How is it that no one in the media double checked a fact that was so glaringly wrong?

On March 17, the Kansas City Business Journal ran an article detailing, among other statistics, the security wait time at KCI. That same day, it ran a thundering editorial based on those statistics titled, “Rankings show KCI needs a big lift sooner, not later.”

In the ranking of American airports by the Business Journal’s parent company, American City Business Journals (ACBJ), KCI was awarded an overall D+ and finished 32nd from the top out of 46.

One of the variables pulling KCI down was the “AVG. TSA WAIT TIME (MINUTES).” KCI’s 28.8 minute average was among the highest in the country and surely contributed to the airport’s humble grade. Needless to say, these numbers were eagerly embraced by the airport’s anti-boosters who have convinced themselves that only a new gazillion-dollar single terminal will spare the city further humiliation.

Kevin Koster, the fellow who launched, knew this was nuts. Said Koster:

“I’ve flown out of KCI 100+ times. My longest wait ever was less than that on a Saturday before Christmas while checking golf clubs.”

It amazed him that no bothered to fact check what seemed so obviously wrong. So Koster did the work for them. He first asked Business Journal editor Brian Kaberline about the numbers but got no response. Koster then contacted the office of his congressman, and that office checked with TSA. Here are some highlights from the TSA response. “MCI,” of course, is airport code for KCI.

  • That data referenced in the article is incorrect.  Last month at MCI, 99.7 % of passengers waited less than 20 minutes.
  • The average wait time MCI for the month of February is 3 minutes in the standard lanes and 1.7 minutes in the precheck lanes.  We don’t have March average yet – but should have it in the next few days once we are in April.
  • The average annual wait time for MCI is 3.63 minutes (4.09 minutes in standard and 2.13 minutes in TSA Pre?®).

Koster’s conclusion is strong enough to stand on its own. “If we’re going to have a productive discussion about the best course of action for KCI,” he contends, “we must have accurate information. The media has to do a better job of asking better questions, questioning the answers, and not simply printing whatever is handed to them. We need journalism, not stenography.”





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