Out & About in Greater Tulsa By EMILY RAMSEY
MODERN RENOVATIONS: A view of a renovated concourse at Tulsa International Airport. Over the past five years, the airport has undergone many renovation projects, including updates to Concourses A and B, costing more than $50 million.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
My recent vacation (see page 27), and the airplane travel that accompanied it, presented me with a moment of pause to be reminded of yet another Tulsa gem that most of us certainly take for granted: our airport.
What a wonderful way that we Tulsans get to begin and end our trips, with the ease and calmness that envelop our approachable airport.
While that may sound silly at first, I can’t tell you the number of airports I’ve encountered that cause me to, momentarily, consider never traveling again. The chaotic and crowded hallways with endless gates filled with complaining passengers and stressed-out airline employees.
Contrast that with Tulsa’s pleasant, easily-accessible airport that, with its recent aesthetic and operational updates, has been made more beautiful than ever.
Over the past five years, the airport’s renovation projects have included Concourses A and B, costing more than $50 million. The project modernized the airport’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, bringing the noticeable changes of renovated restrooms, seating with fully integrated power charging stations, and added skylights and raised concourse ceilings. The skylights and raised ceilings bring a noticeably more modern, lighter feel to the halls.
Now, some may argue the numerous benefits of a large metropolitan hub, with its international travel wings, hallways filled with bars and restaurants, and countless number of flight destination choices.
These are things that many individuals desire. And, I admit, I mostly look forward in anticipation to my airport layovers, wandering through the shops, exploring the cafes and restaurants, and just meandering the halls to soak in the activity and ponder where all of the travelers are headed.
However, I think the reason that I can find joy in those moments is thanks to the contrast of “my” airport.
Driving to the airport, like most Tulsans, my morning starts off easily. A 15-minute drive with only a few cars to contend with at the drop-off area. Usually, in less than 30 minutes, I am past security and enjoying a coffee and pastry, overlooking the runway through the abundant wall-to-ceiling windows that reward passengers after moving through the security checkpoint.
I overheard one traveler comment, “If we were in Denver, we would still be in the security line.”
I felt like commenting, “Welcome to Tulsa.” Instead, I simply smiled knowingly.
Yet, with progress comes growth and more progress and more growth and, oftentimes, the eventual loss of a city’s small-town feel.
In recent weeks, I have heard Tulsa’s new Mayor G.T. Bynum and the recently-inaugurated Chamber Chair Phil Albert both comment on the many changes coming to Tulsa in the future months and years: the opening of A Gathering Place for Tulsa by the end of 2017, the construction of the OKPOP Museum, the city’s renewed focus on improving Route 66, and the many Vision Tulsa projects that will soon take shape, such as the move of to 15th Street and Yale Avenue, making Tulsa the international headquarters for racing.
Tulsa is undoubtedly growing in the attention it receives nationally and beyond.
Hopefully, our city’s charm, hospitality and overall welcoming spirit that is so often noted by visitors will remain unchanged as other changes come.