Tag Archives: Los Angeles International Airport

GUEST POST: Yee HAW! Cranky Flier Gives Us An LA Airports Roundup!

13 Mar

Editor’s note: kids, I have a LOT of stuff going on this month, so I’ve invited a few of my favorite avgeek bloggers to do guest posts. First up is Brett “Cranky Flier” Snyder. While I hate to praise him for anything, I do give him BIG props for writing this, considering he’s spending time with my nephew, who was born in January.  Enjoy!!

I love when the Queen goes on a royal vacation, because it gives me the chance to talk about a subject near and dear to her heart: airports.  There’s been a lot happening around Southern California airports lately, so I thought I’d do a little round-up on the latest from out here.  Let’s start with the big guy.
 
Los Angeles International
Most people cringe when they hear three little letters . . . LAX.  That’s because the airport is old and in need of some rehabbing.  The good news is that there’s currently a lot of work going on.  The bad news is that much of it doesn’t impact passengers.  It’s also very expensive work (more than $4 billion) so costs could be rising soon.
 
The biggest passenger-facing project is the new Bradley Terminal concourse.  The current small concourse is being bulldozed in favor of something lighter and bigger with a lot more concessions for passengers. I did a walk through recently and it’s coming together.  The first phase should be open a year from now.
 
But that doesn’t impact most of you.  That’s primarily aimed at international travelers.  What else is happening?  Alaska Airlines is getting close to putting the finishing touches on its new Terminal 6.  That place needed to be fixed up, and Alaska has done an extreme makeover, bringing its Airport of the Future concept to the place.  It will be open later this month.
 
Long Beach
LAX may try to hog all the glory, but there are good things going down at my home airport, Long Beach, that shouldn’t be ignored.  The old temporary double wide trailers that doubled as concourses are mostly gone.  Unfortunately, they were replaced with new trailers.  These are actually just temporary as they build a new permanent concourse.  Right now, it’s a mess with long walks to airplanes as people wind their way around the construction just to board, but that will be all worth it when the new one opens.  The airport will keep its current charm – the existing terminal  building from 1941 will stay and the new concourse will be low-rise with people still walking up stairs to board aircraft.  This has been a long time coming.
 
Burbank
Burbank Airport is not about to be outdone in the construction arena.  It has been working on plans for a new transportation center.  Elevated moving walkways will take people from the terminal to a place where rental cars, buses, and the train will all be located.  I’m not really sure how great the customer benefit is here, but, well, it’s something new that’s happening.
 
Ontario
Oh, poor Ontario.  That airport isn’t trying to do any construction these days as it wrestles with plunging passenger counts and high operating costs for airlines.  The city of Ontario is so unhappy that it has been trying for a long time to get the airport back from underneath the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)  banner.  (LAWA operates LAX.)  The mayor of LA is involved and there has even been talk at the state level.  This is a fight that isn’t going to end soon.  In the meantime, the airport will probably just mope along in its current state.

Best Of: Top 10 Worst Airports According To CNNGO – But I Disagree, Somewhat

26 Dec

Editor’s note: kids, Aunt Benet is taking the week off to enjoy the holidays with the family. So please enjoy these best ofs this week.  Happy Holidays!!

Having traveled in countless numbers of airports and writing about the topic for almost four years, my crap detector always goes off when I see these worst-off lists.  One these things are very subjective, and two, your experience can be different, depending on the terminal.  So here we go again, with this list from CNNGO.  Based on the airports I’ve visited, I have to agree with their choices of São Paulo-Guarulhos International, Los Angeles International and Paris Charles de Gaulle, but there’s where we part.

Number seven is JFK Airport.  Frequent travelers know that your experience at JFK depends on the terminal.  Truth be told, all the terminals at JFK are pretty nice, having had major upgrades in the past 10 years — except for T2/3, operated by Delta Air Lines. T2 is used for BusinessElite check-in, along with flights to Los Angeles. San Francisco and London Heathrow.  Everyone else boards in T3, fondly known as the Third Worldport, which is what I think CNNGO was writing about.  But don’t despair — Delta will open an expanded operation at Terminal 4 in 2013.

