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RDU International Airport


Rufus

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Somehow, terminal C managed to look a lot worse than terminal A, despite being newer. Maybe it was the red gabled roof. Made it look like a warehouse. I remember going in it the first time, when I was really young. It looked like the coolest thing. Didn't last very long.

It also might have something to do with 'A' being the combination of the old A and B terminals. After they combined it with the B wing, they had more room to spread out the baggage claim, pickup/dropoff, security stuff.

Amen to that. If you can get past the looks, RDU is a great quality airport. For as bad as it looks, they're making strides. The garage structure in the middle of the terminals has won all kinds of awards, not to mention it is very striking.

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Anyone know what kind of "improvements" they're doing to the Observation Park? I tried to go out there once over the Thanksgiving holiday and it was closed with a sign that said something to the effect of "closed until Dec. 4th for improvements."

I just wish there was a similar type park that faced Runway 5R/23L (Terminal A side).

On a side note, has anyone ever eaten at the Crosswinds Cafe in the General Aviation Terminal?

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These days, I've sort of associated RDU's older design terminals with its image as a "bargain" airport. More of a "We pass the savings on to you" sort of deal.

Is there any way that, post-renovation, the airport will start charging higher fees to the airlines per gate, driving up costs and/or running the low-fare carriers out? If they can get the renovations done without sacrificing how convenient and inexpensive RDU is, then I guess it's fine with me.

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RDU does plan to increase landing fees to help pay for the new Terminal C...but I don't think that will be enough to make the LCC's to go away. Also the LCC's will remain in Terminal A...which will have the lower gate rents...and the Legacy Carriers will be in Terminal C which will have higher gate rents. All the airlines have already agreed to this in principle so I don't antipate any airlines discontinuing service due to the higher fees.

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Terminal A will be renovated (not rebuilt) after Terminal C is completed. Then it will probably continue to serve as a passenger concourse. Someone posted renders of the refitted building, and it looked pretty compatible to the future C, though a little more retro.

Terminal A will be the cheap airlines terminal like AirTran and Southwest. They pay less so the seats are cheaps, the bathrooms are old so they can act like they charge less.

But TermA will still be nicer when they finish.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I still don't get it. Yes, the new building will look great, and it should. However I still have a real problem with tearing down the old terminal because the 50 foot wide hallway alloted for security wasn't big enough and the place wasn't kept well by American Airlines.

The connector as seen in this Google Map image was very skinny. I don't see any reason why this connector couldn't have been fattened ten-fold to allow for new security facilities. Maybe it would cost them one gate, but big deal.

The building was in disrepair. We're talking about major stuff like a broken tile here and there, a few sinks that didn't work, some light fixtures that needed to be replaced, and paint that needed to be redone. While this does cost some money, I'd go so far as to say the building was in better shape than the average Wake County school

The attractive ceiling, concourse wide enough for a people mover, and the airiness of the new terminal will be an improvement. However it is still the same layout ("H") and the costs are far, far, far more than renovating C. Does the airport have a different monetary system than the rest of us? They have the most impressive road system which handles relatively few cars. They replace buildings at the drop of a hat. Other airports put in transit systems that not even Disney can afford to implement. They are immune to criticism for their voracious appetite for oil compared to thousands of people driving Hummers. It's just a whole other world out there. Bizarre.

This thing is almost a real life example of the last scene in "The Jerk", where they tore down the old house and built a new one.

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I have been flying out of RDU because it was cheaper than Charlotte. I will be using Charlotte now being the prices have gone down here.

Raleigh is due to a better airport terminal. I am sure that the people in the Triangle will welcome the new remodel Terminal C. The old terminal A does show a well worn building.

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This thing is almost a real life example of the last scene in "The Jerk", where they tore down the old house and built a new one.

:rofl:

That's hilarious

Isn't the point, though, to have uniformity of design with the new terminal? If they are re-designing/re-doing the northern concourse, won't it look strange to have the old red-roof inn attached to this elegant modern structure? And, aesthetics aside, I expect it's easier and more cost effective to tear down the old and re-build from scratch. Like "Extreme Makeover, Airport Edition" maybe?

Edited by urbanesq
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I think Dana was saying that he questions the need even for redesigning the concourse at all--just widen the connector accessway between the terminal and concourse, and refurbish the rest.

$570M is a almost 2/3 of the cost of TTA Phase 1 and nobody even blinks an eye! I guess since they get their revenue from airline and parking fees (user costs) people don't mind so much.

