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Pretend travelers give new MSY a dry run

Open to public view for the very first time, the brand new terminal brought out thousands of would-be passengers.

KENNER, La. — With bags packed, but with tickets to nowhere, hundreds of make-believe travelers tested the system at the new Armstrong International terminal on Thursday afternoon.

More than 500 people put their assigned luggage through the terminal's baggage check system, checking to see if "The New MSY" is ready for takeoff.

Open to public view for the very first time, the brand new terminal brought out thousands. Would-be travelers checked out everything from the ticket counter to the dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops packing each concourse.

"The overall design of it is really efficient, it looks like it'll be easy for people to move through," said Kerry Tully, who had looped around Concourse B with a friend.

Carl Thrash, who travels often for his business, said he was impressed by the space.

"It's really nicer than I thought it was going to be," said Thrash. "I thought it was going to be the same size as the other one, but I can see it's a lot larger."

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Plagued with problems for years, this is the terminal's fourth targeted opening date. A WWL-TV investigation earlier this year showed problems with sinking sewer lines.

Still, there is caution tape near the ticket counter and plywood over some walkways. Crews were working on installing TSA equipment before and after the open house.

Aviation Director Kevin Dolliole says the list of things to do keeps him up at night.

"There will still be some anxiety for the next couple weeks, ensuring that all the last-minute things are done, all the various tenants are getting themselves ready and prepared to open when it opens," said Dolliole.

The open house will help airport officials streamline its systems and pinpoint common complaints. Some travelers said they think the signage above each gate is too small. Another traveler told WWL-TV he has concerns with the access for those with disabilities.

Others are concerned about getting to the airport altogether, as the flyway is still under construction.

"I was afraid I wouldn't know how to get here, to tell you the truth," said Gwen Williams, who drops off friends and family at the airport often.

Airport officials say they'll take this feedback and fine-tune the terminal.

The first flight out of the new gates leaves at 5 a.m. Wednesday, November 6.

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