United and OTG Bring Star Chefs and High Tech to Newark Liberty
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.
What’s in store? The first steps will be transition restaurants from renowned chefs, while permanent restaurants will begin opening next summer. Alain Ducasse, Wilson Tang, and Amanda Freitag are debuting outposts this month, with a tavern from Paul Liebrandt coming in December.
In all, Terminal C will have 55 new dining venues, four from chefs whose restaurants have earned Michelin stars. Food halls, optimistically coined “global bazaars," will have international fare including a hand-pulled Japanese noodle joint, a taqueria, and a French bakery (from Jacque Torres, no less).
Throughout the terminal, passengers will be able to use 6,000 OTG iPads to track their flight status, browse the web, and order food. Expect the first 1,000 iPads within the next few weeks. In a major boon to frequent fliers, MileagePlus points will be a payment option for dining purchases. At the 60-odd gate areas, new lounge-like seating and works from local artists will make waiting for a delayed flight a little more pleasant. Also helpful? 10,000 power outlets.
The T+L Take: Newark Liberty is perennially panned as one of the worst airports in the country, and these improvements are necessary. This private investment, coupled with a share of an $8 billion investment from the government for the New York metropolitan area’s major airports, should transform it completely.
One design request from us: iPads are great, but they can also overwhelm the experience. During a recent stopover at Delta’s handsomely renovated LaGuardia terminal, I tried in vain to find a suitable spot to read a book over coffee. Every table featured a shiny iPad displaying—on its brightest setting—a slideshow of Delta ads and F&B offerings. Frustrated by the distracting iPad, I ended up covering it awkwardly with my jacket. Here's hoping that Newark's Terminal C will offer a little more seating for those of us who simply want to sit back and relax.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.