I caught up with longtime JWA Director Alan Murphy. My burning question: “Will I get my bags faster?” Read on to find out.
STEVE CHURM: What will excite me most about the new terminal and other features at JWA?
ALAN MURPHY: There’s so much! We’re excited to have more gates and parking. Sometimes, though, it’s the little things that make a trip through the airport enjoyable: computer work stations and electrical outlets at the gates, free WiFi, and new technology that makes it easier to check in and get boarding passes.
CHURM: What was most challenging about renovating the airport while staying open?
MURPHY:Unlike building a new terminal and moving in when it’s complete, we’ve had to maintain a fully operational airport during construction. Most importantly, we wanted to minimize the impact on patrons. We think we’ve managed to do that pretty well.
CHURM: In the past, travelers have complained about the lack of food choices. How have you solved my hunger issue?
MURPHY:: The size of the original terminal was limited, so we couldn’t build sufficient restaurant and retail space. We didn’t have that constraint in Terminal C. By doubling our concession space, we’ll offer food choices to make the pickiest of eaters happy.
CHURM: Will I get my checked bags any faster?
MURPHY:People tend to forget that, unlike other airports, the distance between our gates and the baggage claim area is fairly short, so you may get there before airlines have time to unload your bags. The new terminal and three new baggage carousels will better balance operations amongst all three terminals.
CHURM: One big change is the addition of international flights to and from JWA. Where to and how many?
MURPHY: International passengers will arrive at two newly modified gates and head downstairs to a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection area, where inspections will take place. Because of our relatively short runway length, we will likely be limited to destinations in Canada and Mexico.
CHURM: What do you hope travelers will tell a friend once they’ve used the new, improved airport?
MURPHY: That it’s every bit as convenient as it’s always been – with even more of the services and amenities for passengers.
CHURM: Architecturally, what will I notice most about the new terminal compared to the older two?
MURPHY: We hope passengers will look at Terminals A, B and C and see a near seamless transition from one terminal to the next.
CHURM: Everyone is concerned about airport parking. How will the improvements help?
MURPHY: There are 2,000 additional spaces, along with upgrades in all of our parking areas: an entry/exit with a ticketless option, a “space count” system and an express exit.
CHURM: Would John Wayne be proud?
MURPHY: I can’t answer that directly, but I’d like to think that the airport that bears John Wayne’s name stands for many of the same things he was known for: honesty, integrity and a commitment to community.