If you love Thanksgiving (who doesn’t?), consider planning trips through Chicago’s Midway Airport and Las Vegas’s McCarran International airport next year. Why? By the end 2015, the two airports will experience Thanksgiving-like congestion every single day. (So no more alone-time suitable for Celine Dion sing-alongs).
That’s the latest from the U.S. Travel Association and research firm Cambridge Systematics, Inc. who looked at the 30 busiest American airports in their annual study. A steady increase in demand combined with an equally steady underinvestment in infrastructure is making Thanksgiving-level congestion the new normal.
For the 20 million travelers who fly through Newark Liberty Airport’s Terminal C each year, a $120 million redesign should vastly improve their experience at the United Airlines hub. Partnering with OTG, United announced the finalized plans this morning, with some changes already underway.
Combine old-fashioned customer service with a novel use of technology, and you get Double Robot. Indianapolis Airport recently rolled out its newest employee to complement guest services and assist in answering passengers' questions—airport transportation, gate locations, direction, more. An airport agent visibly appears and communicates with passengers through a tablet screen, propped up on a roller dressed in a blue customer service shirt similar to other employees. Cute, convenient, or creepy?
Nicoletta Richardson is a freelance editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure
Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Airport
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Last week, the Iceland-based Wow Air announced that starting in March 2015, it would offer special introductory fares from Boston and Baltimore: $99 one-way flights to Reykjavik and $228 roundtrip flights to London and Copenhagen. The discount carrier is taking a page from Norwegian, which is now flying out of five U.S. cities, with more to come. (Though unlike Norwegian, it won’t include free WiFi.) As for luggage charges, expect to pay $29 for a carry-on booked online, or $48 at the airport.
Who can fix New York City’s crumbling airports? State governor Andrew Cuomo is hoping someone will, and recently announced a $500,000 design competition for JFK and LaGuardia in tandem with an $8 billion overhaul of the region’s international airports.
Portland International Airport is now in the pop-up food-truck game, with the launch of mobile versions of Pok Pok (from Michelin-starred chef Andy Ricker) and Koi Fusion—both local spots with cult followings. It’s all part of a new program that gives small businesses a chance to test their success at the airport by letting them set up for six months at a time.
Between long security lines, delayed flights, and mind-numbing jet lag, it seems impossible to shake the anxiety that comes along with traveling. Thankfully, Plaza Premium Lounges offer a place to decompress before taking off—regardless of airline or traveler loyalty memberships. Their first European lounge recently opened at London Heathrow.
Quick access to a city center via public transport makes it easy to steal away for a few hours and take in some sights—and even a meal. Here are six airports we love, all with convenient luggage storage.
Minimum layover needed for two hours in the city center: 5 hours
Travel Time to City Center: 15 to 20 minutes
How to do it: Heathrow Express to Paddington ($57 round-trip; trains every 15 minutes)
What to do: A short ride on the Tube gets you to Waterloo, where you can walk along the South Bank for views of Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Shard’s glass spire. End with a tagliolini with clams at Gordon Ramsay’s Italian-inspired Union Street Café.
This fall, Chicago’s two airports give new meaning to the word runway. On September 21, Midway Airport is hosting the second annual Midway Fly Away 5K, benefiting the Special Olympics of Chicago. And on October 5, O’Hare International Airport gets in on the action with the O’Hare 5K on the Runway, which raises money for military vets through the Wounded Warrior Project.
Remember the great Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010 that spewed ash across European airspace, stranding millions of travelers throughout the continent—and beyond? Iceland may be giving us a repeat performance, this time care of the Bárðarbunga volcano (that's Bardarbunga to English speakers), which has been increasing its seismic activity over the last week.
A few days ago, the agency that monitors the volcano raised the threat level to the aviation industry to ”orange,” the second-highest rating, putting airlines around the world on alert for possible flight disruptions due to ash clouds. Though it’s still unclear if the volcano will actually erupt, travelers planning to fly to or through northern Europe in the coming weeks should be prepared. Here’s what you need to know: