Yakima spending thousands on airport comforts, passenger safety

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Waiting at the airport is never fun. But, Yakima wants your wait to at least be comfortable. The airport is spending thousands to renovate the Air Terminal. KIMA got the list of improvements that you can look forward to from the airport's chief.

The Yakima Air Terminal: functional, but not exactly pretty.

"It doesn't look that much welcoming," said one neighbor. "It doesn''s just there."

The Yakima Air Terminal is working to change that impression, planning improvements to the passenger terminal.

On deck: freshly painted walls and new carpets by summertime, costing $50,000 to $75,000 in airport operating funds.

Business travelers and smartphone users will have free Wi-Fi and faster connection speeds by the end of March. The airport used about $10,000 in city funds to make that happen.

Brittany Caple is flying to Sacramento. KIMA found her passing the time with a movie.

"Every once in a while, you get a delay, and it would be nice to connect to the Internet and get some of your business taken care of or just upload videos faster."

Two TV monitors were recently installed to broadcast the latest news and weather. The airport's DirecTV subscription? About $100 a month.

The old concession stand has a new coffee shop. It's called Jet Lag Java and has been open for about two weeks. Next to the coffee shop, a small seating area.

The airport also wants to improve passenger safety, with plans to buy a more effective snow removal device. Regular snowplows leave a thin layer of snow on the runway which can freeze overnight. The feds will pay most of the $500,000 price tag.

The changes, both inside and out, are part of a new push by the airport to bring in more passengers, along with about $70,000 in media advertising on television and radio.

More passengers, says Yakima, could mean a fourth Alaska Airlines flight.

Whether that happens is still up in the air.

Yakima is planning to build a brand-new air terminal in the year 2020 or 2021 as part of the airport's long-term master plan.