In U.S. airport developments, New York JFK’s British Airways terminal is getting a makeover, and some airlines change locations there; LaGuardia will move ahead with a mass transit link; Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson gets more “smart” TSA screening lanes; Los Angeles International upgrades Wi-Fi service; and Baltimore-Washington gets a new passenger lounge.
British Airways revealed plans to spend $65 million on an overhaul of its Terminal 7 at New York JFK. Due for completion late next year, the project will give the terminal a renovated, more spacious check-in area; a new check-in zone for premium passengers with a fast-track security lane; new gate seating areas with more power outlets; and the development of “an authentic New York culinary experience with local food and beverage concepts.” Lounges for business class, first class, and Gold and Silver Executive Club cardholders will get a total makeover, “with more space and restaurant-style pre-flight dining,” the airline said.
Speaking of JFK’s Terminal 7, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America revealed plans to move their JFK operations there by October, giving up their current locations in Terminals 8 and 4 respectively. Terminal 7 is home to Alaska Global Partners British Airways, Qantas and Icelandair. Alaska and Virgin together operate 14 flights a day to JFK from Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Aeromexico has also moved at JFK – into Terminal 4, where it will be close to joint venture partner Delta.
Don’t miss: Alaska Airlines sweetens perk for cardholders
A 30-minute ride between New York City’s Grand Central or Penn Station and LaGuardia Airport? That’s the goal for a new mass transit link in the works as part of that massive rebuilding of LGA that is now in progress. The New York Governor’s Office said it has just awarded a $14.6 million contract for preliminary analysis and design of the planned AirTrain, which will move people between the LGA terminals and the Willets Point stations of the Long Island Rail Road and the Number 7 subway line, where they can transfer for the trip into Midtown Manhattan.
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson was the very first location for two of those “smart lanes” at security screening checkpoints – lanes that keep passengers moving faster by using powered conveyor belts, stations for five people to load security bins at once, automated return belts for empty bins, etc. They have since spread to several other major hub airports, and now ATL has expanded its own smart lanes as well. The airport now has 22 of the fast lanes installed, out of a total of 27 lanes at three security checkpoints in the domestic terminal. They reportedly reduce passenger waiting times by 30 percent.
Los Angeles International plans to improve Wi-Fi access for travelers in its terminals. The LA Board of Airport Commissioners has approved changes in the LAX concessions agreement with Boingo Wireless that will let users access the airport’s free Wi-Fi with a single click instead of the several clicks currently needed. Boingo also agreed to install another 12 Wi-Fi access points in the Federal Inspection Services area of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. “The new access points will help arriving international travelers move through the customs and immigration clearance process faster and more easily with the Mobile Passport app,” an airport spokesman said.
Airport Lounge Development, which builds pay-per-use airport passenger lounges, has just cut the ribbon on its latest effort, The Club BWI at Baltimore-Washington International. The new facility is it eleventh U.S. airport location. The 2,200 square foot BWI club is in Concourse D near Gate 10. It seats 50, and is divided into a “relaxing zone” with comfortable chairs and power outlets; a “resting zone” where travelers can “put your feet up and take a quick break;” a “productivity zone” for working; and a “replenish zone” with food and beverages. A day pass costs $40. The facility is also open to members of Priority Pass, LoungeKey and Lounge Club.