Portland International Airport facelift nears completion

PORTLAND — Everyone hates being stuck at the airport.

It’s crowded, the seats aren’t comfortable, you can’t find a point of sale and everything is too expensive.

But maybe not at Portland International Airport.

Even with construction, limited pre-security workshops and the removal of the post-security terminal connector, brought on by the $2 billion PDX Next renovation project, the airport retains its appeal, especially with Concourse B remodeled and Hall E extended.

Three million board feet of lumber later, and the main terminal’s new 392,000-square-foot curved roof is complete and ready to be moved from the roof fabrication yard, three-quarters of a mile down the tarmac to the main terminal.

The roof can be separated into 25 different sections. The first section will be put in place at the end of August; the entire roof should be in place by the end of the year.

Building on the airport’s local theme, 95% of the steel used in the new roof is sourced from within a 25-mile radius, and all wood is sourced from a 300-mile radius around the airport, mostly small family farms, tribal farms and sustainably managed forests. When complete, there will be signs describing which sections of the roof are from which tribal forests.

The first things you notice when you walk into PDX these days are the fake giant sticky notes informing the flyers of construction in progress and work in progress on the ceiling.

Gone is the old dark and drab Concourse A, and in its place is an expanded Concourse B with high ceilings, natural light, giant windows, new toilets, electrical outlets in every seat and a good cafe, with a screen door that will open soon.

Located next to Capers Cafe and Stumptown Cafe, Concourse B was just a handful of doors before an escalator took you to Concourse A. It was one of the first places to undergo construction end of 2019. It reopened in December 2021.

Local flights from Horizon and Alaska, which departed primarily from Concourse A, now use the Concourse B gates.

Concourse C, where other Alaskan flights depart, remains essentially the same except for the walkway to bypass construction.

Concourse E, where Southwest Airlines and United Airlines are located, was expanded, adding seven more gates and eight stores and restaurants, including Juliet, a women in aviation-themed bar. Like Lobby B, each chair has an electrical outlet, plenty of natural light, and artwork by local artists.

Rental cars are now on site, so you don’t need to take a shuttle to pick one up, and 2,225 new parking spaces have been opened. A new rideshare pickup center will open in 2023, reducing congestion, a second MAX light rail transit lane will be completed in 2024, and improvements will be made to bike lanes.