Number three was London Heathrow.  Again, it really depends on the terminal; and the airport has also undergone some major upgrades.  I still have nightmares about navigating the old Terminal 2, but T3 and T4 have had upgrades.  And I took an extensive tour of T5, which I think is a world-class terminal.  The CNNGO article mentioned T5′s teething pains, but that was three years ago.

So — what airports make your worst-of list?

Top 10 Worst Airports According To CNNGO – But I Disagree, Somewhat

15 Nov

Having traveled in countless numbers of airports and writing about the topic for almost four years, my crap detector always goes off when I see these worst-off lists.  One these things are very subjective, and two, your experience can be different, depending on the terminal.  So here we go again, with this list from CNNGO.  Based on the airports I’ve visited, I have to agree with their choices of São Paulo-Guarulhos International, Los Angeles International and Paris Charles de Gaulle, but there’s where we part.

Number seven is JFK Airport.  Frequent travelers know that your experience at JFK depends on the terminal.  Truth be told, all the terminals at JFK are pretty nice, having had major upgrades in the past 10 years — except for T2/3, operated by Delta Air Lines. T2 is used for BusinessElite check-in, along with flights to Los Angeles. San Francisco and London Heathrow.  Everyone else boards in T3, fondly known as the Third Worldport, which is what I think CNNGO was writing about.  But don’t despair — Delta will open an expanded operation at Terminal 4 in 2013.

Number three was London Heathrow.  Again, it really depends on the terminal; and the airport has also undergone some major upgrades.  I still have nightmares about navigating the old Terminal 2, but T3 and T4 have had upgrades.  And I took an extensive tour of T5, which I think is a world-class terminal.  The CNNGO article mentioned T5′s teething pains, but that was three years ago.

So — what airports make your worst-of list?

The Truth About Free vs. Paid Airport WiFi

20 Oct

On Sunday, I was checking my Facebook account when I saw a post from my friend Michelle, who was upset about having to pay for WiFi at Los Angeles International Airport.  She had left her hotel early (which DID have free WiFi), so she could do work at the airport.

I explained that just like at home, or if you own a WiFi card, it costs airports to provide that service.  And in the past 10 years, airports have been squeezed on the revenue side thanks to airline mergers and service cuts, paying for unfunded mandates and underfunded Federal Aviation Administration programs that cover a facilities.

So with that, airports have to find a way to cover those costs.   Some, like Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, offer free WiFi in exchange for looking at on-screen advertising.  Some have a company or companies sponsor their WiFi.  Others, like Boston Logan, ask you to fill out a survey or watch a video to get free WiFi for an hour, then switch you over to a provider where you pay  from there.

Others — including LAX, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and my hometown Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport — partner with companies like Boingo for paid WiFi.

So before your next trip, check out the websites below to see if you’re getting free WiFi or if you’re going to be shelling out for the privilege!

 

My Top Five AvGeek Stories Of The Week

7 Oct

First, in case you didn’t hear the news on Twitter, I was laid off from Aviation Week on Tuesday after a great five-year run.  But it’s ALL good in the hood, kids.  I’m grateful for my time there, and am very appreciative with how well I was treated during my tenure.  Really — I got paid to write about my hobby, my passion, for five years.  How many people do you  know who can say the same?

So it’s on to the next aviation geek adventure!  Meanwhile, if you hear of any full-time or part-time jobs, or if you’re looking for a great freelance writer/editor or an aviation consultant, I’m your girl.  Drop me a line in the comments or at benet@aviationqueen.com.  Now, on to the news!

