Posts in the category "Observation Decks":

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)

Tidbits for travelers: LAX views, Orlando news, & KCI cruise

Here’s great news for anyone who finds themselves stuck at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on the weekend.

The Observation Deck at the top of the Theme Building, which has been closed since 9/11, will finally re-open to the public this Saturday.

(A view of the old version of the observation deck; courtesy LAX. New version: under wraps!)

There will be a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday morning (June 21, 2010) but the official public hours of the deck will be Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Go take a look through the new telescopes and enjoy the view!

Orlando Airport getting Google-ized?


According to this story in the Orlando Sentinel, the Orlando International Airport (MCO) is in discussion with Google for a two-year deal in which Google would pay the airport more than $100,000 a year to sponsor the existing (free) airport Wi-Fi and provide a variety of other amenities, including free Internet kiosks for passengers traveling without laptops and phone booths at the international gates offering free long distance calling.

Sounds like Google is talking to other airports about this same sort of ‘experiment,’ but no word yet on where.

And this sounds like fun:

(courtesy Hot Rod)

This Saturday (June 19th, 2010) Kansas City International Airport will be hosting its fourth KCI Cruise. Not a sailing ship cruise, but the sort of cruise where hundreds – in this case up to 500 – owners of classic, muscle and special-interest automobiles gather in a parking lot to show off their cool cars.

The event runs from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. (weather permitting; wouldn’t want anything to happen to those cars!) and money raised from the sales of donated food and prizes will go to area charities. The prizes are nothing to sneeze at. They’ll be giving away Frontier Airlines tickets, Chiefs and Royals tickets, Justin Bieber concert tickets (!), hotel stays and more. For more details and for directions to the event, see the KCI Cruise page on the Kansas City International Airport website.

Great spots for plane-spotting

I recently put together a USATODAY.com column highlighting some of the observation decks at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI), and other North American airports.

Minneapolis - Observation deck - wide

Today I’ve got a column about plane-spotting sites outside airport terminals.

The sites listed range from Millbrae, California’s Bayfront Park, which offers great views of take-offs and landings at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), to Gravelly Point near Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport (DCA), and a few unusual but, we’re assured, legal spots nearby Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

For a photo-gallery and a list of other highly-recommended plane-spotting sites  around the country, please see the full column on USATODAY.com.

RDU Observ Park  - courtesy RDU Airport

(Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s Observation Park)

And of course, please share your favorite plane-spotting sites.

Greetings from Prague Airport

I spent two hours touring the Prague Airport recently and found loads of welcome amenities; many of them brand new.

In addition to the free Wi-Fi service rolled out a few weeks ago (there are still a few kinks to work out; we couldn’t get it to work), the airport has a museum with vintage photos, documentary film footage and a replica historic aircraft that you can climb into.  The three-month old “Sky Relax” center offers salon services, showers, manicures and massages, while two new childrens play areas provide a fun place for kids to work off energy before their flights.

Prague kids play area

And both terminals have outdoor lookout terraces accessible before security.

Prague observation deck

Why all these fresh amenities?  “We started doing surveys and asking travelers what was missing from the airport and these were some of the things they mentioned,” my airport guide told me, “So we gave it to them.”

Makes sense to me.

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