Columbia Metropolitan Airport is starting to look different.
Visitors have noticed the changes to the airport in Lexington County, about 7 miles outside of downtown Columbia.
Starting at the front of the building, visitors will see that the sliding doors at the entrance are being replaced, paving the way for a larger entrance area.
“The center vestibule will be expanded in height – creating more of a grand entrance and helpful access point for any large format displays that we might have in the main lobby in the future,” said marketing director Kim Jamieson.
In the coming weeks, the airport will begin installing a new in-line baggage system. Instead of passengers dropping their bags at the large screening machines near the ticket counters, the whole process will be moved behind the ticket desks. Flyers will no longer have to drop their checked luggage at the screens; instead, the agent will take passengers’ checked luggage and all the screening will be done behind the scenes, Jamieson said. The new setup will also allow all the ticket desks to be replaced.
New escalators also have been installed throughout the terminal and the parking garage.
The latest expansion comes on top of a new parking guidance system the airport installed at the end of last year, which helps drivers find parking spaces with red or green light displays over each space in the garage. Flyers can also pre-book their parking and secure a space ahead of their flight.
The renovations are being funded locally, with the cost being recouped from operating revenue and charges. The Transportation Security Administration will partly fund the new baggage system, and the Federal Aviation Administration is partly funding the new ticket area.