The free program offers passengers a chance to get travel planning tips via phone or via online messenger from a member of the Icelandair team who’s an Iceland local.
According to Icelandair, each of the “Buddies” has a different expertise, such as local cuisine, outdoor adventures, wellness and Icelandic culture. And each buddy is eager to offer insider tips to help travelers make the most of their trip.
The Hotline is open weekdays through July 8 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET and weekends from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET.
PDX testing new ways to leave airports via Lyft and Uber
Like many airports, Portland International often has a very long line of people waiting for their assigned driver from a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft.
Now, thanks to a pilot program being tested by both Uber and Lyft, the line should move much faster.
And, soon, so should the ride-hailing pick-up line at other airports.
First, the airport has separated the pick-up locations for the ride-hailing brands (Uber, Lyft and Winz) that serve the airport.
Uber and Lyft are also using a new system for pickups.
Uber is using PIN technology, a system it has used a high-volume events and festivals, to more quickly connect UberX riders and their drivers.
Travelers request an UberX ride, receive a one-time code, and enter the line at the pick-up location. When they reach the front of the line, they show their code to the driver and upon validation, start the trip. (Separately, riders can also use Uber products for pick-ups at PDX, including UberPOOL, Uber XL etc. )
Slowly but surely, airports are working out ways to include ride-hailing service such as Uber and Wingz and Lyft into their ground transportation offering.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the latest to join in, but their program has an environmental twist.
Back in 2003, the airport was the first in the country to mandate and achieve a 100 percent green taxi fleet.
Now, in a one-year pilot program that kicks off today, any ride-hailing service that wants to operate at the airport will be required to match those green fleet requirements through a combination of high MPG vehicles, deadhead reduction, and/or ridesharing, the airport said in a release.
Services that want to participate in the program will need to sign agreements with the Port of Seattle, prove their compliance and pay a $5 fee for each pick-up at the airport.
According to the Seattle Times , both Uber and Lyft have already signed the agreements and will begin service today, with Wingz planning to roll out service next week.
The ride-hailing companies will be required to file monthly reports on all pick-ups and drop offs and pay an additional $5 per trip fee if they don’t meet the environmental standards.
Ride-sharing services provided by companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and uberX have become popular, if somewhat controversial, lower-cost alternatives to traditional taxicabs in many cities and at many airports.
The services match people who need rides with mobile app-dispatched citizen drivers willing to provide rides and accept a fee.
But, citing an aggressive stance by authorities at Los Angeles International Airport for issuing citations to drivers picking up passengers there, Uber and Sidecar have recently pulled the plug on that part of their LAX service.
“Although we look forward to working with the authorities to resolve these issues quickly, this unwarranted action by authorities to punish drivers and riders cannot continue,” Uber spokesman Andrew Noyes wrote in a company blog post a week ago. “That’s why we’re temporarily halting uberX pick-ups at LAX effective immediately.”
Noyes told CNBC there were no projections on when the uberX pickup service might resume, but that for now uberX drivers are still dropping off passengers at LAX. The company’s other services, UberBLACK and UberSUV, which work with licensed commercial drivers, continue both pickups and dropoffs at LAX, he said.
Sidecar spokeswoman Margaret Ryan said via email that because the company has heard of the increased enforcement action at LAX, “we’ve advised Los Angeles drivers to avoid picking up passengers at LAX as well.”
In an email, Los Angeles Airport Police spokeswoman Sgt. Belinda Nettles said “no special enforcement is taking place” against uberX, Sidecar or other ride-share drivers. Only that “airport police officers are enforcing airport rules and regulations, as well as any violations pertaining to the penal code, vehicle code and the Los Angeles municipal codes as appropriate.”
At issue are the first round of rules issued by the California Public Utilities Commission for regulating companies such as Uber, Sidecar and Lyft, which the commission calls transportation network companies. “The question of picking up passengers by TNCs is still under review” by the commission, and TNCs wishing to serve the airport also need licenses or permits, and insurance, to do business at LAX, Nettles said.
Nettles said Thursday she was unable to provide information on what types of citations were issued to uberX drivers. “We cite for airport rules and regulation violations and California vehicle and penal code violations as appropriate daily,” she said.
LAX is not the only airport that has taken action against ride-sharing companies.
In April, San Francisco International Airport issued a cease and desist order to ride-sharing services operating there. “These were enforced primarily through admonishments, and some citations were also issued,” said SFO spokesman Doug Yakel.
Like many other airports, San Francisco has rules stating that each business that provides ground transportation, rental car or airport parking services must get an airport permit .
In response, Uber published a blog post in August with tips for riders at SFO noting that pickups by Uber services were unaffected, but that “SFO has taken an aggressive stance against uberX and has begun citing some drivers.” The company suggested fliers instead use another Uber ride service, such as UberBLACK or UberSUV.
Ryan said Sidecar is working with the state utilities commission to work out a solution but that in response to the cease and desist order, “we’ve advised San Francisco drivers to avoid trips to SFO until we’ve figured it out.”
Lyft has not yet responded to a request from CNBC for the status of its services at LAX or SFO.
For its part, SFO airport, which recently came to an agreement with car-sharing service Relay Rides, remains “open to new business models that provide our customers with a variety of transportation options,” said Yakel.
He said while the decision by the California Public Utilities Commission to regulate transportation network companies provides a framework to move forward with a permitting process at SFO, “we have yet to receive word of any TNC attempting to operate at SFO being permitted through the CPUC.”
(My story about ride-sharing services at SFO and LAX first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior)