Airports

An overnight ‘ride-along’ with United Airlines

My overnight ‘ride-along’ last week with United Airlines at Denver International Airport was exhausting – but exhilarating and extremely educational.

I’m working on a full-length slide show (so far, I’ve got 60 photo keepers) and report for my next At the Airport column on USA TODAY,  but sharing a few snaps today here on StuckatTheAirport.com to get the ball rolling.

At around 10 pm, my tour started at United’s Station Operations Center – a darkened room where about 50 people were seated in clusters at desks with multiple computer screens doing everything from making sure passengers made their connections to monitoring weather and  gate assignments.

Then it was off to the maintenance hangar, where 8 airplanes were undergoing service checks and repairs, included an engine swap for an Airbus 319.

 

While in the hangar, another airplane was visited by a fast-moving cleaning crew, who were doing everything from cleaning the lavs and galley (with different rags and cleaning solutions) to making sure seat back literature was refreshed and the tray tables were washed.

 

At 3 am it was back to the Station Operations Center, which was pretty much empty, except for Zone Controller Mike Lowrey, who I’d met earlier in the evening. He was checking with maintenance to see if all the planes they’d been working on overnight were ready for morning flights and doing what he could to make sure the first flights of the day would leave on time.

 

3:47 a.m. : A quick look in the concourse to see if anything was happening. Nothing. Yet.

The Flight Operations Center opens at 6 a.m.  That where captains and first officers such as Michael Daigneault can pick up supplies and plan for their flights.

My flight back to Seattle left, on time, at 8:08 a.m. I even got a set of plastic wings from the crew.

My full report on my overnight ride-along with United Airlines at Denver International Airport will show up during the week on USA TODAY.

 

 

And now: United will fly from Everett’s Paine Field

 

Courtesy Propeller Airports

First Alaska Airlines, And now United Airlines

United Airlines announced that it will begin flying six daily flights between Paine Field, north of Seattle, and both Denver and San Francisco beginning in the fall of 2018.

What’s the big deal about Paine Field?

It’s the airfield in Everett – 23 miles north of Seattle – where Boeing has a much-toured production plant and where there’s been talk – and debate – for  years of providing additional commercial flights for the traffic-clogged Seattle metro area.

The field was originally constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1936 to create jobs and economic growth in the region and in 1939 United Airlines operated the first commercial flight from the airport, the carrier reminds us.

Paine Field has since become the center of Boeing’s production facilities producing many United aircraft including the 747, 767, 777, and the 787 airplanes and employing tens of thousands of employees:, the airline said in a release.

Back in May, Alaska Airlines announced it would be the launch carrier from Paine Field, with a planned nine flight beginning in Fall 2018.

Alaska Airlines to begin scheduled commercial air service from Paine Field in 2018

 

Delta breaks ground on its new LaGuardia terminal.

Maybe – someday – we’ll love New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Again.

Signs are pointing in the right direction.

On Tuesday Delta Air lines broke ground on its $4 billion, 37-gate facility at LaGuardia – part of the over-all transformation of the airport we’ve been promised.

Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, was there, along with New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and a variety of local and regional dignitaries.

“The groundbreaking at Delta’s facilities represents another step forward as we build an entirely new airport at LaGuardia,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Together with our private-sector partners, we are making rapid progress to create the world-class gateway to the Empire State that New Yorkers deserve.”

Delta’s new terminal promises four concourses with 37 flexibly-sized gates to accommodate Delta’s full fleet; a new, larger Delta Sky Club with a Sky Deck; new hold rooms with more seating; 30 percent more concessions space; and “sustainable and scalable technology befitting of an airport of the future.”

“We know the new LaGuardia is one that New Yorkers will be proud to call their hometown airport,” said Delta’s Bastian. “And we are confident that this investment will further cement Delta as the No. 1 airline in New York, with the best customer service and experience on the ground as well as in the air.”

Here are some drawings released by Gov. Cuomo’s office showing what’s in store. Let’s hope the art and greenery makes it to the final cut.

 

 

 

 

World’s Best Airport: getting better

 

Proclaimed “World’s Best Airport” for five years in a row, Singapore’s Changi Airport is where you want to be if you’re ever going to be stuck at an airport.

There are shops, restaurants and attractions galore, but once the Jewel mixed-use complex gets built in the center of the airport, Changi will become even more of a destination all its own.

Scheduled to be completed in early 2019, Jewel will boast the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, a five-story garden filled with thousands of trees, plants, ferns and shrubs, a branch of the YOTEL hotel chain, shops, restaurants and a 164-foot-long Canopy Bridge with some glass flooring to offer great views of the waterfall and other attractions.

This week, we’ve learned that the attractions planned for Canopy Park (on level five) will include Sky Nets, Canopy Mazes, and Discovery Slides as well as well as an open play area called Foggy Bowls, where kids will get to wander through mists “as though walking among clouds.”

 

 

 

Photo Credits: Jewel Changi Airport Devt.

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.)