There was no shortage of politicians or aviation bureaucrats at the official christening of Palomar Airport's brand new main terminal. The $24 million complex features wide open front windows, environmentally friendly landscaping and walking paths made of recycled plastic. It goes without saying that airport managers were beaming.
"They'll notice the large area where the ticketing lobby is. They'll not feel confined and in a tight space the way they did when in the old building," county airports manager Peter Drinkwater said.
Passengers use the terminal to board connecting flights to Los Angeles and beyond. The main attraction seems to be convenience.
"This is wonderful. We don't have to go to San Diego or Los Angeles," one traveler said.
"The parking is easier. It's easier to get through security. If you go to LAX, the security line is out the door and three blocks down," another traveler said.
And speaking of security, the makeover includes top of the line security gear, including a brand new surveillance system.
"From this security operations center we can monitor various points around the airport, all the access points, we can open and close them remotely," Palomar Airport Assistant Manager Olivier Bracket said.
A $13 million grant from the FAA paid for the construction. Airport fees will pick up the tab for the rest. The only downside seems to be parking, which used to be free. Starting in April, it will cost $3 a day.
"It's still cheap compared to going to LAX and having to ride a bus in from a remote parking lot," a traveler said.
In June, the 3,000-square-foot Landings restaurant is set to open next door to the new terminal. It will feature wide screen television sets, with live video feeds of airport takeoffs and landings.