Fiona Morrison, 46, leads a team that has helped develop the passenger-experience elements of T5, JetBlue’s new $743 million terminal at JFK which opened October 1.

"The airport should deliver as much of an experience as the flight itself. There are a million little touches that we've sprinkled throughout T5. We chose Italian furniture that's both sturdy and beautiful; we used indirect lighting and installed colorful, custom-design carpeting. If a space looks like a food court, people will treat it like one," says Morrison.

Pankaj Shukla, 48, sells Motorola’s luggage-sorting solutions -- which are built on radio-frequency-identification technology -- to airlines and airports, most of which still use bar-code optical-scanner systems to handle baggage.

"In 2006, more than 34 million bags were lost or mishandled worldwide, at a cost of $3.8 billion in lost productivity. To remedy the problem, the technology we use to track luggage is called 'passive RFID.' A small chip is embedded in each bag tag. As baggage rolls down the belt, the chip picks up radio waves emitted by readers positioned at different points, and sends back a message saying, 'Here I am.' The RFID read rate is 99.5%, versus 80% to 90% for optical scanners," says Shukla. "The Las Vegas airport processes around 70,000 pieces of baggage on a busy day. Since implementing RFID, only 350 bags a day need to be handled manually."

Emily McHugh, 32, is a bag designer whose nine-year-old company is one of only a handful selling TSA-compliant laptop bags that let passengers pass through airport security without removing computers from their cases. They’re available at boutiques such as Fred Segal and Flight 001.

"TSA guidelines say that nothing should be on top of a laptop when it goes through the scanner, so a checkpoint-friendly bag can't have a pocket or a flap on the front. We've created one case that unzips and flips open like a lid, with the computer secured by a Velcro strap. We've also designed a sleeve without pockets that can go through without being opened at all," says McHugh.

Chris Stidman, 39, developed Best Buy Express, a self-service kiosk that sells tech gadgets, accessories, and gift cards. So far this year, he has rolled out 12 of the kiosks at eight U.S. airports, including Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

"We thought about airport stores, but ruled it out as not viable. Then an employee came to us with the idea of kiosks. He was extremely passionate and convinced us that Best Buy Express was an ideal way to reach the customer who shows up for a flight without his BlackBerry. There was already a company, ZoomSystems, that operated nonbranded kiosks at airports around the country. We partnered with them, adjusted the mix of products for sale, and were able to bring the concept to market in 150 days. We've seen double-digit sales increases since rebranding the kiosks," says Stidman.

Atousa Ghoreichi, 37, develops new restaurants for HMSHost, the $2 billion U.S. division of Autogrill, which runs concessions in more than 100 airports. These include her own concepts as well as chefs’ visions that she translates into airport dining, like Nancy Silverston’s La Brea Bakery at LAX.

"At O'Hare last year, we opened La Tapenade, a Mediterranean café. We've hung photos of olive groves and seasides that you might see in the Mediterranean, chosen tile work inspired by France or Italy, and used a subdued green-and-salmon color palette. They work together to create a soothing atmosphere," says Ghoreichi. "I also helped create a grab-and-go kiosk called Ciao. To evoke an Italian market, we went with bright red and mango to make the space pop and added beautiful photos of dried fruits and nuts. Customer response has been so positive, we're going to debut six more Ciao kiosks around the country within the next year."

Mike Caro, 40, supervises the construction, leasing, marketing, and management of 90,000 square feet of retail space at Boston Logan’s Terminals B and E. Terminal B’s $25 million redevelopment for American Airlines debuted this fall.

"We're the last thing people see of Boston before they take off, and we want to leave them with a good impression. We can make local travelers feel comfortable and also give people coming in from other places some Boston flavor. Dunkin' Donuts and Au Bon Pain are New England institutions, but they're also well-established brands that are the anchors that allow us to add smaller local companies into the mix. For example, Local Charm is a jewelry store whose original location is in Faneuil Hall, a huge tourist attraction. It sells unique, fashionable jewelry that appeals to female passengers coming through Logan, who are typically stylish and have money to spend. The more varied the mix of retailers we have here, the more money passengers are willing to spend, and the happier they are to be spending it," says Caro.

Business Travel Gets an Upgrade at the Airport

Travel has never been worse — US Airways now charges two bucks for a can of soda?! Meet the highfliers working to make the terminal experience bliss: from the woman that lead the team behind JetBlue's new terminal in New York's JFK Airport, to the VP the brought Best Buy's Express kiosks selling earphones, videogames and other gadgets to airports nationwide.

Fiona Morrison, 46, leads a team that has helped develop the passenger-experience elements of T5, JetBlue’s new $743 million terminal at JFK which opened October 1.

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