Posts in the category "Parking":

A visit with Ray the Parking Robot at Dusseldorf Airport

Ray alone _Harriet Baskas

Travelers rushing to fly out at Germany’s Düsseldorf Airport can now pay a robotic system named Ray to park and retrieve their cars.

After a driver leaves a car in a designated spot, Ray uses sensors to photograph and measure the car, then picks it up and gently transports it to one of 249 close-in parking spots.

RAY automatic parking

On a nearby touch-screen, passengers confirm to Ray that no one is still in the car and share details of their return flight.


Ray then monitors flight schedules to calculate when a car should be retrieved for its owner and spends any off-time rearranging the cars to maximize use of available parking spaces. If a traveler’s itinerary changes, Ray can be contacted via an app.

“Some people think it’s too space age, but we think busy business travelers, especially, are ready for Ray,” said Thomas Nagel, a software engineer with Bavarian-based serva transport systems which is testing the system at Dusseldorf Airport with air transport IT company SITA.

“German people are very proud of their cars, but there’s insurance in case something goes wrong and we haven’t ruined a car yet,” he said.

The new parking robots (there are three “Rays” at work) are entertaining and convenient.

But they are not cheap.

The airport purchased the system for more than a million dollars. (A good introductory price, Nagel said), but PremiumPlus robot parking with Ray adds about $6 per day to the self-parking option in the close-in garage, which already tops $33 a day.


Tidbits for Travelers: ATL, AUS and presidential places

Cell phone lot at ATL

No matter what type of car you drive, if you travel to or from Atlanta, you’ll be pleased to know that on Thursday, February 16, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (finally!) opens its first cell phone lot for drivers waiting to pick up arriving passengers.

The 160-space lot is along South Terminal Parkway at the east end of the Park-Ride Reserve lot and has no flight monitors, portable toilets or other amenities.

Refrigerators at AUS

At the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, six decorated refrigerator doors are on display in the baggage claim area, at carousels two and four. The doors were used as canvases by high school students as a way to promote the importance of recycling and will be on display through the end of February.

Where to go for Presidents Day

And, if you’ve got Presidents Day off you may be trying to figure out where to go to get in touch with a presidential past. Here are some tools and tidbits that may be helpful.

From Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 20, the Presidents Gallery at Madame Tussauds in Washington, D.C. is offering free admission to anyone who shares a birthday with a U.S. president.

The folks at Roadside America, keen collectors of odd travel destinations, have just released a Roadside Presidents app for the iPhone. They’re charging $2.99 for it – but you can bet that it’s full of all manner of oddball Presidential landmarks and museums.

And, from my post on’s Overhead Bin, here’s a list of some towns and attractions with special Presidents Day events on tap:

Washington, D.C.
In Washington, D.C., Ford’s Theater, the site of the April 14, 1865, assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, is hosting a Presidents Day open house on Feb. 20. Among the free activities scheduled are storytelling, Civil War-themed ranger talks and a presentation by costumed actors that includes a reconstruction of Lincoln’s assassination.

Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press, a new exhibit opening at the Newseum Feb. 17, traces the way the media has covered presidential campaigns from “William McKinley’s 1896 front porch campaign to Barack Obama’s 2008 Internet campaign.” In addition to notable TV campaign ads, the exhibit includes campaign artifacts such as handwritten notes taken by John F. Kennedy during a 1960 presidential debate and the “Florida, Florida, Florida” white board used by NBC’s Tim Russert on election night 2000.

Bonus: The Newseum’s exhibit, First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets, runs through 2012.

As the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents, Virginia proudly calls itself the “The Mother of Presidents” and has dozens of historic sites paying special Presidents Weekend tribute to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson.

There will be free admission on Feb. 20 at George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon, where a costumed General Washington will be on hand for activities to include the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Washington’s Tomb, music and military performances and a (shh!) surprise birthday party.

During Presidents Weekend, actors portraying founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison will be visiting Colonial Williamsburg.

Alexandria will be marking the 280th anniversary of George Washington’s birth with a celebration that includes a Birthnight Banquet & Ball (Feb. 18), a Revolutionary War Reenactment (Feb. 19) and the George Washington Birthday Parade (Feb. 20). Historic sites around Alexandria, such as Gatsby’s Tavern Museum, where early patrons included George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, will offer free admission on Presidents Day as well.

Bonus: A free, self-guided walking tour of 21 of the 140 sites in Alexandria associated with George Washington is available (PDF).

In Boston, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is celebrating Presidents Day with discounted admission from Feb. 18-26. An activity-filled Family Festival Day on Feb. 21 includes the opportunity to meet actors playing presidents and first ladies such as Thomas Jefferson and Dolley Madison.

Sleep like a president
Presidents Day weekend activities can include sleeping where a past president got some shut-eye.

“Every president from Eisenhower to George W has stayed at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, a historic hotel that still brings in weekend splurgers,” says Robert Reid, U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet.

Another option: the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf Astoria New York. Every American President since Herbert Hoover has stayed in the suite, which is decorated with the personal desk of General Douglas MacArthur, one of John F. Kennedy’s rocking chairs and other presidential artifacts.

Presidential treatment doesn’t come cheap. A weekend night in a two-bedroom executive suite at the Greenbrier is about $900, while nightly rates for the Waldorf Astoria’s Presidential Suite begin at $10,000 – and include a background check.

Airport amenity alert: free parking at OAK

It’s only Monday and we may already have our airport amenity of the week.

California’s Oakland International Airport (OAK) is offering free parking for passengers flying from the airport midweek between Thanksgiving Day and the December holidays.


To get the deal, which can save you up to $66, you just need to fill out an on-line form and download the coupon from the OAK website.

That’s not the only thing you can get for free at the OAK airport.

The airport website also has a coupon good for free rental clubs at Metropolitan Golf Links, located on airport property.


Sea-Tac Airport offers discount parking for “greeters”

Here’s a great idea!

From now through December 31, 2010, Seattle’s Sea-Tac International Airport is offering a discount short term parking coupon for greeters.   Better yet: the coupon includes a 2-for-1 offer for coffee.

Any other airports doing something like this?  Let me know!

Find the Sea-Tac discount parking coupon here.

SEA-TAC airport discount parking coupon

Tidbits for travelers: Holiday entertainment, free parking & more

Entertainment in Chicago

Airports around the country are expecting long lines and lots of extra travelers this weekend, but in Chicago, both O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport will be offering up some entertainment to help move things along.

Chicago airports feature Chicago Jazz Festival entertainment

To give travelers a taste of this weekend’s Chicago Jazz Festival, there will be live performances at both O’Hare and Midway on Friday, September 3 from 2 to 5 p.m. Look for the stages set up past the security checkpoints at O’Hare in Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and on the lower level Arrivals area in Terminal 5; and in the baggage claim area at Midway.

The Chicago Children’s Museum will also offer a workshop for kids at O’Hare’s “Kids on the Fly” play area in Terminal 2 on Friday, September 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Free parking in Tampa

And as Steve Huettel of the St. Petersburg Times reports, at Tampa International Airport airport officials have decided to continue offering free first-hour parking in both the short and long term garages.

“Currently, no matter how long drivers stay in the garage, the first hour is free. Under the new policy, it’s free only if drivers leave before the hour is up. Otherwise, they’ll pay $3 starting Oct. 15.”

Free is free though, and it’s good news that – for now – this perk is staying in place.

Saving energy in Portland

In Oregon, Portland International Airport has installed moving walkways that only move when someone approaches. Popular in Europe and Asia, the four energy-saving, auto-start walkways are in the pedestrian tunnels connecting the parking garage to the terminals and are said to be the first such walkways installed anywhere in the United States.

Portland International Airport auto-start moving walkway

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