In airport news, Denver will add more gates and several new vendors; Boston may charge a fee from drivers who are picking up or dropping off passengers; work is finally finished on a major overhaul of Dallas/Ft. Worth’s Terminal E; Pittsburgh will allow non-travelers into the airside of its terminals; and United has a very exclusive restaurant at Newark.
A Denver city council committee has approved a plan to start adding more gates to the three terminals at Denver International Airport. Assuming approval by the full council, the proposal calls for construction of a total of 26 new passenger gates – four on the west end of Concourse B by 2019, along with 12 more gates on the west end of Concourse A and 10 on the east end of Concourse C by 2020. The gates would accommodate both international and domestic flights. Meanwhile, airport officials said travelers will see 17 new restaurants and stores in the terminals next year. New entrants include six coffee shops across all three terminals (three Starbucks and three Dazbogs); a new Denver Central Market on Concourse A with a bakery, a sushi outlet, a bodega and other food options; a sports bar from Colorado’s New Belgium Brewery on Concourse B; and a new barbecue restaurant and sandwich shop on Concourse A.
How can you reduce traffic congestion at a major airport? The Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Boston Logan, is studying a proposal to start imposing fees on all individual drivers who are picking up or dropping off friends or relatives. Taxi and ride-sharing services already pay airport fees that are passed along to their customers, and the Port Authority sees the imposition of fees on non-commercial drivers as a logical next step, according to the Boston Globe. The report notes that the number of flights at Logan has jumped by more than 15,000 a year since 2015, and the number of non-commercial vehicles dropping off or picking up travelers has reached an estimated 20,000 a day. There was no estimate of how much such a fee might be, or how it would be collected, but the report notes that more than a dozen airports in the U.K. already have similar fees.
At Dallas/Ft. Worth International, airport officials said work has been completed on a major rehabilitation of Terminal E. The project included the installation of device charging stations for passengers at each of the terminal’s 36 gates. Free wi-fi is available throughout the terminal, and travelers can use the DFW mobile app to check flight information, order food, and find retail locations. Terminal E also got 21 new retail and dining concessions including a 7-Eleven, ice cream bar shop, barbecue restaurant, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chick-fil-A, Auntie Anne’s and more. In addition, the number of parking spaces at Terminal E’s garage increased from 4,036 to 5,941, and new overhead LED beacons alert drivers to open spaces.
United Airlines’ latest special perk for special passengers is an invitation-only restaurant in Terminal C at its Newark Liberty International hub, according to a report in Travel + Leisure magazine. The airline reportedly notified select customers in an email that they qualify for dining privileges at the exclusive eatery, which is called ‘CLASSIFIED.” MileagePlus elites who are lucky enough to gain access won’t even be told the location of the restaurant until they book a table, the magazine said, although it is reportedly hidden behind Alain Ducasse’s Saison restaurant. Entrees at the 36-seat restaurant reportedly start at $29 and range up to a maximum price of $98 for a 42-ounce (!) steak.
Pittsburgh International this week became the first domestic airport since 9/11 to allow members of the public into its secure airside facilities even if they are not ticketed passengers, according to Air Transport World. A TSA official told the publication that PIT is the only airport that has such a program, and there are no plans to expand it to others. Non-ticketed persons who want to access the airport’s restaurants and shops, or escort a relative or friend to their gate, must show a driver’s license or passport and have their name checked against the government’s no-fly list. Then they’ll get a stamped “myPITpass” and will have to go through security screening to access the terminals.