Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Dude, where’s my ride? Airports move Uber/Lyft away from curbside

At many airports, curbside pick-up is moving away from the curb.

On October 29, Los Angeles International joins the growing list of airports where curbside traffic has gotten so bad that taxis and ride-hailing services such as Uber to Lyft are no longer permitted to pick up at passengers at the curb.

“We have heard from our guests that the current system with ride pickups can be frustrating.” “said Keith Wilschetz, Deputy Executive Director for Operations and Emergency Management at Los Angeles World Airports, said in a statement

“Frustrating” is a polite way of describing how excruciating and time-consuming using a ride-app at LAX can be.

During peak times, app users now often spend upwards of 45 minutes to an hour between waiting for their ride to arrive curbside and sitting in traffic to get out of the Central Terminal Area.

“That’s if the drive doesn’t cancel on you,” said LAX spokesman Heath Montgomery.

At LAX, bad curbside traffic is about to get worse as the airport construction associated with terminal redevelopment and the new automated people mover begins.

“We will be losing more than 30% of our curb front, so doing nothing is not an option,” said Montgomery.

The solution at LAX is to move the pick-up area for both taxi and ride app users away from the terminal curbsides entirely to a new area, dubbed “LAX-it,” just east of Terminal 1.

Passengers will be able to walk to the new pick-up area from some of the terminals and a shuttle will pick-up passengers at all terminals in a dedicated lane on the lower/arrivals level lane.

LAX officials say getting from the airport to the pick-up lot should be no more than 15 minutes (from most terminals) and exiting the terminal should be faster because drivers no longer must battle backups in the Central Terminal Area.

Once it rolls out on October 29, the LAX-it system will no doubt need some tweaks.

For now, some passengers are worried the new system will be confusing and pick-up time will be no shorter than it is now. In a statement, Lyft said it looks forward to working with LAX on providing “the best possible pick-up and drop-off experience for all users,” but Uber outlined its long list of concerns with the plan in a letter to airport officials.

How do other airports tackle curbside congestion?  

Back in 2016, Seattle Tacoma International Airport worked with ride-app providers to move pick-ups inside the airport parking garage, adjacent to space set already aside for other commercial ground transportation operators.

“We have since made traffic flow process improvements,” said SEA spokeswoman Kate Hudson, “We’re lucky in Washington state that cars must have front and near license plates as it allows passengers to locate their vehicle from both angles.”

The Port of Seattle staffs the ride-app pick-up area and contracts for additional ambassadors during peak times. 

With a goal of diverting at least 45% of ride-hailing pick-up activity away from the terminal roadways, in summer 2018 San Francisco International Airport relocated pickups for Uber Pool, Express Pool and Lyft’s shared categories to the Domestic Parking Garage. And in March 2019, Uber X and Lyft offered their customers the option to be picked up in the Airport’s Domestic Hourly Garage at $3 less than the curbside rate.

“To date, these measures have only shifted about 21% of [ride-hailed] pickup activity off the terminal roadways, falling short of the 45% diversion rate,” said SFO spokesman Doug Yakel, so as of June 5, 2019 SFO relocated all domestic terminal pickups for ride-apps, including Uber, Lyft, and Wingz, from the curbside to the 5th floor of the Domestic Hourly Parking Garage.

In mid-November 2018, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) moved the pick-up area for all taxis and ride-app companies to the ground level of the airport’s Rental Car Facility.

“In the new space, dedicated taxi lanes are to the immediate left, while three ride share pick-up lanes are on the right,” said AUS spokesman Bryce Dubee, “The three ride share lanes are color-coded in blue, red and yellow with corresponding numbers 1-4 so that both passengers and drivers have a specific spot to meet up.”

The overall walking distance is about 750 feet, so before the switch was made the airport purchase four ADA-compliant 12-passenger electric shuttles to provide transport between lower-level locations and also leased an electric autonomous vehicle to transport passengers on the upper level of the garage.

Looking ahead, at the end of this month, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) will move both pick-ups and drop-offs for app ride passengers to new dedicated curb areas.

The new areas – conveniently located in the Central Parking – will be protected from the weather, brightly lit, and connected to all terminals via moving walkways,” said BOS spokeswoman Samantha Decker. “The new areas will also provide all the services passengers expect, including luggage carts, wheelchair services, and bag check service.”

(My story about airports relocating pick-up spots for Uber, Lyft, Wingz and taxis first appeared on USA TODAY)

Two cool things at airports

Thanks for visting Stuck at The Airport today.

Here are two cool things we’ve spotted at airports around the world.

This cute little autonomous shuttle van is being tested at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).

Passengers can hop on the airport’s Easy Mile EZ10 driverless shuttle for a ride between the airport’s main Barbara Jordan Terminal and the Rental Car/ground transportation facility.

The vehicle is electric, driverless and ADA-compliant. And it is running on the upper level of Garage 1 as a part of a test to offer another way to get travelers and meeters and greeters around the airport campus.

The shuttle has seats six and additional room for standing passengers. It also has a built-in automated electric access ramp for wheelchair accessibility.

