ground transporation

Travel Tidbits from Denver and Los Angeles airports

Ending the week with some travel tidbits from airports for you.

Were you hoping that Norbert the Turtle really was joining the pet therapy program at Denver International Airport? That turned out to be an April Fool’s Day joke, but DEN did add their 101st member to their team.

Not a joke was the announcement that Los Angeles International Airport had installed Tooshlights in one set of bathrooms in the American Airlines Terminal 4 to guide lav users – via overhead red and green lights – to stalls that are open.

LAX also announced that $4.9 billion contract had been approved by the Los World Airports (LAWA) Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Automated People Mover (APM) system at the airport.

The system promises driverless trains that will arrive at every station every two minutes, and light-filled stations with escalators, elevators, and moving walkways. Bonus amenities include a viewing platform of the iconic Theme Building.

When will we be able to take the train to LAX? Sometime in 2023.

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?

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.”

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.