Salt Lake City’s airport is getting a makeover that is very specific to the region. Utah is famous for being home to a high population of Mormons. Salt Lake City International Airport is the hub that many Mormon missionaries use when flying to and from destinations. In fact, most people who have spent any amount of time at this airport already know that they’ll often find the friends and families of Mormon missionaries anticipating their return with balloons, banners and photographers.
This actually causes quite a bit of congestion as other travelers try to get to where they need to be, so meet-and-greet areas for families are being worked into the new design of Salt Lake City International Airport.
Salt Lake City International Airport is currently in the middle of a renovation project totaling $3.6 billion. Officials decided to include a special reception area where returning missionaries and their families can gather to reunite and take photographs without bothering other airport visitors.
Close to 30,000 Mormons actually travel through Salt Lake International Airport each year. The list of travelers moving through the airport on any given day includes church leaders, church employees and missionaries. In addition, Mormons also use the airport routinely for non-church business. Roughly 62% of the population of Utah Identifies as Mormon. What’s more, the headquarters of the Mormon church is located in Salt Lake City.
This isn’t the first time that an airport in the United States has been designed to accommodate groups looking for special meet-and-greet areas. However, it is the first time that an airport has been designed specifically to accommodate missionaries. Maine’s Bangor International Airport already has a similar reception area due to the fact that military personnel often use that airport when returning from or leaving for deployment. Bangor’s airport even has a special group of volunteers who wait to greet military members as they pass through the airport.
The renovations at Salt Lake City International Airport are at the halfway mark as we head into winter. The renovation is more or less a full reconstruction. In fact, much of the existing airport will actually be torn down once the new structure is complete. The updated airport will feature new buildings, elevated roadways, a new concourse, a new terminal, motorized walkways and six miles of baggage-moving networks. The first phase of the updated airport is expected to be open to the public during the later part of 2020.