. Depending on the aircraft, the larger planes are configured with 118-179 seats. The regional jets carry between 50-70 passengers.
The airline announced the change April 6 — United Airlines' 90th anniversary — and the airport celebrated by offering passengers coffee and cake at the gate.
Customers connecting in Chicago to international flights in United Business First and Global First cabins will enjoy spacious lie-flat seats, inflight entertainment and complimentary meals and beverages. Similar sleep-focused cabin service for United Polaris Business Class passengers on intercontinental flights from Chicago O'Hare begins Dec. 1.
|Editor||Valerie Wise, Wichita Airport Authority|
|Creative Agency||Greteman Group|
|Creative Director||Sonia Greteman|
|Art Director||Meghan Smith|
|Contributing Writer||Barry Owens|
|Photography||Liane Metzler, HNTB, NYC & Company –Jen Davis; Phil Kline; Tagger Yancey IV; Marley White, William Warby, City of Chicago (in order of appearance)|
Eisenhower Air is published for the traveling public by the Wichita Airport Authority. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Please direct them to Valerie Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also encourage you to share articles through social media and email. Help us spread the word about the good things happening at our airport.
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