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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – After nearly two years, a shiny new terminal is partially opening at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Tuesday.

A Spirit Airlines flight from Myrtle Beach will be the first arrival at 9:50 a.m.

Traveler Isabelle Mattiole got a look.

“Oh my goodness, oh wow!” she said. “This looks great!”

Before looking at the new terminal, she was sitting with her family at a cramped table in one of the two restaurants in the old Terminal 4.

“It’s a little gloomy in there,” she said.

She said flying out of the new terminal will make it seem like vacation has already started.

“This will brighten things up, ready for a nice trip,” she said.

Two gates open Tuesday and more will be put to use as they become available.

“It’s wide, it’s expansive it’s bright, it’s colorful,” said Broward Aviation Department spokesman Greg Meyer. “We have completely new feel and look for international and some domestic arrivals and departures.”

Along with the new gates will be new customs facilities. Passengers will connect to a larger customs area using elevated walkways. Wait times should be cut.

For international airlines like Azul from Brazil, that could mean expansion.

“We think when this terminal is complete we may be able to add some additional service here in the market,” said David Woodard from Azul Airlines. “Right now, this airport is near capacity and the arrival experience isn’t what needs to be. So with the new facility opening, there will be much greater Customs and Border Patrol arrival facility that will help the customers be processed much quicker.”

There will also be a post-security connector bridge to Terminal 3 for more convenient connections. There will also be new restaurants and shops.

“Our concessions space is increasing from 2000 square feet in the old Terminal 4 to 35,000 square feet,” said Meyer. “You’ll have fantastic food options here.”

The new shops include: Broward Duty Free, CNBC Smartshop, Coastal Expressions, Shades of Time  and Univision.

The new restaurants and lounges will include: Casamigos Tequila, Casavana Cuban Cuisine, Desano Pizza Bakery, Harvest & Grounds Bakery Coffee, Hoffman’s Chocolates, Plane Box Food Co. and Zona Fresca Fresh Mexican Grill.

As construction on the western phase continues, they’re already clearing space on the other side – which will be a mirror image.  When the whole thing is complete, it will be a new 14-gate terminal replacing the existing outdated Terminal 4.

The first phase should be done at the end of 2015.  The second phase is expected to be complete sometime in 2018.

If you would like to know more about the changes, you can visit Broward.org to view the project gallery and  terminal renderings plus read about the key concourse features.

Ted Scouten

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