The Countdown Begins: REAL ID Will Be Required for Air Travel in Exactly One Year

Earlier today, Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) President and CEO Kevin Burke teamed up with travel industry leaders and government officials to urge the traveling public to obtain REAL ID compliant identification.

The REAL ID Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005, implements a 9/11 Commission recommendation for the Federal Government to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses” as a way to enhance aviation security.

“Ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public is the top priority for airports – and REAL ID is an important component of our efforts,” Burke said. “We are encouraging the public to ensure you have a REAL ID compliant license by October 1st of next year. This will be critical to ensure you are able to travel.”

According to a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association, many Americans may not be aware all Americans will be required to have a REAL ID compliant license in order to board a commercial aircraft beginning on October 1, 2020 – just one year from today.

The purpose of this week’s event held at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC was to encourage the public to obtain proper identification before the rapidly approaching deadline. It also marks the start of a yearlong educational effort by TSA, airports, airlines, and other stakeholders about the importance of obtaining a REAL ID compliant license.

“We are working hard to ensure the public is aware of this fast approaching deadline,” Burke said. “Despite the ongoing efforts to raise awareness, we remain concerned about the small number of travelers who have obtained a REAL ID compliant licenses”

 

 

Some states and airports are already taking advantage of local opportunities to educate travelers. ACI-NA joined with our airline partners and other associations to send a joint letter to each governor of all 50 states and territories, encouraging them to launch public awareness campaigns to more effectively educate residents about REAL ID requirements.

In lieu of a REAL ID compliant license, air passengers are able to use other federally approved identification for air travel, including U.S. passports or Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI identification cards.

Burke was joined by Transportation Security Administration Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell, as well as officials from Airlines for America, the American Association of Airport Executives, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the DC, Maryland, and Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles commissioners.

You can learn more about the importance of REAL ID here. And don’t forget to save the date for October 1, 2020. Act now to ensure you have a REAL ID.

Building Up a Collection: Airport Trading Cards

By Jeff Lea, St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Whatever combination you arrange, three letters can carry a lot of prestige, economic power, a region’s reputation, and even better, generations of travel memories.

The International Air Transport Association’s Location Identifier – or IATA Airport Code- has grown to become both symbols and brands in the travel world. They are also the standout element in ACI’s North American Airports Collectors Series trading cards program. The debut of airport trading cards will celebrate its fifth anniversary this fall.

Well before that 2014 launch, I floated the airport trading card idea as a member of ACI-NA’s Marketing & Communications Committee. There were blank stares, looks of doubt and few hurrahs for the pitch that was purely on paper- and yet to be on cardstock. There were no slick gloss cards to touch. No series of air traffic control towers or airfields aerials. And no airport codes all aligned on the top left.

The genesis for the creation of the trading cards was born out of the constant request from aviation fans and trinket collectors making requests to STL for any type of memorabilia with the airport’s name or airport code. I received lots requests from as far away as Russia. It would be a costly venture to meet that demand with our traditional mementos. The trading card solved that. Paper. Low Cost. Mass quantity. But still highly collectible. It was my belief that if baseball teams, football teams, and entertainment franchises could offer palm-sized collectibles in mass, so could airports.

The pitch became a better sell when STL , ATL and SAN worked up proposed graphic elements and suggested location maps, GPS coordinates, bullet points of airport facts, airport logos and the like. With a unified design, YOW and PIT joined in the development to create the digital mockup of the first five airport trading cards. That overwhelming support tipped the concept from pilot to campaign with the debut in Atlanta, GA at ACI’s Annual Conference where attendees got their hands on the first 17 airport trading cards in the series. From large and mega-hubs, to small and general aviation airports, the series has since grown to nearly 80 U.S. and Canadian airports and a legion of followers, collectors and aviation buffs.

The trading cards travel tremendously well to market the industry with those highly visible airport codes and beauty shots that range from gleaming terminal atriums, airfields at sunset or terminals perfectly framed in front of snow-capped mountains. AUS made its trading card debut featuring one of its giant guitars from an art installation in its bag claim. In 2018, JAX went old-school with a 1968 terminal and airfield shot to commemorate the airport’s 50th anniversary.  The photography options are endless. The backside of the card is more than just traditional statistics, it allows each airport to share their stories, their history, and their importance to the region’s they serve.

