Military News

Monday, March 09, 2015

Passenger terminal renovations mean new look, more features

JBER Public Affairs

3/9/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- They like to move it, move it. You like to move it, move it.

The mission of the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Air Passenger Terminal is to move passengers and cargo across the Pacific; now, thanks to $2.8 million worth of renovations unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 13, they'll be able to "move it, move it" that much better.

"The ribbon cutting ceremony was to signify that we're back to full 100-percent capacity," said Tech. Sgt. James Wall, 732d Air Mobility Squadron passenger terminal noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

The primary reason for the renovations was a cracked support beam running through the roof.

"The bones of this building go back to the 1940s," said Air Force Col. Seaborn Whatley, 715th Air Mobility Operations Group commander. "The record snow from the winter of 2011 was too much for them to bear and caused some significant structural damage to our building. So this project was a long time in coming."

In addition to structural renovations, a host of other upgrades were included to enhance the travel experience for passengers.

"Once the decision was made to fix the main structural problem, we decided why not spruce the place up, too," Wall said. "We put in heated sidewalks, because we have a lot of traffic in and out, and we don't want people slipping on the ice carrying bags and kids.

"We put in an all-recessed, eco-friendly, cost-effective lighting system that should save us $40,000 per year. We took out a huge animal display and divided it up into two smaller areas that will increase traffic flow in those areas and allow us to process passengers more efficiently," Whatley said.

Air Force Col. Brian Bruckbauer, JBER and 673d Air Base Wing commander, was on hand for the ribbon cutting and was impressed with what he saw.

"What an amazing facility," Bruckbauer said. "Yes, some old bones in here, but the facelift and the structural improvements are incredible. There was a famous person by the name of [Army Air Service] Brigadier General [Billy] Mitchell who once said about this location, 'It's the most strategic place on earth.' What a fitting place to have this great facility here."

Whatley concurred with the JBER commander.

"These upgrades will better enhance the travel experience for our active duty servicemembers, retirees and families, whether traveling for duty or taking advantage of their well-earned privilege of space-available travel," Whatley said.

"It's often said, the passenger terminal is the face of Air Mobility Command. I'm confident this beautiful facility is putting our best face forward. It will allow us to provide our mission partners and JBER community with a matchless travel experience."

Creating a positive travel experience for passengers is something near and dear to the heart of all the personnel at the passenger terminal, none more so than Wall.

"We try to make it a fun family experience," Wall said. "Nobody likes having their personal belongings looked at and inspected. It's a necessity and has to be done, but we handle it in a manner that doesn't put people on edge. We try to take that element out of it."

The passenger terminal creed is "safely, by the book, and then on time." While the men and women of the passenger terminal have that creed as their baseline, passenger comfort is also foremost in their minds.

"I've noticed some places funnel people into little areas, and everyone is sitting all over the floor. No one ever comes and tells you, 'hey, there's an open seat over there,' or 'hey, there's a plug for your phone over there.' We try to make people as comfortable as possible," Wall said.

Due to the nature of "space-available" travel, seating and schedules can be short notice, requiring some travel plan flexibility for those looking to take advantage of a fair
fare from here to there - Space-A travel is free.

To make the process more efficient and information more accessible, the passenger terminal has a Facebook page "Joint Base Elmendorf/Richardson Passenger Terminal," where they routinely post the next 72 hours' worth of flight information.

"Air Mobility Command has a social media initiative," Wall said. "All passenger terminals have to have one. What's great about that is not only can we get information out in a more user-friendly format, but people can like our page and other bases' pages and plan travel routes based on available missions."

Shuttling people throughout the world as part of Space-A travel is just one facet of the mission of the passenger terminal.

The PAX terminal supports the entire joint mission of  JBER, Wall said. They facilitate 3rd Wing deployments, as well as supporting the 11th Air Force and all the long-range radar sites. They also work hand-in-hand with the Army, and have a "great working relationship," he said.

Wall said he finds his line of work rewarding because it allows him to directly contribute to personally impactful moments in the lives of others. He told the story of recently being able to help a Soldier get to see his father before he passed away.

The Soldier asked if there were any flights to Kentucky, and JBER aircraft almost never fly to Kentucky, Wall said. Through extensive research, Wall was able to find a rare flight going exactly where the Soldier needed.

"We were able to get him on the flight and he was able to see his father before he passed away," Wall said. "He came back in and thanked me personally. Helping someone like that with such an important personal thing in their life makes it all worthwhile."

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