UA has a "United Inflight" segment before each safety video and preceding the carrier's new safety video is a new feature on United's infrastructure enhancement, particularly at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
But there was one glaring omission from the list of airport rehabilitation projects--Washington Dulles.
I wrote about United's Dulles Dilemma in November 2010 and my prognosis has not changed. The 1985 "interim airline gate facility" we now call Terminal C/D was indeed meant to be interim. And you can see why--with low ceilings and a generally depressing decor (especially when compared to the sleek and modern B Concourse), it is not an inviting terminal and a travesty to house the hub of world's largest airline in the capital city of the United States.
But someone has to pay for the new terminal and there is not a lot of money to go around right now--we may not even see the Silver Line extended to Dulles. And asking Northern Virgina residents to cough up even more tax dollars for this capital improvement may be a tough sell in a commonwealth that already levies a broad basket of taxes on its citizens.
I am convinced the solution lies in a federal-state-private partnership which will include a higher facility fee on all tickets booked through Washington Dulles. And I am more than happy to pay my share. Airports are an investment and a public good--they bring in jobs, attract industry, and raise property values (well, perhaps not for those across the street from the airport...). Connecting Dulles to Washington, DC via Metro rail and transforming Terminal C/D into a world-class hub for United's operations (and ideally for all Star Alliance carriers, though I concede the sheer size of Star's presence at Dulles likely renders this impossible) marks a critical move for the enduring viability and legacy of the airport. And it will be like the Hollywood Bowl or Griffith Observatory we Angelinos are so proud of--a public works project that endures for generations.
With air travel becoming accessible to nearly everyone, investing in a permanent, world-class facility that will make the travel process smooth and dare I say comfortable is not something that should be sacrificed on the altar of deficit reduction.