At STL, we share the cards at our information booths. We pass them out at community speaking events. They’re perfect for our airport tour handouts for schools and other groups. And of course, they are increasingly in high demand from our “Av Geek” community or, as one former airline executive described himself, from the “world of airline collecting.”

The program has grown so popular that, as one of its ambassadors along with the ACI team, I get complaints as to why there are no cards from this or that airport. Large and small. And then there’s the biggest request, “How do I get the complete set?”

The best answer we can give- travel, visit our trading card airports and pick up one in person. Is there someone with a complete set? We don’ know. Some first year cards – especially those original 17—have been printed and all handed out. That certainly makes them more valuable and exclusive. And some cards are harder to get than others as the program is flexible and allows for member airports to print quantities based on their own marketing budgets. And print locally. When the cards run out, airports can always print more or release a new edition (the STL or YOW series, for example, within the greater Airport Trading Card series). Many airports are into their second or third sets because there are new stories to tell, new art installations or new terminal improvements that yield a stunning visual that is worthy of a new trading card. And there are new terminals themselves (SLC in 2020 and MCI to follow) that will be ripe for a trading card debut or a new edition.  This September, several more airports will debut trading cards for the 2019 Series at ACI-NA’s Annual Conference in Tampa, FL.

The program’s primary goal has always been to use the cards to amplify how airports, individually and as a collective (and vital) transportation system, impact our communities and the traveling public. Then there’s that other goal, giving collectors- young and old- a memento, which leads to them to want a bigger collection from past years and with each new annual collection that arrives each fall in the evolution of the airport trading card series.

About Jeff
Jeff Lea joined the executive staff at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in August 2007 as the Public Information Manager. Jeff is the airport spokesperson managing the Airport’s media relations and crisis communications. He also manages website and social media programming, customer service programs, special events and the Lambert Art and Culture Program.

Jeff is a former broadcast journalist who spent 14 years in television news as a reporter, anchor, producer and photographer. Before joining Lambert, Jeff was a reporter with the CBS affiliate, KMOV-TV, in St. Louis where he covered developments at Lambert including the new runway project. Prior to his post in St. Louis, Jeff was a reporter and anchor at KTUL-TV, the ABC affiliate in Tulsa, OK. He started his news career as a producer and reporter at KXII- TV in North Texas. Jeff is a graduate of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.

Celebrating – and Growing – the Airport Industry Workforce

For some, Labor Day (or Labour Day for our readers in Canada) is a much needed long weekend culminating with a festive backyard cookout.  For others – our industry included – Labor Day weekend marks the end of another record breaking summer travel season.

At its core, Labor Day is a time to recognize the important contributions of a productive workforce to communities and economies. Today, we celebrate the nearly 1.5 million people working at airports across North America who make flight possible.

The aviation industry workforce extends far beyond pilots, flight attendants, and baggage handlers.  Airports are proud to employ innovative leaders from all of the disciplines found at a Fortune 500 company. From accounting to IT and real estate to business development, an airport represents a full ecosystem of professionals.

Managing a workforce as diverse and complex as that of an airport is tricky.  It might even be the biggest challenge of our time, says Candace McGraw, CEO of the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and Chair of ACI-NA.

“I think the issue of workforce development and talent development is a huge challenge to us all,” McGraw said.  “Historically, we in the airport business are focused on air service development, contracts and leasing, operations and planning for the future physical footprint of our spaces. As much as we focus on the infrastructure of the runways, taxiways, etc., I think we need to double-down on our human capital infrastructure.”

That’s why CVG launched a strategic workforce collaborative late last year.

“We have brought together all the airport employers, from the air cargo side to the passenger airlines and everyone in between, to talk about the issues on which we can collaborate today to achieve real results—exposing young people to careers in aviation, solving the ever-stubborn issue of better connecting people to their jobs, and creating aviation career pathways on airport, and more,” McGraw said.

One of the key components of CVG’s workforce initiative includes the inclusion of military veterans who will transition into the civilian workforce at the end of their service.  By including the successful Edge4Vets program into their initiative, CVG is able to tap into a highly skilled and trained talent pool.

In 2014, ACI-NA partnered with Edge4Vets with the shared goal of connecting veterans with airports to place them in careers that utilize the valuable skills they learned while serving in the military. At these workshops, Edge4Vets also teaches military veterans the skills they need to market their skills and themselves to civilian employers. Many veterans do not know how to search for civilian jobs and how to communicate with employers after they leave the military.

