Travellers passing through Mineta Airport’s Terminal A will hardly notice anything different. Employees of Continental, United, JetBlue, and US Airways feel differently. For the past five months, since the terminal was renovated, they have complained that the office area often smells like a sewer.

“It’s like being in an outhouse,” says Steve Newell, General Manager of US Airways’ operations here. It’s not all the time, employees say, but the stench keeps coming back, and when it does, it comes back with a vengeance.

The city is doing everything it can to find the source of the stink, but nothing seems to work. They’ve sent smoke and TV cameras through the pipes, and even fixed a few leaks along the way. Still, they haven’t reached the mother lode yet, and the employees are at the end of their tether. “Short-term, you can put up with it. But eight to 10 hours a day, it’s horrible,” one worker said.

So the city is trying the time-tested methods to make life a little more livable for people who have to work there every day. They’ve opened the back doors and brought in mechanical fans and odor-neutralizing machines—think Febreze or Glade on steroids. They’ve even set up picnic tables so employees can have lunch outside.

For the airlines, however, it is hardly enough. They want a working environment, not a toxic one, and are threatening to withhold their rent from the city until the source of the smell is capped and sealed. Airport Spokesman David Vossbrink says that so far, no one has withheld rent … yet, but the problem “continues to elude a solution.”
Read More at the Mercury News.