Photo by Jim Massara
Atlanta traveler Paul Holoritz in the Delta Sky Lounge in the new international terminal: “It’s been a very positive experience.”
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport’s long awaited international terminal may be “Atlanta’s new front door to the world,” as Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson puts it — but you have to pass through Clayton County to get there.
Wednesday’s grand opening of the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal marks the first time Hartsfield travelers will access a terminal from I-75 in Clayton County. Although almost all of Hartsfield is in Clayton, its main entrances until now have been from I-85, mostly in Fulton County.
Not surprisingly, there’s been an “uptick” in traffic at the terminal’s entrance near exit 239 along I-75, according to Clayton County economic development director Grant Wainscott.
“One of the things we’re really paying attention to is the traffic,” Wainscott said. “We’re going to use those numbers to gauge services.”
Wainscott said he hopes to use traffic data to attract business like hotels and restaurants to the area near the exit and the C.W. Grant Parkway corridor, which is already slated for $50 million worth of improvements.
While Wainscott and others appraised the terminal’s impact outside, life inside the new $1.4 billion terminal was business as usual — albeit business with ribbon cuttings, a little extra spit and polish, and a huge media presence.
Inside Delta’s newest Sky Club lounge — Anderson calls it the “finest club on the system” — Atlanta traveler Paul Holoritz worked with his laptop while awaiting a Delta flight to Tokyo, its first from the new terminal.
“I fly out of here all the time. It’s really beautiful,” said Holoritz, who added that he planned to check out the rest of the terminal before his flight boarded.
Is the new terminal any better than Concourse E, previously the only departure point for international flights?
“It is today,” Holoritz said with a laugh. “Everybody has been really, really helpful in getting us through the process. It’s been a very positive experience.”