“Many veterans have valuable skills that are beneficial to employers, but they sometimes have difficulty selling themselves,” said Tom Murphy, Edge4Vets’ founder. “People serving in the military learn to work as a team and they sometimes don’t think in terms of their individual accomplishments and skillsets.”

While the Edge4Vets program continues to grow across the United States with several successes, the program recently launched in Canada.  Edmonton International Airport (YEG) hosted the nation’s first Edge4Vets workshop in May of this year.

“Edge4Vets is such a win-win program because it not only helps to expand the skilled workforce available to our aviation industry, it also provides rewarding careers to those who have served and protected our country,” says YEG’s President and CEO Tom Ruth.

The success of Edge4Vets speaks directly to the needs of airports as they plan their workforce for the future.  Ensuring airports have the right team with the right talents at the right times requires coordination and collaboration across the airport complex.

“Even if technology shifts the world of work for different types of jobs, we must have qualified, skilled people in all of our regions to support all the functions that thriving airports require,” McGraw said.” This is true for training the right people for leadership roles as much as it is to think about those front-line positions.”

Get Involved

Is your airport interested in becoming an Edge4Vets partner? Airports across North America are partnering with Edge4Vets and ACI-NA to help connect veterans to aviation careers. Current participants include GSP, LAX, HOU, MIA, JFK, CVG, YEG and more.

Contact Tom Murphy to learn more about hosting a workshop in your community. Edge4Vets is offered by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. Learn more here.

Restroom Cleanliness is Key to Passenger Experience

To your passengers, the cleanliness of your restrooms says a lot about the overall state of the airport. It’s often the first and last facility they visit before their departure. If you’d like to make a good impression on your passengers and encourage them to fly from your airport again, get on top of the restroom cleanliness and maintenance.

DIRTY RESTROOMS WORSEN EXPERIENCES

People can become easily stressed in an airport environment. Before they even begin to get in line for check-in or security, they often have to wait to use the bathroom. And frequently it’s dirty. 2018 study by Sofidel found that 86% of Americans said that a clogged toilet would negatively impact their perception of a business.

Steve Mayers, the Customer Experience Director at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL), one of Avius’ clients, indicated that passengers always refer to the cleanliness of the restrooms when talking about the cleanliness of the entire airport. This not only impacts their perception of the airport but their overall experience too.

The world’s busiest airport recognized it had to get on top of the toilet cleanliness and restocking issues in order to improve passenger experiences. Since implementing Avius’ Voice of Customer solution in 2017, ATL has improved customer satisfaction levels by over 14.5 percent.

CLEAN RESTROOMS INCREASE PASSENGER SPEND

Restroom cleanliness not only impacts passenger satisfaction but also their spending in shops and restaurants. The more time customers spend in the bathroom, the less time they have to spend money in your food and beverage or retail locations. Clean restrooms also encourage dwell time, passengers are happy to get to the airport earlier. Allowing them to linger and increase their willingness to enter restaurants and shops. As a result, they are more likely to make purchases and increase revenue.

“Passenger experience improvements create a significant improvement to the bottom line. Finding out where improvements are needed can be challenging and time-intensive – this is where Avius provides the ideal solution.” Steve Mayers, Director of Customer Engagement at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

COLLECT AND LISTEN TO FEEDBACK

By collecting passenger feedback at key touch-points, airports can improve satisfaction levels and make informed decisions on the commercial and operational areas of the business. With Avius survey kiosks, airports like ATL have been able to pinpoint exactly what the issues are, resolve them instantly, and put processes in place to limit them happening in the future. Asking passengers to press smiley faces is simply not enough. You need to find out the reasons why. Therefore, make sure you’re asking the right questions and act on the feedback you receive.

IMPROVE OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY WITH INSTANT ALERTS

Having alerts whenever a passenger leaves negative feedback allows the relevant team to respond to maintenance and cleanliness issues in real-time. This can significantly improve passenger satisfaction and experience. Avius software provides such alerts as well as a cleaner check-in feature; the cleaning staff are able to check-in at each facility and mark how many supplies they used. Managers can use this data to manage schedules and predict when each toilet needs attention, improving operational efficiency.

