Browsing Tag: airport

A Lufthansa A340 gets prepped for flight - Photo: Andrew Poure

A Lufthansa A340 gets prepped for flight at the airport during snow – Photo: Andrew Poure

You’re sitting on a airliner preparing to depart from a major hub in the U.S. midwest, staring out the window. On a clear spring day, you’d pushback and be off the ground in moments, and see the shining Great Lakes and expanses of green fields and trees immediately after takeoff. That day is not today.

No, the scene out your window is white and grey as far as the eye can see. Amber and red strobe lights, from both aircraft and ground vehicles, add to the almost surreal landscape. It’s winter in the northern states.

Clayton Scott Field in Renton, WA

Clayton Scott Field in Renton, WA

As an airport manager, and on behalf of airport management all over the country, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you! If you have flown commercially recently, then this message of gratitude is specifically for you.

Why?

Well, because you are directly contributing to the financial well-being of the airport. And no, I am not talking about supporting the airlines, who in turn pay the airport to offer their services. And I am not referring to your purchase of concessions in the terminal before your flight, or the fee you paid to park, or for gazing at the advertising that companies pay the airport top dollar for.

Rather, I am talking about a nominal fee that is applied to your ticket that goes directly into the airport’s coffers. This fee is the “Passenger Facility Charge” or PFC, and it’s a huge lever in commercial airport infrastructure investment.

It is also a white-hot topic nationally for airports and airlines, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approaches the end of its temporary authorization in March of 2016.

Mormons greet returning missionaries at Salt Lake City International Airport - Photo: Cory Doctorow | FlickrCC

Mormons greet returning missionaries at Salt Lake City International Airport – Photo: Cory Doctorow | FlickrCC

I like flying, but it is also tiring. If I have had a few connections (perhaps some missed connections), a bumpy flight, long layovers, or an extra early wake up call, I’m worn out. When I land, I just want to get off a plane, grab my bags, and get home. I really don’t want anything to get in my way. As I’m walking down the concourse, the last thing I want is for people to hinder me. Get out of my way! You’re not here to greet me.

But, let’s consider both sides of an issue – how should groups behave as a welcoming party at an airport. Sure there are some single folks waiting for their loved one and you also get the families waiting for a child flying by themselves. Going a bit larger (and louder) you can find military service members, who have been gone for a long time, receiving a wonderful “welcome back.” All these people are deserving of welcomings, but can it go too far? How can an airport make it a win-win for everyone? And is there a limit where people should be respecting other passengers? Let’s take a look at an airport close to me, the big homecomings at Salt Lake City International Airport.

Somehow understated, but an amazing and easy to find mark in any airport. Etihad Airways at JFK - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Somehow understated, but an amazing and easy to find mark in any airport – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

I seem to live in airport lounges these days. I’ve noticed a theme, especially within the United States. The concept of luxury, decadence, and modernity have been eschewed by small packs of American cheese, rubbery cookies, and buy-your-own ill-textured food provided by Sysco. On top of that, the lounges are usually dirty. The showers feel more “grandmother’s  basement” than luxury. In the case of one overseas lounge, it cannot pass a health inspection to save its life!

Etihad Airways has had great lounges in the past, but now again succeeds with the introduction of Facets of Abu Dhabi brand. Etihad knew they had to not just lead, but cement that lead, as best in all classes. To be fair though, the older-style Etihad lounges are starting to merely be the best, not years beyond the competition.

That said, according to Calum Laming, Etihad’s Vice President of Guest Experience, what they came up with is really not a mere lounge.

The bar is the central fixture of the new Etihad JFK lounge. It's truly beautiful - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The bar is the central fixture of the new Etihad JFK lounge. It’s truly beautiful. – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

He is right.

Imagine if you could, with the help of an airport facility design firm called Gensler (they do shopping malls as well), create something inside an airport that felt nothing like it, save for the spectacular ramp view?

Well, they did it. I knew, previously, that Etihad takes its design cues from Fairmont hotels. Except when you step into the lobby of this lounge, it feels as if you have left JFK; teleported to Vancouver, and walked into the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.