In airport news, work has finally started on the big reconstruction of New York LaGuardia; a bunch of new retail options are coming to Phoenix Sky Harbor; Customs starts testing facial recognition at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson; and Minneapolis-St. Paul launches a five-year renovation project.
That huge reconstruction of New York LaGuardia finally got started this month, so travelers should expect to see some changes and some blocked-off areas there. The initial phase involves demolishing parts of the airport’s main terminal – but the work should cover only a few gates at a time, because the facility will remain open and operating all through the $4 billion project, officials said. Passengers should start to see new gate areas in the rebuilt terminal in about two years. The overall effort includes building a new central hall for the airport, and moving the new unified terminal 200 yards closer to the Grand Central Parkway, creating more space for airfield operations.
As of this week, it’s legal to grab a ride from Uber or Lyft at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport for a ride into town. Up until now, only drop offs were allowed. Also, Phoenix City Council this week approved a raft of new retail contracts for Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor International Airport, and travelers should start to see concessions opening in the weeks and months to come. You don’t see many shoe stores at airports, but one of the new PHX concessions is a Johnson & Murphy outlet. Other new retailers include a Brooks Brothers clothing store; Fire CZ and Uno de 50 jewelry stores; an Arizona Highways gift shop; an iStore that sells headphones, tablets and other tech items from Apple, Bose and Sony; a pair of XpresSpa locations; and a store that sells locally made art items. You can see a full list of new retail outlets here.
Customs and Border Protection has started testing new facial comparison technology at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. From now through September, passengers on Delta’s daily Tokyo flight will serve as test subjects, having a digital photo taken when they show their boarding pass before boarding. It’s all part of a longer-term Homeland Security project mandated by Congress that requires the collection of biometric data to track the comings and goings of non-U.S. citizens. Data on travelers with U.S. passports will be deleted once their identity is confirmed, the newspaper said.
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At 54 years of age, Minneapolis-St. Paul International’s Terminal 1 – the Lindbergh Terminal – is due for a facelift, and the city’s airport commission has signed off on a five-year renovation project that will make the terminal’s ticketing and baggage claim areas more spacious, with more natural light, and more efficient operations. Work on the $200 million rehab has just started on the north end of the terminal, where the first phase involves installing new escalators and elevators. After 18 months of work on that side of the terminal, work will shift to the south side.
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