Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Concourse: Part 3 - The Film

Over the past two days, both Cameron and I have shared out photographs and experiences of the now abandoned Concourse C at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). The above is a short film put together that offers another perspective on our visit.

The response to parts 1 and 2 of "The Concourse" series has been tremendous. I've really enjoyed all the heartfelt stories, thoughts and memories that people have shared in the comment section, on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I only visited Concourse C once, in the early 2000's as a teenager heading on vacation with my family. I have a foggy memory of a bus ride from the main airport to a crowded island surrounded by small jets. Concourse C has been by far one of the most interesting places I've ever documented in my six and a half years of running this website. While shooting these photographs and video in the building, it's interesting to contemplate the sea of humanity that once flowed through there on a daily basis - those traveling and those working, both going about their daily lives. What makes abandoned places so compelling to photograph is the lack of humanity and activity, how these locations take on a new life while revealing clues of their past lives.

Yeah, it's an abandoned airport - but to some people, this place meant so much.

Part 1: Island in a Stream of Runways
Part 2: Unaccompanied Minor 


  1. It's easy for me to watch this film and remember the crowds of people--swarms, really--that would make their way in and out of Concourse C every day. There was a never-ending cacophony of noise as the agents announced the comings and goings of so many flights, of gate changes, of early arrivals, and of delayed departures. It was very typical as we grew to be delayed because we ran out of gate space. We'd all take our planes over to "old remote" and wait for a gate to open. It was a great way to be a victim of our success. The pay phones that are so prominent in the pictures were a big deal. The lack of them when the building was opened was a huge and common complaint from our passengers. During both renovations, banks and banks of phones were added. By the time we abandonded it, everyone had cell phones. Had it stayed open, those pay phones would no doubt have been replaced with charging stations and desks.

    Not mentioned in this series was the way the Comair employees themselves outgrew the terminal. The ramp agents and gate agents had their break room in the upper part of the concourse, just below the base of the ramp tower. The pilots and flight attendants had ours in the basement (the doorway was by Gate 20) in two rooms that were already getting crowded when I got hired in 1996. The walls of the hallway were lined with shelves to hold our bags, and there was never any room. By the time of the strike in 2001, the rumor was that Comair was getting fined regularly because the number of people exceeded the fire marshall limits. We were growing faster than we could handle. The elevator began to break down with increasing regularity.

    When the strike ended, in July of 2001, we were in the basement of C for a few more weeks, and then moved to a much larger "temporary" facility across the ramp. We accessed the Concourse by way of a bus. The trailers--I always called them Alcatraz because of the resemblance in its isolation--were actually quite posh and roomy. We were outgrowing them in no time at all, waiting for more "permanent" quarters. We never got them. That "temporary facility" itself sat abandoned and alone until 2013.

    Concourse C was a beehive, and many of the employees from various companies became familiar faces for years. They'd ask where we were going as they made our lunch, or ask about our trip to Bangor, Maine or Helena, Montana the previous week. Many were working in the Concourse just to get a job in the airport, in hopes that it would lead to work at Comair or Delta. Others just liked the activity. A few of the folks working at McDonald's or the Brickhouse Bakery (I can't remember its real name, but this is close) would occasionally wink and give me a bigger-than-usual discount if nobody was looking, or drop a cookie or chips in my bag and only charge me a smile, which I gladly gave.

    From Concourse C, you could go to any city in the country with no more than 2 flights. Most of the world (by way of Delta's operation in B) was no more than 3 legs away. My kids became seasoned travel veterans flying out of C, and I was always so proud to walk through the terminal holding their hands. "Daddy, you sure know a lot of people," my daughter would say.

    I loved working here.

    1. After Comair's shutdown, were you still able to keep flying with someone else?

    2. JJ, I am fortunate to be with United now. I wish everyone could have been so lucky...

  2. Concourse C reminds me of an abandoned Cylon Basestar.

    All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.....

  3. The really disturbing thing about this is that CVG and Delta/ComAir spent millions renovating Concourse C before shuttering it two years later. Delta purchased ComAir, decimated it, shuttered it, and therefore forced the closure of Concourse C. Sad indeed.

    1. That is what happens when Northwest executives hold the purse strings. Save your own (Detroit, Minneapolis) screw the others (Cincinnati). Memphis was de-hubbed because of Atlanta though so I guess they kept face.

  4. A lot of good times and memories in Concourse C, use to work at the Brooks Brothers while in college, evening shift. We had this make shift closet dressing room, so many people used it even though it was tiny. So many interesting characters flying in and out of the airport. Use to remember taking care of so many military personnel, working better discounts and such so they could get out of fatigues before seeing loved ones. It was a great concourse. Only downside was so many people hated the shuttle buses to A and B and confused a lot of transfer passengers.

  5. This was the best time in my life. I loved working for Comair and with all of the most wonderful, professional people I have ever met. We were family, all of us. Even the newbies. God Bless all of my friends there and hope you are all doing well. I miss flying so much.

  6. worked for three years at Comair/regional elite before northwest started running delta.met so many GREAT people who busted their rears to
    get customers and baggage onto those was only a part time gig for me,but I remember the last day for regional elite,andthe people crying
    because it was over.very sad....proud to have been a part of a really great team......gc