ground transporation

Airport Amenity of the Week: Sauna-themed transfer bus

Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence this year and Helsinki airport is part of the party.

In January, the airport opened the Arctic World of Santa Claus space, where visitors can see see and experience Finland in fifteen minutes. In April, a photo exhibition highlighting Finish nature photography was opened.

Now the airport transfer buses are getting make-overs to celebrate Finnish themes.

They’ve started with a sauna-themed bus, a bus dedicated to Finnish national composer Jean Sibelius and one dedicated to Formula 1 car racing, which is evidently also dear to the Finns.

At least two more themed buses are promised.

We’re declaring this the Airport Amenity of the Week.

 

Airport amenities coming – and going – soon

 

Airports – good ones –  do their best to offer service and amenities that will make your time in the terminal bearable and, increasingly, enjoyable.

What amenities are offered most?

What amenities are airports poised to add?

And what amenities are disappearing from airports?

 

The folks at Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) did a survey of their members to find out and are sharing the results today of the 2017 ACI-NA Guest Experience Management and Passenger Amenities Survey.

The top 10 most commonly offered airport amenities and services in 2017 are:

  1. ATM Services
  2. Gift Shops / News Stands
  3. Airport Websites
  4. Electrical Charging Stations
  5. Restaurants and Bars
  6. Lost and Found
  7. Parking / Taxi and Limousine Services
  8. Free Wi-Fi
  9. Pre-Security Pet Relief Facilities
  10. Food and Beverage Vending Machines

No big surprises there, but ACI-NA found out that over the next three to five years, passengers can expect new and expanded airport amenities and services such as:

  1. Nursing mothers’ rooms and pods
  2. Post-security pet relief facilities
  3. Children’s play areas
  4. Airfield observation areas
  5. Adult changing and washroom facilities.

And, as passenger needs change, ACI-NA notes, airports are beginning to phase out unnecessary or redundant amenities and services.

So, get ready to say bye-bye over the next three to five years to: payphones, banking services, and smoking rooms at airports.

Why no more pay phones?

“Pay phones take up a lot of valuable real estate considering their low usage now in the smart phone age,” said ACI-NA spokesman Scott Elmore, “They are being replaced with electrical charging stations and free Wi-Fi to keep people connected.”

But what about kids or people who don’t have cell phones. Or have cell phones that are out of power?

“Airports are very cognizant of the need to remain accessible,” said Elmore, “So we expect to see the deployment of more courtesy phones with free local and international calling or calling cards for passengers in need.”

Amex offering free Uber rides from 11 airports

Uber app

Here’s a great perk for travelers who need a ride from the airport this holiday season.

Uber is partnering with American Express to give card members 2 free rides home (up to $65 a ride) from 11 different U.S. airports through December 31, 2016.

To get your ride credits, start your Uber trip one of these airports:

JFK International Airport

LaGuardia Airport

Newark Liberty International airport

Chicago O’Hare Airport

Chicago Midway

Dulles International Airport

Reagan Washington National Airport

Boston Logan Airport

Houston Bush International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

McCarran International Airport – Las Vegas

Then: enter ‘AMEXAIRPORT’ in the promotions tab on the Uber iOS or Android app when you request a ride and make sure you’ve selected your American Express card as your method of payment.

The $65 will automatically be taken off the total cost of the ride when your trip has ended.

Amex Card Members (prepaid cards aren’t eligible) can redeem this offer for up two eligible rides during – for a total value of $130 – through December 31, 2016.

See more details here.

Travel Tidbits: Use Thanks Again points for an Uber ride

Temporary sign at PIT Airport marks where Uber pick-ups are allowed.

Ride-hailing service Uber is making inroads at an increasing number of airports and, as you head off for that end-of-summer vacation, keep in mind that you can now use those Thanks Again points you’ve been earning for purchases you’ve made while stuck at the airport to pay for part of an Uber ride.

Earlier this month Thanks Again announced that program participants can redeem 500 Thanks Again points for a $10 Uber promotional code good toward rides – whether at the airport or in town.

What’s Thankgs Again? It’s a free program that lets you accumulate points for purchases (restaurants, shopping, services and, in many cases, parking) you make a more than 100 airports around the country. That’s on top of points/miles you might get for using your credit card in the first place.

Thanks Again program participants can redeem their points for a array of hotel and airline miles and even towards the  TSA Precheck registration fee.

You can download the Thanks Again App and earn 100 Thanks Again Points for enrolling on the Apple App Store or Google Play.  And if you haven’t yet signed up for Uber, use the “ThanksAgain2016” promotional code to get $15 off your first ride.

Ride review: ReachNow car share to the airport

ReachNow

Seattle, like many hip cities, has a variety of car-share and ride-on-demand services – including Uber, Lyft, Zipcar and car2go.

Back in April, we got another – BMW Groups’ ReachNow, which set up its North American headquarters here and announced plans to expand this car sharing program to three other cities by the end of 2016 and, eventually to 10 North American cities.

The fleet of cars caught my eye, and includes the BMW i3, the BMW 3 Series and the MINI Cooper, but my main question was: Will I be able to drive one of the cars to or from the airport?

Back then, I couldn’t.

But starting August 10, nicely coinciding with a week-long summer trip out of town, ReachNow started its airport service, which allows members to pick up a car anywhere within the Home Area, drive to Sea-Tac Airport and park at the Wally Park Premier Garage in one of the 30 spots dedicated for ReachNow cars. From there, it’s a quick shuttle van ride to the terminal.

It works the other way too – from the airport, back into the city – and, thankfully, the cars are accessible at 2 a.m., which is when my flight home to Seattle from Boston landed and I decided to take my test drive.

Finding the car in the garage and exiting the lot was a snap and I felt safe on the 18 mile ride home in a Mini Clubman, which I could park near my front door.

I had promotional credit to cover the ride and the bill ($0.41 per minute) came to considerably less than my other options at that time of night, which were a taxi, a shared van, an Uber ride, or calling in a favor from a friend.

Want to try it out – now or later? ReachNow is offering free lifetime membership as well as that $0.41 per minute introductory rate through the end of August and they’re landing in Portland, Oregon in mid-September.