Airport Expansion Is Big for Philly Economy

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Now that a long-awaited settlement between the Philadelphia International Airport and neighboring Tinicum Township is a done deal, it’s an interesting time to examine the potential economic impact of the airport’s expansion plan.

It features an extended runway to accommodate larger planes; a new “automated people mover system;” a consolidated rental car area to cut down on traffic; and a redesign to Terminals B and C (which I know from personal experience can get very busy).

Airport officials have been saying for quite some time that the economic impact of PHL would grow from $14.4 billion annually to $26.4 billion in 2025. CEO Mark Gale says he plans to release updated figures in the future.

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Big Idea: Rename PHL for Ben Franklin

“No other town, burying its great man, ever buried more of itself than Philadelphia with Franklin.”

—Carl Van Doren, 1938

The United States has buried many a great leader throughout its storied history.  The funerals of Presidents Washington, Lincoln (150 years ago this month), Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan immediately come to mind.

Among American leaders who never occupied the presidency, the burial of the slain Martin Luther King Jr. 47 years ago, also this April, was another moment of immense national sadness.

And in Philadelphia, precisely 225 years ago on April 21st, the city’s most internationally renowned citizen, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, was laid to rest at Christ Church Cemetery in the presence of 20,000 mourners who had gathered at the State House (now Independence Hall) to pay final respects to their friend and neighbor — without whose unsurpassed contributions to the American Revolution the United States might have never been born. Read more »

Airline Review: I Flew Frontier to Miami for 30 Bucks

frontier

It was good news for Philadelphia travelers when Frontier Airlines announced in September it was returning to the Philadelphia market after a two-year absence. Not only would fliers get low fares from the new airline, it could push down prices among the competition.

“It’s going to force the legacy carrier that dominates the Philadelphia market, U.S. Airways… it forces them to bring down fares on those particular routes,” TravelPulse founder Mark Murphy told Fox 29 last year. “We have been waiting in Philadelphia for this to happen.”

Frontier is a low-budget carrier that nickel and dimes you. Checking your bag costs money. Carrying on your suitcase costs money. (A small personal item, to be stored under the seat, is free.) Extra legroom costs money. Soda and other drinks cost money. The airline also does offer an option called Classic Plus that’s fully refundable and includes most standard features, but those tickets are more expensive.

Frontier began flying again to and from Philadelphia on December 20th. When it made the announcement it was returning to the area, the airline was offering $14.99 fares to and from Miami. I booked a quick jaunt to Miami. I’d fly down one night, then fly back the next. (Frontier isn’t always this cheap, a ticket to Miami costs about $325 round trip this week. Booking the same trip in February is around $225 round-trip.)

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Fog Delaying Flights at PHL Airport

Flights are delayed an average of 75 minutes at Philadelphia International Airport today, as heavy fog led the FAA to order a ground stop this morning.

The foggy morning is expected to give away to a rainy afternoon, with precipitation moving in around 2 p.m.

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Baggage Handlers Picket at PHL Airport

A group of baggage handlers have been picketing at Philadelphia International Airport since this morning.

Though the Pennsylvania director of SEIU 32BJ called the action a strike, Philly.com reports no flights appear to be affected. The airport previously said airlines have a contingency plan in case of a strike. The striking workers are employees of PrimeFlight, an airline contractor, working in ground transportation at the airport (baggage handling, wheelchair transport, curbside check-in, etc.).

The non-union workers make as little as the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage hike for city contractors Michael Nutter ordered in May does not apply to the PrimeFlight workers. Read more »

Passenger: I Was Kicked Off Flight at PHL for My Tweets

All Lisa Carter-Knight wanted to do was fly back to Boston. But the mother of three and “creator of the original Cocktail Competition” (per her Twitter profile) had to wait: Her flight was delayed Tuesday night. Carter-Knight tweeted the delay happened after the pilot accused passengers of accusing him of being drunk.

She later tweeted no passengers actually accused the pilot of this, and updated with a photo of the plane “grounded as authorities board plane for pilot sobriety test.”

You can guess what happened next.

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You Can Now Exercise While Waiting for Your Flight at PHL

First, pop-up beer gardens. Now, pop-up gyms.

If your flight’s been delayed at Philadelphia International Airport, there’s more to do now than just browse Brookstone and Brooks Brothers. In a gym that’s been moving around the terminals this summer, there are now exercise bikes and elliptical machines! The pilot program is just for the summer, though an airport spokesman says there is an indication the bikes could become a permanent fixture.

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FAA Suspends Flights to Israel

Many U.S. airlines have canceled their flights to Tel Aviv, due to safety and security concerns. The FAA has now ordered all U.S. carriers to suspend flights to Israel for up to 24 hours (full release from the FAA below).

The cancelations affect travelers at Philadelphia International Airport. US Airways canceled two daily Israel flights today, one from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and another from Tel Aviv to Philadelphia.

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City Raises Minimum Wage for City Contractors to $12 an Hour

As expected, Michael Nutter today signed an executive order hiking the minimum wage in Philadelphia for city contractors and subcontractors to $12 an hour. It will go into effect January 1, 2015.

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