-- FORT LAUDERDALE
Chili's Too puts self-ordering to work
Self-ordering, a trend at casual restaurants, is available at Fort Lauderdale International. At Chili's Too Margarita Bar, customers can use its four table-top computerized stations to order food and play video games. "It speeds up service and provides some fun entertainment options," says Glen White, a spokesman for Delaware North, a concessionaire at the airport that runs the restaurant.
UWink, which developed the technology, is a California-based digital media firm led by Nolan Bushnell, founder and former CEO of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese.
Part of AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed on Concourse E
Miami International is displaying sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in honor of World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) and the 2008 United States Conference on AIDS, which took place last week in Fort Lauderdale.
The quilt, sponsored by the Names Project Foundation, began in San Francisco in 1987 with one panel. It now has more than 47,000 panels, each commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS.
Portions of the quilt are on display on the second level of Concourse E until December.
Southwest pilots test security process
Hoping to speed up the security-clearing process for airport workers, the Transportation Security Administration is testing a biometric access system at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Developed by Chicago-based Priva Technologies, the system identifies and authenticates individuals at security checkpoints using their fingerprints.
Pilots for Southwest Airlines are testing the program.
Participants must undergo an enrollment process, which stores their fingerprints, photograph and other security information in a small device that resembles a thumb drive.
Pilots place the drive on a reader at the checkpoint and register a fingerprint, and a TSA agent confirms their identity.
"We fully expect to get a green light from TSA to expand the program. Our goal is to make the program permanent," said Carl Kuwitzky, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association, in a statement.
The ultimate objective of this test is to provide secure access for employees at airports, says John Grimaldi, a spokesman for Priva. The trial at BWI will last 60 days.
FAA sees Chicago needing new airport
At its current rate of growth, Chicago may need a new airport or a large expansion of one of its existing airports, says Robert Sturgell, head of the Federal Aviation Administration.
In an interview with the Associated Press last week, Sturgell said Chicago's role as a major aviation hub requires such expansion, and the projects currently underway, including a $15 billion upgrade of O'Hare, may not suffice.
The number of U.S. air travelers could rise to 1 billion a year in the next decade, while airlines are increasingly relying on smaller planes.
The growth will likely mean more takeoffs and landings than existing airports can handle, Sturgell says.
Only two major airports have opened in the last 40 years — Dallas/Fort Worth and Denver International. But as many as four would have to be built in the next 20 to 30 years to meet the increased demand, Sturgell told AP.
More rocking chairs after security
Boston Logan has added 16 more wooden rocking chairs in post-security areas of the airport.
The rocking chairs are designed by local artists and feature regional themes, such as New England lighthouses, lobsters and professional sports teams.
Every Monday, we report on the latest news in airports across the USA. See something noteworthy in your travels? E-mail your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.