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AIrport ribbon cutting

A U.S. Air Force plane touches down in April 2017 at Joslin Field — Magic Valley Regional Airport in Twin Falls.

First impressions matter, our parents told us. Comb your hair, tuck in your shirt, put on a smile and give a firm handshake.

So we should all be applauding the $4.3 million in upgrades to the Twin Falls airport. For a lot of visitors, the airport makes the first (and last) impression for what folks will think of Twin Falls.

“Twin Falls has grown up,” County Commissioner Don Hall said Wednesday at the dedication ceremony for the newly remodeled airport. “This is a huge part of our economic development.”

How?

SkyWest Airlines, the airport’s only carrier, said the upgrades have the potential to bring expanded services. Officials also hope the remodel increases the chances travelers will fly out of Twin rather than driving to Boise or Salt Lake City to catch flights.

The Transportation Safety Administration called the project “a milestone for a community like Twin Falls.”

The upgrades were designed to speed up security lines (which were already blazingly fast compared with the above-mentioned airports) and provide more comforts to travelers.

There’s now free wireless internet. The seating area is larger, illuminated by more natural light. There are also bathrooms once you get through security. And the security line has been repositioned to allow for better flow throughout the airport. And if you accidentally left that big bottle of shampoo in your bag and it needs to be searched, it won’t happen in clear view of everyone else in line. The remodel included a more private bag-search area.

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“It’s going to be a considerable savings, definitely, convenience-wise, which will result in efficiency and save time,” said TSA Idaho Federal Security Director Andrew Coose.

The city and county co-own the airport and split the costs for the upgrades: just $179,000 total. The feds picked up the other 95 percent of the cost. That’s a heck of a deal for the local governments, who were able to make a small investment that could yield big dividends if more people choose the Twin Falls airport over other larger regional hubs.

Factor in gas, parking, travel time and a hotel room if you have to catch an early flight, and the Twin Falls airport starts to look a lot more attractive than those other airports, especially now with the upgrades that’ll make traveling out of Twin Falls even smoother.

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