Airport Terminals

New terminal at Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport celebrated the opening of its new $3 million, 30,000-square-foot South Terminal last week with a party on the terminal’s patio, live music, a ribbon cutting ceremony and a water cannon salute for the first flight: Allegiant’s Air’s Austin – Albuquerque nonstop.

 

The 3-gate South Terminal is in a building that dates back to the original Bergstrom Air Force Base that once occupied the area and is totally separate from the airport’s main Barbara Jordan Terminal.

The look of new facility invokes “the nostalgia of mid-century travel, with stylish retro 70s architecture and décor,” according to the airport, and features colors and textures native to Texas Hill Country and white canopies (outside) onto which changing colors will be projected.

Passengers will go outside to board their planes on ‘old-fashioned’ stairs. Indoor amenities include charging stations, water bottle refill stations, grab-n-go sandwiches and drinks, with an outdoor patio area with seating, a pet relief area, and a food truck. There’s also a stage for live music and plans for a food-truck style indoor eatery as well.

Allegiant Airlines is now operating its 10 non-stop Austin flights out of the new terminal and Sun Country Airlines and ViaAir will move operations over to the new terminal later this year.

(All photos courtesy: Sandy L. Stevens, Austin Aviation Dept.)

World’s Best Airports – and the cleanest

The 2017 Skytrax World Awards have been announced and – no surprise – Singapore Changi Airport has been named as the World’s Best Airport for the fifth consecutive year.  The Crown Plaza Changi Airport was also named Best Airport Hotel – again.

Awards were announced in a wide variety of other categories – including cleanest airports and most improved.

A few of those lists are below. You can see the all the awards here.

The World’s Top 10 Airports

  1. Singapore Changi Airport
  2. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
  3. Incheon International Airport
  4. Munich Airport
  5. Hong Kong International Airport
  6. Hamad International Airport
  7. Chubu Centrair Nagoya
  8. Zurich Airport
  9. London Heathrow Airport
  10. Frankfurt Airport

The World’s Cleanest Airports

  1. Tokyo Haneda
  2. Seoul Incheon
  3. Centrair Nagoya
  4. Taiwan Taoyuan
  5. Tokyo Narita
  6. Singapore Changi
  7. Hong Kong
  8. Zurich
  9. Kansai Osaka
  10. Doha Hamad

The World’s Most Improved Airports

  1. Soekarno–Hatta
  2. Hamad Doha
  3. Houston IAH
  4. Delhi
  5. Haikou Meilan
  6. Guangzhou
  7. Phoenix
  8. Tokyo Narita
  9. Paris CDG
  10. Los Angeles

The World’s Best Airport Hotels

  1. Crowne Plaza Changi Airport
  2. Pullman Guangzhou Airport
  3. Hong Kong Sky City Marriott
  4. Hilton Munich Airport
  5. Regal Airport Hong Kong
  6. Langham Place Beijing
  7. Fairmont Vancouver Airport
  8. Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain
  9. Hilton Frankfurt Airport
  10. Sofitel Heathrow

The World’s Best Regional Airports

  1. Centrair Nagoya
  2. Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky
  3. Hamburg
  4. Denver
  5. Cologne / Bonn
  6. Durban King Shaka
  7. London City
  8. Dusseldorf
  9. Xi’an
  10. Gimpo

Airport amenities coming – and going – soon

 

Airports – good ones –  do their best to offer service and amenities that will make your time in the terminal bearable and, increasingly, enjoyable.

What amenities are offered most?

What amenities are airports poised to add?

And what amenities are disappearing from airports?

 

The folks at Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) did a survey of their members to find out and are sharing the results today of the 2017 ACI-NA Guest Experience Management and Passenger Amenities Survey.

The top 10 most commonly offered airport amenities and services in 2017 are:

  1. ATM Services
  2. Gift Shops / News Stands
  3. Airport Websites
  4. Electrical Charging Stations
  5. Restaurants and Bars
  6. Lost and Found
  7. Parking / Taxi and Limousine Services
  8. Free Wi-Fi
  9. Pre-Security Pet Relief Facilities
  10. Food and Beverage Vending Machines

No big surprises there, but ACI-NA found out that over the next three to five years, passengers can expect new and expanded airport amenities and services such as:

  1. Nursing mothers’ rooms and pods
  2. Post-security pet relief facilities
  3. Children’s play areas
  4. Airfield observation areas
  5. Adult changing and washroom facilities.

And, as passenger needs change, ACI-NA notes, airports are beginning to phase out unnecessary or redundant amenities and services.

So, get ready to say bye-bye over the next three to five years to: payphones, banking services, and smoking rooms at airports.

Why no more pay phones?

“Pay phones take up a lot of valuable real estate considering their low usage now in the smart phone age,” said ACI-NA spokesman Scott Elmore, “They are being replaced with electrical charging stations and free Wi-Fi to keep people connected.”

But what about kids or people who don’t have cell phones. Or have cell phones that are out of power?

“Airports are very cognizant of the need to remain accessible,” said Elmore, “So we expect to see the deployment of more courtesy phones with free local and international calling or calling cards for passengers in need.”

Drinks on the go – maybe – at St. Louis Int’l Airport

Looks like there will soon be one more airport – St. Louis Lambert International Airport – where passengers my purchase a drink at a bar and take that drink with them to their gate or somewhere else in the airport.

The Missouri House has passed a bill that allows a change in the liquor laws in the state’s airports, allowing people to order alcoholic beverages “to go” from a bar and carry them to their gates in a branded plastic cup, the Associated Press reports,  although travelers would not be able to take those drinks onto planes or through security.

While STL could adopt the rule, Kansas City International Airport probably wouldn’t as most bars at KCI are before security and the law would not allow passengers to take their drinks through security.

There are other airports around the country where “to go” drinks in the terminal are already allowed, including Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee.  Airports in Houston, Portland, OR and Tampa, FL allow this too, says AP.

Good idea?

Beer cans

An indoor forest for Vancouver Int’l Airport

(Note: I’m filling in on USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky blog this week. My story about Vancouver Airport first appeared there).

Like so many North American airports, Vancouver International (YVR) is looking forward to accommodating more travelers, more airlines and larger planes.

The airport, which was crowned Best Airport in America in the 2016 Skytrax World Airport Awards (for a record seventh consecutive year), served more than 22 million passengers in 2016 and expects to welcome more than 35 million passengers a year by 2037.

To get ready, the airport is fine-tuning a phased $5.6 billion “Flight Plan” that includes a variety of proposed amenities that were shared with the public last week.

“This plan is built to provide for the long-term capacity needs at YVR, while meeting and enhancing our sustainability goals and ensuring we build in an incremental fashion” said Craig Richmond, President & CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority, speaking at a Greater Vancouver Board of Trade event.

As part of a terminal expansion, YVR is investigating the idea of adding a new geothermal plant that will greatly reduce the airport’s greenhouse gas emissions, an added plane spotting location and, inside the terminal, expanded food options and restaurant experiences and the addition of sleeping pods and showers for those with long layovers.

Vancouver’s airport already has an award-winning art program that highlights British Columbia’s landscape and people and includes two large aquariums and a public Observation Area with giant windows and great views. But to bring more of the West Coast beauty into the terminal, the Flight Plan proposes to add an indoor glassed-in forest that is open at the top.

YVR posted an animated “Fly Through” on Twitter showing what the forested international terminal may look like in the future.

“Looks beautiful!” wrote Andre Velez in response, suggesting the airport send their designers to fix “eyesore airports like Newark and LaGuardia.”

Polite Canadians that they are, YVR’s Twitter response: “Our pals at @lgacentral are doing big things down there. Bright future.”