5 U.S. airports where change is in the air

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Thanks to the pandemic, it’s probably been a while since I’ve flown quickly through any of America’s major airports, so be prepared: Some may look a little different since your last flight. With passenger loads rising, security considerations have become paramount, customer demands have changed, and technology has become more complex since the time many US airports were first built, some major repairs were made, and some airports already have massive improvement projects underway. As they build toward a brighter, more efficient future, be sure to leave some extra time when traveling through these five airports.

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New York City Airport

the problem: LaGuardia is a total mess. Isolated terminals impede the movement of the aircraft, which leads to gate delays and inconvenience to passengers. There are a limited number of restaurants and shopping options. It is difficult to reach the city by public transport. During construction, taxi passengers are taken off-site, while taxi passengers have exceptionally long waiting times.

the plan: LaGuardia is undergoing an $8 billion renovation. The isolated terminals are connected through one new central facility. Most of the gates to the new central building are now open. The new, sunlit building (thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows) houses American, United, Southwest…and Shack Shack!

The Delta terminal is also being upgraded, and will include four ballrooms and 37 new gates. Modern amenities will be scattered throughout, including power outlets in all seats and large restrooms.

In terms of transportation into the city, AirTrain tracks are being built to connect the airport to the Port Washington Long Island Rail Road branch and Willets Point 7 train station. It will be a long arduous process, although the train won’t be ready until 2024. Find the latest updates on LaGuardia’s overhaul here .

the problem: This is an airport that has been overrun by traffic. Salt Lake City International Airport serves more than 26 million passengers annually in a facility designed for 50 years for half the number of passengers. Additionally, as a hub for Delta, more flights must take off and land simultaneously.

the plan: The new SLC will be a state-of-the-art facility with one large, central terminal and two linear concourses connected by a passenger tunnel, with more space and amenities to give passengers a world-class airport experience. The facility will be built in two phases, with the first phase — including the central building, parking garage, and parts of the new concourse — expected to be completed this year. The second phase, essentially rebuilding the entire airport, is due for completion by 2024. The plan is to achieve LEED Gold certification, and calls for several energy-efficient features, along with solar lighting and floor-to-ceiling mountain views. Find the latest updates about the project here.

the problem: It has always been difficult for passengers to navigate LAX, both inside and out. Finding the way between stations is difficult, and there is an excess of traffic in the pick-up and drop-off areas. Currently, the taxi rank and ride shares are off-site. Personal vehicles are no longer permitted in the interior corridors of the basement/access level. These inner lanes are now reserved only for buses and shuttles operated by Los Angeles International Airport.

the plan: LAX is 10 years into a $14 billion capital improvement program. This year it’s more about construction than finishing. However, one new addition, Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC), opened after 6 years of design and construction, adding 15 new gates to LAX, along with nearly two dozen stores and restaurants.

Extensive renovations are underway at several terminals, and the start of major work for the elevated robotic people drive that will transport passengers between the consolidated car rental facility, the multimodal transportation facility, and the central station area, is in full swing. Once the people drive opens in 2023, pickup trucks are set to return to the curbside. For the latest updates on LAX improvements, check here.

the problem: When it debuted in 1972, the three-terminal Kansas City International Airport was at the forefront of modern aviation. But the design of the three-building airport is now outdated and the space is crowded, with passenger traffic tripling in the past 48 years. There are minimal waivers and facilities within the security. And speaking of security, it’s a huge problem, as the circular design means passengers with connecting flights have to leave safe areas and then go through security again.

the plan: The $1.5 billion, four-year renovation (the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history!) will reshape the airport, with all the gates erected in one building. The goal is to have construction completed by 2023. The new single-build airport will have a concourse, separate arrival and departure levels, more restrooms and electronics outlets. There will be 39 gates, with the ability to expand to 50 in the future. Efforts are underway to reuse or reuse more than 98% of the materials produced from the demolished Terminal A building – the first in a series of important steps toward achieving LEED Gold certification. Other bells and whistles include new comprehensive plan areas, animal relief service areas, and live shows by local businesses. Find KCI’s latest updates here.

the problem: Charlotte Douglas is another airport that transcends the 20th century. The current version of the airport opened in 1982, when it served 5.7 million passengers. That number has increased to 44 million, more or less than a million or two, making it the sixth busiest airport in America.

the planConcourses are being renovated to include more integrated power seating, LED lighting and improved signage. Terrazzo floors have been placed in the foyer’s center walkway to better accommodate rolling luggage. To enhance the customer experience, new FIDS screens are located throughout the lobby and a more user-friendly Wi-Fi system has been introduced.

The Plaza is the latest renovation project completed as part of Destination CLT, a $3 billion investment in infrastructure and passenger experience at the airport, which includes plans through 2035. The three-story, 51,000-square-foot space between concourses D and E provides passengers Who have more places to rest, eat and shop. Also part of Destination CLT is a five-year, $608 million project to rebuild and expand the terminal’s lobby, due for completion in 2026. In addition to a larger atrium and ticketing area, baggage claim is being expanded, and there will be new security entrances. Check here for the latest information on the Destination CLT Airport project.

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