After what has seemed like a punishing ordeal for years with the construction of a new terminal at the international airport, the capital finally got to appreciate its gleaming result last month with the official opening of El Dorado’s Terminal 2.

Despite the usual setbacks and delays in building a large structure to move and accommodate tens of thousands of passengers every day, the construction administrators Opain S.A. met their commitments with the city and national government. El Dorado T2 is now on the global map for its modern design, technology and passenger comforts.

“The departure level of the terminal is beautiful,” remarks Mauricio Llinas of Bilkey Llinas design. “There is harmony and a great sense of color, especially in Departures.”

With 68 check-in counters and 13 aircraft gates, the new El Dorado extends across 104,000 square meters and spans two levels with its Arrivals and Departures areas. Terminal 2 is only for international flights and passengers needing to connect to Avianca’s domestic hub at Puente Aereo will find connection times to be fast. Moving luggage to and from planes is also one of the important changes to the new terminal.

The ‘Gold’ standard in South American airports?

Boasting an automated baggage handling technology (BHS), T2 is the only terminal in South America to offer this system, which can manage 10,200 suitcases at any given moment. The new terminal also expects to receive 28 millions passengers annually by 2014, putting it on par with global hubs such as Mexico City and Sao Paulo.

With its glass façade, T2 is bright and modern. The terminal allocates generous space to arriving passengers at the baggage belts and those waiting to fly at the gate. The new terminal has 1,500 seats and immigration booths have been expanded to meet the demand of arriving passengers.

Airports can leave important impressions about a country. Although safety and space is paramount to the traveling experience, there is also the intangible “soft” culture determined by friendly customer service and the way we are treated the moment we “check in” or hail ground transportation on arrival.

Here, the changes are fundamental too. The new El Dorado is not only an important achievement for Bogotá, but a window on a country which likes to put people first and can boast to a continent that El Dorado really does shine in the Andes.