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Portland International Airport makeover making progress

Sept. 09, 2022
5 min read
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With the exception of the new consolidated car rental center, Oregon’s Portland International Airport (PDX) looks pretty much the same from the outside.

However, step into the lobby these days and it’s clear that something's up.

The terminal lobby is a construction zone. The finished ceiling is gone. And so is the pre-security strip of local retail shops.

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Giant signs made to look like sticky notes acknowledge the disruption and offer clues about what’s going on with the multiyear $2 billion PDX Next remodel project in progress. There’s even a tub of foam earplugs that anyone can dip into in case the noise gets too loud.

HARRIET BASKAS/THE POINTS GUY

The key project piece to come is a curved 9-acre "forest-to-frame" terminal roof made entirely of Douglas fir harvested from family, tribal and other local, sustainably managed forests in Oregon and Washington.

PORT OF PORTLAND

Close attention was made to which wood came from where. So, when the giant roof is finally installed it will include “sourced from” signs for various sections.

Building and installing the giant roof is a creative challenge being solved like a puzzle.

Over the past year, crews constructed the roof off-site, on the ground just northwest of the airport. Now they are disassembling what they built into 20 giant football field-size sections dubbed "cassettes." They'll move them — very, very slowly and very, very carefully — one by one, across the airfield at night and into position atop giant Y-shaped steel columns.

The first piece of the new roof was moved into place over the course of four days during the final week of August. The other 19 cassettes should be in place by the end of this year. Airport officials say interior work will occur throughout 2023 and visitors and travelers should be able to walk under and enjoy the roof and its skylights by mid-2024.

HARRIET BASKAS/THE POINTS GUY

Meanwhile, inside the airport: Cool new things

The roof isn’t the only new feature at PDX. Much of the indoor space is being updated as well.

So far, as part of the project, Concourse B has been totally remodeled and Concourse E has been extended, bringing more space, more power plugs, better light, more art and new bars, restaurants and shops.

Concourse A was demolished. Now a new bigger and much brighter Concourse B has 10 gates servicing flights for Alaska Airlines’ regional airline, Horizon Air.

HARRIET BASKAS/THE POINTS GUY

This concourse has floor-to-ceiling windows, live plants, lots of wood paneling, fresh art and great views of the airfield. Local roaster Good Coffee serves creative caffeinated brews and pastries. And a branch of the popular Screen Door restaurant, serving up Southern fried chicken and waffles, opened at the end of August.

HARRIET BASKAS/THE POINTS GUY

The six-gate extension of Concourse E, serving Southwest Airlines flights, officially opened during the pandemic and offers high ceilings, more art and fresh new shops and dining.

Of note is the Tillamook Market, the first brick-and-mortar outpost Oregon’s famous Tillamook Creamery has opened beyond its home base in Tillamook, 85 miles west. The menu includes grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh Tillamook ice cream and the company’s famous cheese curds, with plenty of to-go cheeses and other items.

HARRIET BASKAS/THE POINTS GUY

At the end of the concourse, there’s a wonderful wall of windows that offers a bank of comfortable seating and views of Mount Hood.

HARRIET BASKAS/THE POINTS GUY

Adjacent is the new Juliett bar, honoring women in aviation. Many of the cocktails and craft beers here have aviation-inspired names.

There’s also an education wall of large portraits by Sara Radovanovitch featuring four notable female aviators: Bessie Coleman, the first African American female pilot; Berta Moraleda, the first woman aviator in Cuba; Mildred “Micky” Axton, the first woman to pilot a B-29; and Portland-born Hazel Ah Ying Lee, the first Chinese American woman to join WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during World War II.

HARRIET BASKAS/THE POINTS GUY

For those missing the "good old days" when taking a foot-forward selfie with the iconic PDX carpet was a thing, PDX plans to recreate that pattern in a small section of the new, much larger terminal lobby.

In the meantime, there’s a patch of the original carpet installed in the “secret listening room” in the back corner of the Tender Loving Empire shop on Concourse E, near Gate E5.

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Featured image by PORT OF PORTLAND
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases