ground transportation

Boston Logan Airport studying pick-up/drop-off fee for passengers

I got Caught in Boston magnet

Would you pay a fee to drop someone off at the airport – or to swing by and pick them up?

Along with the hassle of dealing with traffic, that may soon be something to add to the decision making process of heading out to Boston Logan International Airport.

The Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan airport, is going to pay for a study to evaluate this option, the Boston Globe Reports, to see pick up and drop off fees might help alleviate curb congestion, air pollution and other traffic maladies brought on by the 20,000 cars that just swing through the airport each day.

Charging for airport pick-ups and drops offs is irritating, but not new. Drivers entering the roads near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport pay a $2 toll if they’re on the grounds for eight to 30 minutes, which airport officials believe is enough time to make a pick up or drop off and maybe squeeze in a hug. (The toll is $4 if a car is only on the airport grounds for eight minutes or less, which is a  clue a driver is using the airport grounds as a short-cut to somewhere else.)

Some airports in the United Kingdom charge drivers to enter airport roadways as well.

 

 

 

 

 

EWR or JFK? Cabs in NY know which is faster.

 

United Airlines recently spent $120 million renovating Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Now the airline is using New York taxis in a creative ad campaign designed to convince New Yorkers to fly out of Newark instead of JFK.

And to prove that Newark Liberty airport (EWR) is closer to New York City than John F. Kennedy International Airport, United fitted 125 New York City taxis with GPS software that shows a real-time comparison of the travel times between the city and both JFK and EWR airports on a digital display on top of the cab.

“The digital displays are synced with data from the Curb application and update in real time with every change in a taxi’s position and evolving traffic patterns,” United Maggie Schmerin explained, “It represents the first time live traffic data has ever been used to dynamically display messaging on top of a taxi.”

Convincing?

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.

Airport amenities to be thankful for

My At the Airport column on USA TODAY each December is a round-up of some of the best new amenities airports have introduced through the year.

Here are some of the highlights from 2015.

SFO airplane cocktail shaker

 

Taming transportation

During 2015, a wave of airports around the country, including those in Chicago, Las Vegas, Louisville, Sacramento, San Diego and Washington, D.C. (both DCA and IAD) hammered out deals with ride-hailing services such as Uber/UberX, Lyft, Sidecar and Wingz to legally pick up and drop off passengers at the terminals.

Look for that trend to continue in 2016.

Helping others

Following the lead of airports in Denver and Columbus, Ohio, in January 2015 — when all the Super Bowl fans were flocking to town — Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport put out spare change collection boxes to begin raising money for the on-site USO hospitality center. In April, Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) in Allentown, Pa., added change collection stations to raise funds for a variety of local charities.

Helping moms

During 2015 many airports made space for properly equipped lactation stations for nursing mothers. Chicago O’Hare International Airport now has three Mother’s Rooms, while lactation stations and nursing rooms have been added at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, Jacksonville International, Spokane International, Newark Liberty, JFK, LaGuardia, Pittsburgh International, Boise Airport and others.

Soothing stress, helping health

More airports are adding pet therapy programs to help fliers deal with the stress of traveling.

In September, Sacramento International Airport introduced the Boarding Area Relaxation Corps, (B.A.R.C.), which welcomes pet therapy dogs and their handlers to the airport twice a week, while in October, Denver International Airport introduced the Canine Airport Therapy Squad, referred to as C.A.T.S.

Other stress-reducing and health-inducing amenities we noted during 2015 included the beach oasis — complete with Adirondack chairs, umbrellas and artificial turf — set up inside Philadelphia International Airport during snowy February, and the healthy eating campaign at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport that handed out free fruit for travelers, along with prizes.

Complimentary treadmill desks were installed this year at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and, at JFK Terminal 5, JetBlue opened a rooftop lounge complete with dog walk, and created a farm out in front of the terminal where a wide variety of herbs and vegetables are now growing.

Fuel for the flight

Healthy airport dining options — both sit-down and take-away — are on the rise  and, in addition to the many upgraded great restaurants (and bars) rolled out this year, we saw the introduction of several free apps, including Grab and AirGrub, that allow travelers to order ahead, skip the line and streamline the task of purchasing a meal inside the airport to take to the gate or onto the plane.

Unique amenities, events and milestones

While SFO and DEN airports offer a mobile car-washing service in their airport parking lots (fees range from $24.95 to $49.95), travelers who park in the garages or in the outside parking lot at Spokane International Airport can get their cars washed for free. (Technically introduced at the end of 2014, I learned about this unique amenity in early 2015 and hope it catches on.)

In addition to being named the Grand Marshal of the Starlight Parade for the Portland Rose Festival, during 2015 the quirky carpet being replaced at Portland International Airport continued its reign as a social media darling, leading passengers to take a closer look at airport flooring nationwide.

To help with the year-long celebration marking the 20th anniversary of Denver International Airport, the Colorado Lottery created a special edition $2 scratch ticket game featuring four iconic images of the airport and, picking up on the newest old-fashioned craze, this year Dallas Love Field has a giant coloring wall in the terminal. Whenever the picture gets filled in, all they have to do is wipe the surface clean and start over.

Dallas Love Field _coloring wall

 

Did you spot a cool new amenity at an airport during 2015 that I didn’t mention?

Please share your fave in the comments below.

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.