Wine flights taking off in Newark Liberty’s Terminal C

I tend to be a little anal-retentive when it comes to getting to the airport on-time for a flight. As such, I end up arriving a good 2+ hours before take-off. The upside is that, in all of my travels, I have only missed two flights because of my tardiness. The downside is that I’ve had to kill a tremendous amount of time in airports. Despite the fact that they are made for waiting, airport terminals are pretty much the epitome of lame. Most are devoid of decent food options and full of stores that sell schlock and overpriced bags of mixed nuts. But in recent years, some terminals have started to…get this…cater to travelers! And Newark Liberty Airport’s Terminal C is now one of those terminals.

Terminal C is home to Continental Airlines and some of the best food and drinks you will find in an airport. For anyone who has ever forced down some scolding hot Sbarro’s pizza or hockey puck-like fast food burgers while waiting for a flight, Terminal C’s offerings are a sight for sore stomachs.

There’s the Heineken Lounge, Sam Adams bar and Guinness Irish Pub, which provide travelers with a chance to make flying a tad more bearable without having to sit in a drab airport bar. And Vino Volo offers customers wine flights of selections from around the world. And if you find a wine that you like, you can purchase bottles to take away or have shipped to you.

I never understood why waiting for a flight had to be so torturous. Not everyone can afford to have access to lounges, but that doesn’t mean that the main terminal should look like a mall food court. There’s a happy medium and Newark Liberty Airport’s Terminal C seems to have found that and even exceeded it a bit. Now my only concern is getting distracted at one of the bars and missing my flight!

Photo of the Day (12.25.08)

If you were unfortunate enough this Christmas to be stuck in the O’Hare airport, let me apologize in advance for our choice for today’s Photo of the Day. This shot by jameskadamson is representative of the experience for so many this Christmas.

I especially like the use of black and white, which makes the architecture stand out. The unique design is, in fact, why it was chosen for a scene from the movie Home Alone.

Nice shot, James!

Are you a Flickr user who’d like to share a travel related picture or two for our consideration? Submit it to Gadling’s Flickr group right now! We just might use it for our Photo of the Day!

Galley Gossip: Looking for love on the airplane (or at the airport)

I never realized how much people actually disliked traveling until I started writing for Gadling. Well the next time you have to travel, don’t despair. It’s not all bad. Not if you’re single that is. In fact, if you are single, it can be a lot of fun. Real fun! How do I know? Because recently I read an interesting article about looking for love at the airport, which I think is a fabulous idea. I did it. Why not you? I succeeded. You could too!

So what if I really found the love of my life on the airplane, same thing! I believe so strongly in finding love while traveling, I’ve even instructed quite a few of my single flight attendant and agent friends to look for love at the airport and on the airplane. Forget online dating. That’s old school. The airport is where it’s at. Where else can you find men, all kinds of men, lots and lots of men (and women) just standing around waiting for something good to happen. Think about it, you could be that good thing. I’m talking about an endless supply of diverse and interesting people here with nothing to do but wait – for you! Don’t see what you like, sit tight, a new flight will be boarding or deplaning soon.

Once you’re on the flight, make sure to check out those seated around you. Whatever you do, don’t forget about the ones working behind the drink cart. Hey, flight attendants need a little love, too! Seriously, the flight doesn’t have to be miserable. It’s all up to you. Just say hello. To someone. Anyone. NOW!

In the article I mentioned above, “Sally” suggests grabbing an E seat. Oh I know what you’re thinking, there’s no way, no freakin way you’re going to sit in a middle seat. Hey I don’t blame you, it’s the worst seat on the airplane! But not when you’re sandwiched between two hotties.

Here’s what Sally suggests..

If you’re single and looking and really in the mood, there’s one great way to meet people on a plane. You fly Southwest. Make sure to board with the last group, which means you’ll probably be stuck in a middle seat. Then you walk down the aisle looking for a middle seat next to a really hot guy. Done.”

Personally I think Sally’s suggestion is brilliant. Don’t you?

Like I mentioned already, I met my hubby on a flight from New York to Los Angeles three days after Christmas. The flight was empty. I think we were somewhere over Illinois when I began to take notice of him. Whenever I tell the story of how we met, people (even flight attendants) always seem a little shocked. Then they’ll look at me funny and ask, “Really?”

Yes, really.

I’ll then look at them funny and ask, “What’s the big deal?” because really, what is the big deal?

Trust me, there’s no better place to find a man (or woman) than on an airplane. When I met my husband I didn’t think he was my type. Not at all. He was short. But what I would soon come to love about him was the fact that he had manners. Whenever I offered him something to eat or drink he always said please and thank you. (Good manners are a must when it comes to meeting a flight attendant.) You know that old saying, you can always tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his mother. Well the same holds true for the way he treats me. The flight attendant. Or anyone else in the service industry.

My husband, the passenger, he actually made eye contact while saying please and thank you, something that rarely happens on flights these days, and he did it without ogling. He was polite. But not flirty. A gentleman. This I found to be very attractive. You see if they flirt with me they’ll probably flirt with you, too, and that’s not a good thing, not when you’re looking for something serious.

Of course I couldn’t help but notice the computer, Ipod, magazine, and pen and paper inside his carry-on bag. This showed me that he was a man with a plan, which was my kind of man. The thing that got me was the delicious looking sandwich he’d brought onboard with him. It was a sign that he knew how to take care of himself. Hello, he was traveling in business class! We still serve food in business. Of course what sealed the deal was when he offered me a bite. This showed me he was a giver, not a taker. Right then and there I knew he was the one for me. We were engaged eight months later.

