US Airports Spend Billions On International Expansion

airportsThe American airports of tomorrow are being built today as ongoing projects take shape to handle an increasing number of fliers. Around the country, projects are being considered, underway or nearing completion as travelers from around the world make their way to the United States.

As reported by Aviation Pros, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s nearly $350 million comprehensive modernization project at Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal B is nearing completion with the final phase slated to start in May.

“When people from across the globe arrive at Newark, they should find an airport welcome second to none,” says Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. “The Port Authority is fulfilling our commitment to making Newark Liberty Airport one of the world’s best.”

Improvements to the international arrivals area include consolidating lost baggage offices, relocating the ground transportation desk to a more convenient location and improving travelers’ aid and concession spaces. Additionally, there will be upgrades to the public address, signage, escalator, alarm and fire protection as well as the heating and air-conditioning systems.

Work is also underway on a $1.2 billion enhancement and expansion of Delta’s facilities at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport reports Travel Daily news. That expansion brings a new Delta Sky Club in Terminal C, due to open this summer, and the Delta Sky Club in Terminal D will undergo an expansion.Delta will also increase service at LaGuardia by 60 percent, adding 4 million seats into New York, with 100 new flights and 26 more new destinations coming on line by summer 2012. As reported by Forbes, when its full schedule is implemented by this summer, Delta will run more than 260 daily flights to over 60 cities, more than any other carrier.

“All together, with our expansion projects at JFK and LaGuardia, Delta is investing nearly $1.4 billion in our New York airport facilities,” said Delta Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson. “No other airline is approaching that level of commitment to New York in the next 12 months.”

It’s big money and not just on the East Coast. Los Angeles International Airport marked a milestone in its modernization program late last month, dedicating the renovation of Terminal 6, a new home for Alaska Airlines. The $238-million project includes a variety of improvements to bag checking, ticketing, security screening, waiting areas at gates and more.

These new facilities might not be waiting for long to handle increased traffic and pay back those investments.

In Texas, two studies were done to evaluate the economic impact on the city from Southwest’s international flights. They found the potential for an additional 1.5 million passengers to, from and through Houston per year. The increase would create more than 10,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $1.6 billion.

Think US airports have high ambitions? Dubai International is already the world’s fourth busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic, but wants more too.

Flying High: Dubai's Airport Ambitions



[Flickr photo via mastermaq]

Two oddball tips for making a long-haul flight more comfortable

I’m schooled in squirming and shifting, shoving my toes in-between the seats in front of me, and generally attempting insane yoga positions in order to get some shut-eye on an overseas flight. As such, I’ve discovered two techniques that have helped ease my international plane travel pain.

1. Use a water bottle as a foot rest. I know it sounds strange, but it really works! A 2-liter bottle gives your feet some elevation and is easy to maneuver, but even the smallest 16-oz bottle will massage your feet and offer some comfort. I discovered this technique by accident on a flight that didn’t have footrests.

2. Stick a pillow under your chin when you sleep. Yes, it is odd, but I’m a stereotypical head loll-er, and my neck is too tight to do the sideways thing. I stuff a pillow under my chin (occasionally folding it in half), and my head and neck get great support while allowing me to breathe comfortably. Plus, it keeps my mouth from flopping open. Try it!

On a side note, I recommend you try to get two pillows, if possible. One goes against your lower back; I always have a pillow there. If I can only score one pillow, I stuff a sweatshirt under my chin.

Happy travels.

10 passengers we love to hate: Day 9 — passengers who try to convert you

Here we are on the ninth day of the “passengers we love to hate” series. Today’s pick is the enthusiastic proselytizer who desperately wants to convert you to his or her religion. Far more than merely wasting the flight attendant’s time or hogging the baggage claim area, this brand of annoying passenger will question your morality, insist you are going to Hell (pictured here) and proudly proclaim they have all the answers.

Now let me just say that I feel everyone is entitled to their beliefs. Freedom of religion is a basic foundation of any decent society, but that also includes freedom from religion. You don’t know me, you don’t know what I believe, and you don’t have the right to harass me for an entire flight trying to convince me to change to your way of thinking.

I seemed plagued by this sort of passenger. At least once a year I’m stuck next to one of them, usually on a long international flight. Once I had an entire high school group of evangelicals who tag team preached to me all the way from the U.S. to Bulgaria.

My religious friends joke that maybe God is trying to tell me something. The problem with that theory is that these annoying fellow passengers come from all different religions. Maybe God is trying to tell me not to listen to people who claim to know what He wants.

Plus I think God would send some better emissaries. Every member of the Mile High Preaching Club I’ve had to deal with has been astonishingly ignorant about different faiths, and sometimes pretty shaky about their own. One of those high school evangelicals insisted the Bible was literally true and the only foundation for a proper life, then admitted he hadn’t read it all. Please do your homework, and if I want to talk to you about your religion, I’ll ask. If I don’t ask, read the inflight magazine and show me some respect.

Is that so hard? I have friends whose beliefs range from Orthodox Judaism to hardcore atheism, and not a single one of them tries to convert me, not even when we debate religion. They can disagree with me without calling me evil or ignorant or wrong. I don’t take kindly to that sort of treatment, especially when I have jet lag.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. (Matthew 7:1)