Business Travel Briefing
For June 5-June 16, 2022
The briefing in brief: Washington/National renames and renumbers all gates and terminals. Delta's new terminal at New York/LaGuardia is gorgeous--and it requires long walks to the gates. After 20 years, St. Louis has international flights again--but it costs as much as $137 a flyer in subsidies. United restores a la carte service in Polaris business class. Amtrak will add weekend trains to the Berkshires. Air France remaking Boeing 777-300 business class cabins. And more, including daily summer travel crisis updates.

Confused by the goings-on and shenanigans in Washington? Wait until you get to Washington/National Airport. Effective today (June 5), the entire airport has been renumbered and relettered and terminals are being renamed. Much of it has to do with ongoing renovations at DCA, of course, but some of it is simply bureaucrats playing with our head. The current Terminal A has been renamed Terminal 1 and houses Gates A1-A9. They serve Southwest Airlines, Air Canada and Frontier Airlines. What you currently know as Concourse B/C has been renamed Terminal 2 and houses four fingers of gates, numbered B10-B22, C23-34, D35-45 and E46-E59. B gates will handle flights operated by Delta, United and Alaska airlines. C gates are home to American and JetBlue. The D and E gates are dedicated to American Airlines. We'll figure it all out eventually, of course, but a complete conversion on signage on the roads leading to the airport and in the terminals themselves won't be complete until at least next weekend. Proceed with caution--and leave plenty of extra time to find your way. For more details, and before and after diagrams of the gates and terminals, surf here.

LaGuardia Airport is the closest airport to Manhattan and, for years, closest we get to hell. For decades, it earned its sobriquet of "third-world airport," a moniker applied by then-Vice President Biden. But years of frantic construction have begun to pay off. The recently completed areas--mostly in Terminal B--are glorious by airport standards and the new Delta Terminal C premiered on Wednesday (June 1). There's a 600-seat SkyClub with two buffets, a bar and copious amounts of art, light and space. The multi-level arrivals and departure hall has eleven security lanes and, perhaps most important of all, offers a central area where travelers check in for all flights. No more trying to figure out which terminal your flight uses. There's even a dedicated SkyPriority lobby and two curbside drop-off areas, which should alleviate traffic when the roadways are completed. But no LGA story is completely happy and so it is with Terminal C. The new headhouse may offer a centralized area to access Delta's far-flung collection of departure gates--they're numbered 60-99 and some are still under construction while others await a renovation--but that means tremendously long walks. The old LGA's only saving grace was comparatively short walks from check-in to gate. That's gone in the new system where you'll have to schlep--the official New York term--from that lovely new check-in area to your gate. Ditto on the arrival end when you'll have to hoof it from your gate to the baggage area. The bottom line? Leave lots of extra time to get to your gate compared to the old LGA.

When it was a major hub for TWA, Lambert Field in St. Louis had plenty of international flights. But TWA's overseas nonstops disappeared in 2003 and, except for short-lived WOW Air's service to Iceland several years ago, Lambert has been a domestic-only airport, mostly dominated by Southwest Airlines. The 20-year drought ended Wednesday (June 1) when Lufthansa launched new nonstops to Frankfurt. The three weekly flights will operate with Airbus A330-300s configured with 42 business class seatbeds, 28 premium economy seats and 185 coach chairs. What does Lufthansa see that no other airline has seen for 20 years? A cash payout. St. Louis authorities--including the airport's operator and a regional business group--are subsidizing Lufthansa's flights to the tune of $5 million in the next two years. Before the pandemic, statistics show there were around 385 travelers a day flying between St. Louis and a European destination. Back-of-the-envelope math means St. Louis is paying Lufthansa nearly $18 a passenger to run the flights. And that's assuming all 385 travelers will choose to fly the STL-FRA nonstop. At the moment, only about 50 passengers a day travel between St. Louis and Germany. If you flip that envelope over, it means St. Louis is paying $137 for each Germany-bound flyer. Nice work if you can get it ...
        United Airlines has finally abandoned its much-derided, pandemic-era in-flight service in its Polaris business class cabins. The all-on-one tray offering, which included some especially unsavory entrees, has been replaced with pre-pandemic a la carte service. There is a beverage service, then a main course with plated entrees. There's also a separate dessert course. The customized ice-cream sundaes haven't returned, however.
        Air France is updating business class cabins on its Boeing 777-300 fleet. The 48-seat cabins will have suites with privacy doors, new menus and Wi-Fi. The retrofit is due to be completed by the end of the year, but the first reconfigured Boeing 777-300 should roll out in September on the New York/JFK-Paris/CDG run.

With crowds returning to the airports in numbers nearing 2019 levels, airports are rushing to open new lounges and reopen previously shuttered ones. In Philadelphia, for example, Minute Suites has reopened its doors with 11 suites and a renovated bathroom that includes a shower. In Ontario, the airport serving California's Inland Empire, two Aspire Lounges have opened, one for each terminal. Meanwhile, Plaza Premium has opened a 100-seat lounge in Terminal 2 at Frankfurt. It is located by Gate D8 in the International Departures area.
        Amtrak says the Berkshire Flyer connecting New York City and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, begins on July 8. An extension of existing New York/Penn-Albany/Rensselaer trains, the service will operate on Fridays (to Pittsfield) and Sundays (to New York).