Travelers, Rejoice! New Nonstop Flights From Philly to Three European Cities

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Come Monday, August 21, 2017, you can begin booking direct flights from Philadelphia to two new European destinations in American Airline’s footprint — Budapest and Prague.

If you’ve been dreaming about taking a nighttime cruise down the Danube or exploring the Gothic churches of the City of a Hundred Spires, now’s your chance. The season for the brand new routes from PHL opens May 4, 2018 and closes October 27, 2018.  Read more »

Air Travelers, Rejoice! PHL to Get a $900M Facelift

OTG Liberty Prime at PHL. OTG Management plans to bring iPads and new eateries to PHL.

Philadelphia International Airport is planning its largest set renovations in over 15 years to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. 

The FAA recently announced that PHL will get a new air traffic control tower, and now some of the airport’s top airlines have approved $900 million in investments through their city lease agreements, the Inquirer reports. Some of the investments will be made in the next five to seven years.

American Airlines, which currently carries 73 percent of Philadelphia’s passengers, will contribute the largest portion of the overall investments. The airline will oversee a new arrivals building for terminals B and C, which will feature a state-of-the-art checked-bag screening system. A new high-tech transportation system, allowing passengers to move quickly between terminals, is in the works as well, but will likely be a longer-term update for PHL.  Read more »

The Know-It-All-Guide: PHL Airport

Photo by Christopher Leaman

Park Like a Pro

If you aren’t ready to pay hundreds in parking fees, the Economy Lot is the best bet ($11 flat daily rate). Head to Lot H, which is one of the last stops on the shuttle before the airport — and the first when you get back. If money is no object, nothing beats the convenience of the terminal-connected garages. They can run up to $24 a day. Ignore the “spaces available” lights, since there are usually free spots — especially on upper levels. If you have kids in car seats, try Winner Airport Parking. Arrive at Winner 20 minutes ahead of schedule and a driver will take you, in your own car, to the terminal, park your ride for $10.99 a day, and even (for an extra $13.99) pick you up in your own car upon your return. Of course, you can skip all of this entirely by taking SEPTA’s Airport Line. And after years in which you couldn’t get an Uber or Lyft home from PHL, a deal has finally been struck, so that’s now an option, too. Meet at passenger pickup, not where the taxis (which, BTW, are often quicker to snag) line up.

Find the Good Food

Rendering of Independence Prime, Kevin Sbraga’s new steakhouse

From gourmet snacks to cocktails delivered to your gate, airport execs have been rethinking what travelers want. A sleek food hub was added to Terminal F a few years ago; meanwhile, OTG Management (run by Rick Blatstein—yes, Bart’s brother) is wrapping up a $30 million overhaul of Terminal B. Here’s where to fuel up on some first-class fare.

Terminal A East
We can only hope that the brand-new La Colombe roastery permeates the entire terminal. (Also find their coffee at the two LeBus locations.) If you need something a bit, er, stronger, try Jack Duggan’s for a Yards or Guinness. It’s so popular that a nearby gate area was converted into a cool secondary bar and lounge a few years ago.

TERMINAL A West
North Jersey-based bistro Piattino will soon be slinging its thin-crust pies. Psst: Terminals A East and A West are technically in Delaware County, so there’s no tax on soda purchased here.

TERMINAL B
Stocked with local chefs, the new food hall offerings will read like our Best of Philly issue: Germantown Biergarten (from the Tria guys), Mezzogiorno (pizza from the Nomad Pizza chef) and Boule Café (from Whip Tavern chef Anne Coll) opened in May; several others, like Erin O’Shea, Nick Elmi, “Zama” Tanaka, Joe Cicala and Kevin Sbraga, are opening spots, too. Another awesome upgrade? You can order something to eat or drink and have it delivered right to your gate—all through on-site iPads.

B/C CONNECTOR
It’s easy to tune out the airport noise thanks to the roomy seating at Legal Sea Foods. The lobster rolls aren’t bad, either.

TERMINAL C
Early-morning takeoffs are better with goodies from LeBus Café, where you won’t find a fresher Danish/muffin/croissant. (Its smaller original stand is down in F.) If you’re running late, NYC institution Balducci’s has an express market with prepackaged salads and sammies—also perfect for carrying on. Local restaurateur Aldo Lamberti has a namesake spot with from-scratch pizza pies.

TERMINAL D
Until Mo’ Burger and gastropub Bar Symon, from celeb chef Michael Symon, open later this year, your best bets here are fried things and a Hop Devil on draft from Chickie’s & Pete’s.

