Opinion: NY airports need to get on board with conveniences
New York City leads the nation in just about everything when it comes to amenities, from ordering lunch on your smartphone to free wireless hot spots in almost every park.
But you wouldn't know it by our airports.
A recent survey by our organization, Global Gateway Alliance, ranked 20 of the country's busiest airports based on four amenities that consumers frequently request: free Wi-Fi, play areas for children, reliable rail transit and cellphone wait lots. New York is lagging in all.
Kennedy Airport tied for sixth place. Newark and LaGuardia ranked lower than every other airport on the list, at 19th and 20th respectively.
Our outdated air traffic control infrastructure makes flights out of New York airports among the most frequently delayed in the country. During these long waits, travelers shouldn't have to worry about the additional cost of Wi-Fi. Free, reliable Wi-Fi at airports has become standard, not just at airports in other leading global cities, but at airports around our country.
There are only five major U.S. airports without free Wi-Fi. Three of them are in New York.
Traveling with children is difficult enough. Identifying unused locations in the terminal that can be dedicated to child-friendly play areas is an easy fix and something other cities have done for years.
Cellphone wait lots allow drivers picking up passengers to wait in vehicles at a safe, nearby locations until their travelers are at the curb, rather than clogging up traffic in front of terminals or parking dangerously on road shoulders. Until we have adequate and reliable mass transit to each airport, we need to better accommodate drivers. But neither LaGuardia nor Newark has joined 16 major airports in offering these lots.
Redeveloping terminals, upgrading air traffic technology and creating direct mass transit links to each airport are important long-term goals for our region. But we can make simple, relatively inexpensive fixes right now that will significantly improve the experiences at LaGuardia, Newark and Kennedy for tens of millions of travelers every year.
Joseph Sitt is chief executive of Thor Equities and chairman of Global Gateway Alliance, a coalition of business, labor, government and academic organizations in New York. Stephen Sigmund is the executive director of Global Gateway Alliance.