While the pandemic saw some airport construction plans put on hold, other airports took advantage of the presence of fewer travelers and quickened their remodeling timelines. If you chose to not fly throughout the pandemic, a better travel experience is awaiting your return to the skies. Here are some of the various airport improvements and new airport terminals you might have missed.
Improvments are in progress at Delta's Terminal C at LaGuaria
NEW YORK CITY'S LAGUARDIA INTERNATIONAL (LGA)
In June 2020, LaGuardia opened a new arrivals and departures hall for Terminal B passengers. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Rick Cotton summed up the new construction as taking LaGuardia, "from worst airport in the country to the best, from appalling substandard to 21st-century best-in-class, from the laughingstock on ‘Saturday Night Live’ skits to...a world-class airport worthy of New York."
The new Terminal B is much more welcoming, greeting travelers with a water feature, indoor garden, and specially commissioned works of art. The new space boasts more natural light, more security lanes, more baggage carousels, and more gates. Travelers flying Air Canada, American Airlines, Southwest, and United will use this new space. Delta fliers have a bit longer to wait but will soon have a new Terminal C to enjoy as well.
If you're eager to check out the new Terminal B before your next flight, a video walk-through has been posted online.
A Delta 717 departs the newly rebuilt Salt Lake City International Airport
SALT LAKE CITY INTERNATIONAL (SLC)
On the other side of the country, in Fall 2020, new terminals also opened. Salt Lake City opened new Concourses A and B, which will significantly benefit Delta fliers. Not only can the new construction accommodate more passengers—in the terminal and the parking garage—but it offers more shops, more restaurants, and on-site rental cars.
As for efficiency, Salt Lake City will move passengers along faster as "the first U.S. airport to have automated inspection of large checked items," like skis and golf clubs. Salt Lake City is not only looking for time efficiencies but energy efficiencies as well. The airport re-build saw the "first large-scale installation of permanent magnet motors," which will allow baggage handling belts to stop when not in use.
The National Hall at Washington Reagan National Airport
WASHINGTON REAGAN NATIONAL (DCA)
For years Washington Reagan National Airport has been handling more passengers than it was designed for. Finally, a new 14-gate concourse will meet the airport's operational needs while providing passengers with a better experience. American Airlines fliers will rejoice at the closure of Gate 35X from where passengers had to "ride buses to board regional jets parked outside."
When the project concludes, larger and repositioned security checkpoints will place the National Hall airside, with all its shops and restaurants, and allow for unrestricted movement "between Gates 10 and 59." Besides having direct access to each plane, the new concourse will also offer a 14,000-square-foot American Airlines Admirals Club with "panoramic views of downtown Washington, D.C."
AIRPORT CHANGES STILL TO COME
The new terminal smell won't end this year either. Various projects across the country are in the midst of construction. From planned openings in 2022 and beyond, from Kansas City (MCI) to Newark Liberty (EWR) in New Jersey, fliers have more new terminals to look forward to.
Terminal One at Newark will use hospital-grade air filtration systems, contactless TSA checkpoint entry, UV light for cleaning TSA screening bins, and touchless experiences when ordering at concession stands and during boarding. These "post-pandemic design changes" at Newark likely foreshadow what passengers can expect as airports worldwide are refurbished or rebuilt.