Airport Check-In: D.C. airports get registered flier lanes

WASHINGTON, D.C.

After a brief test run, New York-based Verified Identity Pass officially opened registered traveler lanes last Wednesday at Reagan Washington National and Dulles International airports for passengers with Clear passes.

Travelers in the program pay an annual $100 fee and an additional $28 TSA prescreening fee for the privilege of bypassing standard security checkpoint lines.

This brings to 16 the number of airports with registered traveler lanes.

BOSTON

Security lanes take cue from ski resorts

In February, the Transportation Security Administration began testing a self-select security lane process at airports in Salt Lake City and Denver. The "diamond lane" system, modeled on signage used at ski resorts, has been so successful in speeding up the checkpoint process at test airports that the TSA is expanding the program.

Last week, airports in Boston, Orlando and Spokane, Wash., opened their own diamond lanes. The TSA expects to add at least three more airports to the list by the end of April.

The self-select system streamlines the process by letting passengers choose a security lane based on a self-assessed level of need and knowledge. The black diamond expert lanes welcome frequent travelers, while the green family lane accommodates travelers with children, elderly passengers or anyone requiring extra assistance.

PORTLAND, ORE.

Service to Amsterdam coming up

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and celebrants dressed in traditional Dutch attire will be on hand at Portland International Saturday to help launch Northwest Airlines/KLM service between Portland and Amsterdam.

Flights are on Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with 32 lie-flat seats in business class, 211 economy seats and on-demand in-flight entertainment in both cabins.

As part of the airport's annual Spring Fling celebration, travelers can enter a contest at the airport or online to win a pair of round-trip tickets from Portland to Amsterdam.

SIOUX CITY, IOWA

Airport lets callers use phones for free

Last fall, Iowa's Sioux Gateway Airport gave up trying to jettison the SUX airport identifier code and embraced it. T-shirts, caps and, now, coffee mugs, luggage tags and bumper stickers sport the "Fly SUX" slogan. There was even a Valentine's Day "Luv SUX" T-shirt.

"People have been buying this stuff online, at a downtown store and at the gift shop in the airport," says airport director Rick McElroy, who adds that the airport allows 30 minutes of free parking to accommodate shoppers.

Now, the airport has removed all seven of its leased payphones and replaced them with four phones that let callers make free local and toll-free calls.

"No one was really using the pay phones anyway," McElroy says. "These days, most people use their cellphones. But now people are using the free phones for local calls instead of burning up their cell minutes."

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL

Fliers can get pampered in the fall

Last week, Minneapolis-St. Paul International announced that a 24-hour pet-boarding facility and spa will open on airport property in October.

Now, for people who want pampering, the airport has signed a contract with New York-based XpresSpa to open a wellness center in the fall in the airport's Lindbergh Terminal. The 5,000-square-foot center is XpresSpa's first partnership effort with Airport MD and will include a full-service pharmacy, a walk-in health clinic and spa and beauty services. XpresSpa currently operates 34 spas at 18 other airports.

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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