Five Fastest Ways to Get Through the Airport

March 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems everybody is busy these days. We never seem to have enough time to do things at a leisurely pace, and that includes flying. Even if we have some extra time, we feel like we have to rush through the airport. But you can avoid that rushed feeling if you use some of these techniques — which we read on Yahoo — to navigate your way through the airport.

Dubai International Airport, Terminal C

Dubai International Airport, Terminal C

1. Plan ahead. This may sound like common sense, but time adds up when you’re en route to the airport. If you don’t plan for it, you run the danger of missing your flight. Factor in traffic, security checkpoint wait time, and how long it takes to ride the off-site airport parking shuttle to the terminal into the amount of time you allot yourself to get to your gate. It adds up fast!

Read more

Is London’s Gatwick serving Happy Hormones?

March 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

We all know that sluggish tiredness we feel when we’re traveling. Our agitation seems inexplicable when all we’ve really done is walk a bit and sit a while. The problem is chemical, specifically low levels of dopamine and serotonin in our brains.

Gatwick Airport north terminalIn order to help demystify the grumpiness of its travelers, says an August 2015 CNN story, London’s Gatwick Airport hired nutritionist Jo Travers to help restaurants there create meals designed to help travelers boost their levels of dopamine and serotonin so that they feel happier.

Travers explained to CNN that there are “certain foods that will keep the ‘happy’ chemicals in your brain flowing. Low levels [of dopamine and serotonin] can cause fatigue.”
Read more

London Stansted Airport Plans New Take-Off Procedure

February 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s one thing to go to an airport to watch planes take off and land to hear the airplane engines roar. It’s entirely another to live in the flight path of an airport. Many people who live by airports across the world know how loud it can be. For the 4,000 people living near London Stansted Airport, life is about to get much quieter, thanks to a new take-off procedure.

London Stansted Airport is trying a new take-off procedure to reduce noise for nearby residents

London Stansted Airport

As it stands, the residents to the south and east of Stansted experience a lot of overhead noise, as planes take off south, before banking east, in a rather wide path that covers a few miles.

But thanks to Performance Based Navigation, a new technology that helps pilots fly their plane’s flight path coordinates more accurately using GPS, that flight path is about to get a lot smaller.

Read more

How Many of the World’s Best Airports Have You Been To?

January 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Each year, Travel + Leisure magazine gives awards in various categories. In 2013, it added World’s Best Airports to its annual reader survey. 2015’s winners were divided into international and domestic airports, and with all the glowing endorsements, each could be a destination in itself.

International Five Best Airports

Amenities abound and set each of the top five international airports apart.

  1. Changi International Airport, Singapore. The aesthetics, from the layout to free foot massages, combined with unique experiences like a butterfly habitat, a rooftop pool, and five garden environments, all work together to help travelers forget they’re even in an airport.
  2. Hong Kong International Airport, China. Diversions abound, be they iSports, a regulation golf course, an IMAX theater, or Michelin-starred dining all set the tone for hassle-free experience in this world-class city.
  3. Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  4. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands. Paintings by Steen and Rembrandt and a library with tomes in 29 languages offer two options for fine art experiences during a layover here. A calm atmosphere is created before you ever enter the complex with noise-reducing ridges and ripples that are featured in the Buitenschot Land Art Park.
  5. Zurich Airport, Switzerland. Speaking of calm, the Swiss logic and order that this airport exudes creates a graceful backdrop for the stunning scenery available at the twin rooftop terraces allow you to cleanse your lungs and clear your head by inhaling crisp Alpine air.
  6. Munich Airport, Germany. It’s no surprise that readers listed the impressive German engineering on display at this airport, which boasts impressive runway views. Not surprising either was the mention of Airbrau, an onsite brewery with live music, which offers a taste of Bavaria without every leaving the terminal.

U.S. Five Best Airports

Domestic airports were also praised for their conveniences, customer service, and food, although none of them sported a golf course or onsite brewery. Still, none of the international picks had goats!

