In June, 2014 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced its intention to revise its agreement with Boingo and offer complimentary 30-minute Wi-Fi for all passengers at the JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International Airport and Stewart International Airport in Newburgh by fall.
Did that happen?
Not quite yet.
According to a joint statement from the Port Authority and Boingo, existing wireless networks are currently being upgraded at the Port Authority¹s airports and “free Wi-Fi will be available in at least one terminal at JFK, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia Airports by month¹s end, with the free service at all terminals anticipated by the end of the first quarter of 2015.”
Boing spokeswoman Katie O’Neill said that complimentary 30-minute Wi-Fi sessions are currently available in JFK Terminal 4 and Newark (EWR) Terminal C, with free service on target to be available at LaGuardia¹s Central Terminal Building by the end of December.
In the meantime, O’Neill said Boingo is getting sponsors to cover some complimentary 30-minute Wi-Fi sessions and that Amazon, Citi/AA Advantage Card, Volkswagen and American Airlines, and others are lined up to cover sessions at the airports through the end of the year.
Upgrades are also scheduled for Stewart Airport’s Wi-Fi network, sometime in the first quarter of 2015 and O’Neill said Boingo has sponsors lined for complimentary 30-minute sessions there through the end of the year.
Looks like we won’t have the NY-area airports to kick around – Wi-Fi-wise- for much longer.
The Associated Press reports that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Wednesday approved a plan that -perhaps by the fall – will offer passengers at Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi. After that, passengers will have pay the $7.95 day fee.
While that 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi s good news, of course, 30 minutes is hardly enough time to get anything done. So here’s hoping free unlimited Wi-Fi is in the future for the JFK, EWR and LGA airports.
Harstfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport recently changed its plan and now offers all passengers unlimited free Wi-Fi, with an option to get an upgraded service for a fee.
Despite some much-welcome improvements, the three major New York area-airports – John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty International Airport – lag well behind most other major U.S. airports in amenities.
That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the New York-based Global Gateway Alliance, an advocacy group hoping to draw attention to the problems facing New York-area airport airports operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The report compared 15 different amenities across 15 major U.S. airports.
“Since millions of people are spending so much more time in airports, we want airlines and airport operators to think not just about how to move more planes and passengers, but how to provide a better experience as well,” said Global Gateway Alliance chairman Joe Sitt.
The report found that shoe shine facilities, spas, prayer/meditation rooms and post offices/mail services are easy to find at many airports, but dry cleaners, outdoor areas and gym and fitness centers are scarce.
Dallas-Fort Worth, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare and San Francisco International airports received the highest scores for the amenities offered. New York’s LaGuardia Airport received the lowest score, offering just one – shoe shine facilities – of the 15 amenities surveyed.
Newark-Liberty and JFK airports also scored near the bottom of the list, with Newark offering just four of the amenities surveyed and JFK offering five.
“At New York’s airports in particular, quality passenger amenities must go hand in hand with terminal modernization if we really want to rebuild the best airports in the nation and the world, and make them an ongoing economic engine,” said Sitt.
While the three New York-area airports fared poorly in the survey, industry experts point to some bright spots in that market, including Terminal C at Newark airport and JFK’s Terminal 5 (operated by JetBlue).
“Also, take Delta Air Lines’ award-winning Sky Deck terrace at New York JFK Terminal 4 and OTG Management’s iPad ordering system at New York LaGuardia,” said Mary Kirby, founder of Runway Girl Network. “These innovations underscore the fact that some airlines and vendors are making a concerted effort to improve the passenger experience on the ground. New York airports are not standing still.”
For now, though, the experience can be hit or miss.
“The terminal you are in is important,” said John Walton, director of data at flight search website Routehappy. “For example, JFK T4 has some amazing new food and shopping outlets, including Shake Shack, but T1 has practically zero food after security.”
The Global Gateway Alliance’s survey results come as no surprise to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which has a variety of facilities improvement programs underway.
At Newark, a $348 million Terminal B modernization is nearing completion and at JFK, Delta is continuing upgrades in Terminal 4 and JetBlue is building an international arrivals area at Terminal 5. “And at LGA we have an RFP out to four finalists for a public-private partnership to build a new, state-of-the-art Central Terminal Building as part of a $3.6 billion project to replace the current one that opened in 1964,” said Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico.
The Port Authority has also been working on a wide variety of customer amenity improvements announced in May 2012 in response to its own survey of more than 10,000 air passengers. Those improvements include additional customer care agents and cleaner restroom facilities.
Here’s the amenities tally sheet Global Gateway Alliance came up with:
“The information used to compile the report was collected from a range public websites, including those of the airports, phone conversations with airport representatives, and published news articles. The raw data was carefully screened and verified.”
Thanks to Storm Nemo, on Thursday evening I was one of the hundreds of thousands of travelers who had to cancel important weekend plans that involved flying to the east coast.
Then I had to sit on the phone for hours trying to work out a new and, it turns out, quite expensive new plan.
For those of you still trying to figure out your options, here’s a link to a list of many of the change-fee waiver policies airlines have posted.
In other news…. Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport announced that it is the latest airport to join the Thanks Again program, which offers travelers frequent flyer miles or points for qualifying purchases made at the airport for things such as parking, food and retail items. Travelers at DFW will also be able to get points or miles for stays at the airport hotels, such as the Grand Hyatt, and at Paradise 4 Paws, the airport’s pet hotel.
170 other airports already participate in the Thanks Again program – which requires a simple sign-up and registration of a credit-card.
And during the month of February passengers at John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark Liberty International (EWR) airports – as well as passengers at some New York City subway stations – will be able to get complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi sessions courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line, which is celebrating a new ship, the Norwegian Breakaway.
That should come in handy if you end up stuck at one of those airports – or in the city – this weekend due to Storm Nemo.
Here’s an intriguing idea: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates JFK, LaGuardia and Newark International airports, wants to sue unruly passengers who cause major flight delays. This is the story I wrote Monday for msnbc.com.
Unruly airline passengers at any of the three New York area airports (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty) may soon have to go to court and pay for the cost of delaying a flight.
“On a regular basis we’re having issues where planes have to come back to the gate because of disruptive passengers,” said Steve Coleman, spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the three airports. “We’re looking to cut down on the number of incidents that require police response and reduce the amount of time and money airlines lose because of these incidents.”
Coleman said the airport authority is embarking on a campaign that will include the use of social media, posted signs and other methods to strongly remind passengers to behave and follow the instruction of airline crewmembers.
“Our lawyers are also looking at ways we can take civil action against the most egregious cases,” said Coleman.
The cost per hour to operate a U.S. passenger airline is $5,867, according to Airlines for America (A4A), the airline trade association. “So any delay represents a real cost to an airline’s bottom line,” said A4A spokesperson Steve Lott. If the new policy is enacted, the Port Authority might sue passengers responsible for a delay to pay for the related costs.
In 2011, there were 1.3 million flights at the New York area airports and Port Authority and police responded to close to 400 incidents involving disruptive airline passengers. “Most of those were due to people who wouldn’t turn off their electronic devices, which is a federal law,” said Coleman. Many other incidents were related to smoking and passenger disputes.
“And it’s not just a New York thing,” said Coleman. “This resonates with airports across the country.”
Research conducted by the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) shows that passengers often blame the airport for airline-related delays. “So, certainly the discussion the Port Authority is having is likely to prompt other airports to think about this,” said Debby McElroy, ACI-NA’s executive vice president, policy and external affairs.
The incidents-to-flights ratio at the New York area airports and elsewhere “is actually quite low, but any effort that helps enforce the message of what the laws are will help,” said A4A’s Lott.
Brandon M. Macsata, executive director of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, said he applauds efforts to reduce airline delays, but it seems somewhat unfair to single out airline passengers for systemwide problems. “There can be numerous reasons why passengers might be responsible for delayed flights, including what happened two weeks ago when a family was escorted off the plane because their daughter wouldn’t stop crying.”
Passengers who interfere with the duties of a crewmember and engage in unruly behavior can be fined by the FAA or prosecuted on criminal charges. Reporting incidents to the FAA is at the discretion of crewmembers, and in 2011, as of October, the agency had taken action on 127 incidents nationwide.
“The Port Authority has not contacted the FAA. So we are unaware of their plans,” said FAA spokesperson Alison Duquette. “The bottom line is that people should know if they behave badly on an airplane they can go to jail or be fined.”
What do you think? Should airports be able to levy fines on unruly passengers who cause airplanes to return to the gate?