In recent airport news, Denver solves a big problem, CLEAR keeps expanding; Chicago unveils plans for more gates at O’Hare; JetBlue makes a big change in passenger procedures at JFK; airlines move around at Milwaukee; and Baltimore/Washington adds a unique new traveler amenity.
Denver International has a big problem: Two of its largest carriers, Southwest and Frontier, do not offer in-seat power outlets at all. United’s power outlet offerings are spotty at best, and in many cases, the only way to get inflight entertainment is via personal devices since many United planes no longer have seatback screens. That means that Denver fliers are frequently scrambling to get a good charge on the ground before they find themselves powerless in the sky. To help travelers get charged, DIA recently installed nearly 10,000 charging points throughout the airport. Charged up there recently?
The CLEAR trusted traveler program, which now has Delta Air Lines as a minority stakeholder, continues to expand its presence at U.S. airports. The company has opened new CLEAR lanes at Washington Dulles and Washington Reagan National airports as well as Seattle-Tacoma International. Last week the company announced that its next airport will be Detroit– not surprising since Delta has a hub there. CLEAR charges a $179 annual membership fee and uses biometric technology to verify travelers’ identities at its airport lanes. (Delta frequent flyers can get big discounts, though) Once they go through the lane, bypassing the regular TSA lines, members proceed directly to screening; those who also belong to TSA PreCheck go to that station, and those who don’t go to regular screening stations. With these additions, CLEAR now has a presence at 16 U.S. airports.
In Chicago, there’s even more development coming at O’Hare International. Earlier this year came news of new runway construction, five new gates being added for American Airlines, and plans to develop two on-site hotels at the airport. Now the city says it will add nine new gates to O’Hare’s International Terminal (T5), a $300 million project that will grow the terminal’s capacity by 25 percent. It’s the first expansion of T5 in 23 years. And that’s not all: The city also said it will redevelop O’Hare’s Terminal 2 into “a new central terminal within the existing terminal complex.” The project could involve a new Customs facility, a departures hall with more space for TSA screening, additional concessions and other passenger amenities. Longer term, “the planning contemplates new concourses to be constructed to the west as airline passenger demand dictates,” the mayor’s office said. It did not give a timeline for completion of the new projects.
At New York JFK, JetBlue has completed a major overhaul of its check-in and ticketing lobby area in Terminal 5. The focus is on passenger self-service, with 70 check-in kiosks, along with a new feature: self-service baggage tagging and a dozen stations where customers can drop off their tagged luggage. The overall lobby space has also been expanded by 75 percent, and plenty of JetBlue staffers are on hand to help customers familiarize themselves with the new kiosks and procedures.
Travelers passing through Milwaukee’s Mitchell International will see some changes in the weeks ahead, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The newspaper said that in mid-August, Air Canada will move from Concourse C to Concourse E, and United will do the same in early September. Southwest will remain in Concourse C. The newspaper said the moves are being made in preparation for a longer-term project that will see Concourse E – the airport’s smallest – eventually converted into a facility that will handle international flights. The airport’s existing international terminal is in a separate building not connected to the main passenger concourses.
Baltimore/Washington International plans to open a new passenger facility this fall that is available at other major airports: a full-service health club. Operated by an Oregon-based start-up called ROAM Fitness, the 1,200-square-foot facility will offer equipment like treadmills, stationary bikes and free weights. It will also have shower facilities and will rent workout clothes to customers.
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