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Entries in Airports (16)

Tuesday
Nov202012

Holiday Flight Delay? Airports Offer Flu Shots, Workouts and More

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the holiday travel season kicks off this week, airline passengers can expect to see higher prices, crowded airports and longer lines.

So long as Mother Nature cooperates and the weather remains pleasant, air travel should go farely smoothly.  Airports and airlines are prepared for the increase in crowds and will staff up in anticipation.

But if there are stormy skies in the Northeast or Chicago the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the Sunday following it, passengers can expect mass chaos.  And of course, flight delays.

Not all airports though are created equal when it comes to passing the time.  Here are six ways to whittle away the hours, depending on the airport you're flying out of or connecting through:

Get a Flu Shot

At Chicago O'Hare, one of the nation's busiest airports, the O'Hare Medical Clinic in Terminal 2 offers flu shots, immunizations, diabetes and cholesterol screening and more.  No appointments are necessary.

In Atlanta, flu shots are available in Hartsfield-Jackson's AeroClinic in the main terminal.  AeroClinic also has kiosk locations at Charlotte and Philadelphia airports, where flu shots are available.  No appointments necessary.

At San Francisco's SFO, flu shots are available at the SFO Medical Clinic located before security on the Departures/Ticketing Level of the International Terminal Main Hall, on the A side.  Appointments are required.

Yoga

New this year, both Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco International airports have free yoga rooms.  In Dallas, the yoga center is in Terminal D, and the airport supplies free mats.  At SFO, the yoga room is in Terminal 2.  Light levels are set low in juxtaposition to the bright, light-filled concourse.  Mats are available.

Break a Sweat

Dan Gellert, co-founder and CEO of Gate Guru, said most travelers don't know they can squeeze in a workout at an airport hotel's gym on a layover.  He cited the Hilton gym at Chicago O'Hare as being "really nice" but said most airport hotels will sell travelers a day pass to its gym for about $20.

Sample the Local Cuisine

Gellert said airports have really stepped up their food offerings in recent years, with a focus on local ingredients and partnering with local chefs.  He cited Seattle's SeaTac, O'Hare, Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale airports as recently adding more local food options.  And while it may not focus solely on local food, fans of the Food Network will want to check out the first-ever Food Network Kitchen at Fort Lauderdale airport.

Art Viewing

Philadelphia International Airport, Denver International Airport and San Francisco's SFO offer rotating art exhibits all year-round.  New at Los Angeles' LAX this month is "Let's Get Lost: Polaroids From the Coast."   It includes a 30-year collection of large-format Polaroid photographs by Jim McHugh depicting pre-World War II era landmarks of Los Angeles and portraits of more than 50 Hollywood celebrities.  It's on display in Terminal 3 Arrivals Corridor through February 2013.

Celebrate the Season

Airports often put on special events during busy travel periods, and this year is no exception.  At Philadelphia International, strolling musicians, book signings, magicians and more are all on offer this holiday season.  Most of the special events are in Terminals B and C.

At SFO, the popular "You Are Hear" series of live music will resume, with a wide variety of Bay Area musicians performing everything from salsa to a cappella holiday songs.  Performances in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 are post-security.  Performances in the Terminal 1 Mezzanine and the International Terminal are pre-security.  All performances are held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  There's a tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. on Dec. 4 for those passing through.

At New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, the JetBlue T5 terminal will offer Double Cross Vodka sampling from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21 and Friday, Dec. 21.  And on Thanksgiving Day and the day prior, there will be a Thanksgiving buffet available for purchase in the Food Court Hot Bar.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov112012

Busiest Airports for Thanksgiving Travel

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than 24 million people are expected to fly this Thanksgiving weekend -- about 150,000 more people than last year -- despite an increase in the price of airfare since Thanksgiving 2011.

And the crowds aren’t just at the airport: Expect planes to be packed. Airplanes, on average, are expected to be nearly 90-percent full on the busiest day of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

But some airports will be busier than others. Orbitz, the travel booking website, has just released the list of the busiest -- and least busy -– airports over Thanksgiving weekend 2012, based on the top 50 U.S. airports. If you’re traveling out of one of the busiest airports, be prepared to arrive early and wait on lines.

