MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Starting April 2, all passengers will be flying out of the new terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport.
The Terminal Capacity Enhancement Program began on May 17, 2010, is now wrapping up. The program increased the number of departure gates from 7 to 13. Right now, this does not mean there are added flights. However, it will reduce the time spent traveling.
"We're doubling the gates," explains Gary Loftus with the Horry County Council. "Right now, believe it or not, we do have planes that wait in line for a gate."
It will also help during peak travel times.
"This allows us to grow into the future and to be able to handle our peak periods," says Kirk Lovell, a spokesperson for the airport. Lovell says travel has been up 5 percent in February, a trend he hopes to see continue.
Councilmen say this new terminal shows Myrtle Beach has arrived in the air business. They hope it will attract major airlines.
"It's up to us to get the message out so the other airlines will come. This [the new terminal] makes it easier for airlines to want to come here," says Loftus.
So, what does it mean for passengers?
Quicker check-in times:
There is a brand new kiosk system. Instead of waiting in line for the airline you are flying with, you can go to any available kiosk to check in.
"They're a common-use kiosk. You can walk up to any open kiosk and check into your flight," explains Lovell.
Luggage will get to planes quicker:
A brand-new luggage system is 98 percent hands-free. With the conveyor-belt system now in place, luggage will get to the plane quicker and more efficiently. The screening process is also more intense, making flights safer.
More places to eat:
New restaurants will be available. Anyone can eat at the new Boardwalk Cafe while waiting for your loved ones at the arrival gate regardless of whether they are have a ticket or not. Traveling passengers can dine at Nacho Hippo, Steak and Shake or Caribou Cafe.
The terminal will officially open April 2. In addition, all traffic must come through the main entrance to the airport off of Harrelson Blvd.