This week the new Concourse B extension and the consolidated TSA screening checkpoint both opened, marking another milestone in the $189 million Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement Program (TRIP).
Response from passengers has been great.
“Woah!! We're not in Charleston anymore Toto. Uh, yeah we are! Nice makeover @CHS_Airport. You're so fancy!!” said Chrissie Sydness on Twitter.
Dave Felix tweeted “love the new look at security. Makes me feel like I'm in #Europe. Can't wait for the rest.”
And Ben Marks could not contain his surprise. “Wow. @CHS_Airport is really taking shape. New security is HUGE, and B concourse is gorgeous!”
Since the inception of airport security checkpoints, CHS has operated two screening areas – one at Concourse B and the other across the airport at Concourse A. Retrofitted to meet the security demands that are now commonplace in the travel industry, the checkpoints served their purpose but were cramped and dingy. The new, single checkpoint is open, bright and welcoming. All passengers, regardless of airline, are screened in this single place. And the checkpoint is conveniently located in the Ticketing Hall.
At 19,300 square feet, the new consolidated checkpoint is designed to accommodate up to eight lanes for screening. Four lanes have opened and will increase to six soon after. As passenger growth dictates the remaining two lanes will open. The TSA intends to open a dedicated TSA Pre?® lane. Currently TSA Pre?® is open limited hours each day based on anticipated passenger volume.
An advantage of a consolidated checkpoint is passengers can now walk between concourses and take advantage of all the airport amenities located after security, including new shopping and dining that is coming with the construction project. DeSano Pizza Bakery is scheduled to open soon on Concourse B. Coming in the next several months will be the Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Grill and another Charleston favorite, Caviar and Bananas. On the retail side Lowcountry Harley Davidson, based in Charleston, will open a store along with outdoor retailer Eddie Bauer and gadget store Tech on the Go.
“The renovation is going to transform the passenger experience at Charleston International,” said Paul G. Campbell Jr., director of airports for the Charleston County Aviation Authority. “It’s going to be a great place to relax, shop, dine or do some work as passengers wait to board their flights.”
The new Concourse B boarding lounge, like the rest of the airport design, is spacious, open and bright. Expansive floor- to-ceiling windows and a 6-foot clerestory flood the area with light. The crisp white décor – from the terrazzo floors to powered bar- and banquette-style seating – gives the room a fresh, modern feel that passengers will enjoy as they wait to board their flights.
American Airlines, US Airways and Southwest have already moved into their gates. On April 21, United Airlines will open its gate there as well. JetBlue is slated to move next.
“We’re really excited to be opening the Concourse B extension,” Campbell said. “It is very different from what our passengers have been used to and we think they are really going to love it.”
The Concourse B extension adds 16,300 square feet of space and five gates to the airport footprint. There’s an additional 16,300 square feet underneath the concourse for airline offices.
When the terminal redevelopment is complete at the end of 2015, CHS will have a total of 15 airline gates to serve a growing number of fliers. In 2014, CHS set an all-time record of 3.1 million passengers.