ABOUT BEN STORY

Ben Story is the CEO of Avius. Originally from the UK, he moved to Florida in 2015 to develop relationships with his American clients and further grow the business. He’s a keen sportsman and is running the Chicago marathon in October to raise money for Ronald McDonald House.

GSP Leads Efforts to Hire South Carolina Veterans

Independence Day is more than fireworks and cookouts.  It’s a special day we celebrate liberty and those who have helped secure the freedom we cherish today.

Honoring our veterans is a top priority for the airport industry.  That’s why ACI-NA partnered with Edge4Vets in 2014 with the shared goal of connecting America’s – and now Canada’s – veterans with airports across the country to place them in careers that utilize the valuable skills they learned while serving in the military.

Earlier this year, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) collaborated with Edge4Vets and the Upstate Warrior Solution to host a workshop for the region’s veterans.

“We are proud to bring Edge4Vets to South Carolina,” said Dave Edwards, GSP’s president and CEO. “This will be a good opportunity for Upstate employers to identify talent while mentoring veterans transitioning into the workforce or those looking for new opportunities.”

Several companies participated in the workshop, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, United Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, airport concessionaires and Clemson University.

“Many veterans have valuable skills that are beneficial to employers, but they sometimes have difficulty selling themselves,” said Tom Murphy, Edge4Vets’ founder. “People serving in the military learn to work as a team and they sometimes don’t think in terms of their individual accomplishments and skillsets. Some also become so accustomed to using the language and lingo used in the military that civilian employers might not understand what they are saying. These slight adjustments can make a difference in a veteran landing a job and getting on a desirable career path.”

Get Involved

Is your airport interested in becoming an Edge4Vets partner? Airports across North America are partnering with Edge4Vets and ACI-NA to help connect veterans to aviation careers. Current participants include GSP, LAX, HOU, MIA, JFK, CVG, and more.

Contact Tom Murphy to learn more about hosting a workshop in your community. Edge4Vets is offered by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. Learn more here.

LAX CEO: We Need to Bring the Passenger Facility Charge Back to its Original Buying Power

Last week, Los Angeles World Airports Chief Executive Officer Deborah Flint addressed the Washington Aero Club at a lunch event in Washington, D.C. In her speech, Flint described Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) current $14 billion investment project and how it will help to relieve congestion and improve the LAX travel experience for passengers.

She also discussed how airports across the country are using technology to improve efficiency and ease long lines.

Finally, she urged Congress to return the Passenger Facility Charge to its original buying power by updating it to be $8.50. She noted that it’s been two decades since the PFC was updated and that it’s well overdue that we modernize it to keep up with inflation.

Excerpts from her speech are below.  Her full remarks are available here.

Flint on the need to modernize the PFC:

A new level of investment in infrastructure is needed and for airports this can be real by bringing the Passenger Facility Charge to its original buying power.

“It is time. It has been two decades that the PFC has been unchanged even though there have been 26 models of the iPod, which was released the same year. It has been so long that the styles have even come back – parachute pants and tracksuits are back in again.

The ask is to increase the PFC from $4.50 to $8.50 and index it for inflation in the future. That will make a difference for airports of all sizes – large, medium, and small.”

Flint on LAX’s infrastructure projects:

We are making a $14 billion investment in an Automated People Mover train system, roadways, a Consolidated Rent-A-Car facility that will combine the 20 separate facilities that burden our neighborhoods and roadways, a connection to regional rail, and modernizing each terminal.

“And we are beginning the environmental review to improve the airfield, build a new concourse off of Terminal 1, and a new Terminal 9, which requires billions of additional dollars.”

Flint on airports improving efficiency through biometrics:

Back to my 16 year old and her airport expectations. For her, wifi and cellular are like air – as they have become for all of us. Her face is everything.

“I am talking about biometric aircraft boarding gates, self-baggage drop, TSA and CBP screening – all biometrically enabled at LAX today. While privacy and data security must have high bars, the efficiency of biometrics is astounding. We boarded an A380 using biometric facial boarding in 20 minutes.”

Flint on the future of the airport industry:

Airport by airport, working with our partners in airlines and throughout the industry, we need to be excited, energetic and chase the next evolution. We need to push for our airports to be more innovative, sustainable, to be stewards for local communities, to bring the joy and certainty back to air travel, and together get the funding to invest and let our industry shine. At Los Angeles World Airports our vision is Gold Standard Airports … Delivered.  The U.S. deserves that vision for each and every one of our airports.”

