The airline industry as a whole takes its fair share of flack. It seems that every other month, some new fee is being added, services are being cut, price increases are being slid into fares, and flexibility is nothing more than a cute notion. But for all the negatives, billions are being spent on airport expansions to make flying a little bit more pleasant. Here's a look at three of the year's biggest airport upgrades, though if immediate results are your thing, don't get too excited. Some of the work isn't scheduled to be completed until 2030.
Singapore: Changi Airport (SIN) is widely regarded as the world's greatest, most opulent airport. In fact, many view it as a destination itself, not just a transportation hub. And once Project Jewel is completed in 2018, you may even find yourself hoping for an exceptionally long layover. The new bubble-shaped structure (a new terminal) – which will sit alongside the existing ones – will offer visitors plenty to photograph: a waterfall flowing from the roof, a pool, and new retail stores. Mr. Lee Seow Hiang, Changi Airport Group's CEO, calls the endeavor an "iconic global attraction that will capture the hearts of both tourists and Singaporeans," and has made clear that the overarching goal is to position Changi as the gateway to Asia. The airport already offers gratis Wi-Fi, a swimming area, free city tours, a cinema, and gardens to waltz through – all of which is usually enough to make you forget all about that lost piece of luggage…almost.
Los Angeles, California: LAX is already a major international gateway – serving the likes of Hawaii, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, Cook Islands, Japan, and Singapore – and with the $1.5 billion "Bradley West" expansion project that's currently underway, arrivals are set to feel a bit more…Hollywood. Eighteen new gates are being added to the existing international terminal to support jumbo-jets (such as Airbus's heralded A380 and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner) arriving from far-flung corners of the globe, as well as new "premium" lounges for relaxing, re-charging (mentally and electronically), and hopping online. Exterior-wise, the project will be similarly impressive, with massive arches creating a column-free motif, and a design that "expresses movement, openness, and [...] leads the eye skyward." At present, around half of the new gates are operating, with the expansion to be fully completed by end of 2014.
Lima, Peru: If you're dreaming of a trip to South America, this gateway will soon be a much more welcoming place to visit. The recently-announced Jorge Chávez International Airport expansion project, which is slated for completion in 2030, will double Lima's current capacity to some 30 million passengers, annually. In theory, this would also make it capable of handling more than any other airport in all of South America, knocking Brazil's São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport from the top of the list. The project will include an entirely new terminal for passengers, a second landing strip for quicker turnarounds, added parking stalls for aircraft, and a new cargo terminal to boot. The general manager of the Lima Airport Partners (LAP), Juan Jose Salmon, says the airport has simply outgrown its facilities, going from just 4 million passengers in 2001 to 15 million passengers today. The airport is only 20 minutes from the city's downtown, or 40 minutes from the popular Miraflores district, and it's also a major hub for connecting flights – beyond the millions who travel on to Machu Picchu, Lima's airport also serves practically every major city in the whole of South America.
In other news: A $900 million expansion effort just wrapped up in San Diego, which added 10 new gates to reduce terminal congestion; there are also 12 new security lanes for speedier scrutiny, and a 9,200 square-foot concessions area that provides a gorgeous view of Point Loma. Meanwhile, this past May, Delta opened up its new Terminal 4 at JFK – a $1.4 billion undertaking that added popular eateries such as Shake Shack and Marcus Samuelsson’s Uptown Brasserie, a whopping 12 security lanes to keep things moving along, and dual taxiways for less flight congestion.
Have you traveled through an airport recently that's undergoing a makeover? Let us know in comments!