Posts in the category "ground transporation":

Airports making deals with Uber, Lyft etc.

My “At the Airport” column on USA TODAY this month is an update on what’s happening with ride-hailing services at airports. Here’s the story:

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

After detours and disputes, many major airports are successfully hammering out deals with ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

That means more and, often, less expensive ground transportation options for many travelers.

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced that, beginning Nov. 1, Uber and Lyft would be added to the list of authorized ground transportation options at Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington Airports.

At the end of August, the Los Angeles City County approved a permit process that will allow Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), as the ride-hailing services are also called, to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport.

Lyft, which already has operating agreements with 16 airports, is currently going through the permitting process at LAX, said airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles, but while representatives from Wingz, Opoli and Uber say they intend to apply, as of last week, no other TNC, had submitted an application for a permit.

“In the meantime, TNCs may continue to drop off passengers at LAX, but they cannot pick up customers,” Castles said.

In July, San Diego International Airport signed permits allowing Uber and Lyft to join ride-hailing service Opoli in offering pickup and drop-off service at the airport and, at the beginning of September, UberX began operating legally at Sacramento International Airport.

Airports in Seattle and other cities are working on and/and or close to announcing agreements with ride-hailing services as well, and if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new budget plan moves forward, ride-hailing services will soon be officially allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at O’Hare and Midway Airports.

“It wasn’t a question of when services such as Uber and Lyft were coming to airports or how to keep them out,” said Kevin Burke, President and CEO of ACI-NA, the organization which represents most commercial airports in North America, “The big challenge for airport directors was how to regulate the services,” given the various governing models in place at the nation’s airports, he said.

To help move things along, ACI-NA put together a task force that examines the services and offers suggestions to airports on how to negotiate a deal that works for everyone.

“Airports want to provide options for passengers that are coming in and leaving, and if Uber and Lyft are viable options, then we should be providing them,” Burke said. At the same time, though, airports need to make sure passengers are safe and airports need to protect themselves as legal entities, he said.

In 2013, airports in the U.S. and Canada earned $3.1 billion from parking and ground transportation fees, so airports need to make sure the agreements they work out with ride-hailing services protect that revenue as well.

“As we move along we’ll see more and more airports solving these challenges,” Burke said,” but each airport has a different story and there will likely be some snags.”

One of those snags is in Florida, where last week Broward County Commissioners spent more than six hours debating regulations that would have allowed Uber to operate at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

“They provide a very good service, our customers want to see that service, and we want to work with them to get that service here,” said Kent George, director of the Broward County Aviation Department, but negotiations between Uber and the county have “been difficult.”

George said while the airport looks at ground transportation services more as a customer service than a revenue center, he’s confident Uber won’t walk away from the large South Florida market, which includes 26 million annual passengers at Fort Lauderdale, 40 million passengers Miami International Airport and more than 7 million annual passengers at Palm Beach International Airport.

“The airports are working together and I believe we will eventually get to ‘yes’,” George said.

Rides from the airport?


I usually opt for public transit into the city when I land at an airport, but my flight to Boston was scheduled to arrive late in the evening and a cab or some sort of car service was going to be the only option for getting to the place I’d be staying that night.

I could have taken my chances and tried to book an Uber-type ride once I landed, but I decided to book ahead and take Blacklane up on its offer to try out their service.

The Berlin-based on-line ride booking service uses professional drivers, partners with established chauffeur services, operates in more than 180 cities around the world and offers service to and from more than 300 airports.

Reservations can be made in advance, the fare is fixed and includes taxes, tolls and tip.

As promised – and reconfirmed via email before my trip started and again when my flight landed (with the name and phone number of my driver) – my driver, a veteran of the industry who had been Anthony Quinn’s regular Boston driver back in the day – was waiting for me in a town car in the spot designated for limos outside my terminal at Boston Logan Airport.

I quizzed him on the way into town.

Had he tried offering his services via any of the Uber-like companies?

Yes, he said, but no more.

He didn’t like the high fee those companies took as a booking fee for each ride and he’d had experiences with customers from those companies who disrespected him and his extremely well-maintained car.

Of all the companies now offering book-online car services – and there are now oodles of them – what did he like about working with Blacklane?

They were fair and super-organized, he said, and only worked with professional drivers. And he marveled at the fact that they were running this world-wide business out of one office in Germany and yet, day or night, kept in close contact with each driver and fully accessible to customers.

If my personal budget for airport transportation was a bit larger, I’d definitely use Blacklane’s service on a regular basis. (The fare was about $15 more than I’d have paid for a cab and, given some of the news reports lately, I would not have taken an Uber-like service alone, late at night heading to an unfamiliar destination).

