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Briefs: New lounge at JFK; AA expands self bag check to DCA

In airport news, New York Kennedy’s Terminal 5 will be getting a new passenger lounge open to all; American Airlines expands self-service bag checks to Washington Reagan National; Houston Hobby details expansion plans; and Alaska Airlines eyes a service plan for Paine Field outside Seattle.

  • Airspace Lounge, a firm that offers a premium airport experience for a daily fee, plans to open a new facility at New York JFK’s Terminal 5 in May. Terminal 5 is used by JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines, and will add Aer Lingus in April. Airspace Lounge already has a facility at Baltimore/Washington International and plans to open one at Cleveland Hopkins this month as well. The lounge will offer free food and beverages, Wi-Fi, power outlets at each seat, the use of MacBooks and Windows PCs, and workspace areas. The firm didn’t announce pricing for the JFK lounge yet, but at BWI, it costs $20 per person, with no long-term memberships available, and it’s free for American Express Platinum Card holders.
  • American Airlines passengers at Washington Reagan National Airport can now tag and check their bags themselves. They use self-service kiosks to pay any required fee and print the bag tags, then drop the luggage with a designated agent. American tested the procedure in Austin last year, and then introduced it at Orlando. It is expected to become available this spring at Chicago O’Hare and Dallas/Ft. Worth and later at other key airports.
  • The Houston City Council recently saw plans for the expansion of Hobby Airport, where Southwest Airlines is planning to add international flights to Latin America in the future. Plans call for a new concourse with five aircraft gates, six more security checkpoint lanes, a Federal Inspection Services facility with a separate baggage claim area, a 2,500-space parking garage and roadway modifications. Southwest will pay an estimated $150 million for the terminal expansion. The project is expected to take two years to complete.
  • Alaska Airlines told the Federal Aviation Administration it could offer a schedule of 28 flights a week out of Paine Field, a general aviation airport in suburban Everett north of the city, once it opens up to commercial operations. The FAA recently approved expanded use of Paine Field for commercial flights, but first a passenger terminal has to be built. Alaska said it would expect to offer 737 flights from Paine to Las Vegas, Honolulu and Maui, as well as Q400 service to Portland. Within five years it would expand to include flights to Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Diego.
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