Stroll through the main entrance and you're greeted with a vast main ticketing hall filled with clean lines, stainless steel and glass. Huge wooden trusses are holding up the whole thing, giving it a clean IKEA-like design. We liked it, but it's a little sterile and would definitely understand if some felt otherwise.
Friendly TSA folks were ready to answer questions about bans on liquids while showing off those snazzy new blue uniforms. The checkpoint lines were nice and wide and there were seven of them, so if fully staffed, things should go smoothly.
After security, we went down a couple steps to the main gate area. Straight ahead are a few shops, including one dedicated to tacky jewelry and one with second hand books. Of course there's a Starbucks too; you can't miss it. Your first opportunity for some good eats is the local restaurant, 42nd Street Oyster Bar. If their free chowder samples were any indication, this is probably your best bet for pre-flight eats.
Delta, American, United and Air Canada are the first to move in on October 26, with American taking 11 of the new gates. Each airline had staff on hand to answer questions and to trick you into providing all your personal information for a chance to win frequent flier miles--of course we fell for it. Who can resist the opportunity for free swag?
On the restaurant front, the local specialty is well represented at Brookwood Farms BBQ and Carolina Ale House has pub grub and beer. The usual fast food joints are also here, along with a Bruegger's Bagels. One of the most popular places passing out samples was local wine shop North Carolina Vintages.
We also got a tour of the customs facilities. Arriving international passengers will take the long journey back through the terminal through a stained glass corridor. The thought is that by the time you reach the end, your bags will be there too. No pictures were allowed but if you've been through customs before, you can imagine what it looked like. RDU says they'll be able to clear up to 400 people an hour.
The baggage claim area is nice and big and will give passengers plenty of room to jockey for position while waiting for bags.
During the open house, things seemed pretty much ready to go: We didn't see any lingering construction debris or wires hanging from the ceiling. The new facility is certainly a huge upgrade over the two current terminals, especially Terminal C, which it's replacing. Overall, things look great and we might just get to the airport a little early on our next flight.