TERMINAL F
A bright and airy food court that’s worth the walk (or shuttle) for Chipotle, Smashburger, Red Mango, Tony Luke’s and more.

Deal With Delays

Lick candy store in the Terminal D/E Connector

11 ways to make the most out of pre-flight time

1. Plug In. You’re never far from hundreds of charging stations—just spot the red “Power Up” sign on cubes or tables, and look for an outlet under your chair or armrest. Don’t want to wait? Pick up a FuelRod ($20) at SwapBoxes throughout the airport. The reusable sticks charge up your device sans outlet.

2. Busy the Kids. Littles can board the (mini) jumbo jet in the Please Touch Museum’s “Ready for Takeoff” play area in A East. (After, visit the nearby life-size Lego Liberty Bell.) Or bribe them with Pinkberry (B/C Connector) and the candy bins at Lick (D/E Connector).

3. Retreat. Amex cardholders can drop into the new Centurion Lounge this September (in A West) and revel in amenities like hot buffets and private showers. (It’s free for Platinum card owners or Centurion Members, $50 for all other Amex cardholders.)

4. Go See Some Art. Step 1: Check phl.org/arts for current and permanent exhibitions. Step 2: Take a self-guided tour. Step 3: Be (shockingly) inspired.

5. Feed Your Brain.
Listen to a free podcast or some tunes or download a book with your Free Library of Philadelphia account in Terminal D’s sunny Virtual Reality reading nook. There’s also much to love about the adorable “take one, leave one” book exchange in A East, especially its urban plant wall.

6. Feed Your Baby. (Or Take a Nap.) Nursing moms get 30 minutes free in a private Minute Suite (they come with daybeds, desks and more) in the A/B Connector. Otherwise it’s $42 for first hour.

7. Get Your Steps In. Try the terminal circuit—a walk from A West through F is about 1.25 miles.

8. Catch Some Innings. Chickie’s & Pete’s are legion at the airport, but the one with the most flat- screens is in Terminal C. And depending on how those Phils do …

9. Say Your Prayers. A new (free) Meditation Room debuts in the D/E Corridor this July.

10. Play on the Web. Few airports top ours when it comes to fast-and-free wi-fi. Another Philly perk? Xfinity-on-the-Fly lounges, where Comcast customers can load up their iPads with entire shows and movies before takeoff.

11. Drink Up. There’s a reason why Vino Volo, which means “wine flight” in Italian, is an airport staple. (Pair with their olive plates.) Find a similar vibe at Cibo Bistro & Wine Bar.

Cleared for Takeoff

Three big changes to expect now that CEO Chellie Cameron—who’s been on the job for 17 months—is in charge.
1. Ditching the Bad Rap
“It’s probably the hardest thing that we do—try to get people to know that we’re getting better every day,” says Cameron. A recently approved $1.69 billion budget for new projects should help, as will the movement toward bigger aircraft, which mean fewer departures and (hopefully) fewer delays. Plus, says Cameron, the airport is evaluating process and procedure to best organize its 20,000 employees.

2. Making Quality Improvements
At the top of Cameron’s punch list is completing the $30 million Terminal B overhaul (see “Find the Good Food”), with a $202 million runway extension that isn’t just efficient for jumbo planes (it’s adding 1,500 feet) but is helpful for moving cargo, too. “We want to be the airport of choice in the region—and not just for passengers,” says Cameron. She’s also adding more quality hang spaces, like the Amex Centurion Lounge and a quiet room in the D/E corridor.

3. Prepping for the Future
The airport has its eye on premium parking (and guaranteed spaces) for frequent flyers, but the industry’s biggest game changer is—shocker—technology. Think: faster and easier security and automatic check-ins upon arrival. “We know we’re going to need a very robust technology infrastructure,” says Cameron. “It’s the non-sexy stuff—upgrades in between walls and in closets—but it’s the ability to handle whatever comes next.”

Published as “The Know-It-All Guide: Leaving on a Jet Plane” in the June 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Frontier Just Launched Non-Stop Flights to Puerto Rico From Philly

Frontier Airlines

On Tuesday, low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines announced that it will begin non-stop flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Philadelphia International Airport in June.

On Wednesday, Frontier club members could book flights for as low as $49 on an introductory fare rate, with non-club flight prices beginning at $59.