Busiest Airports Nov 21 – Nov 26:

1.    Chicago O’Hare International
2.    Los Angeles International
3.    San Francisco International
4.    New York LaGuardia
5.    Boston Logan International
6.    John F. Kennedy International
7.    Orlando International
8.    Denver International
9.    Ronald Reagan National
10.  Ft. Lauderdale International

Least Busy Airports Nov 21 – Nov 26:

1.    Buffalo Niagara International
2.    Jacksonville International
3.    Nashville International
4.    Sacramento International
5.    Bradley International
6.    Palm Beach International
7.    Cleveland Hopkins International
8.    John Wayne Airport
9.    San Antonio International
10.  Salt Lake City International

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov012012

Travel Industry Begins to Move Again After Sandy's Mess

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's been one of the most difficult weeks in memory for travelers. Nearly 20,000 flight cancellations, hotels that are flooded and shuttered, cruise ships stranded at sea. But a few days after Hurricane Sandy, travelers are beginning to travel once again.

While air travel is by no means back to normal (600-plus flights were cancelled Thursday, but that's far from the nearly 8,000 cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday), all three New York metropolitan airports -- JFK, LaGuardia and Newark -- are open. Other previously shuttered airports in the Northeast are also open to flights.

"Barring any unforeseen airport damage or operational issues like staff getting to the airport, road warriors should pretty much be back in business on Monday," said Rick Seaney, CEO of Fare Compare. "The trend in cancellations since Oct. 29 is a hockey stick in the downward direction."

Amtrak, too, is beginning to move. Starting Thursday, there is modified Northeast Regional service between Boston and New Haven, Conn., and between Newark, N.J., and points south. Amtrak will also operate shuttle service trains between Springfield, Mass., and New Haven; Keystone Service trains between Harrisburg, Penn., and Philadelphia; and Downeaster service trains between Boston and Portland, Maine, along with additional overnight services to and from the Northeast.

Amtrak is also taking reservations for modified service between New York City and points south, including Trenton and Philadelphia.

And the cruisers aboard the Norwegian Gem who were forced to stay at sea when the Port of New York closed the day they were scheduled to return from a nine-day cruise? They were given the option to leave the ship in Boston on Wednesday. Vanessa Lane, a Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson, said 50 percent opted to leave. The others returned to sea and will wait until New York's port re-opens to end their trips. The cruise line thinks that could be on Friday, Nov. 2.

Ericka Nelson, general manager of The Muse New York, said the hotel's been completely sold out since Saturday. Only now are guests starting to travel home. "In some cases they're renting cars, a few are getting on flights." But, she noted, "now we're focused on getting those rooms to locals who need a place to stay."

Orbitz, the travel booking website, reported a 15 percent increase in hotel bookings in New York City this week as compared with last week. In Washington, D.C., bookings were up a whopping 68 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug082012

Avatars to Assist Passengers at New York City Airports

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three New York City-area airports have introduced a new type of greeter. At Newark Liberty International, it's Libby. At LaGuardia, it's Marie. And at John K. Kennedy International Airport, it's Sarah, and they're there to assist passengers by dispensing all sorts of helpful information about ground transportation and other concerns.

They're the best kind of worker. Sarah, Libby and Marie don't take time off. They don't get sick. They always smile at the passengers. Oh, and they're totally fake -- they're virtual Customer Care Representatives, or, as they're more commonly known, avatars.

The avatars were introduced Wednesday at LaGuardia and last month at Newark. JFK's avatar starts work on Thursday. The avatars recite from a script and start talking whenever anyone comes within 30 feet.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is renting them for six months for $180,000. After that time, they'll evaluate the success of the program and determine if they'll be in place permanently.

