Thunder Bay Airport to expand departure lounge
Renovations will also speed up security process
The challenge of finding a place to sit at the Thunder Bay Airport during peak departure times will soon be a problem of the past.
The airport will undergo a major renovation, starting this October, to increase the amount of space available by nearly fifty percent.
"For anybody who's ever come through at six o'clock in the morning and had trouble finding a place to stand, never mind sit, we're going to start correcting that problem," said Ed Schmidtke, the airport's President and CEO.
The renovations are the first major work done to the terminal since its construction in 1994.
"We're going to have to carve out pieces of the departure lounge during the ongoing operation of the airport for renovation," said Schmidtke. So, the queuing might be awkward, some of the sight lines might be awkward, but all to a very positive end when we're done."
The expanded area will be at the south end of the terminal building, creating more seating and a food service close to where the current Westjet counter is located in the departure lounge.
Shorter security lineups
The other major benefit to travellers departing from Thunder Bay will be shorter security lineups, which will also be part of the renovation.
A new screening process, called CATSA Plus, will be installed in February or March of 2018.
"The overall is to have a better flow of passengers at the checkpoint and a better experience, and more effective overall operations," said Mathieu Laroque, a spokesperson for CATSA.
CATSA Plus has been installed in other major airports like Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Thunder Bay is the first mid-tier where the system will be installed.
The expectation is that lineups at security, especially during peak times in the early morning, will be dramatically reduced.
"When passengers bags are going through the x-ray, instead of sending all the bags down the same chute, the same rolling table, the bags that are required to be searched will be pulled aside, to a different rolling table, where they'll be searched," said Laroque.
"Other passengers who have had their bags cleared will be able to continue without having to stop to see the search of the passenger in front of them, so that will improve the flow of passengers."
Other improvements as part of the renovation include adding some stone and woodwork to the airport, to give it a 'Canadian Shield' look.
The work is expected to start after Thanksgiving, and could take up to 50 weeks to complete.