  1. As airlines continue to mull how they are going to handle inflight WiFi, I read with interest this story from my Aviation Week colleague Andy Compart on Delta Air Lines’ new options for passengers.  Under the effort, the airline is offering free access to some partner websites, including shopping and news.
  2. You need to look like you’re doing something, so it was interesting to read about the Chicago aviation summit, where Mayor Rahm Emmanuel met behind closed doors with executives from United, Boeing, AAR Corp., American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.  A spokeswoman for Smisek declined to comment on the discussion beyond characterizing it as “productive,” reported the Chicago Sun-Times.
  3. To me, there’s nothing better than doing an aviation geek behind-the-scenes tour of the world’s great airports.  The LA Times has this great story on what goes on in the underbelly of Los Angeles International Airport (one of the airports I’ve been lucky enough to tour).
  4. I’m a foodie and a keen observer of what airlines are serving on their planes, so it was nice to read this story from Pegasus News on the new food offerings on American Airlines.  The DFW-based carrier has partnered with celebrity chefs Richard Sandoval and Marcus Samuelsson to handle the duties for international and domestic flights, respectively.
  5. Finally, you all know what an airport geek I am.  Which is why I loved this story from the Miami Herald about an airport design website.  The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority – which operates Tampa International Airport – has opened a website asking customers to help redesign the facility’s main terminal.

Meanwhile, the latest issue of “Strange But True Aviation News” includes stories on TSA thievery, refunding a dead man’s tickets and smuggling birds in your pants.  And I’ll be guest hosting next week’s podcast episode of the Airplane Geeks, which is always fun.  So enjoy your weekend, kids! I know I will!!

 

Top Five Most Interesting Aviation Stories Of The Week

8 Jul

It was another fun week in aviation, which made it really hard for me to narrow my picks for the week down to five.  But I did, so here goes!

  1. Usually airline employees learn about cost-cutting measures via an internal company memo. Very rarely are they asked for suggestions on how cuts should be made. Which is why I really enjoyed this story — Alaska Asks Employees How To Cut Costs – written by my Aviation Week colleague Lee Ann Tegtmeier. “Since Alaska Airlines created the suggestion box for fuel ideas in 2008, it has generated millions of gallons of savings for the airline,” she writes.
  2. I am a BIG John Cusack fan.  I will watch ANY movie he’s in good or bad.  I felt obliged to watch “Pushing Tin,” which offered what can only be described as a creative picture of the work done by air traffic controllers.  Scott McCartney’s Middle Seat Terminal blog in the Wall Street Journal offers a much better picture of the work air traffic controllers do.
  3. I’m originally from California.  I still have friends and family there, and I’m always hearing about the latest budget cuts the state is enforcing to close a mind-blowing, nearly $10 billion (yes, with a B) budget gap. And in classic trickle-down economics, cities are being forced to share in the pain. The city of Los Angeles went to the Board of Airport Commissioners for cuts, and the $400,000 Travelers Aid Society budget was cut, ending services at Los Angeles International Airport after a 61-year run, reports the LA Times.
  4. I really enjoyed this piece on MSNBC from my airport soul sister Harriet Baskas — Q&A: What to do about overhead bin hogs. As a regular traveler, I’ve seen travelers get downright nasty about getting that overhead bin space. It seems to be much worse on airlines charging bag fees.
  5. Back in the mid- to late 1990s, I traveled the world — a lot.  I used these trips to buy adult beverages at duty-free shops around the globe for my cabinet at home.  I switched to Bombay Sapphire Gin after a tasting at London Heathrow Airport.  At one point, the cabinet was filled with alcohol purchased outside the country.  I’ve bought other items, which is why this USA Today article — Are airport duty-free stores still a bargain? — caught my eye.  The short answer is yes — depending on where you go and what you buy.

Earlier this week, CNN ran two separate columns on badly behaving children on airplanes.  Writer L.Z.  Granderson was blunt in his article, Permissive parents: Curb your brats.  And our good friend Brett Snyder — the Cranky Flier — writes about how business travelers can avoid the pitfalls of families traveling with children in Summer travel: Watch out for amateurs.  I’m the mother of a five-year-old, and I couldn’t agree with these two gentlemen more.

Last — but not least — we have a short version of Strange But True Aviation News.  Next week, I’ll be on vacation deep in the heart of Texas. But I’ve asked a few of my friends to do guest posts for me. I hope you enjoy them!!

Best Of Aviation Queen: How To Find Those Elusive Airport Power Outlets

31 May

Editor’s Note: I have a bunch of family obligations going on this week, so for today, tomorrow and Thursday, I’ll be re-posting some of my more popular topics.  The post below on power outlets in airports was first published on Jan. 27.  It’s all about the Air Power Wiki, which tells you exactly where to find those elusive outlets in hundreds of airports worldwide.  I’ve made submissions to this wiki, and I encourage you to do the same.  Enjoy!