The avatars are part of a technology initiative announced in May. Other improvements include 100 additional power poles to supply electronic devices throughout the terminals at all three airports. There's also additional food court seating. Full-time restroom attendants have been hired at Newark's Terminal A, where facilities have not been modernized lately to meet increased demand. There also will be new digital "Next Bus" arrival time signs at Newark Liberty and more quality control visits to airport stores to ensure customers are treated well.

Another customer enhancement initiative being launched at Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia is a new smartphone app -- a free FlySmart mobile application that sends real-time flight notifications to iPhone, Android and Blackberry smartphones. The app will include listings for ground transportation and concessions, as well as maps of the terminals.

The avatars are located in the arrivals area in the Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia and at the Welcome Center in JetBlue's Terminal 5 at JFK. Libby, Newark's avatar, can be found in Terminal B.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul132012

Ten Scariest Airports in US

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ever grabbed that airplane armrest a little tighter during landing?  Ever felt as if you were taking off in a space shuttle instead of an Airbus?  Well, you may have been taking off or landing at one of the scariest airports in the country.

Just in time for summer, one of the busiest flying seasons of the year, Airfarewatchdog.com, part of the Smarter Travel Media Network, has released its picks for the scariest airports in the United States.

“We really don’t want to scare people from flying, so maybe we should call these the most “thrilling” airports to land at.  Air travel, mile for mile, is still the safest way to get from place to place, other than, perhaps, your own two feet,” George Hobica, travel journalist and founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, said in a statement.

Here are the site's picks for the country's scariest airports:

-- Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, Aspen, Colo.
Pilots must be certified to land in Aspen.  Airfarewatchdog.com suspects this is because the airport requires a swift descent at high altitude.

-- John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, Calif.
A unique takeoff is required at this sunny airport.  Because of strict noise restrictions, pilots must take off at maximum throttle and then abruptly pull back on their engines.  Some have compared taking off at this airport to a “ballistic missile” and a “space shuttle liftoff.”

-- Midway International Airport, Chicago
Although Midway isn’t quite as busy as its sister airport, O’Hare, that doesn’t make it any less scary.  The runways at Midway are close to 2,000 feet shorter than those at newer airports, causing many pilots to overshoot takeoff and landing.

-- Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport, Sitka, Alaska
This airport can get a little rocky.  It’s almost completely surrounded by water in the Sitka Sound and weather can get a little crazy, so pilots have to watch out for boulders and debris that often wash from the causeway onto the island’s only runway.  Large flocks of birds also live close to the airport and are frequently spotted in the skies.

-- Yeager Airport, Charleston, W. Va.
Yeager is another short runway, but what makes this airport a bit more thrilling is that it sits atop a flattened mountain. The runway sits between two cliffs so passengers better hope their pilot doesn’t overshoot this runway.

-- San Diego International Airport, San Diego
This downtown airport is considered one of the most dangerous, according to Airfarewatchdog.com.  With mountains to the north and east, Mexican airspace to the south and strong tailwinds blowing in from the west, pilots better watch out.  All of these factors combined sometimes force nose-to-nose takeoffs and landings.

-- LaGuardia Airport, New York
Although the views of the Empire State Building are breathtaking during takeoff and landing from LaGuardia, this airport sits a little too close to the Manhattan skyline.  It is also one of three airports in the country’s largest airport system so the skies around LaGuardia are packed with jets.  During landing, pilots are forced to make a series of tight, low altitude turns, including an 180-degree turn around Citi Field.

-- Catalina Airport, Avalon, Calif.
Get ready for a bumpy landing if you’re flying into this California airport. Catalina Airport has an altitude of 1,602 feet, dubbing it the Airport in the Sky, and is known to have downdrafts and turbulence on approach.  Additionally, the runway drops off so much on both sides that pilots at one end of it can’t see planes at the other.  And to add to that, the runway is also rough with potholes and soft spots caused by heavy rains.

-- Telluride Regional Airport, Telluride, Colo.
The highest commercial airport in the United States, its runway sits on a plateau above the San Miguel River and dips in the middle.  But pilots only have one shot at landing at this snowy airport because touch-and-go landings are prohibited.