The flights are scheduled to operate year-round except for a period after Labor Day until mid-November for a seasonal hiatus. The flights will also run daily on the A-321 aircraft. The flight will depart PHL at 9:15 p.m. and arrive in San Juan at 1:23 a.m. Returning passengers will depart San Juan at 2:25 a.m. and arrive in Philadelphia at 6:43 a.m.  Read more »

American Airlines is Now Selling Basic Economy Fares on Select Flights from Philly

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Shutterstock

American Airlines is going Spirit or is at least trying to. The legacy carrier is giving customers the option to forgo overhead bin space for a reduced fare. On Tuesday it began selling its new “Basic Economy” fares on ten routes, with five of them connected to the Philadelphia International Airport.

The fares will be available for travel beginning March 1st, and from PHL, fliers can connect to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Charlotte.

While the basic economy fares give consumers more options, prices don’t seem to be that much cheaper — they’re averaging about $15 to $20 lower one-way than the regular economy fares (pricing varies by market) — and there are a number of restrictions to heed that might make you question the deal.  Read more »

New Bill May Allow PHL Expansion to Move Forward

Image via Google Maps

Image via Google Maps

Public hearings are scheduled this week on legislation that could allow the city to proceed with expansion plans for Philadelphia International Airport by forcing a resolution to a longstanding disagreement with a neighboring landowner, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. Read more »

PHL Airport Getting Fancy, Exclusive Lounge

New York - Centurion Lounge

The work area at the Amex Centurion Lounge at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport | Photo via thecenturionlounge.com

The PHL Airport is getting a nice lounge. But you’ll have to be an American Express Platinum cardmember to use it.

Travel blog One Mile at a Time broke the news earlier this week: Philadelphia is getting an Amex Centurion Lounge. Ben Schlappig writes that “these lounges are significantly better than what’s being offered directly by U.S. airlines,” and says one is scheduled to open at PHL in early August.

American Express did not immediately return a request for comment from Philadelphia magazine. There are currently Centurion Lounges at airports in Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Read more »

Charge Your Electric Vehicle for Free* at PHL Airport Garages

Eco-conscious travelers who own electric cars can now take them to Philadelphia International Airport and leave them there knowing they will be fully charged when they get back to town, as the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) has installed seven electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at the airport.

Each station can charge two vehicles at a time, which means that up to 14 EVs can recharge while parked at the airport. Two of the stations are on Level 1 of Garage C, two are on Level 1 of Garage D, and the other three are located near the tollbooths at the exit from the Economy Parking lot. Read more »

PHL’s K9 Beagles: The Adorable Faces of National Security

From left: K9s Mattie, Auburn and Yoshi. Photo | Dan McQuade

From left: PHL K9s Mattie, Auburn and Yoshi. Photo | Dan McQuade

If you step off the plane at PHL after a long international flight this holiday season, there’ll be someone there waiting for you when you walk into baggage claim: An adorable, cuddly beagle.

While you’re waiting for your luggage, as many as three of these little guys could be wandering around baggage claim looking impossibly cute. But these dogs are not here to cheer you up after a weary trip. The beagles are working. They’re sniffing your luggage to see if you brought any food from overseas.

The beagles at PHL are part of Customs and Border Protection. They’re agriculture K9s. While other dogs hunt for explosives and drugs, the beagles at baggage claim are only trained to sniff out food. Travelers coming in from foreign countries are banned from bringing many foods into the U.S. Those who have food must declare it to a CBP officer. Read more »

Adorable Beagle Sniffs Out Currency, Plants on “Trusted” Traveler at PHL

Customs Beagle Auburn - and what she seized

K9 Auburn, a beagle working for Customs and Border Protection, sniffed out undeclared plants and $39,715 in unreported currency at PHL Airport on Thursday. (Photos: CBP)

A woman traveling from Greece attempting to bring undeclared plants and nearly $40,000 worth of unreported currency into Philadelphia was caught — by a cute little beagle.

K9 Auburn, an agriculture detection dog with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), discovered the plants last Thursday after a flight from Athens landed in Philadelphia. The woman, who is from the United States, was a “trusted” traveler in the Global Entry program. This allows “low-risk” travelers to enter the United States at an automated kiosk; applicants undergo a detailed background check and submit to an in-person interview.

Customs seized $39,715 from the woman. She was also fined $500 for the plants and had her trusted traveler privileges revoked. Her name has not been released because she was not criminally charged. K9 Auburn was rewarded with her favorite dog treat, per CBP. Read more »

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