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
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
“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
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
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
Once it rolls out on October 29, the LAX-it system will no doubt need
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
“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
“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 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
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)
Boat service has been offered for quite a while. But in a new program, passengers who take water transportation to Boston Logan International Airport will now get complimentary priority access at the airport security line.
Under the plan, passengers who take the MBTA ferry or water taxi service to the Logan Airport Boat Dock (Fare: $15) will get a “Ticket to Skip” pass when they get off the boats and board the free Logan Airport shuttle to the terminals.
The orange ticket can then be presented to security checkpoint staff in exchange for preferred lane access.
In good weather, taking the water taxi from Boston waterfront is a great adventure and can be quite convenient.
The small boats leave from Long Wharf, which is right by the New England Aquarium, the North End, Faneuil Hall and other popular Boston landmarks you might be visiting on your way out of town anyway.
So the ride to the airport can be part of your vacation.
wing and an organized prayer: OK at some airports, but no longer in Orlando
My story this week for CNBC is about airport chapels. Here’s a very slightly different version of that piece.
They’re not as ubiquitous as cocktail bars and souvenir shops, but chapels and inter-faith prayer spaces, many with full or part-time chaplains and regularly-scheduled services, are among the amenities offered by more than three dozen airports around the country.
Some prayer rooms occupy what has, over time, become prime real estate in pre or post-security areas of airport terminals. Others are tucked away and may be hard to find on mezzanines, down back corridors or in bag claim areas.
In 1951, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) was the first U.S. airport to set aside dedicated space for prayer. “It was explicitly meant for people working at the airport. A neon light pointed to the chapel,” notes Wendy Cadge, an expert in contemporary American religion, in “A Brief History of Airport Chapels.”
Logan’s appropriately named Our Lady of the
is located in the airport’s public area. It seats 250, is open around-the-clock
and offers mass daily for passengers, airport and airline employees and the
Orlando International Airport makes a change
Orlando International Airport (MCO), an interfaith chapel with a Tree of Life
stained glass window dates to the airport’s 1981 opening. A second reflection
space for prayer, with
accommodations for Muslim travelers, was added in 2015, as part of a customer service
spaces are located post-security and for many years Catholic mass has been offered
in MCO’s chapel each Sunday morning and during holidays. But, citing increased
passenger volume, space allocation and safety, the airport board recently
revised it policies.
while ticketed passengers and employees are welcome to visit the prayer spaces
anytime, organized religious services of any kind are not permitted.
airport authority has to make the decisions that they think are the best for
their environment and location,” said Susan Schneider of the Interfaith Airport
Chapels of Chicago, which offers religious services and passenger support services
at both O’Hare and Midway Airports. “If Orlando feels this is something they must
do at this time, you have to trust the decision. You just hope it’s the right
Rodrick Burton, a pastor is St. Louis, is certain the authorities at Orlando
International Airport have made the wrong decision.
“I believe Orlando’s actions are stunning in
their shortsightedness and in an effort to be politically correct or to
misinterpret the constitutional right of freedom of religion,” said Burton, who
serves as president
of the St. Louis Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, an organization that has offered
“prayer, religious services, spiritual guidance, empathetic listening” and
other assistance at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) for more than
“There’s nothing sacred about those spaces
if Chaplain’s don’t attend to them. Those chapels will become quiet rooms,” he
Status of other airport chapels
I polled about two dozen other airports around the country on the status of their interfaith spaces and organized religious services.
Airports in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Philadelphia,
San Diego, Seattle and many other cities have chapels, quiet rooms, meditation
spaces and/or reflection rooms that welcome travelers at all hours, but do not
offer religious services. “No regular services are held here. It is strictly
self-service,” said Greg Willis, Marketing Program Manager at Florida’s Jacksonville
International Airport, “We provide a book where customers can write down their
thoughts and prayers.”
Some airport chapels have been ensconced in
airport terminals for a long time. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
Airport, the ATL Interfaith Airport Chapel was established in 1979. Pittsburgh
International Airport opened its post-security interfaith chapel in 1992, along
with the current terminal. And the quiet room at Philadelphia International
Airport was created just last August.
In addition to the scheduled religious services offered at Boston Logan and St. Louis Lambert International Airport, airport chapels in Atlanta, Cleveland, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, New York (JFK) and a handful of other airports offer organized religious services. All airports that responded to my query say they currently have no plans to follow Orlando’s lead in banning these services.
A solution that works
Meanwhile, back in Orlando, after some scrambling
and, no doubt some prayers, there’s now an alternative arrangement for those
seeking to attend Sunday mass at the airport.
Instead of being offered in the post-security airport
chapel, starting this Sunday, mass will be held in the Hyatt Regency Orlando
International Airport hotel, which is attached to the main terminal of the
The solution is being hailed as a godsend for the
both travelers and the airport.
“Security and Safety will always be a top
priority at Orlando International,” said Tom Draper, Senior Director of Airport
Operations for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, “By moving these
activities to a larger and more private location, we are minimizing activity in
secure areas while enhancing the guest experience for those traveling
through the airport.”
Batik Story Quilts: Yoruba and Other Cultural Proverbs, displays Batik tapestry quilts made by artist Tunde Odulande.
The exhibit includes seven quilts:
“The Fairytale of the Blue Ghosts and Their Magical Spree,” Musicians Make Music While the Audience Makes Orchestration,” “Has Man Finally Arrived?,” “If you Don’t Know Where You Are Going, Any Road Will Do,” and “Our Heritage” are on display across from carousel 1 in the Terminal 1 Baggage Claim area.
“Sweet Mother” and “Mask of Peace” are on display near the A Concourse entrance. Batik Story Quilts: Yoruba and Other Cultural Proverbs is on display at STL through October 23, 2019