-- Reagan National Airport, Washington, D.C.
Pilots have to be especially skilled to fly into this difficult airport.  Reagan National sits between two overlapping no-fly zones, so pilots have to watch out for the Pentagon and CIA headquarters. And on takeoff, pilots must ascend quickly and sharply turn left so they don’t fly over the White House.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

NYC Airports Add New, Holographic Customer Service Agents

Airus Media(NEW YORK) -- Meet Ava. She’s more than just your average customer service representative. She’s always ready with a smile, never needs a bathroom break or a shift change, and charges $60,000 for a lifetime of devoted service.

Ava is a hologram recently purchased by the Port Authority to greet customers at New York and New Jersey’s three major airports, LaGuardia, Newark, and John F. Kennedy.

The Port Authority has purchased three of the holograms to take part in a six month trial to see how customers respond to them. The holograms, which are set to hit the airports in July, are the first of their kind in North America, and have been programmed to answer some of the questions most frequently asked by consumers. This includes providing directions to the nearest taxi stands and bus stops as well as giving general airport safety and convenience tips, according to a Port Authority spokesman.

The holograms will be located in a specific spot at each airport. The LaGuardia Ava will be positioned in the central terminal building. The Newark Ava takes up a spot in Terminal B, and the JFK Ava will be found in Terminal 5.

To get information from the holograms, passengers simply have to speak to them.

The introduction of the holograms is part of a larger initiative to improve customer service by the Port Authority that includes the introduction of 70 new customer care representatives during peak hours, according to a Port Authority statement. These new employees will join the 350 human representatives already working at the airports. The initiative will also include expanded efforts to curtail taxi hustling, the installation of more power poles for electronic devices, cleaner restroom facilities and a long term effort to improve airport infrastructure.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

Memorial Day Weekend’s Busiest Airports

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s the unofficial kick-off to the summer travel season, and automobile club AAA predicts 2.5 million people will take to the skies over Memorial Day weekend alone.

That’s a decrease from last year, but don’t think you’re going to breeze through the check-in line and airport security, especially if you’re flying out of one of the airports below.

FourSquare has analyzed check-in data to find out which of our nation’s airports will be the busiest over the upcoming holiday weekend.  Here are the top 10 busiest airports for Memorial Day weekend:

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
The world’s busiest passenger airport won’t get a break this Memorial Day weekend.  As a Delta hub, there’s a good chance you’ll be flying through ATL if you’re on a Delta flight.

2. San Francisco International Airport
SFO comes in at number two this Memorial Day weekend.  Morning flights are frequently delayed due to fog, so book a mid- or late-morning flight instead.

3. Chicago O’Hare International Airport
It’s coming in at number three, but not because it’s a major hub. Bad weather in Chicago can ground flights all over the country.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate this Memorial Day weekend.

4. John F. Kennedy International Airport
It’ll be the busiest of the three major New York City-area airports.  Flying out of LaGuardia or Newark?  You’re not off the hook, they’re just a little further down the list.

5. McCarran International Airport
Bet on crowds at the Las Vegas airport, coming in at number five on Foursquare’s list.  It’s also the number one summer destination on Orbitz’s top 10 list of summer destinations.

6. LaGuardia Airport

Over 24 million people flew out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport last year.  It’s just eight miles from Manhattan and the favorite area airport of many New Yorkers.

7. Denver International Airport
The best part of Denver International Airport is the volunteer airport greeters that are there to help with all your airport questions.  Look for the white cowboy hats.

8. Boston Logan International Airport
If Boston’s too crowded or too expensive this Memorial Day weekend, try the nearby airport in Providence, R.I.  It’s usually less crowded and sometimes cheaper.

9. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
The airport’s website claims it’s the 17th-busiest overall, but this Memorial Day weekend it’s expected to come in at number nine.

10. Newark Liberty International Airport
Rounding out the top 10 is EWR.  Even though it’s in New Jersey, it’s a popular choice for New Yorkers as well, especially for international flights.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May182012

Airport Volunteers Lend Frazzled Travelers a Helping Hand

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's gearing up to be a busy summer travel season: Airlines for America predicts there will be more than 206 million people flying this summer, and that's only on U.S carriers.  That breaks down to about 2.24 million passengers per day.