Infrastructure Week 2019: 20th Century Airports in a 21st Century World

Today marks the official start to Infrastructure Week 2019, the long-celebrated week each year when the infrastructure community comes together and engages in a broad conversation about the importance of modern infrastructure.  For us, every week is Infrastructure Week (we’re not the first ones to make that joke and we won’t be the last…), but we’re proud to join in and represent airports in such an important dialogue this week.

As part of our participation in Infrastructure Week, ACI-NA will continue to amplify our important message about the need to invest in America’s aging airports.  Beginning today, passengers in airports will have the opportunity to hear directly from ACI-NA on the benefits of an improved and modernized airport system.  Watch by clicking below.

We couldn’t think of a better way to get our message in front of those who stand to benefit the most from the improved passenger experience, increased airline competition and lower airfares, and enhanced safety and security that will come when we meet the nearly $130 billion in infrastructure needs of America’s airports over the next five years.

We are proud to count CNN Airport Network as a valued ACI-NA member and an active participant in our Beyond the Runway Coalition.  CNN Airport Network’s tremendous support for our industry is greatly appreciated as we ramp up our efforts to engage in a broad conversation about the importance of modern airports to local communities.

For the latest on Infrastructure Week, visit the Centerlines NOW blog or following along on social media using #InfrastructureWeek #BuildForTomorrow.

SLC – Designing for the Future

By Bill Wyatt, Executive Director, Salt Lake City International Airport

I’m often asked why, after a week of retiring from the Port of Portland (PDX), I decided to accept an offer to go back to work as the new executive director of the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).

The reason is simple: SLC is building what will be the first new hub airport in the country in the 21st century. We’re not talking a remodel or an expansion, but an entirely new airport. The new airport will secure SLC’s position as a global aviation hub that will serve and grow with the region for decades to come.

As with many airports, SLC is experiencing tremendous passenger growth and operating in facilities that are over-utilized and well past their prime. The history of SLC goes back to 1961, when Terminal 1 first opened. Over the years, we added Terminal 2, additional concourses and an International Terminal. Our newest building is the International Terminal, which was constructed more than 20 years ago.

Our facilities were originally built to accommodate 10 million passengers and, today, SLC is seeing upward of 25 million passengers each year. We have become a thriving hub airport for Delta Air Lines and today are Delta’s fourth largest hub.

Our passengers experience congestion at SLC daily, whether it’s curbside, in the parking garage or when trying to find a seat in gate hold areas and restaurants. Plus, the lack of available gates limit new air service to SLC.

But that will all change the fall of 2020, when the first phase of The New SLC Redevelopment Project opens with a parking garage with double the capacity, one central terminal with 16 security lanes and portions of two new concourses. Once we open the first phase, the process to build the second phase begins with the demolition of current facilities, which allow construction to the east to commence. Come 2025, the entire project will be complete and passengers will travel through an entirely new, modern airport.

The advantage to building a new airport is that you can design for the future. The New SLC will be more efficient and more sustainable. The new concourses are designed in a parallel configuration, which will eliminate aircraft bottlenecks, so airlines can get their planes back in the air faster.

We are also aiming for a LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and plan to achieve this through a variety of ways, such as converting all airline ground service equipment to electric by 2023. The use of natural light will also help to achieve our energy goals.

Those who have arrived at Salt Lake City may have experienced a phenomenon that is unique to our airport and which we are addressing in the new terminal. Thousands of young men and women travel around the world on missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and depart from our airport. SLC is also the place where friends and families come to greet these missionaries when they return home. It’s not unusual to see large gatherings at the luggage carousels with family and friends holding signs welcoming back their loved ones. This also presents a challenge to passengers attempting to get their luggage. In the new terminal, we will have a Meeter-Greeter Room where those waiting for passengers to arrive – whether they be military personnel, missionaries or a winning sports team – can relax in a comfortable setting.

But beyond the brick and mortar, the new airport has been designed to leave a lasting impression on travelers. Art and other elements will provide a sense of place through the use of sandstone, copper colors and native plants. The design incorporates plenty of windows to provide views of the mountains from many vantage points throughout the airport, including from an outdoor deck from Delta’s Sky Club.

