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Manchester Airport reveals progress made on £1bn transformation programme

Manchester Airport today revealed the progress made on its £1bn transformation, with several months to go until it opens its new “super terminal.”

The UK’s third largest airport also released new images and a video to showcase what passengers using the new facilities can expect, when they start using the new terminal from next summer.

New features unveiled include a honeycomb light installation that proudly illuminates the departure lounge. With 16 million settings, it will change colours depending on the time of day.

A new 83 square metre digital screen will take centre stage in the new extension to provide entertainment and information to passengers. There will also be a new children’s play area to help families pass the time before heading on their travels.

New shops will also open in the departure lounge including passenger favourites like JD Sports, WH Smiths and Dixons Travel. Bury-based JD Sports will open its largest ever airport store in the UK. Dozens of new retail outlets will also open when the existing terminal building reopens.

The new announcements come on the back of the news earlier in the year that 15 new food and beverage outlets would open including Manchester favourites like San Carlo Cicchetti, Pot Kettle Black, Archie’s and Barburrito.

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The first the phase of the terminal extension is set to open in July 2020. It will see a brand-new security hall, the departure lounge, the immigration hall, arrivals hall and the new bus gate lounge open to passengers.

Once they are up and running, further facilities will start operating during the rest of 2020, including the first of the new ‘island’ check-in desk banks and the new baggage reclaim facilities. As the various elements of the new extension open, the airport will start to close parts of the existing Terminal Two to allow for that area to be reconfigured to align with the new facilities.

The fully reconfigured Terminal Two will open in 2022 with 32 new shops and food and beverage outlets set to feature in that area. The completed Terminal Two will be 150% bigger than the current building once finished.

Pier Two will also open at that time and will be a similar size to Pier One. It will have the capability to handle the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the double-decker A380 and will also include airline lounges. The remaining terminal and airfield infrastructure is due to open in 2024.

Passengers with accessibility requirements have been consulted throughout the development and build of the terminal. Due to their feedback changes have been made to signage and colour schemes. The sunflower room that has proved popular in Terminal One, will also open in the reconfigured terminal in 2022.

https://youtu.be/FYGaZG503Ps

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The completed extension will achieve BREEAM status of very good for its sustainability credentials. Other environmental developments include fixed electric ground power points on all new stands which mean aircraft don’t have to leave their engines running when parked up. The terminal will also feature a highly efficient combined heat and power system.

 

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Airlines

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Flight Review: Domestic Economy Done Right

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Flight Review: Domestic Economy Done Right

Welcome to another flight review, where we would be flying on United Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft on a 4 hour transcontinental flight from Las Vegas to Washington!

Las Vegas consists of 2 main terminals for commercial airlines, Terminal 3 and Terminal 1. Both Terminals serve different airlines, with Terminal 1 more focused on Low Cost Carriers, while Terminal 3 serving the main carriers such as Delta, American, United Airlines, together with international operators. 

We are currently in Terminal 3, which has a wide offering of food and drinks. Furthermore, since we are in Las Vegas, there definitely are some slot machines around the terminal for those who are hoping to make a quick buck before their flight. There was also supposed to be a gaming lounge, but it was closed due to renovation. 

Upon reaching the gate, we were informed of an approximately 30 minute delay to our departure time, due to the aircraft leaving its previous leg late. 

Here is our aircraft, ship 3506, a 17 year old Boeing 737 which would be ferrying us to Washington. Here she is, decked in the old United Airlines colour scheme, The boarding process soon began, with passengers being called to called based on their boarding group, so as to ensure an orderly boarding process. 

We were warmly welcomed aboard by the cabin crew, where sanitising wipes were available upon request. For this flight, I selected 28F, a Window seat. The Economy Class layout in United’s Boeing 737-800 is in a 3-3 configuration, while Business Class is in a 2-2 layout.

This particular aircraft is still fitted with the old cabin of United Airlines, with no in-seat power outlet, small Inflight Entertainment Screens, together with a dated cabin.

United is currently updating their Boeing 737 fleet to have a wider Inflight Entertainment Screen, which includes a USB power port for you to charge your devices. It will definitely be a welcome change on the longer transcontinental flights especially. 

The seats are sufficiently wide, with a rather sufficient legroom offered on the aircraft. Although not generous, I was still able to stretch my legs, so definitely no complaints. The seat has two pockets, one right below the screen, with the other at knee level, which allows you to store your personal electronic devices safely. There are also adjustable headrests, which is always an amazing feature on a seat. 

Soon, we were greeted by the Captain, who warmly welcomed us onboard, before apologising for the slight delay, informing us that he would attempt to get us airborne as soon as possible. 

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Inflight Service 

After approximately 30 minutes after takeoff, the flight crew prepared the cabin for snack service. Starting at the front of the cabin, they slowly made their way to the back. 

This is where I feel United really shines, especially for flights on the North American Continent. There are small snacks such as pretzels, chocolate and chips, together with non alcoholic beverages which are provided complimentary to the passengers. There is a wide range of beverages being provided, from Water, Orange Juice to even Ginger Ale. Everyone was given 1 choice of beverage and snack for this service.

Headphones were also handed out on demand, which was definitely what set United apart from other airlines in their Domestic Economy class. In fact, some airlines do not issue headphones for free on International Economy class on the North American continent flights. 

After approximately an hour, the flight crews were walking about, offering passengers a coffee or tea, or any other beverage. Passengers could also request for other drinks of their choice, together with snacks, though some snacks are chargeable. 

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Passengers could request for drinks or snacks throughout the entire flight, with the crew occasionally making rounds offering water to passengers. 

United Airlines has the option of allowing their passengers to add their credit cards online, before boarding the flights, so as to ensure a contactless transaction. The cost of items ordered would be billed to that particular card, therefore negating the need for passengers to go through the hassle of finding their credit cards onboard. Cash payments are also not accepted onboard the flight, therefore requiring a card for in flight purchases. 

There is wifi provided onboard, with free internet access to messaging applications. The internet was rather fast, and offered great connectivity onboard, enabling you to stay in contact with your loved ones even in the air.

Free wifi for streaming and internet surfing is provided to T-Mobile customers, and other passengers could also purchase wifi for the entire flight for the same purpose. The wifi could also be used to stream movies to your own device, with a large range of movies and TV shows which could be watched online.

The selection of movies are definitely more than sufficient to keep everyone occupied for the duration of the entire flight. 

Soon, we landed at Washington Dulles International Airport, just slightly behind schedule. We deplaned via an airbridge to a remote concourse, where we were ferried to the main terminal via a mobile lounge, which in my opinion is quite a unique system. 

Delay Management done right

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One thing which really impressed me thoroughly was United’s management of delays. Knowing that the aircraft would be approximately 10 minutes late, the flight crews identified those passengers who have connecting flights through lighting the crew call button, therefore providing a visible identification.

Upon landing, passengers were advised to remain seated and let these passengers deplane first, so they could make up for the lost time. United Airlines were also transparent with the information and steps taken to mitigate delays to the travellers’ travel plans through keeping everyone in the aircraft updated with the status of the aircraft arrival. 

Final Thoughts

United’s Cabin Service exceeded my expectations, especially with the offering of earphones to all passengers in Economy, ensuring that passengers were able to enjoy the wide selection of inflight entertainment offered. This is in stark contrast to certain North American Carriers, where they follow a bring your own headphones concept, resulting in some passengers being unable to enjoy the inflight entertainment. Furthermore, the attentiveness of the crew certainly played a part in ensuring an amazing flight, ensuring that the passengers were comfortable and well hydrated. 

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