With all those people passing through airports, many of them infrequent fliers, there's sure to be plenty of angst -- from lost bags, lost children and parking questions, to rental car inquires, flight delays and cancellations.  So who can you turn to for help?

Your friendly airport greeters, of course. You'll recognize them by the white hats at Denver International, or the red vests at Calgary International in Canada.  And, very soon, the pins on their clothing at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

JFK airport rolls out a new program on May 22, just in time for the busy summer travel season. Called Edge4Vets N.I.C.E. Corps, the program plans to use the skills of military veterans to help alleviate passenger frustrations at the airport.  It takes airport employees who are also veterans and gives them N.I.C.E. (Neutralize Irritations Customers Experience) training.

The pilot program was designed by Tom Murphy, director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University.  He said the program would initially be in Terminal 4, and has 30 trained problem solvers ready to help.

"What travelers want most," he said, "is for someone to care when things go wrong.  They want someone who will step up and help."

Veterans employed at a variety of airport companies -- even airlines like JetBlue, Delta and American Airlines, and agencies like the Transportation Security Administration -- have signed up for the training.  The idea, Murphy said, is for veterans already involved in the pilot program to spot other airline employees going the extra mile and then report it.  Those employees will then be recognized and rewarded for their helpfulness.

Murphy said that in time he hopes the program will take on a life of its own, resulting in a more positive airport experience for employees and travelers alike.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan182012

Four US Airport Terminals Among Frommers' 10 Worst in the World

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Weary travelers stuck at New York's JFK airport or Chicago's Midway airport may be all too familiar with the drab surroundings and sketchy service during a delayed layover.

In what may be affirmation for some frequent fliers, Frommers.com has included four U.S. hubs in its list of the 10 worst airport terminals.

The list included the 10 best and worst terminals, basing the ranking on cleanliness, services, on-time departures, navigation and ease of travel to and from a city's center.

New York JFK's terminal 3, now used for Delta flights, was ranked as the worst in the world.  However, Delta said a renovation project to be completed by 2013 will transform the terminal into a modern facility.

"Terminal 3 is known for endless immigration lines in a dank basement, an utter lack of food and shopping options, three crowded and confusing entry points, and hallways that could have been designed by M.C Escher for vomiting international travelers out onto an underground sidewalk with no cabs available," Frommers.com said.  "There's also a sense that the cleaning crew gave up in despair a while ago."

While four of the 10 worst terminals are in the U.S., only one American terminal made it to the top 10 list of the best terminals: Jetblue Airway's Terminal 5 in New York's JFK Airport, which was number five.

The best airport terminal is Hajj Terminal at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  It is only open during the six-week Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Muslims traditionally must travel to Mecca at least once in their lifetime.

Here is Frommers.com's list of the 10 worst airport terminals in the world:

1. New York JFK Airport Terminal 3
2. Manila, Philippines Airport Terminal 1
3. Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport Terminal B/C
4. Nairobi, Kenya Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
5. Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, Terminal 3
6. Amman, Jordan Queen Alia Airport
7. New York LaGuardia Airport Terminal 5
8. Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport
9. Paris' Beauvais Airport
10. Chicago Midway Airport

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep092011

Most Americans Feel Safer Flying Now than Before 9/11 Attacks

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Airport safety wasn't that much of a concern before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the public's mindset has changed since then.

AAA South says an overwhelming majority of Americans -- 84 percent -- are worried that another 9/11-style attack involving planes could happen again.  Yet, because of the all the security measures instituted since then that have raised prices, delayed flights and frayed passengers' nerves, they somehow feel safer than a decade ago.

The AAA survey finds that 77 percent of respondents believe airport security is much improved since the 9/11 attacks.

Flight bookings dropped significantly immediately after 9/11 but have since climbed back, in large part to Americans having greater confidence in airport security and less fears of terrorism.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio