In airport news, Newark is the latest facility to start using automated TSA screening lanes to speed up the inspection process; British Airways plans a big upgrade of its terminal at New York JFK; healthy snack machines are coming to San Francisco International; Baltimore/Washington International opens a new connector between two concourses and a new security checkpoint; and Miami International adds a bunch of new shops and restaurants in its North Terminal.
United Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration have opened the first of 17 automated screening lanes coming to United’s hub at Newark Liberty International. Like the other automated lanes popping up around the country, the Newark lane allows several passengers to load their items into bins simultaneously; has an automated conveyor belt that pulls the bins into the x-ray machine instead of requiring travelers to push them; shunts questionable items off onto a separate belt for more detailed inspection without slowing down other passengers; and offers bins that are 25 percent larger than other lanes. The new automated lanes are expected to reduce screening wait times by 30 percent.
British Airways announced plans to spend $110 million improving its airport facilities in the U.S., and the bulk of that amount – more than $65 million – will be spent on its Terminal 7 at New York JFK. The airline said the JFK terminal will get an overhaul of check-in, security and gate areas as well as upgrades to its first class and business class lounges. The rest of the funding will be used for improvements to British Airways’ airport lounges at San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Houston and Seattle. (A BA spokesperson told TravelSkills that there’s no current update or timeline for the long-awaited expansion of its lounge at SFO’s International Terminal A.)
Want to grab a quick snack at San Francisco International? You’ll get more healthy choices starting next year thanks to the airport’s new contract with Gilly Vending. The company said its vending machines will be stocked with “organic, gluten-free, low-salt, sugar-free and low-calorie” product selections. “The offerings in the new multi-year contract will highlight only premium quality snack products from recognized brands packed with an abundance of nutrients and antioxidants which are proven to boost energy and stamina such as dried fruits, coconut chips, carob, quinoa, chia, nuts and whole grains,” Gilly said. Yum! What’s more, the machines will accept cashless pay systems including Google, Android and Apple Pay.
Baltimore/Washington International Airport has opened a new secure connector linking its Concourse D with its international Concourse E. The $125 million expansion project also includes a new security checkpoint for domestic and international passengers, as well as new passenger concessions and restrooms. The airport plans to eliminate the old security checkpoints for the D and E concourses. Other aspects of the project include an outdoor patio with airfield views, and a children’s play area. The connector will serve as an art gallery for displays of the work of local artists. Officials noted that BWI’s passenger traffic hit a record 24 million in 2015 and is continuing to grow this year.
Officials at Miami International have cut the ribbon on the North Terminal Marketplace – a collection of 10 new restaurants and shops intended to give travelers “a multi-cultural taste of Miami,” the airport said. Located between Gates D-26 and D-29, the marketplace includes a pizzeria; a Caribbean specialty restaurant; singer Gloria Estefan’s Estefan Kitchen Express; a farm-to-table restaurant called Fig and Fennel; an empanadas outlet; a seafood deli; and retail shops selling cigars, Miami Marlins merchandise, designer porcelain dolls, and fashions from Perry Ellis.
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