In airport news, Uber drivers at Newark get an official warning; Chicago O’Hare will finally start to see new aircraft gates being built; and Miami International releases an updated smartphone app that uses geo-location to assist passengers.
With all of United’s transcontinental p.s. flights from the West Coast now flying into Newark instead of New York JFK, arriving passengers might just instinctively tap their Uber app for an airport pickup upon landing. But that could be a problem in a couple of weeks. According to local media in New Jersey, the chief prosecutor for the city of Newark has sent a letter to Uber headquarters setting a February 22 deadline for Uber’s drivers to stop picking up passengers at Newark Airport. If they don’t, they could have their vehicles towed by police and face “civil and criminal penalties,” the letter said. The same warning applied to Uber drivers working at Newark’s Penn Station. (Although Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports are all operated by the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, the rules governing ground transportation are set separately by Newark for Newark Airport and New York City for LaGuardia and JFK. The two New York airports do permit Uber pickups if the driver is licensed by the city.) Last month, Newark’s licensed taxi drivers staged a big anti-Uber protest at the airport.
Earlier this month, Chicago city officials announced plans for a huge infrastructure project at O’Hare Airport, including construction of a sixth runway, and some critics reiterated the complaints they made after the fifth runway was completed – namely, that building more runways to increase capacity isn’t going to do much good unless there are more places to park airplanes. But now the city is moving to start fixing the gate shortage, announcing a deal with American Airlines that will allow the carrier to build five new gates at O’Hare’s Terminal 3. The new gates, due to be finished by 2018, will be added to T3’s Concourse L. That will increase the total gate count for American at O’Hare’s Terminal 3 from 66 to 71. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, they represent the first significant construction of new gates at the airport since 1993.
Nursing mothers never have it easy when they travel, but Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is trying to give them a break. The airport has set up four “lactation pods” that mothers can use for nursing or breast milk pumping in privacy. The stations are located past the security checkpoints near Gates T-7, B-5, D-34 and F-5, and another one will soon be added pre-security in the airport’s Domestic Terminal. The pods, designed by a company called Mamava, can be locked form the inside and provide seating, a changing table, and an electrical outlet for pumps.
Miami International Airport is going super high-tech with an upgraded version of its smartphone app, called MIA Airport Official 2.0. The airport has installed more than 500 Bluetooth data beacons so that app users can simply scan their boarding pass to get turn- by-turn directions to their departure gate or other locations, estimated walking times, real-time flight updates and shopping/dining suggestions, based on their personal profile. Users can also get weather information for anywhere in the world, and can use a “near me” feature that identifies the closest dining and shopping outlets. “Future enhancements will include notifications for special offers from the user’s preferred shops and restaurants at MIA, the ability to reserve parking, and estimated security checkpoint wait times,” a spokesman said. The app is available at the Google Play and Apple App stores. MIA has put up a Youtube video explaining the new app.
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