JFK International Airport - Major Changes
Possibly due to the rest of John F. Kennedy International Airport preparing for a major overhaul, nearly all recent changes at the airport have been through Terminal 4. That terminal has been engaged in an extensive rebranding program since 2016, and as a part of that rebranding, has partnered with several tech companies to improve the passenger experience.
- In May 2019, JFK's Terminal 4 launched Aira Access, which will provide visually-impaired passengers with "enhanced visual information and real-time service to navigate" the terminal.
- Aira Access also operates via a smartphone app which enables passengers to connect to an agent, who can then use the phone's camera, GPS, and other data to provide verbal descriptions and directions, making it easier for the visually impaired to navigate crowds and obstacles.
- Roel Huinink, President and CEO of JFKIAT (the company which oversees operations at Terminal 4) explains, "At T4, we are always looking for ways to better serve our passengers, and Aira Access is an excellent tool for improving the airport experience for those travelers who are blind or low vision."
- In March 2019, JFK's Terminal 4 Airline Consortium (TFAC) became the first airport terminal to offer travelers with mobility problems access to Jetweels wheelchairs.
- Jetweels are "non-metallic, lightweight and ergonomic seat-equipped wheelchairs" which are also stackable, making it possible to keep more on-hand than would be possible with conventional wheelchairs.
- Huinink explained the partnership by saying, "At Terminal 4, we are committed to bringing new offerings to enhance the travel experience and increase accessibility for our more than 21 million annual passengers. We are thrilled to collaborate with PAX Assist and Jetweels to introduce comfortable and nimble wheelchairs so passengers can enjoy an easy and stress-free travel experience."
SMART WORK BOOTHS
- In March 2019, Terminal 4 announced that it had partnered with Jabbrrbox to provide its passengers "with private, technology-equipped connected workspaces" which can be rented at a price of $15 for 30 minutes.
- The work booths provide Wi-Fi access, USB charging ports, video conferencing, and Bluetooth connectivity, among other features.
- Huinink explains the reason for the partnership: "Our passengers are constantly on the move, and they need great places where they can work on the fly — make phone and video calls, finish an important memo, or just catch up on emails."
- Also in March 2019, Terminal 4 unveiled new artwork commissioned from British artist Chris Dent.
- The artwork, which took four months to complete, blends traditional and contemporary design in illustrating "New York City's five boroughs, immersing travelers in the spirit and authenticity of the City."
- The artwork was commissioned to further Terminal 4's rebranding efforts, which began in 2016, which pursues "a lighthearted and friendly visual identity for the building."
CLEAR SECURITY CLEARANCE
- In November 2018, Terminal 4 announced a partnership with biometrics company CLEAR to enable passengers to "verify their identity and get to their flights with the tap of a finger or blink of an eye."
- Explaining the partnership, Huinink cited the need for this latest innovation to "ensure a seamless travel experience" for Terminal 4's 21 million annual passengers. "In addition, with its biometric capabilities, CLEAR will also add a heightened layer of safety and security to our terminal."
- In May 2018, JFK's Terminal 4 "expanded its digital presence with the launch of an award-winning website."
- This site not only provides information to passengers, but also to airline staff, greeters, and community, including tourism information about New York City, facilitating a "stress-free" travel environment.
- The new web portal continues Terminal 4's efforts to brand itself, "creating both a visual identity for the building and an inviting atmosphere for its more than 21 million annual passengers."
Given the focus on changes made in the last year, we began our research by seeking news articles and press releases about JFK International Airport, reasoning that major changes in such a prominent airport would likely be newsworthy. We soon found that the current news cycle is dominated by JFK's upcoming plans for a major expansion, which we will detail elsewhere.
To get around this dominance in the current news cycle, we segmented articles by month and worked our way backwards. This strategy yielded a number of recent changes in Terminal 4 of JFK, five of which were reported by Metropolitan Airport News.