The point I’m trying to make here is that love really can happen at the airport or on an airplane, and it can happen to you. You just have to be open to it. And you have to say hello. To someone. Anyone. Now! How else will they know you exist?

What’s that you say? Can’t afford to fly? Well then go to the bar. If you’re in Denver there’s a nightclub called DC10 where the waitresses make the rounds dressed up as “sexy flight attendants.” The club has no VIP room so all the customers can feel as if they’re traveling in first class. Hello!


Photos courtesy of Heather Poole (Yeah, that’s me!)

Airlines Complain about Vegas Airport’s Plan

Despite seeing a decrease in the number of arrivals, construction of a new terminal will go ahead as planned at McCarran Airport Las Vegas. Though the 2 billion dollar project will not be completed until 2012, some airlines are questioning the timing of the project. It’s not secret that airlines are struggling. Arrivals are down almost 5% at McCarran since last year. A drop of as high as 15% is forecast for next year.

Southwest Airlines has been the biggest critic of the expansion. Over 30% of Las Vegas arrivals fly Southwest. But the airline has been trimming back its service to Sin City. The airport expansion will mostly be funded by an increase in the fees that airlines pay to use the airport and its gates. No one wants to hear talk of higher prices right now, especially at a bread-and-butter location like Las Vegas. After the rapid growth that the city has been experiencing, no one seems to want to look at the facts. But things are slowing down. I guess McCarran is gambling that things won’t be so slow in a couple of years.

The Gadling tour of JetBlue’s new Terminal 5 at JFK

As Grant reported earlier this month, JetBlue is in the final stages of construction for its brand new home at Terminal 5 of New York’s JFK airport. This morning Gadling had the chance to take a sneak peak of the new facilities in advance of the building’s official opening on October 1st.

Although there’s still much to be accomplished in the next 6 weeks, the building is already shaping up as a winner. JetBlue has built a showpiece home for its growing brand – a building that in many ways looks poised to usher travelers into a new era of domestic air travel. It was equally refreshing to find a totally new (dare I say revolutionary?) approach to the airport culinary and concession experience – one that is sure to please the palates of picky New Yorkers and fellow travelers from across the U.S.

With a project this ambitious, JetBlue has also built themselves very high expectations for their new terminal’s success both in the press and with their passengers. But as we saw with the opening of London Heathrow’s new British Airways terminal earlier this year, there are inevitably some kinks that need to be worked out. Here’s hoping everything goes smoothly for JetBlue at launch.

So what exactly did we find during our visit? Follow the link below to get the full overview, and make sure to check out our gallery too for the full Terminal 5 experience.

%Gallery-30298%Departure Hall
As I entered into the main departure hall from the AirTrain, I was immediately struck by the room’s massive size and scale. Combining the latest in cutting edge design, the interior is large, airy and brightly lit with huge windows allowing in plenty of natural light. There was certainly no shortage of check-in kiosks, which are strategically placed in large groups throughout the hall. Though it hasn’t completely disappeared, there’s much less emphasis on check-in desks, clearly an attempt by JetBlue towards a more streamlined, online check-in process.

Also impressive was the attention given to the usually agonizing TSA-screening. Instead of one or two open lanes crammed up against a wall, Terminal 5 is equipped with 20 some-odd security checkpoints – a nod to the central role this process now plays in our post-9/11 lives. Will all these 20-something lanes be open when you head to the airport? That remains to be seen – but the fact the infrastructure is in place is a good sign.

Terminal Atrium and Concessions
After passing through security, travelers are greeted with a huge open atrium. The showpiece is clearly the huge circular string of flat-screen monitors, which hovers like some futuristic alien mothership above the large open space below. The monitors just had JetBlue branding on them today, but I imagine they will be used to potentially display flight info and perhaps some interactive art installations in the months and years ahead.

The edges of the atrium are also home to what is sure to be one of the more talked-about features of the new Terminal 5 – its restaurants and stores. If you’ve ever eaten a flavorless $10 sandwich at the airport before, you’re going to be in for a shock. JetBlue has what looks to be some great restaurants planned, including a hybrid sushi/noodle bar, a Spanish tapas bar (Tapas?! At the airport!?!) and even an old-school French bistro.

Even better, there looks to be a nice assortment of shops, including one of only three outlets of Japanese retailer Muji in the United States. While nice places to eat and shop might not be a dealbreaker when you choose an airline, it certainly goes a long way towards “re-humanizing” the domestic air travel experience.

The actual gate areas were nice – each has its own fully-digital flat-screen display to provide information and destination weather. Very nice, but nothing revolutionary. The terminal is largely decorated in neutral colors with a blue-ish carpeting reminding of JetBlue’s color scheme. I also particularly liked the panoramic views from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, which afford sweeping views of the take-off and landing of other planes at JFK.

Baggage Claim and Wrap-Up
Before wrapping up my Terminal 5 visit, I payed a quick visit to the baggage claim below. The massive carousels are set far apart from each other to avoid overcrowding. It’s hard to review a baggage claim area until you actually use it though – the jury is still out on this one until we see if everyone is getting their luggage back come October!

And with that I ended my tour of Terminal 5. As I passed by designer Eero Saarinen’s retro-futuristic TWA Flight Center on my way out, I couldn’t help but wonder. Saarinen envisioned air travel as the future of the country’s transportation hopes and designed his building to match that dream. But Saarinen probably never anticipated the spectre of 9/11 and its impact on an already battered airline industry, cutting costs and tossing traveler amenities. JetBlue’s Terminal 5 seems very much an attempt to return to aviation’s glory days, and one can only hope that they succeed.