We’ve all been there — our laptop/smartphone/iPad is running on fumes after a flight or a long delay and we’re desperate to find that power outlet.  Many a time I’ve seen people wandering an airport like the lost tribes of Israel, looking for that plug.  I’ve even seen people almost come to blows over outlets.

Airports and airlines are getting better at providing more plugs.  Several, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Newark Liberty, Los Angeles International, have power outlet poles sponsored by Samsung.  DFW Airport has a Samsung Lounge with power outlets and work stations, and Delta announced in December that it was adding recharging stations at 19 airports that will have 6 110 volt outlets as well as two USB ports.  Southwest Airlines also provides outlets and USB ports at many of its larger cities.

But there is a great resource that can help you find outlets in hundreds of airports worldwide – the Air Power Wiki.  This wiki was created by Jeff Sandquist, a team leader at Microsoft who became  frustrated when trying to find power plugs in airports.   It even has a companion Flickr group with actual pictures of some outlets and includes available free and paid wi-fi access at some airports.

So let’s say you’re stuck waiting in Phoenix/Sky Harbor International Airport (one of my personal favorites) and you need a plug.  Here’s what that entry looks like:

  • Sky Harbor plugs, Terminal 4 behind the elevators near security Photo by Benet J. Wilson

    Gate 10: to the right when facing the gate (2 outlets, chairs, good WiFi signal)

  • Gate A-17: on the pole near the bank of payphones (2 outlets)
  • Gate A 18: on the pole near the women’s restroom (2 outlets) – chair close by!
  • Gate A 18: on the wall about half way up (2 outlets) – above bank of chairs!
  • Gate A-19: under the arrival/departure televisions (2 outlets)
  • Gate A-20: on the pole near the Gate A20 sign (2 outlets)
  • Gate B-25: on the pole beside the seating near the gate desks (2 outlets)
  • Gate D-1: on granite pillar
  • Gate D-5: also on pillar facing terminal hall. Most outlets in D are covered!
  • Wireless internet service is now available free of charge to Sky Harbor visitors. It is available on both sides of security, in retail areas and near the gates at the airport. If a passenger’s laptop computer or wireless electronic device is configured to operate in a wireless mode, it will automatically connect to the internet when powered up near the shops and gates at Sky Harbor.

And yes, I’ve contributed power outlets to the wiki and pictures to the Flickr group.  Now that you know about this wiki, I hope you do the same!

 

Random Aviation Photo

11 Apr

So I’m hanging out in Los Angeles for the weekend in May 2007, as part of the yearly gathering of one of my aviation geek chat groups.  It was great, because several of our members worked for American Airlines.

Because of that, we got a great behind-the-scenes tour of American’s operations at LAX, including an outside stroll of their ops tower and a tour of the ultra plush Admiral’s Club.  I snapped this photo of a Boeing 737 at the gate from one of the club’s floor-to-ceiling windows.  (Editor’s note: thanks to my Twitter follower @Radondesigns for pointing out this was a 777, not a 737) Enjoy!

American Airlines Boeing 737 at LAX Airport Photo by Benet J. Wilson

How To Find Those Elusive Airport Power Outlets

27 Jan

 

Samsung Power Pole at MSP Airport Photo by Benet J. Wilson

We’ve all been there — our laptop/smartphone/iPad is running on fumes after a flight or a long delay and we’re desperate to find that power outlet.  Many a time I’ve seen people wandering an airport like the lost tribes of Israel, looking for that plug.  I’ve even seen people almost come to blows over outlets.

 

Airports and airlines are getting better at providing more plugs.  Several, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Newark Liberty, Los Angeles International, have power outlet poles sponsored by Samsung.  DFW Airport has a Samsung Lounge with power outlets and work stations, and Delta announced in December that it was adding recharging stations at 19 airports that will have 6 110 volt outlets as well as two USB ports.  Southwest Airlines also provides outlets and USB ports at many of its larger cities.

