Airport Check-in: Growth on the Gulf in Biloxi

BILOXI, MISS.

Growth on the Gulf

Gulfport-Biloxi International unveiled its newly expanded terminal last week. The five-year, $50 million expansion project added five gates for a total of 10.

The airport now has enough space for four security lanes, up from two; the additional lanes open later this year. Passengers also have access to four new restaurants, including local microbrewery Lazy Magnolia.

Despite the destruction from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the region has seen a steady increase in visitors traveling on business and to gamble at its numerous casinos.

Prior to Katrina, the airport had four carriers serving direct flights to six cities. Now it has nine carriers serving 12 cities.

"Tourism has returned, and business travel has grown dramatically," says airport marketing executive Jim Pitts.

BEIJING

Big gets bigger

Beijing Capital International Airport, the ninth-busiest airport in the world, will open its new Terminal 3 later this week. The five-story terminal, with three concourses designated C, D and E, will be one of the largest in the world. It will be home to 27 airlines, including Air China, Qantas and British Airways. Concourse C is for domestic flights and baggage claim. Concourse D is temporarily dedicated to charter flights and will remain that way through the Olympics and the Paralympics later this year. Concourse E is international departures and arrivals.

Terminal 3 is about 4 miles from the two smaller terminals, and passengers will be transported via shuttle buses.

TAMPA

Ready for some football

Tampa International plans to spend $14 million to revamp its concessions in time for the city to host the Super Bowl next Feb. 1. The airport and its concessions developer, HMSHost, struck a new deal recently to develop 15 retail and 11 food and beverage concessions.

The airport's current dining options are mostly limited to food court offerings, but the airport plans to install new full-service restaurants, including Carrabba's Italian Grill and Sam Snead's restaurant.

New shops will include Brookstone and United Benetton.

BOSTON

Fine food

Travel + Leisure's March issue designates Boston Logan's Bonfire Restaurant as its "favorite" airport restaurant in the USA. Created by chef Todd English, it is an "American Steakhouse with South American influences," according to the restaurant's website.

The magazine also cited London Heathrow's Plane Food restaurant. Chef Gordon Ramsay's first airport restaurant won't open until March, when Heathrow opens its Terminal 5. But it's a restaurant "the editors are excited about," says magazine spokeswoman Elizabeth Marsh.

ORLANDO

Cars help cover expansion

Orlando International Airport, the nation's largest rental car market, is getting costlier. Customers will be charged $2.50 per day for up to five days to help cover the $103 million the airport plans to spend to expand the rental car operations. The expansion may be complete in 2009.

CHICAGO

Unhappy landings

Chicago O'Hare provides the most miserable air travel experience, according to U.S. News & World Report's "Airport Misery Index" released earlier this month. The ranking shows which airports have the worst combination of delayed flights and crowded planes.

Every Monday, we report on the latest news in airports across the USA. See something noteworthy in your travels? E-mail your suggestions to ryu@usatoday.com.

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