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NFTA spending $1.3 million on more comfortable seats at Buffalo Niagara Airport

Approximately 42 million fannies have plunked down into terminal seats since 1997, and now Buffalo Niagara International Airport officials think it’s time for new ones.

Seats, that is.

As a result, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is replacing the airport’s 2,322 seats in a $1.3 million program slated for completion by March 31.

The new seats are wider, provide more leg room, and many come equipped with the amenities demanded by modern air travelers. The replacements are “an upgrade that was needed,” NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said.

“In an effort to enhance our customers’ overall experience while in our airport, we are replacing all of our hold room seats that are now over 18 years old,” he said. “They will provide a more relaxing and comfortable seat, while providing new amenities such as cup holders and access to power for cell phone and laptop charging.

“It was time after 18 years,” he added, pointing to current seating marked by worn and torn cushions.

Most of the new chairs are gray toned and feature cup holders only on the end seats, but groups of four blue chairs are interspersed throughout waiting areas with cell phone ports, power outlets and cup holders.

Already, airport travelers are settling into their new accommodations installed over the past few days beginning at the west end of the concourse near Gates 1-3. On Saturday afternoon, Brock Huffaker of Phoenix was parked in one of the new power-equipped seats, watching a movie on his laptop. Weather delayed his flight home by more than two hours, but he had no fears of losing power after plugging into one of the new outlets.

“I think they’re really awesome; every chair should be like this,” the software consultant said, pointing to his ability to use his laptop and charge his phone at the same time.

“If I didn’t have a place to sit down and plug in, it would make my stay much less enjoyable,” he added.

The new seating is provided by the Arconas Corp. of Mississauga, Ont.

Current seats still in good condition will be salvaged and installed in Niagara Falls International Airport and the downtown bus terminal, Hartmayer said. The rest will be auctioned.

Several new “Fiore” seating units also will be installed in children’s waiting areas, he said, allowing youngsters to bounce and play on the designs that include logos sponsored by the city’s professional sports teams.