Posts in the category "Lounges":

Airspace Lounge at CLE; Bigger terminal for Myrtle Beach

CLE AIRSPACE BAR

Day lounges accessible to anyone willing to pay the day fee are – thankfully – beginning to pop up at more and more airports.

The latest addition to the list: a new branch of the Airspace Lounge opened on Tuesday at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE), in the Main Terminal near the Concourse B security checkpoint.

At the CLE Airspace Lounge, entry pass prices will begin at $20 and hours will be from 5 am to 8:30 pm. Along with a comfortable place to work and relax, guests will be offered a range of complimentary food and beverage items and Wi-Fi.

The first Airspace Lounge opened at BWI Airport in 2011; a third Airspace Lounge is scheduled to open at JFK Terminal in May 2013.

And while CLE got a new lounge, on Tuesday South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach International Airport opened its new $118 million, 200,000-square-foot expansion, essentially doubling the airport’s size.

Myrtle Beach airport sign

In addition to six new gates, a new baggage screening system, additional parking and added cafes and chain outlets, the airport gained branches of two local restaurant favorites: Bubba’s Fish Shack and Nacho Hippo, a Tex Mex eatery.

Nacho Hippo Myrtle Beach

Delta adding outdoor terraces at JFK and ATL

ATL_Sky_Deck

Many frequent travelers buy memberships or occasional day passes for access to airline lounges in order to tap amenities such as complimentary snacks and drinks, reliable Wi-Fi and quiet, comfortable places to escape the hubbub of the airport.

These lounges are typically either tucked into windowless spaces at airports or offer views of the airfield through sealed windows.

But for fliers seeking a bit of fresh air, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is raising the stakes by adding outdoor terraces, called Sky Decks, to the Delta Sky Club lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport and in the new international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

To develop the look and feel of the Sky Decks, Delta partnered with Architectural Digest, which brought in interior designer Thom Filicia, familiar to some as one of the experts featured on the popular TV show, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

JFK_Sky_Deck

In additional to living room style seating, power outlets and greenery, “the decks will have red stretched canvas awnings to provide shade,” said Delta Air Lines spokesperson Leslie Scott. The Atlanta club deck will be an extension of the current Sky Club and offer close -up views of aircraft and runway activity. “The JFK Deck will be on the roof level and offer amazing views of Jamaica Bay and of the runways,” Scott said. “Plane spotters will be able to see liveries from around the world.”

“This is a great move from Delta,” said Dan Gellert, CEO and co-founder of the airport travel application Gate Guru. “Delta’s Sky Clubs at JFK and ATL specifically are rated average at best in GateGuru, so it is great to see them getting a bit more aggressive in these airports to lure business travelers.”

Gellert says airline lounges in the U.S. “have not done much over the recent years to really push the envelope regarding new features or functionality to their lounges,” but he’s hopeful more airlines will expand upon this innovation, “especially in warm weather cities such as Orlando, Los Angeles and Houston.”

Over the past two years, Delta has opened or renovated airline clubs in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Seattle and other cities. At JFK, the rooftop terrace will be part of the Delta Sky Club in the expanded Terminal 4 and is scheduled to open in May. At the Atlanta airport, the Sky Deck will be next to the existing club room on Concourse F and is scheduled to open this summer.

Delta is not the first airline to recognize that frequent travelers — who spend a lot of time indoors, in artificial light — might like to spend some time outside before boarding a plane. “Virgin Australia’s recently opened lounge at Gold Coast, a popular sun destination on Australia’s east coast, features an outdoor area called The Deck,” Raymond Kollau, founder of Airlinetrends.com, told NBC News.

And airports in Amsterdam, Honolulu and Long Beach, Calif., have landscaped outdoor areas open to all passengers.

“The Delta Sky Deck differentiates the airline’s lounge experience by offering a bit of a boutique feel,” Kollau said. “And aviation enthusiasts will love the backdrop of the busy airport tarmac and even the occasional smell of airline kerosene.”

(Photos courtesy Delta Air Lines)
(My story about Delta’s new Sky Decks first appeared on NBC News)

Reader review: Turkish Airlines lounge at Istanbul Airport

A recent post here on StuckatTheAirport.com shared news about the renovated Turkish Airlines lounge at the Istanbul Airport, which has private relaxation rooms, showers, a playroom, private infant rooms, a billiard lounge, a library, and a business center.

I haven’t had the chance to visit the airport – or this swanky lounge – in person, but reader Orit Rindner has:

“I ate a full lunch and a full dinner (5 hour layover), had a shower and then they gave me a room to rest in. I would give it a 10. I even took a pic of the ladies room… Even the doors of the stalls were teak and I think and they had a woman clean each toilet every time somebody came out of it and fold the toilet paper like they do in hotels!”

Thanks so much Orit! And thanks for sharing the view of that first-class loo.

Turkish Airlines’ classy lounge at Istanbul Airport

I haven’t had a chance – yet – to fly on Turkish Airlines or visit Istanbul Atatürk Airport, but this renovated and expanded airport lounge makes me want to plan a trip there now.