I honestly don't care so much about the airport as long as it works. Having a fancy airport like say Denver is alright, but it doesn't make me more likely to go their because of it. (Of course theirs was built from scratch in the 90s.)

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I think Dana was saying that he questions the need even for redesigning the concourse at all--just widen the connector accessway between the terminal and concourse, and refurbish the rest.

$570M is a almost 2/3 of the cost of TTA Phase 1 and nobody even blinks an eye! I guess since they get their revenue from airline and parking fees (user costs) people don't mind so much.

I honestly don't care so much about the airport as long as it works. Having a fancy airport like say Denver is alright, but it doesn't make me more likely to go their because of it. (Of course theirs was built from scratch in the 90s.)

Thank god somebody said it....what an airport looks like is the furthest thing from my mind when I am sizing up how cool a city is

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I always thought Terminal C's exterior looked "ok" from the tarmac, but everyone must agree the interior's neglect and "economical" finishes weren't befitting for the Triangle's near "star status" in 21st century America. The escalator from ticketing is encased in drywall, the restrooms have 3 stalls and don't flush automatically, and i've never fully understood the sloping concourse. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

Although Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson is nothing to look at from the outside, I always liked how the carpeted walkways really make it feel calm and quiet in the terminals. Also i love how the men's rooms at ATL have about 50 urinals and toilets as opposed to RDU's measly 3!

Speaking of ATL, long straight concourses are the best layout for airports because people can navigate through them without getting lost, unlike DFW which is the worst in my opinion. Always in a curve, you can't see far ahead and worst yet- the corridors are single-loaded with gates only on one side which means you have to walk twice as far.More planes and gates can be accomodated with other layouts however.

MOST IMPORTANT in the decision to replace Terminal C (or Terminal 1, its future name): its baggage handling system was designed for one's airline's hub operation. A terminal for multiple airlines requires a bigger and more complex system. I worked with HOK New York on the new Delta terminal at Boston/Logan, and people don't realize that the baggage handling system behind the scenes is HUGE. I would say about 40% of the total square footage is used by the baggage system.

FYI

A terminal must be able to withstand car bombs curbside without the entire structure collapsing. You will probably easily see the separations in the structure of this open and airy design. Also with all of the big interior spaces, the architects must prevent people's ability to throw or toss guns or weapons from the non-secure to secure areas throughout the terminal.

I am SO HAPPY they are not leaving a piece of the old building. Kudos to the airport authority for this and many other design decisions over the years. The entire plethora of roads in and out of the airport is relatively new, and years ago I didn't understand what they were doing. It commands respect. People's first impression of the Triangle is beautiful green trees and perfect yet simple signage in helvetica (National Gaurd, Employee parking, etc). In college I drove the N. Ral. Hilton airport shuttle and New Yorkers would comment on the beauty of the drive just to get to I-40.

I wish they would build fancier interchanges to deposit people back on I-40. Nothing says smalltown like a cloverleaf.

P.S. I hate the pink neon "Welcome to North Carolina" signs in the terminal, yet they kinda also say "This place is alive and happenin'"

Edited by architect77
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Thank god somebody said it....what an airport looks like is the furthest thing from my mind when I am sizing up how cool a city is

I fly into a lot of airports around the world and from a business sense, it does matter. Maybe not to the "average joe" who is flying to see his parents or to get to Chicago for a weekend, but I have flown into airports that just screams "PO-DUNK". (Try Wichita). And then go to a sales meeting in that town where someone is telling you they have life changing technology (same as the last guy in that other city) and that you should do business and throw that $300M contract their way with them instead of other guys. It is all perception. It is not going to close the deal, but I have seen deals given the upper hand on location and perception.

I hate to see so much money spent but they looked long and hard at refitted the terminal C or rebuilding it and they chose to rebuild it and that is good enough for me.

RDU is a tired airport and needs something. And if it were just people going away for a weekend shopping trip or to get out of that dreg of a city---Raleigh, that might be OK.

But Raleigh is one of the leading technology centers of the world and one way we can act like it and get that first perception is to upgrade the airport, knock it down or whatever. The right people made the decision and again, I am OK with that.

The airport is the gateway to a city. Kind of like driving down Capital BLVD to a new comer

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I fly into a lot of airports around the world and from a business sense, it does matter. Maybe not to the "average joe" who is flying to see his parents or to get to Chicago for a weekend, but I have flown into airports that just screams "PO-DUNK". (Try Wichita). And then go to a sales meeting in that town where someone is telling you they have life changing technology (same as the last guy in that other city) and that you should do business and throw that $300M contract their way with them instead of other guys. It is all perception. It is not going to close the deal, but I have seen deals given the upper hand on location and perception.

