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Terminals Only Part of the Solution for Kennedy

Airlines are pushing for legislation that would begin a transformation to a satellite-based air traffic control system and would change a funding formula that allows corporate jets to largely avoid paying for the traffic control services they use.

Meanwhile, JetBlue is gearing up to open the terminal of the future at Kennedy in the fourth quarter of 2008. It will resemble, in some ways, a new ticketing-area design by Alaska Air (ALK) that eschews ticket counters in favor of kiosks and self-check baggage facilities.

So far, Alaska's design has only been implemented in Anchorage, but when JetBlue's $750 million terminal opens in the world's media capital, it will likely become the talk of the airline industry and could trigger redesigns around the country.

A primary concept is that CEO "Dave Barger never wants to see a passenger in line," said Debbie Usvaltas, project manager, who guided TheStreet.com on one of the first tours of the facility, which is now under construction.

Instead of lining up, JetBlue passengers will flow past dozens of ticketing kiosks to areas where they can tag their own baggage and place it on conveyor belts.

Only 32 staffed check-in positions are planned, and they will have low counters "to encourage customer-friendly interaction with the agents," said Usvaltas. Nearly 200 kiosks will be located throughout the terminal. Some will be used for check-ins, some will be at the gate for rebooking, and others will be at the baggage claim so passengers can report problems.

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