But, I’m putting the Blacklane website into my list of favorites and will definitely add them to the options I consider in the future when a bus or a train isn’t an option for getting into town from the airport.

And I’m happy to pass along the discount code they gave me – 9JMT1SQC – for $10 off one ride.

DFW’s Skylink marks a moving milestone

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is celebrating a few milestones this summer,  including  the 10-year anniversaries of Terminal D, the Grand Hyatt DFW and the Skylink people mover, which connects all five DFW terminals and is billed as the world’s largest automated airport bi-directional train system.

To celebrate, Hudson Group and DFW put together this nice infographic:



Bike to the airport?


Bike to or from the airport? In many cities you can do that and an increasing number of airports are making it easier to park, store, assemble, disassemble or make needed repairs to your bike.

Earlier this month Seattle-Tacoma International Airport marked National Bike Month with a new bicycle assembly/disassembly station, along with updated bike amenities that include tools, a bike pump, new bike racks, storage options (both short- and long-term), improved signage, and an updated bicycle resources webpage.

Other airports with bike stations and support include San Francisco International Airport, Portland International Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport, and Victoria International Airport on Canada’s Vancouver Island.

(Photo courtesy Seattle-Tacoma International Airport)

The arrival: airports that do it right

[This is a slightly altered version of my “At the Airport” column published in  USA TODAY in May 2015]

Palm Springs International Airport _courtesy of the Airport

Palm Springs International Airports

Sometimes, the best part of going away is coming home. Or feeling at home in a new place. And for many travelers, that sensation begins at the airport.

Sound designer Peter Comley relishes his return visits to Vermont’s Burlington International Airport where, he’s welcomed by a view of the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain and the Burlington Air National Guard Base, which is “a sight just across the runway – with their F-16s.”

For Evan Deahl, an about-to-graduate college student in Philadelphia, it’s the approach into Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. “You come in over Lake Michigan and directly over the Chicago skyline. Cue Rhapsody in Blue in head. It’s like a movie,” he said.

Washington, D.C.-based literary agent Anna Sproul-Latimer enjoys landing at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, which has a “beautiful view coming into the Strip, and you can roll straight into gambling in the terminal. What’s not to like?”

In other airports it’s the immediate access to local culture, scenery and cuisine.

Passengers arriving at Fort Wayne International Airport in Indiana are greeted by local volunteers handing out cookies from a nearby bakery. At California’s Palm Springs International Airport, passengers exiting their planes enter an outdoor space with palm trees, real grass and a view of the mountains.

“I’m always happy to fly back to my old hometown airport in Atlanta and get my southern fried food fix of grits, greens and fried okra at Paschal’s or a Chick-fil-A sandwich and a sweet tea,” said Chris McGinnis, who writes the TravelSkills blog.

Some airport “Welcome Home” scenes take a moment to unfold.

When you walk off the plane at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, “the first thing you feel in the jet bridge is the thick sticky subtropical ether,” notes Christopher Schaberg, author of The Textual Life of Airports and the forthcoming book, The End of Airports. “This gradually gives way to the cool air conditioning of the terminal; then you see a bartender pouring a tall glass of Abita amber ale, and further down the concourse a sign beckons you to purchase some Crawfish Strudel—you know you’ve arrived in New Orleans,” he said.

Both San Francisco-based Kat Snow and Seattle-based freelance writer Pam Mandel appreciate the food offerings at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. “I was super impressed by the offerings for those arriving hungry,” said Mandel. “Austin BBQ and tacos … great coffee and tea from a local café,” said Snow, “It really helps to arrive at the airport hungry, because some of the best food is pretty rich and filling.”

Arriving passengers at AUS airport are also welcome to attend any of the almost two dozen live, local music performances held in the terminal each week. And, speaking of music, Chicago-based management consultant Mitch Lieber says, when at Kansas City International Airport, the interpretive panels sharing stories about the jazz-era history that earned Kansas City the title of “Paris of the Plains” help him feel welcome and plugged in.

Fast getaway routes are a big draw at other airports.

“I love small airports like Albany International,” said Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, family travel expert at “There’s never a crowd at the baggage carousel, long-term parking costs a reasonable $12/day, and I can find my car without walking miles.”


Recent Tweets

  • Subscribe to Posts Via Email or RSS

    Subscribe Via Email
    Subscribe Via RSS
  • My USAToday Airport Guides

    • See all airport guides »

  • Posts by Category

  • Browse posts on the site by category:

  • See all categories »

  • Advertisers