I hate to see so much money spent but they looked long and hard at refitted the terminal C or rebuilding it and they chose to rebuild it and that is good enough for me.

RDU is a tired airport and needs something. And if it were just people going away for a weekend shopping trip or to get out of that dreg of a city---Raleigh, that might be OK.

But Raleigh is one of the leading technology centers of the world and one way we can act like it and get that first perception is to upgrade the airport, knock it down or whatever. The right people made the decision and again, I am OK with that.

The airport is the gateway to a city. Kind of like driving down Capital BLVD to a new comer

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am a numbers geek and was looking over passenger statistics at the RDU website. While it is impressive the amount of traffic that comes through I noticed the airport is just now returning to passenger levels it enjoyed between 91/92. I am surmising that 9/11 had a huge impact and probably the tech bust as well a few years back. The area has grown very significantly since this time though and I was a little surprised at current passenger levels.

1985 - 2005 (annually)

Year Enplaned Deplaned Total

1985 1,381,798 1,389,211 2,771,009

1986 1,555,362 1,544,640 3,100,002

1987 2,428,101 2,425,972 4,854,073

1988 3,696,712 3,655,295 7,352,007

1989 4,318,325 4,276,346 8,594,671

1990 4,650,872 4,614,793 9,265,665

1991 4,698,543 4,683,043 9,381,586

1992 4,977,071 4,948,293 9,925,364

1993 4,862,285 4,833,601 9,695,886

1994 4,498,837 4,500,654 8,999,491

1995 2,962,701 2,974,434 5,937,135

1996 3,206,136 3,211,735 6,417,871

1997 3,360,478 3,364,396 6,724,874

1998 3,615,439 3,613,214 7,228,653

1999 4,471,065 4,470,710 8,941,775

2000 5,210,297 5,228,288 10,438,585

2001 4,806,613 4,777,474 9,584,087

2002 4,133,046 4,108,207 8,241,253

2003 3,968,186 3,944,361 7,912,547

2004 4,352,702 4,352,702 8,637,606

2005 4,708,459 4,701,533 9,409,992

Oh, and here is the source.

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Don't forget two other major economic factors this decade:

The clamping down on corporations lying about their books in the 90's. The slack had to be picked up and the stock market took a long while to recover while the books were corrected.

Katrina and the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline. What was it, 3 days that the pipeline was down? Gas prices soared and the economy took a very hard knock in the teeth.

With those two major factors coupled with 9/11 and the market correction of overinflated tech stock prices, it's a wonder the US economy hasn't been in a full-blown depression this decade. :thumbsup:

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I am a numbers geek and was looking over passenger statistics at the RDU website. While it is impressive the amount of traffic that comes through I noticed the airport is just now returning to passenger levels it enjoyed between 91/92. I am surmising that 9/11 had a huge impact and probably the tech bust as well a few years back. The area has grown very significantly since this time though and I was a little surprised at current passenger levels.

Thanks for posting; these are very interesting numbers.

Looking back, the first two "peaks" have very clear causes external to that of rising population... the former AA hub leading to the first surge, and the tech boom probably being core to the second surge. The current rise, coming in a time of slower, more cautious growth, hopefully reflects a more sustainable pattern related to the metro area's overall growth trends.

I can't wait to see the new Terminal C! Having seem some of RIC's re-construction-in-progress as well as the great new progress at Terminal A in Boston, the new trends in terminal design and construction are truly fantastic and something that Raleigh-Durham is overdue to have.

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The final numbers arn't out for RDU passengers in 2006, but expect about 1% growth over 2005. That would put the passenger number close to 9,500,000. I think that slower rate of growth in 2006 was due in part to the lowered fares in Charlotte.

People are not driving to RDU from Charlotte like they used to. Also some people in Greensboro are now driving to Charlotte due to its competitive air fares and cheaper parking.

Edited by uptownliving
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Have to say I agree wholeheartedly with Subway Scoundrel. It does make a difference to a business traveler. Having been to a number of airports like Minneapolis, Denver, and Toronto, he's absolutely right about the mood an airport conveys, trivial as it may seem. Yes you're passing through the place, but when I'm looking at a 2 or 4 hour layover, the last thing I want to be immersed in is a loud, harsh place with CNN or Headline News blaring endlessly from every single seating area. Noise is a huge turn off in a public place like that - especially if there's no where to go to get away from it unless you have billions of frequent flier miles. RDU is one of the worst when it comes to terminal noise.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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