New name for Lambert-St. Louis International Airport


Looks like Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is getting a new name.

The St. Louis Airport Commission has voted on it and, if approved by the St. Louis Board of Alderman, the new name of the city’s airport will be St. Louis – Lambert International Airport.

On the face of it, not a huge change, but a meaningful one for many people in the city because the current ‘Lambert’ in the front end of the airport’s name is meant to honor Albert Bond Lambert, who learned to fly with the Wright Brothers and founded the airport.

“This effort is about aligning the Airport with our city and becoming more unified with the brand and marketing power of the St. Louis region,” said Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge in a statement released by the airport. “We’ve received a lot feedback in the last few weeks that highlighted the support of our effort to put St. Louis first.”

An airport working group originally proposed “St. Louis International Airport at Lambert Field” for the new name, but the Commissioners amended the proposed name and approved “St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.”

“We’ve spent the last few weeks talking with relatives of the Albert Bond Lambert and heard how important it was that Lambert still have a vital position in the airport’s name,” said Hamm-Niebruegge.

The new name does that and puts STL more on par with major airports which are geographically named.

Friday photos: snaps from Oshkosh air show


Earlier this week I was honored to join Alaska Airlines on a special charter flight from Seattle to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for a one-day fly-in at the massive EAA AirVenture air show. The flight was on the carrier’s new 737 airplane bearing a paint scheme honoring Boeing’s centennial year.

Alaska Airline's Boeing Centennial-liveried 737 on the ground at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh2016_Harriet Baskas

The flight had an all-female crew and most all the passengers were women executives and women holding key positions at Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, Boeing and Virgin America (which will soon become part of Alaska Airlines). Young women (and some young men) from aviation-oriented groups in the Seattle area were also on board – as the plane was headed for Oshkosh to be part of Women in Aviation Day.

I’ve got a story on the day post over at USA TODAY but in the meantime, here are some of my snaps from the day:

Aerobatics during the air show were a hit with the teens who joined Alaska Airlines for a special flight to EAA AirVenuture Oshkosh on July 27, 2017. Harriet Baskas

During the weeklong EAA Airventure Oshkosh, the Wittman Regional Airport air traffic control towere is the busiest in the world.

Some of the 10,000 planes on display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016

WomenVenture events at  EAA AirVenture Oshkosh celebrate women's role in aviaton. Harriet Baskas

Showing off his ride.. This tyke attending the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh may have a bright future in the aviation industry_ Harriet Baskas

Travel Tidbits from PHL and Orlando Airports

Blackpool Suitcase

Happy Friday!  Here are some travel tidbits from


Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and America Airlines are embarking on a “transformative” $30 million makeover for the 15 gates in Terminal B, with hospitality group OTG coming in with eight new, chef-driven dining venues, thousands of iPads (for ordering food and browsing the web), plenty of power ports and upgraded shops.

Timeline: 18-24 months, with teaser dining venues opening along the way.

SFO Deco radio

Orlando International Airport has added a radio station to its list of amenities, offering travel updates, community news and entertainment.

The CBS-affiliated, digital radio station will broadcast around-the-clock in central Florida on HD radios at 105.1HD, stream on the airport’s website and be available through the airport’s mobile app and the app.

How many people does it take to run an airport?

Line painter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Line painter at Seattle-Tacoma Int’l Airport

How many people does it take to run an airport?

That’s the topic I tackle this week in my ‘At the Airport‘ column on USA TODAY.

And no, it’s not one of those “… change a lightbulb” jokes.

According to a recent economic impact study conducted for Airports Council International – North America, about 1.2 million people work at 485 commercial airports in the United States.

Some of those employees work directly for an airport operator. Others are employed by concessionaires, government agencies and other entities doing business at airports.

For example, 63,000 people work at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, making the world’s busiest airport the largest employer in the state of Georgia.

In that 63,000 count are two art department coordinators, a full-time wildlife biologist, and a mobile medical response team that includes EMTs who jump on bicycles to cut down on the time it takes to respond to a medical emergency inside the airport.

Los Angeles International Airport has issued badges for 50,000 airport workers but, as with the counts at other airports, that doesn’t include courtesy vehicle drivers for hotels, rental car companies and private parking lots or drivers for taxis and buses that serve the airport.

 And there are 19,000 badged employees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, including airline employees, runway painters and the team that works on the bag handling management system that in 2014 processed 33 million bags.

At San Antonio International Airport, Michael Castillo keep track the keys issued for the airport's 4000 doors.

San Antonio International Airport has about 5,000 vetted and badged employees.  Included in that count are employees who make sure the airport’s 1,000 fire extinguishers are “present, accounted for and maintained,” and another highly-organized employee who issues and keeps track of the keys for the 4,000 doors on airport property.

Read the full column here.


Which airports are tops in customer service?


Many modern-day airports mix transportation nodes with hospitality centers, focus on customer experience and offer fine dining outlets, luxury shopping outlets and full-service spas.

Which airports do it best? Each year, Airports Council International — the trade association of the world’s airports — conducts extensive passenger surveys to find out.

Here’s the story I wrote for on the results:

For its 2015 Airport Service Quality Award rankings, ACI surveyed more than 550,000 travelers worldwide about their traveling experiences. They ranked airports on everything from check-in and security to on-site amenities and food, beverage and retail options.

“Airports have evolved into complex, customer-focused businesses in their own right that in many cases are in competition with each other for passenger traffic,” said Angela Gittens, director general at ACI World.

“From duty-free and restaurants to ambiance, cleanliness, courtesy of staff, amenities, efficiency and more, air travelers are expecting big things from the airports through which they travel,” she added.

For the fourth year in a row, Indianapolis International landed in the first-place slot for airports in North America. The hub, which serves more than 7 million passengers a year, rolls out the red carpet for fliers who enter its gates. It has an extensive art program, many branches of local eateries, an apiary, a giant solar farm and a roaming robot that answers customer questions in real time.

“When you combine a beautiful facility with a generous dose of Hoosier hospitality, great things happen,” said Angela Cain, director of public affairs at Indianapolis’ Airport Authority.

“We are grateful to the hard-working Indianapolis Airport Authority staff, as well as our many business partners, for the customer service excellence they provide every day to our travelers,” she added. “We wouldn’t win this award, for the fifth time in six years, without them.”

Tied for second place among North American airports for 2015 were Grand Rapids’ Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Tampa, Dallas Love Field, Jacksonville and Ottawa.

Third-place for North American airports also resulted in a tie, for Austin, Detroit, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airports.

“These awards are particularly meaningful, because they are based on real-time feedback from our customers, while they are traveling,” said Thomas Naughton, CEO of Wayne County Airport Authority, which operates the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

See the full list of ACI Airport Quality Service Awards for 2015 here.