The brand new Salt Lake City International Airport is so massive, it’s difficult for travelers to wrap their heads around all that the $4.1 billion project got them.
And there’s more to come, as the Deseret News detailed in an in-depth look at what’s currently under construction, including a central tunnel to connect the two concourses, which airport officials say should help address one of the biggest complaints of travelers: walking distances.
Concourse A, itself, will be the size of 12 football fields when it’s fully built out, slated for November 2023 when 22 more gates on its east side are supposed to be completed. Throughout the entire airport, there will be nearly 1.6 miles of moving walkways to help people move about.
Because of its massive size, it will likely take travelers more than one trip to grasp how much the airport has to offer.
Here are five unique things you won’t want to miss:
This robot can deliver your food
Don’t want to leave your gate? Gita’s got you covered.
Servy, a mobile food ordering service, recently launched a touchless food ordering service at the Salt Lake City International Airport. The result puts the airport on a whole new level of futuristic.
Customers can order their food items on a mobile website, SLCtogo.com. They then have the option of picking up their order at the restaurant themselves, having it delivered by a human — or by Gita.
Gita, a stout little delivery robot, now rolls around the airport’s concourses, accompanied by a human escort. Its services aren’t free, though. Its delivery fee is $2.99.
Five restaurants are participating in the program: California Pizza Kitchen, Granato’s Gourmet Market, Uinta Brewing Co., Market Street Grill, and Gourmandise Euro Diner and Bakery.
The iconic world map was saved
Airport officials found a way to salvage some nostalgia from the old airport facility that was demolished to make way for the new.
The world map that was on the floor of the old Terminal 1 was saved — even though airport officials originally thought there was no way to keep it from being destroyed.
Read more about how they saved it here.
However, travelers will have to wait before they’ll be able to see it again. It will be placed on the floor of the mini-plaza of Concourse B, not set to open until October 2024, when the new “central tunnel” that will connect Concourse A and B opens to foot traffic.
Carts (and maybe someday a tram) may cut down on walk times
When that Concourse B plaza and the connecting central tunnel opens in 2024, travelers will no longer have to walk all the way to the mid-concourse tunnel located on the west side of Concourse A in order to get to Concourse B. Airport officials said a central tunnel should help shorten walking distances.
That new central tunnel, which will have moving walkways, was also built to potentially accommodate a tram in the distant future, according to Bill Wyatt, airport executive director. But that may not come until a third concourse is built north of Concourse B — something that may not happen for at least another decade, Wyatt said.
In the meantime, a set of electric carts may be utilized to help transport people, Wyatt said.
“The possibility of carts in the new tunnel is very real and something that is very much under consideration at this point,” Wyatt said.
The new tunnel will be an immersive experience
Spanning the 990-foot length of the future central tunnel will be a giant art installation called the “River Tunnel.”
Designed by Gordon Huether, the same artist behind the airport’s centerpiece art installation “The Canyon” lining the ceiling of the terminal, “River Tunnel” is meant to resemble water that flows through Utah’s canyons. Blue light and water sound effects will submerge passengers in the “River Tunnel” as they walk through.
Compare it to the LED tunnel at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which immerses travelers in 700 feet of lights set to musical scores.
The nearly 1,000-foot central tunnel will exceed 106,000 square feet, with a price tag over $120 million, according to the airport’s website.
Return missionary families will have a new place to gather
In the old Salt Lake City airport, a unique Utah phenomena would lead to big crowds in baggage claim areas.
Traditionally, families would gather to greet returning missioners of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with families of returning military members.
The new airport was designed with this specifically in mind — and architects created a special greeting room for families.
The spacious area — located right by the terminal exit — features a fireplace, couches and a high-resolution replica of the world map from the old airport.
However, the greeting room hasn’t yet opened, as the airport is technically closed to anyone who doesn’t have an access badge or boarding ticket, Wyatt said. But he said that is likely to change in about 30 days.
“I’m hoping within the next month or so people are going to be able to experience the greeting room,” Wyatt told the Deseret News recently. “It’s to be a lot more pleasant than standing in the lobby down at Terminal 1 being run over by people coming out of the exit lane.”
“We think it will be a good experience.”