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"'Welcome lounges' at Tucson airport are good news"


 
Monday, December 11, 2006

Opinion
'Welcome lounges' at airport are good news 
The Arizona Daily Star


Tucson, Arizona - Seeing off passengers at Tucson International Airport will
be a little comfier as the result of the opening last week of two "welcome
lounges" on the ground floor of the airport. 

The new areas are supposed to replace the makeshift area on the airport's
second floor near the restrooms, newsstand and security gate. People would
gather there to say goodbye to departing passengers and to wait for incoming
planes. 

This area, at the top of the stairs, was never intended to be a waiting
area. After airport security was tightened in 2001 and only ticketed
passengers could get to the gates, people gathered at the foot of the ramp
to wait. But seating was inadequate, and people waiting for arriving
passengers got crammed together with departing passengers - and those seeing
them off - waiting at the security checkpoint. 

A few rows of chairs were added, and monitors that track arrivals and
departures were installed. 

But the wait would get increasingly uncomfortable when more than one flight
was expected around the same time. The small area filled up with people
straining to see whether the party they were waiting for was in the gaggle
of weary passengers coming down the ramp. 

The situation didn't give anyone a good first - or final - impression of
Tucson. 

So the opening of the new welcome lounges is welcome news. 

The areas, near the baggage claim, will provide visitors a place to wait and
have a cup of coffee. According to a story by the Star's Andrea Kelly, the
airport will continue its facelift into next year. 

The airport will add closed-circuit television to check the baggage claim
area for arriving passengers, monitors to track flights, and wireless
Internet, said Paula Winn, the airport's spokeswoman. 

Previous improvements to the baggage area, to the rental car area and to the
outside of the terminal have made a positive difference to travelers'
experience at Tucson International Airport. 

A new food court has opened in the east concourse and new eateries will open
soon in the west concourse, according to Kelly's story. Those restaurants
will give airport visitors more options to grab a quick bite while waiting
for a flight. 
Even better, the airport will offer live entertainment to make the new
lounges more welcoming. 

Change can be difficult, even when it's something as innocuous as where you
give a loved one a goodbye hug and kiss before he or she heads off on a
flight. 

As Tucson continues to grow and add flights, its airport needs to keep up.

The latest change will help Tucson travelers - and their friends and
relatives - accommodate security restrictions in comfort.

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