 

Southwest Airlines power chairs, outlets in Orlando International Airport Photo by Benet J. Wilson

But there is a great resource that can help you find outlets in hundreds of airports worldwide – the Air Power Wiki.  This wiki was created by Jeff Sandquist, a team leader at Microsoft who became  frustrated when trying to find power plugs in airports.   It even has a companion Flickr group with actual pictures of some outlets and includes available free and paid wi-fi access at some airports.

 

So let’s say you’re stuck waiting in Phoenix/Sky Harbor International Airport (one of my personal favorites) and you need a plug.  Here’s what that entry looks like:

  • Sky Harbor plugs, Terminal 4 behind the elevators near security Photo by Benet J. Wilson

    Gate 10: to the right when facing the gate (2 outlets, chairs, good WiFi signal)

  • Gate A-17: on the pole near the bank of payphones (2 outlets)
  • Gate A 18: on the pole near the women’s restroom (2 outlets) – chair close by!
  • Gate A 18: on the wall about half way up (2 outlets) – above bank of chairs!
  • Gate A-19: under the arrival/departure televisions (2 outlets)
  • Gate A-20: on the pole near the Gate A20 sign (2 outlets)
  • Gate B-25: on the pole beside the seating near the gate desks (2 outlets)
  • Gate D-1: on granite pillar
  • Gate D-5: also on pillar facing terminal hall. Most outlets in D are covered!
  • Wireless internet service is now available free of charge to Sky Harbor visitors. It is available on both sides of security, in retail areas and near the gates at the airport. If a passenger’s laptop computer or wireless electronic device is configured to operate in a wireless mode, it will automatically connect to the internet when powered up near the shops and gates at Sky Harbor.

And yes, I’ve contributed power outlets to the wiki and pictures to the Flickr group.  Now that you know about this wiki, I hope you do the same!

Surviving The Storm In An Airport

12 Jan

Our good friend Ben Mutazabaugh, AKA Today In the Sky, wrote a story in yesterday’s USA Today how the next round of winter storms will bring chaos to the East Coast.  I was comfortably ensconced in sunny California during the last storms.  But I saw the news, which had plenty of b-roll showing people asleep in airports as they waited for airlines to resume their flight schedules.

Passengers dozing in Heathrow Airport Photo by Benet J. Wilson

Fortunately, I haven’t had to sleep in an airport since my college days, when I was stuck in the old Peoplexpress terminal at Newark, affectionately known as the barn.  But many people don’t have a choice, so I thought I’d do a public service and offer some survival suggestions.

First, I think it’s well worth it to invest $50 in a Mini Motel.  I heard about this from a quick mention on NPR a few years ago.  What you get for your 50 bucks is:

  • Air Mattress
  • Pillow
  • Bed Sheet
  • Alarm Clock
  • Reading Light
  • Tooth Brush & Tooth Paste
  • Ear Plugs
  • Eye Shades

When folded, the package is only 17″ x 12″ x 3″, but pops up to a full 80″L x 25″W x 35″H.  It isn’t the Ritz Carleton, but it sure beats sleeping on an uncomfortable airport chair or even a dirty floor or carpet.

But if you don’t have a Mini Motel, don’t despair.  Take yourself over to the Sleeping in Airports website.  This site offers a wealth of information and tips on finding the best places to sleep in airports worldwide.  Among the top 10 best airports to sleep in are Singapore’s Changi, Seoul’s Incheon and Hong Kong. Only Vancouver and San Francisco made the cut for North America.  The worst? No surprise here-Paris Charles de Gaulle, Moscow Sheremetyevo and Los Angeles International.

Shop 24 Vending Machine at DFW Airport Photo by Benet J. WilsonI like my own hometown airport, Baltimore-Washington, which has several concessions open 24/7 and wide open spaces for sleeping.  Another airport I like is Dallas-Fort Worth.  They have turned handling stranded travelers into an art, providing cots and getting concessions to stay open late.  And they even have a huge vending machine, Shop 24, which sells everything from milk to diapers to chicken caesar salad, and everything in between.

So for those of who stuck in the airport, I’m sorry.  I hope these tips will help make the ordeal at least a bit better!!  I ask: have you been stuck in an airport lately? Where was it? How did you survive? Tell me!

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