Located in the International Departures section of the airport and capable of accommodating more that 2,000 passengers daily, the lounge has private relaxation rooms, showers, a playroom, private infant rooms, a billiard lounge, a library, and a business center.

The lounge is accessible to Turkish Airlines’ business class passengers, Miles&Smiles Elite, Elite Plus card holders and Star Alliance Gold membership card holders.

Checking my wallet for the right card now…

The lounge seems enticing, but keep in mind that Turkish Airlines also offer free tours of Istanbul to anyone with a layover of a least six hours.

Baklava, anyone?

Stuck at the airport – for a year!


Would you willingly spend your days stuck at the airport?

Dr. Damian O’Doherty did. For a year. I tracked him down for my “At the Airport” column on USATODAY.com. Here’s the story.

 

Dr. Damian O’Doherty has promised his wife that by June 30th, he’ll stop hanging around Manchester Airport.

The facility, which bills itself as “The big friendly airport in the North of England,” has undergone $135 million in improvements since 2007 and offers free Wi-Fi, a children’s play area, a tour-able Concorde in an aviation park overlooking the runways, and a day lounge with a giant track for playing the popular Scalextric car racing game.

Those amenities are appealing, but it’s the more mundane aspects of the airport that attract O’Doherty.

The 43-year old professor teaches organization analysis at the University of Manchester and, armed with a research grant, he’s spent this past year embedded at Manchester airport. His goal: to study the everyday habits of airport workers and passengers and the impact of the airport environment on staff and travelers.

“I wanted to take the idea of an ethnographic study from the traditions of anthropology and deploy this as an experiment to study airport ‘natives’ and their culture,” says O’Doherty, who lives 30 minutes from the airport rides his bike there and back.

For inspiration O’Doherty says he looked to the Chicago School of sociological ethnography, pioneered in the 1920s and 1930s, “in which scholars would inhabit street corners, taxi-dance halls, gangs and ghettos in ways that would challenge our assumptions about the society we take for granted.”

O’Doherty says his wife, an anthropologist, was both supportive of his project “and relieved that I was not going off to Siberia or the New York underground system – both popular sites for contemporary ethnographic study.”

Still, O’Doherty’s year-long study did pose some dangers. Although he insists he hasn’t “gone native” – a common concern with those embarking on anthropological studies – his daughter’s first word was “airport” and he has extended his project year by a few months. And while he has returned to his post and his students at the university, O’Doherty is still spending two or three days a week at the airport.

Borders and boundaries

Via email and a long Skype conversation that took him away from reading a bedtime story to his young daughter, O’Doherty shared some of the details of his year at the airport.

“It is the questions of borders and border-crossing that really interests me,” said O’Doherty. “Airports occupy and define a whole series of borders. Not simply the borders of a nation state but also borders between the terrestrial and extra-terrestrial. They are where land turns into sky, and man’s dream of flight finds realization.”
At ground level, O’Doherty said he wanted to see how an airport was constructed and managed, “who was pulling the strings behind the scenes, installing the security cameras,” and making the decisions. “I wanted the back stories,” said O’Doherty, “So I ended up working in an office with a team of construction project managers for whom the airport is a building site.”

Arriving with an academic background, O’Doherty knew little about construction or project management before starting his study of the airport. But because he was strictly observing the protocols of ethnographic research, he decided he had to acquire professional qualification as a project manager. So in addition to spending many evenings in the terminal building, “sometimes becoming confused whether it was day or night,” O’Doherty also spent time studying for the exams in project management, which he did pass.

O’Doherty found that the airport experience not only warped time but, at times, space. “As you get to travel behind the scenes, stepping out of the public concourse and into a ‘staff only’ area can be a little like that experience that Alice had when she stepped into her rabbit hole!” said O’Doherty. And while he agrees with that saying about an airport being the front door to a city, his observations have led him to consider an airport a city’s back door as well.

Life at the airport

During his year at the airport, O’Doherty made note of daily timetables, seasonal rhythms and patterns, and the wide variety of operational and maintenance procedures. He also observed the push and pull of passenger movements through the terminals, an experience he discovered is a closely studied and often highly managed sequence of routines.

O’Doherty spent time with the airport chaplains, who described themselves as “the conscience of the airport,” as they tried to aid distressed and emotional passengers. And he got to know Olly, a stray cat adopted, and now extremely pampered, by the airport administration. “It always struck me as slightly odd that when I would walk to the office of the senior management sitting outside would be a rather rotund, elderly, ginger cat,” said O’Doherty.

Now, as June 30th approaches, O’Doherty is getting ready to leave the airport routine and begin the task of turning thousands of pages of notes into a book. So far, he says can’t really generalize about air travelers and their behavior, but that “passengers do share a strange paradoxical condition of imprisonment and liberation.”

For its part, the staff at the Manchester Airport is anxiously awaiting O’Doherty’s findings.

“He managed to be here through all sorts of experiences, such as the inaugural Emirates A380 flight last year and our battles with ash clouds and snow,” notes John Greenway of the Manchester Airports Group. “So he’s really seen all sides of the airport and the nature of working in the aviation industry.”

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