Passengers will be wowed by massive art installations, such as The Canyon, which is being integrated on both walls of the airport terminal. The Canyon evokes the Salt Lake City landscape and spans roughly the size of a football field.

An expanded concessions program with 29 retail stores was recently announced and includes a mix of local, regional and national brands, including new brands such as Coach, Frye and Mac. The restaurant program announcement is coming soon and is expected to be just as impressive.

And the good news keeps on coming. The $3.6 billion-plus airport is being built without one cent of local tax payer dollars. For years, SLC was the only large-size, hub airport in the country to be debt free. That has since changed, but the foresight of those planning this project allowed the project to begin with savings. It will all pay off in the end. A recent economic impact study showed the project is contributing approximately $5.5 billion to the local economy.

SLC is currently one of the nation’s most cost-effective airports for airline operations and plans to maintain one of the lowest CPEs in the country for a hub operation.

So you can see why my plans to retire have been put on hold – so that I can be part of this remarkable program that will make traveling through SLC truly unforgettable.

Checked Facts: Airports Are Not Taxpayer Funded

Benjamin Franklin said there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.  If there’s one more thing we can be certain of on April 15, it’s the airlines continuing to spread misinformation about how America’s airports are funded.

It is common misconception that airports are funded with taxpayer dollars.  In reality, infrastructure projects at airports in the United States are funded through three key mechanisms: federal grants through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) local user fee, and tenant rents and fees.

No matter how many times the airlines repeat it, the PFC is not tax. The PFC is a local user fee that airports rely on to repair aging facilities, improve aviation safety, improve the passenger experience, create more airline competition to lower airfares, and accommodate rising demand.  With nearly $130 billion in infrastructure needs over the next five years, the PFC is the cheapest and most sustainable option available.

Here’s why:  The PFC empowers those who know the most about the local airport needs, infrastructure investments, and safety upgrades to make the best decisions for the airport while balancing the passenger’s interests. The PFC is collected locally and, unlike other aviation-related fees and taxes, stays local. It never gets passed to Washington, D.C. The PFC is the only funding tool that maximizes this kind of critical local control.  The airlines’ erroneous “tax” argument doesn’t hold water.

Today’s modern conservative movement is diverse and often fractious, so it can be hard to find unanimity on almost any issue. But when it comes to support for the PFC, conservative think tanks and advocacy groups speak with a clear voice in support of this quintessential user fee.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, Heritage Foundation, Heritage Action, Reason Foundation, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayer Protection Alliance, and Citizen Outreach are some of the leading anti-tax and free market organizations that agree the PFC is a local user fee.

User fees represent a better way to pay for infrastructure. Under this system, the people who actually use the airport bear the burden of upkeep and modernization. That is the most fair and equitable way to fund it – passengers who don’t use the airport will never be asked to pay for it. Americans certainly deserve to keep as much of their hard-earned money as possible.  How else would they be able to pay all those exorbitant airline bag fees?

SFO enhances passenger experience with new outdoor terrace

Improving the customer experience is top of mind for airports of all sizes across North America. As passenger needs change, airports are beginning to phase our unnecessary, under-utilized or redundant features, like payphones, banking services and smoking rooms, while continually expanding and enhancing passenger experience programs and amenities for airport users.

Passengers can expect to see a variety of new and expanded airport services and amenities appearing in North American airport terminals. According to our Guest Experience Management and Passenger Amenities Survey, the fastest-growing amenities include nursing mothers’ rooms and pods, post-security pet relief facilities, children’s play areas, adult changing and washroom facilities and airfield observation areas.

Of the 69 airport respondents to our survey in 2017, 19 said they had observation/spectator terraces. As of Feb. 6, we can add one more airport to that list.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has opened its first of two outdoor terrace and observation decks. This new 2,997-square-foot, open-air outdoor terrace gives passengers a 180-degree view of the airfield. The terrace is only available to passengers with boarding passes and is located at the end of the International Terminal, Boarding Area G. Ten-foot bird-safe glass panels shield passengers from wind without obscuring the view.

“This outdoor terrace gives our guests a relaxing oasis within our terminals and invites travelers to rediscover the excitement and magic of air travel,” said SFO Airport Director Ivar C. Satero.

The new terrace was part of a $55 million upgrade to the airport’s International Terminal facilities. SFO also plans to construct a second observation deck later this year and located pre-security in Terminal 2.