April 2, 2013

Myrtle Beach International Airport’s new terminal now open for business

Travelers used word such as “Gorgeous” and “Wow” to describe the Myrtle Beach International Airport’s new terminal Tuesday morning.

Travelers used word such as “Gorgeous” and “Wow” to describe the Myrtle Beach International Airport’s new terminal Tuesday morning.

Tylique Katzbeck used different words entirely.

“It looks very industrial,” said the former Andrews resident, who was catching a flight home to Pennsylvania.

Watch the video associated with this story.

Katzbeck and other morning fliers were among the first members of the general public to see the new $118 million facility on its first day open for business.

The terminal had a steady stream of travelers moving about, but apparently nothing overwhelming for airport officials who were making sure the first day went smoothly.

Katzbeck had a minor issue of trying to find an ATM machine. He was searching for one around the check-in area. Where he needed to be was the opposite end of the terminal at baggage claim.

Airport spokesman Kirk Lovell said everything ran seamless inside the new terminal on Tuesday.

Outside, there was at least one minor hiccup.

The security arms into the short-term parking lot malfunctioned at one point and drivers circled the airport lot hoping the arms would work on their second try. Eventually, a maintenance technician drove over on a golf cart and manually fixed the two arms so they’d finally rise and let travelers safely pass after getting their parking ticket.

Sean Callahan wants to make sure his flight to New York on Thursday goes as smoothly as possible. So, he was at the new terminal Tuesday morning getting the lay of the land.

Callahan, who calls Myrtle Beach home, wandered the new terminal to learn where everything is located. He even took the time to look at the names of all the carriers flying in and out of the airport.

He didn’t think a new terminal was needed, based on his past experience of flying out of the airport with no problem. However, Callahan did see the benefits.

“This certainly is more spacious,” he said.

Employees of Medieval Times dressed in old-time garb and handed out flowers to female travelers as they arrived, a friendly gesture welcoming them to the Grand Strand.

Dick Karstetter joked the new terminal was a friendly gesture to his sister, Carol O’ Brien, whose plane from Virginia touched down Tuesday morning.

“I just told her we had this built for her arrival,” said Karstetter.

While waiting in the new baggage claim area to collect her belongings, O’Brien looked around at the spruced-up airport. She liked what she saw.

“I think it’s beautiful,” she said.

Construction began in late 2010 after a lengthy process that included the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board nixing the terminal’s proposed location, sending county leaders back to the drawing board and causing the project to be delayed for several years. Horry County owns the airport, but it’s in the city limits so Myrtle Beach must sign off on certain aspects of it.

The county came up with the current plan after the Community Appearance Board said building on the west side of the runway as originally proposed could have negative effects on new residents moving into planned neighborhoods on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

Hopes were to have the terminal open on Feb. 19, but a delay in the delivery of some construction materials after Hurricane Sandy forced the postponement.

The new facility brings the current number of gates at the airport from seven to 13 and offers more remote check-in kiosks for passengers and new restaurants like Nacho Hippo and Steak ‘n’ Shake.

Callihan hoped to see the second floor of the new terminal while surveying the land on Tuesday. But with a ticket that isn’t good until Thursday, getting past security wasn’t happening.

“I’m curious to see what that’s all about,” he said.

Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_bdickerson.

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