Salt Lake City Airport Opens New Terminal, the "Future of Air Travel"
Salt Lake City International Airport is finally receiving some much-needed attention. The all$4.1 billion dollar new renovated airport under construction since 2014 opened on September 15, 2020, to a smaller crowd of about 6,500 people in a ceremony attended by Delta Vice President Eric Phillips and Salt Lake City Mayor Eric Mendenhall. Arriving from Idaho Falls, the first flight, Delta 3540, was greeted with a water cannon salute and cake for passengers.
Water cannon salute for Delta 3540, the first to arrive at the new terminal. (Zach Griff / The Points Guy)
The state-of-the-art new terminal's features begin outside the airport, where a new 4-lane highway has been constructed. Immediately upon entering the main concourse, passengers are greeted by an enormous sculpture, "The Canyon", a vast cascading art installation with 50-foot-tall ceilings reminiscent of southern Utah's national parks.
Original concept art of The Canyon. Art consultant Gordon Huether described the patterns as similar to those formed by erosion in southern Utah. (SLC Airport)
Shadowed by the Canyon, all-new check-in desks have been constructed as well as a 16-lane security checkpoint and rental car center with the moniker "The Gateway." The Gateway is located on-site, eliminating passengers' needs for a shuttle bus. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Airport Director Bill Wyatt told the Salt Lake Times that the reduced passenger count of 6,500 versus 30,000 helped streamline introducing the new security procedures. Wyatt also described the airport's new technology, including elevated roads, new signage, and next-generation security systems.
The Plaza at SLC (Zach Griff / The Points Guy)
Past the Canyon and security, passengers reach a common area with restaurants and shops known as "The Plaza", which splits into two concourses. Currently only one of the concourses (belonging to Delta) is open, while the other is scheduled to open on October 27. By 2022, a 1000-foot-long tunnel is to be constructed between the two concourses. The new concourse has enormous glass windows with views of the Wasatch Mountains and extra-wide hallways. Though only 12 are currently open, 58 restaurants and shops will be open once construction of the terminal and both concourses are complete. In addition, to improve passenger experiences, all seats in the gate area have USB charging outlets and markups have been removed at shops. Further convenience lies in the fact that a passenger is never more than 150 feet away from a restaurant or restroom. Art isn't limited to the Canyon either: each of the restrooms have unique murals. The airport's art consultant Gordon Huether likened the new terminal to a "cathedral to transportation."He's also installed artwork like "The Falls" and "The River", other testaments to Utah's natural beauty. The new SLC also boasts Delta's largest Sky Club at 28,000 square feet and a Greeting Room for picking up arriving passengers complete with fireplaces, 400 seats, and a vintage world map. The project has been planned and constructed within the last 25 years and aims to transform Salt Lake City not just into a more convenient tourist or business destination (with access to Utah's mountains, five national parks, and salt flats) but also a luxurious airport through which to connect. Despite being Delta's fourth largest hub, the airport has not been updated in 45 years; Delta's CEO also aims to begin regular passenger service to Asia. Salt Lake City's mayor also praised the airport's energy-efficient design and the fact it was constructed using only routine passenger fees - not taxpayer money.
In a time of major airport renovations like at Portland or LaGuardia, Salt Lake City International's state-of-the-art renovation both will bring tourist dollars to Utah and attract the attention of business passengers and aviation enthusiasts alike for its revolutionary design.
Brief Appendix / Practical Information
Currently open to passengers with the usual COVID restrictions (face coverings, temperature checks, etc) Salt Lake City Airport is located 7 miles west of downtown Salt Lake City and halfway between Provo and Ogden. The only major airport between Las Vegas and Denver, it is 36 miles west of Park City, 240 miles northwest of Arches National Park, and 270 miles northeast of Bryce Canyon National Park. It is easily accessible from Interstates 15, 80, and 215 as well as Utah Route 154. The address is 776 N Terminal Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84122, and the phone is (801) 575-2400. Delta Airlines has a customer service presence at the airport.
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