Wednesday, July 13 – When I landed at Kansas City International Airport today, I had no idea that our flight had narrowly escaped big problems. Some flights had been diverted to Topeka; one flight between Chicago and Austin made an emergency landing here due to hail. But my flight from Dallas-Fort Worth airport landed right on time. Perhaps the aviation gods were looking out for me?

At DFW, new executive VP Khaled Naja, whom I knew from Chicago O’Hare days, exuded his customary passion as he talked about the holy grail of DFW: customer service. Every aspect of design and construction and upgrades, he tells his engineers and contractors, is about putting the airport fliers first and foremost.

Along with that top priority, DFW is embracing an FAA-endorsed model of separating contracts into federal and non-federal; i.e., they just hired AECOM to be the PM/CM for its federally-funded (mostly AIP and such) projects, and HNTB for the non-federally-funded (PFC-funded and bond-backed) projects. A current $2-billion-dollar-plus renovation to DFW terminals is nearing completion, and a new rail link to Fort Worth is on the way. More about DFW’s mission to come in the pages of ENR.

I flew from DFW to Kansas City, where Justin Meyer, deputy director of aviation service development, showed me the many, many reasons why the two operating horseshoe-shaped terminals are obsolete and insufficient for customers. A third terminal lies vacant. Extensive planning and studies have shown that a new terminal would be more cost-effective and beneficial than trying to renovate existing infrastructure—the airline tenants are willing to back bonds for a $1-billion program that would solve the many logistical problems existing at the current terminals. I will strive to tell that story soon, as well.

Indeed, photos of the airports and airport people will be forthcoming. But for now, I must sit back and digest the unbelievable barbecue I had at Q39 with folks from HNTB, headquartered here in KC, before heading off tomorrow for the final stop of this first leg: Chicago.