Nervous about riding in an driverless vehicle? Don’t worry: while the vehicle itself operates autonomously, an attendant is riding along to assist travelers and for safety purposes during this pilot program.

Meet the Beatles

Johh Lennon Statue liverpool Airport

And how fun is this? We’ve visited several airports with arcades and game rooms, but at the Liverpool John Lennon Airport The Beatles get their own pinball machine.

Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport opens outdoor patio

The downside of travel is that, sometimes, you can spend a full day long days inside airports and hotels and hardly ever step outside.

That’s why StuckatTheAirport.com is such a big fan of airports with patios and outdoor observation decks.

Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) has a new one to check out.

The 5,770 square foot east terrace patio is located post-security on the mezzazine level between Gates 1-2.

To reach it, walk up the stairs or take the elevator to what the AUS airport calls its “hip terrace patio.”

The space is open 24 hours, is non-smoking and is located adjacent to the new Detla Sky Lounge.

The patio has a view of the 9,000-foot east runway and offers a great opportunity for plane spotting as well as a view of ramp and apron-level airport activities.

Austin can get very hot, so there’s an air-conditioned section of AUS’s patio.

In the outdoor section, patio is partially covered with sunshade blade panels to mimic the wings of an airplane.

The décor of the patio is modern-outdoor round tables, patio-furniture type seating and awnings that cover the family-style bench picnic tables.

Landscaping includes water-friendly native drought-tolerant plants.

And, for those of you into statistics: the airport tells us the patio flooring is covered with 428 wood pavers and 276 concrete pavers. Each concrete paver weighs 150 to 206 pounds and is 30 inches wide x 30 inches long and 2.25 inches thick.

Enjoy! And please send StuckatTheAirport.com a photo of what you see when you’re enjoying this new outdoor space at AUS airport.

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you

More airlines join the TSA Precheck program

The list of airlines participating in the TSAPrecheck program, which gives travelers access to an expedited line at airport security lanes, is growing.

New on the list of participating airlines: Qatar Airways and Edelweiss Air.
That brings the list of participating airlines up to 67.

Edelweiss operates at 5 U.S. airports; Qatar has flights in and out of 10 U.S. airports.

Another robot for Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport

Need coffee when you travel? Of course you do.

At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport there are now two places you can have a robot-machine brew you a cup 24 hours a day.

Austin-based Briggo is opening its second robotic Coffee Haus location at AUS in May inside the new nine-gate expansion space. The first machine is at Gate 17.

What we’re reading: working conditions at Miami International Airport

Working conditions at airports in the news

This disturbing CBS Miami story is about terrible working conditions for many employess at Miami International Airport. The story raises real concerns not just about some of the lowest paying workers at this airport, but about working conditions for employees at other airports.

The story describes low pay and terrible and dangerous working conditions for many people hired to clean airplanes, move baggage and do others tasks key to keeping your trip on track.

Here’s an excerpt:

A crew of four cabin cleaners can be given as little as ten minutes to clean a plane. They claim that is not enough time. Eulen disagrees, stating “…our workforce is sufficient to meet and face the demand.”

One cabin cleaner described what they can face on a plane: “You can find blankets with blood, people puke in the blankets, you can find Pampers on the floor.”

He said his supervisor has told him not to waste time cleaning too thoroughly. “Just make it look like it look nice and clean, just a rag and you are done.”

The contractor referenced is Eulen America, which provides a variety of services to Delta, American and likely other airlines not just at MIA, but at Fort Lauderdale, Washington DC and New York.

Alarmed?

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you 

Multi-sensory room at Miami International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and several others have them.

Now Miami International Airport has one too.

Miami International Airport now has a multi-sensory room just beyond the Concourse D TSA security checkpoint. The room provides a quiet area for young passengers with cognitive or developmental disabilities such as autism.

The dimly lit space includes sensory-soothing fixtures, including an aquatic bubble tub, wall puzzles, cushioned seats and a light projector. Hours: seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Party at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Amy’s Ice Cream is back at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and a good time to indulge is today during the kick-off party for the refreshed Asleep at the Wheel Stage in the center of the Barbara Jordan Terminal.

Located near Gate 19, there’s a 9-foot neon lighted guitar spinning above the area and seating for 190 patrons.

The party runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes a ribbon cutting ceremony and performances by Ray Benson, Heybale Band, and Love & Chaos.

NFL Hall of Famer Earl Campbell will be on hand to help celebrate the Heart of Austin area of the airport that includes the Saxon Pub Bar, Joe’s Coffee and Earl Campbell taco-themed food truck.

Fresh art at John Wayne Airport


A new photographic exhibit at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA by Jane Szabo’s is titled “Family Matters” and uses childhood posessions and simple objects to tell a complicated story of family dynamics.

After moving her 86-year-old father and 91-year-old mother into assisted living, Szabo began to organize the contents of their home of 36 years. “Family Matters” is a result of the final selection of treasures she kept before placing her parent’s home for sale.

Fiesta at San Antonio International Airport

San Antonio International Airport held its Second Annual Fiesta San Jacinto Day Parade recently, with mariachi music, parade floats, mascots and festive colors through both terminals of the airport.