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Briefs: Terminal overhaul coming at IAH; Virgin opens lounge at LA

In airport news this week, Houston Bush Intercontinental plans another major terminal overhaul; Los Angeles International welcomes a new lounge for Virgin America passengers; Nashville adds security lanes for business flyers; new concessions open at Minneapolis-St. Paul; and departing Anchorage travelers can now purchase carry-on beer.

  • Officials at Houston Bush Intercontinental are planning to take bids for a renovation of the airport’s Terminal D, the international terminal, according to local media reports. It’s the second big project for IAH, which is also teaming up with United Airlines for a $1 billion remake of Terminal B. The Terminal D project, estimated at $30 million, will reportedly include an overhaul of 11 gates, with three of them made capable of handling the Airbus A380 super-jumbo. It may also include construction of an upper level with more consumer services like restaurants, bars and shops. In other developments, travelers at IAH and Houston Hobby have a new information tool at www.Fly2Houston.com a that uses Bluetooth signals to provide real-time reports on how long it is taking passengers to clear the airports’ nine security checkpoints.

  • The newest passenger lounge at Los Angeles International Airport is the Virgin America Loft, located in Terminal 3. It’s intended mainly for elite (Gold and Silver) members of the airline’s Elevate frequent flyer program, who will be given a number of passes each year to use it, although other passengers will reportedly be able to buy day passes for $40. The lounge has free Wi-Fi, power outlets, TV, and healthy food offerings and cocktails. in other developments, LAX officials said that the airport expects to be adding a high-end concessionaire soon: Petrossian, which will offer its signature caviar as well as a champagne bar.

  • Nashville International Airport has set aside two new priority lanes for business travelers to access security screening checkpoints. Airport officials said the lanes can be used by members of the following airline programs or fares: Southwest’s Fly By, Delta’s Sky Priority, American’s Priority Access, United’s Premier Access, US Airways’ Preferred Access and Frontier’s Summit, Ascent and Classic Plus. Meanwhile, Nashville has also has come out with a free app in partnership with a firm called TransLoc that provides real-time displays of the exact locations of all airport parking shuttle buses. It’s available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry users. To see how it works, go to bna.transloc.com.

  • Delta’s G Concourse at Minneapolis-St. Paul International is the site of a new “walk-through food hall” in the area linking Gates 1 through 6. Developed by concessionaire OTG Management, it includes a variety of food, news/gifts and specialty retail outlets, including burgers, frozen yogurt, pizza, express takeout, hot and cold food bars, and fresh produce.

  • Travelers flying out of Anchorage International Airport can now pick up some local beer to take home. Inside the secure area of the South Terminal, near the entrance to the airport’s C Concourse, is a new microbrewery outlet from Alaska’s Silver Gulch brewery that sells six-packs and “growlers” (half-gallons) of beer to go. The outlet also sells dine-in pizza and beer.

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