Article by: Arlene Satchell
For the full story visit: Sun Sentinel
Travelers are now arriving and departing through the new Concourse A inside Terminal 1 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
On Wednesday the $200 million facility officially opened to passenger traffic following several months of construction, the airport announced on its Twitter account @FLLFlyer.
“FLL and @SouthwestAir open for business and welcomes first customers to Terminal 1, Concourse A,” a 9:33 a.m. post said.
Concourse A — part of a $333 million modernization and expansion project nearing completion in Terminal 1 — had been projected to open June 30. The facility features five new gates, more restaurant and shopping options and a Customs and Border Protection inspection station.
A Southwest Airlines flight from Havana was among the first to arrive with travelers at the new concourse.
Concourse A will primarily serve Southwest travelers flying aboard a slew of newly-launched and soon-to-come international flights this year. It will connect to the airline’s existing Concourses B and C.
It’s the second new concourse to open at the Fort Lauderdale airport in recent years. In 2015, Concourse G in Terminal 4 became its first new concourse in more than a decade following Concourse B, which opened in 2003.
Concourse A’s new “swing” gates are configured to handle both international and domestic flights, providing more flexibility for the airport to grow routes in both areas.
In November, Southwest plans to add daily nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to Providenciales, Turks & Caicos; San Jose, Costa Rica and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. In June, it also added new service to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Belize City, Belize; Cancun, Mexico and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.
To help showcase its new international routes from Fort Lauderdale, Southwest recently commissioned local artist Ruben Ubiera to create a destinations mural in the city’s FAT Village arts district, which it unveiled last month.
Southwest is also beefing up domestic flying from Fort Lauderdale. Last month it resumed nonstop service to Orlando and began new service to Washington, Dulles. While in March, the carrier added flights from Fort Lauderdale to Newark, N.J.
“We are one of Broward County’s strongest economic engines and one of the most powerful cylinders in that engine…is Southwest Airlines,” said Mark Gale, director of aviation and CEO, during a facility preview in June. “We need this great facility to help keep us fueling the economic vitality of this region.”
Southwest now ranks as the second-busiest carrier at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood carrying 2.7 million travelers or 19 percent of passenger traffic passenger traffic this year through May, airport records show.
Passengers traveling through Concourse A will find a range of new and improved amenities including gate-area seating with embedded electrical charging outlets for mobile devices, modern and spacious restrooms and a pet relief area. The concourse also boasts four new public art installations.
Airport tweets early Wednesday showed travelers with children enjoying an arts-themed play area or lounging on seating near a gate. One tweet also welcomed the first four-legged user of the pet relief area.
Among the new shops serving travelers in the concourse are Tech On the Go, 5th & Sunset, CNN Newsstand and Hudson.
A temporary Bud Light Bar and Fresh Attractions grab and go food kiosk, also opened Wednesday and will be joined Thursday by Starbucks Coffee, airport spokesman Greg Meyer said. And eateries Burger Fi and La Familia Tacos & Tequila, will open in coming months.