Morrisville, N.C. — Planes took off and landed Sunday at the first new passenger terminal at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in more than two decades.
The first phase of the $570-million Terminal 2 houses American Airlines, Delta, United and Air Canada. Its 550,000 square-foot north concourse has 19 gates and seven security checkpoints.
Other airlines will move when the south concourse is completed in 2011, adding 13 gates and seven more security lanes.
Airport officials predict that the terminal will get heavy use, despite global economic uncertainty. In September, RDU saw an 8 percent drop in the number of passengers as airlines cut flights, raised fares and increased fees.
The terminal opens in time for the holiday season, and carriers said that advance bookings show their planes will be as full as or fuller than a year ago over the late fall and winter holidays.
Delta, which operates out of Terminal 2, said that advance domestic bookings are up, while international ones are down. American Airlines said that its advance bookings are down about 2 percent, a normal variation.
For travelers that do pass through it, Terminal 2 offers plenty of entertainment: Twenty-six shops and restaurants, including 42nd Street Oyster Bar, Carolina Ale House, A Southern Season, Brooks Brothers and Apple iPod.
In the age of post-9/11, heavy airport security, Terminal 2 was designed to move passengers quickly and safely between gates and planes. Its open interior combines wood trusses with steel and glass walls.
Ticketing kiosks will allow passengers to check in for any airline from a single location. And beneath passenger areas, a state-of-the-art baggage sorting and handling system processes and screens up to 1,600 pieces of luggage an hour.
Passengers will go through a new no-touch security checkpoint that is an alternative to the familiar pat-down – but also eschewed by many airports for privacy concerns. The $177,000 Whole Body Imager projects radio beams over the surface of a person's body and displays a three-dimensional image of the body, without clothing, on a remote monitor.
Terminal 2 replaces the red-roofed Terminal C, which was built as a hub for American Airlines in 1987 and demolished as its replacement was built.
Blue-walled Terminal A has been renamed Terminal 1, bringing RDU's naming practices in line with other airports. RDU passengers had often been confused by the lack of "Terminal B," which disappeared in the early 1990s when it became an extension of Terminal A.