Glacier Park International puts focus on traveler needs with remodeling project
Jan 19, 2013 (Daily Inter Lake - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Travelers flying through Glacier Park International Airport this summer will find spaces increasingly suited to making their terminal time more pleasant.
A $2 million interior remodel that began on Jan. 14 is intended to create a true Montana experience for travelers and add a bit more luxury at the same time.
"The visitors we have are typically savvy: They come to escape but when they return to the airport, they expect to connect," Glacier Park International Director Cindi Martin said. "We are that transition from the rustic to the rest of the world."
Many of the changes to the terminal will be in post-security areas. Martin said it is always encouraged that travelers arrive for check-in with plenty of time to spare before their scheduled flights, and providing an accommodating environment helps the airport meet that goal.
Furniture will be upgraded, tabletop work surfaces for laptops will be added, and more power sources for electronic devices offered. The post-security concession and gift areas also will be expanded.
"We want all their needs to be met on the post-security side," Martin said. "People can get food, set up their work station and be quite comfortable until it is time to fly.
"We will never be an airport that hosts an airline club, but we did want to give a club-like feel."
The security checkpoint will be expanded to relieve congestion, with a third lane and additional equipment added, plus an automated exit, taking away the current need for airport personnel to stand watch at the exit. The Lower Gate 1 area will be expanded, with space for additional seating.
On the pre-security main lobby side, updated bathrooms and new floor surfaces will be a big part of the remodeling.
"The carpeting is 15 years old and it's starting to show wear," Martin said. "We're changing it to a low-maintenance flooring option."
New design features will include references to the mountains, and some of the current outdoor theme-related touches, such as the cloudlike structures that currently hang in the lobby, will be carried over.
"The whole concept is we wanted a sense of place," Martin said. "We know the airport is the first and last impression that people have of this area, and we want it to be a good one."
The remodel has been based on staff observations of passenger behavior over a number of years, Martin said.
"We've spent a lot of time watching how people use the terminal, how things are being used, watching for choke points in the system, and finally we had everything we needed," she said. "We've been working on the details in earnest for about a year."
The architects on the project are from CH2M Hill. Kalispell construction company Hammerquist Casalegno was chosen to do the remodel work. Martin said the construction will not interfere with passenger movement, since all the work is being done behind divider walls.
Ninety percent of the project costs are being paid for through a 2013 entitlement grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, with a 10 percent match from the Flathead County Airport Authority.
The federal money comes from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, Martin wants to emphasize, not the federal budget.
"If you purchased an airline ticket or bought parts or fuel, then those taxes went into the trust fund," she said. "If you didn't partake, your cash isn't there. It's not taking away from Social Security or anything. This is a self-sufficient system."
The work is expected to be completed by May 15, in time for the busy summer season. Martin said there are no new flight services planned right now, though the usual summer-season additions, Delta connections to Atlanta and United to Chicago, will begin around the first week of June, as will increased service to existing hubs.
Business reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4439 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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