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Dulles Airport’s Mobile Lounges Are Here to Stay: $160 Million Refurbishment Underway

Dulles Airport’s Mobile Lounges Are Here to Stay: $160 Million Refurbishment Underway

BY HADI AHMAD Published on June 20, 2024 4 COMMENTS

For a while, rumors suggested that the famous, albeit aging, mobile lounges at Washington Dulles International Airport would be phased out at some point. Well, those rumors have been proven false as it was recently announced that the beloved people movers will receive a major facelift.

 

Balthazar Korab, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

IAD's Mobile Lounges

 

Dulles' iconic terminal was designed in 1958 by famed architect Eero Saarinen. However, the terminal was built without any concourses or gates meaning aircraft were parked at remote stands.

 

To compensate for this issue, the airport made use of mobile lounges that would bus passengers to their aircraft. Currently, there are 49 vehicles in use each named after a U.S. state.

 

By 1985, the mobile lounge operation did not make much sense as Dulles transformed more into a hub airport. Midfield concourses were constructed and jetbridges continued to be added.

Given their age, it was always assumed that the IAD mobile lounges would be phased out, that too considering that passengers could walk between concourses too. Furthermore, the airport's AeroTrain opened in 2010 making transport between the main terminal and concourses much easier.

 

Carol M. Highsmith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

However, it was soon revealed that the mobile lounges would continue being used to transport internationally arriving passengers to the international arrivals building. Furthermore, they are used for limited transport to Concourse D because the AeroTrain does not reach that concourse.

 

It should also be noted that there are two types of these unique vehicles driving around Dulles. The first type is 19 mobile lounges which transport passengers from building to building. However, there are also 30 "plane mates" that can raise/lower and physically attach to an aircraft like a jetbridge. 

 

Each vehicle can move up to 100 passengers at a time so in the case of boarding or unloading widebodies, a few are needed to execute this task.

 

Dulles also has a lesser-known area of gates called the "H Gates". These are remote stand gates where aircraft park if no jetbridges are available. The plane mates will continue bussing passengers to and from aircraft that park at these gates as well.

 

By dave_7 - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Renovating the Mobile Lounges

 

According to Rob Yingling, a spokesperson for the MWAA (Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority), the infrastructure to replace the mobile lounges has not been built yet.

 

As such, Dulles Airport announced a plan to extend the lives of these unique vehicles.

 

Pennsylvania-based firm Brookville Equipment Corporation has been awarded the contract to revamp the plane mates. Brookville is known for manufacturing locomotives among other products.

 

Brookville will initially design two prototypes of updated plane mates for $16.4 million. MWAA will later have the option to refurbish all 49 vehicles for an estimated $143 million. The total price tag of the restoration project is not expected to exceed $160 million.

 

The first mobile lounge, named "Delaware" has already been sent to the Brookville factory. Another vehicle was sent shortly after. It appears that these two vehicles will become the two prototypes that were just mentioned earlier.

 

Dulles is the only airport in the United States that continues to use such vehicles. Nearby Montréal-Trudeau Airport (YUL) in Canada also uses similar vehicles.

 

The MWAA has consistently praised the size and flexibility of these people-mover vehicles. They are hopeful that the coming upgrades will continue to enable the vehicles to prove useful to the millions passing through Dulles Airport every year.

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Hadi Ahmad
Lifelong aviation enthusiast raised in Central Illinois. 777 is the best plane BTW.

Comments (4)

Terrance https://vclubshop.rs/ I'm gone to say to my little brother, that he should also visit this weblog on regular basis to obtain updated from most recent news.
21d ago • Reply
Cowabunga We’re saddled with the Dulles Panzers for the indefinite future? Sigh. I swear Dulles has a department dedicated to figuring out how to annoy passengers.
19d ago • Reply
Michell 20 Things You Need To Know About British Porn Stars Xxx British pornstar
18d ago • Reply
sharperd Flew through Dulles recently for the first time in years. Arrived at an A gate, one of these vehicles to C/ D. The latter is an awful place= long ,narrow, crowded, inadequate gate seating, no moving sidewalks, worn out look. Came back into C on an international flight. Conveyer belt in baggage claim was delaminating and looked as if was about to fall apart. Then had to make to an A gate. Just an overal bad experience. Talk about the need for refurbishment!
18d ago • Reply

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NEWS dulles airportiad airportpeople moverdulles mobile loungesplane mateiad plane matedulles airport plane amtedulles airport plane matedulles airport people moverwashington dc

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