This week: Fix or shut LaGuardia, congestion charge around Heathrow & more

Well, well, well. It’s surely been an interesting week, which – when you read our headlines – you’ll definitely agree:

Okay, let’s get straight to our first article with its controversial headline. This headline and the corresponding article were published in The New York Times opinion section on Wednesday and refer to a letter to the editor in response to their article last week arguing LaGuardia Airport (LGA) should be closed down. Needless to say that a lot of reaction was generated through this article. We at LateDeparture love a good airport debate and therefore it was refreshing to read through all these submissions. One reader for example wrote that “The current main terminal is a mess, and the $4 billion earmarked for the rehabilitation could certainly be better spent.”, someone else countered that “It’s so fashionable to pile on La Guardia Airport. But LGA works!”. What do you think? Should LaGuardia remain or be bulldozed down?

Another airport that some people like to be shut (or definitely relocated) is London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). From there the British Newspaper The Standard reported this week that a congestion charging zone could be brought in around Heathrow if plans to expand the airport are given the go-ahead, Boris Johnson warned today. The Mayor said he was against motorists paying a fee to use roads to the airport as it would be “the wrong thing” for locals, businesses and passengers. Mr Johnson of course backs a new airport hub in the Thames estuary as previously reported on LateDeparture.

Then there was CityLab that reported of a less publicised topic this week: Breastfeeding pods at airports. The article starts off by arguing that breastfeeding or pumping in a terminal can be a daunting prospect, too: Nursing mothers either have to stake out a quiet corner near the gate—often full of disgruntled, sprawled-out passengers—or find space in a potentially grungy airport bathroom. In the United States there is a better way now. According to the article recently, a handful of airports around the country have made efforts to become more hospitable to moms who are nursing or pumping. Earlier this month, free-standing lactation pods were installed at New York’s LaGuardia (LGA), JFK, and Newark airports (EWR). (Designed by Mamava, the pods were imagined as “safe, clean, and functional” spaces that afford privacy and quiet.) Each lockable pod contains outlets to accommodate breast pumps as well as room for luggage. In addition to New York, lactation stations are up and running in General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee (MKE) and the Burlington International Airport in Vermont (BTV). An accompanying app also identifies other pods and user-submitted locations nationwide.

And for our final article we go to Japan from where we heard via PSFK that one of the draws is that Japan continues to both surprise and impress American tourists by its toilets. The company TOTO, in particular, pioneered the Japanese treatment of the bathroom as a site of continual innovation, instead of a taboo place to be forgotten about. A piece of cultural ambassadorship on this subject called GALLERY TOTO has now opened in Tokyo’s Narita airport (NRT), offering unique bathroom experiences to newcomers and travellers.

That’s all for this week – safe travels.

[Photo Credit: mgrenner57 via Compfight cc]