In airport news, United is testing enhanced food service at four of its airport lounges; Delta, American and JetBlue are moving operations at New York LaGuardia; shared-use lounges expand at Boston Logan and move at Pittsburgh; Cleveland makes bag checking easier; and automated TSA lanes come to Dallas/Ft. Worth.
Forbes reports that United Airlines has started market-testing a big upgrade to the food service at a handful of its United Club airport lounges. The testing is going on in United Clubs at Boston, Orlando, Las Vegas and Houston Bush Intercontinental, Forbes said. Besides introducing regional favorites like New England lobster rolls and Boston cream pies at Logan, the airline is adding new hot breakfast items, soups, salads and a “Mediterranean board,” the article reported.
With all that construction going on during the massive rehabilitation of New York LaGuardia’s passenger terminals, Delta, American and JetBlue are shifting their operations there. Delta said that as of December 9, it is taking its Delta Shuttle flights to Chicago and Washington out of the Marine Air Terminal and moving them to Terminal C, where its LGA-Boston shuttles already operate. American said that by December 9, it will consolidate its LGA operations in Terminal B (the Central Terminal). “Since December 2013, (American’s) flights have been split between Terminals B and C. This consolidated operation means all customers will check in at Terminal B and American will operate flights from each of the terminal’s four concourses,” a spokesman said.
JetBlue, meanwhile, has decided to pull up stakes and move from the Central Terminal to the airport’s historic Marine Air Terminal. The art deco terminal opened in 1940, and during its history it has served as a seaplane terminal, a base for Northeast Corridor shuttle flights, and a facility for private jets. JetBlue has several flights a day between LGA and Boston, as well as non-stop service from LGA to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Fla. The airline said it should be in place at the new facility before the holidays in December, occupying four gates there. Most of JetBlue’s New York flights are at JFK Airport.
Airport Lounge Development, which operates lounges open to any passenger on a fee basis, has some news at Boston Logan and at Pittsburgh. The company said its Boston Club in Terminal E has just finished an extensive expansion, and now occupies more than 3,500 square feet with seating for 82. It also added new restrooms and shower facilities, new furniture and an enhanced food menu. (Besides The Club in Terminal E, the company also operates The Lounge in Boston’s Terminal C.) At Pittsburgh, meanwhile, The Club has shifted from a temporary location on Concourse C to a permanent one, also on Concourse C just off the Center Core. The temporary site started accepting guests in June. Day passes at both clubs cost $40.
The struggle may soon end for many passengers at Cleveland Hopkins, who have been required to lug their checked luggage after check-in to a separate TSA bag screening drop-off location. The airport this week started live testing of a new in-line baggage screening system on the south end of the ticketing lobby that will eliminate that step for passengers of United, JetBlue, Southwest and Air Canada. Previously, only United had an in-line baggage system at CLE. “If all system testing is successfully completed by mid-November, the free-standing bag security screening machines on the south end of the ticketing level will be removed by the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” the airport said.
The latest major airport to get some of those new automated TSA screening lanes is Dallas/Ft. Worth, which has added four of them at checkpoints in Terminals A and D (checkpoints A21 and D22). Up to five travelers at a time can load their belongings into bins; items needing extra screening are shunted off to a separate conveyor belt so they won’t slow things down, and empty bins are sent back to the start via a separate automated belt to free up TSA officers from carrying them. Bins are 25 percent larger than before, and RFID tags are on each bin, “matching travelers to their property as they move throughout the security screening process,” DFW said. Over time, DFW expects to install 10 of the automated checkpoint lanes throughout the airport.