Combine the stress of the holidays with the anxiety of flying and the average passenger will come up with Excedrin Headache No. 358. But not the average Orange County traveler using John Wayne Airport.
Courtney Weircioch, public information officer for John Wayne Airport, said airport administrators are predicting smooth sailing both in and out of the new Thomas F. Riley Terminal. “Thanksgiving went so well,” Weircioch said. “And we’re expecting the same easy flow of traffic throughout December.”
Here’s a guide to using the new terminal and taking advantage of a few special airline services.
PARKING -- Two main lots are located at either end of the new terminal, a north lot and a south lot. Driving up to the airport, signs will designate lots A1 and A2 or B1 and B2. The north lots (A1 and A2) provide access to gates 1 through 5, which serve American, Midway, Delta, Continental and Alaska airlines. The south lots (B1 and B2) provide access to gates 6 through 10 and serve Northwest, TWA, American West, USAir and United airlines. Parking garages A1 and B1 provide direct access to the terminal through doors at the ends. Garages A2 and B2 provide parking directly in front of the terminal building. Parking fees are $1 an hour and $14 a day, changing to $7 for the third day and each day thereafter. Departing passengers should use the upper level for curbside baggage check-in, ticket counters and gates. To pick up new arrivals, use the lower roadway to reach garage areas on the baggage claim level.
AIRLINE TICKETS -- The upper level of the terminal houses ticket counters, baggage check-in and gates. Ticket counters for American, Midway, Delta, Continental and Alaska airlines are found at the north end of the terminal. Northwest, TWA, America West, USAir and United airlines ticket counters are located at the south end of the terminal. After picking up tickets, passengers walk a few yards to the gates, where they board their waiting planes.
BAGGAGE -- For departing passengers, skycaps (located at the upper level front entrance) can tag and check baggage through by placing the baggage on a conveyor belt that leads directly to the baggage-handling area. Baggage check-in is also available at each end of the terminal at the ticket counters. Arriving passengers collect luggage from four carousels on the lower level, accessible by stairs, elevators and escalators. Exit doors open out to lower roadway for curbside pickup of arrivals and luggage.
GATES -- Each airline is assigned a specific gate, but during the crowded holiday season gates may be shared. The terminal has telescoping loading bridges that connect 14 gates to individual aircraft. Waiting areas are separated by short, two-foot-high dividers. Gates at ends of north and south concourses serve small commuter carriers.
Special services offered by airlines:
MEALS -- People with dietary needs can request special in-flight meals. Menus vary from low sodium to Hindu, and can be requested through a reservations agent at least 24 hours in advance of the flight.
CARGO -- Each airline has specific rules and rates regarding package shipping. Call the airlines directly for information.
CHILDREN -- A meet-and-assist program is available where airline personnel accompany unassisted children at the terminal to meet their landing party. This program requires signed releases and the name(s) and phone numbers of the party meeting the child at the airport. Special arrangements can also be made to have someone stay with the child during the flight.
DISABLED TRAVELERS -- Two types of wheelchair services are offered: one will escort the passenger from the curb to the plane, the second will take the disabled passenger to a seat on the plane. Most airlines board people with physical disabilities first, but be sure to let the airline know of any special needs when reserving tickets.
SEATING -- For extra legroom, request seating at the emergency exit. Those seats have wider aisles than the rest of the seating on the airplane.
OVERBOOKED FLIGHTS -- According to the Civil Aeronautics Board, a passenger who is bumped from an oversold flight is entitled to up to $450 in denied boarding compensation.
LOST OR DAMAGED LUGGAGE -- Before leaving the baggage claim area, fill out a lost or damage claim report. Get the proper phone numbers to call and check on the baggage; some airlines deliver recover baggage free of charge.
Source: John Wayne Airport, various airlines