  1. Portland International Airport, Oregon. An impressive on-time record and convenient location, along with the best quirks of this eclectic town made it number one with travelers. Goats remove invasive plant life and food trucks offer unique, local dining options.
  2. Tampa International Airport, Florida. An uncomplicated layout and design that lets the sunshine elevate this airport to number two. An indoor/outdoor terrace offers concessions, an automated train that will take you to your terminal, and estimated checkpoint wait times are among the modern features.
  3. Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, Minnesota. While Minneapolis can’t offer sunshine and a warm climate, it warmed the heart of travelers with its cheerful service and upscale shopping.
  4. Dallas Love Field, Texas. Everything’s bigger in Texas may be the saying, but smaller is better when it comes to a leisurely airport experience in the state. Murals, sculptures, and paintings by artisan Texans, combined with fabulous local food favorites give this airport a unique vibe.
  5. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Texas. On-time, hassle-free, and excellent customer service, all just minutes from downtown make Austin’s airport the pride of the city. Those wanting one last taste of the world-famous local food scene can also get Salt Lick Bar-B-Que before they take flight.

Which airport is your favorite? Did we miss one? Leave us a comment below oron our Facebook page, and let us know which are your favorite airports in the world.

Dubai Airport CEO Says Bigger Airports Aren’t Always Better

November 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems a little contradictory to hear from the country that holds the world’s tallest building, but Dubai Airport CEO Paul Griffiths doesn’t believe bigger will be better for the Dubai airport.

In fact, according to a FutureTravelExperience.com story, Griffiths has said that guaranteeing the best possible customer experience is what’s driving the overhaul and design development of the airport. The goal is not to be the biggest they can be, but rather, smaller and more efficient.

Dubai International Airport, Terminal CInstead of adding to its already large footprint, Dubai’s existing Al Maktoum Airport will be expanded utilizing a modular “node” approach, funneling passengers to smaller, self-contained, identical mini airports where passengers will connect within 400 meters of their next flight.

The goal of this design is the efficient movement of passengers, allowing for an increase from the current load to 26 million passengers by 2018. The ultimate capacity for each of the 12 nodes is 20 million, increasing the number of passengers the airport will handle to be 240 million.

Griffiths shared at the SITA Air Transport IT Summit that, besides longer walking distances and less intimate environments, larger airports “create anxiety for our customers.” With the implementation of technological advances designed to allow passengers self-service options, processes will be streamlined. According to Griffiths, when you “take all the processes out (of the terminal) you can create space,” he explained. “Doubling the process flow and doubling capacity is far cheaper than doubling the size of the airport — and it’s actually what customers want.”

While implementing a similar approach would be more challenging in landlocked airports like New York’s JFK International Airport or Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, industry experts certainly will be watching Dubai’s experiment to see if its advances can be duplicated across an industry with aging infrastructure.

Photo credit: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt (Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License)

CBP to Expand Pre-Clearance Facilities

November 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The last thing an international traveler wants to deal with after a long trip is getting through customs. It’s always an unknown, like playing a game of roulette. Will it take a few minutes or will it take an hour?

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is in discussions with 10 additional overseas airports to roll out the “welcome home” banner by instituting pre-clearance processes similar to what it already has in place at 15 other international airports. It’s a lot like the TSA’s Pre-Check program, where select individuals can bypass the TSA checkpoint and walk right to their gate.

English: US Immigration and Customs at Shannon...

US Immigration and Customs at Shannon Airport, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I want to take every opportunity we have to push our homeland security out beyond our borders so that we are not defending the homeland from the one-yard line. Pre-clearance is a win-win for the traveling public. It provides aviation and homeland security, and it reduces wait times upon arrival at the busiest U.S. airports,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a DHS press release.

CBP currently offers this service at nine airports in Canada: Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnepeg, as well as airports in Dublin and Shannon, Ireland; Aruba; Nassau, Bahamas; and Bermuda. When passengers fly through pre-clearance airports, they are treated similar to passengers on a domestic flight.

The 10 proposed new sites include: Tokyo’s Narita International; Brussels, Belgium; Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Oslo, Norway; London Heathrow and Manchester in the United Kingdom; Madrid, Spain; and Instanbul, Turkey.

Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of the CBP, said that pre-clearance helps identify security threats. Last year it expedited re-entry for 17 million US-bound passengers.

Here’s how the process works: while in flight, passengers complete a simple customs form. Upon arriving, they are directed to a self-service kiosk. The kiosk scans their passport, photographs them to ensure their identity matches the passport, scans the customs form electronically, and issues a receipt. A customs officer scans the receipt and may ask a few questions. Then he or she sends the passenger on their way.

And they get to go home a little bit faster.

Bring This Not That: Refillable Water Bottles versus Buying Water

July 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever since the TSA has not allowed more than 3.4 liquid ounces to pass an airport security checkpoint, travelers have dealt with the high prices that are charged for beverages, like bottled water and soda in the convenience and magazine stores at the airport.

But if you’re a water drinker, you can always pack an empty bottle with you to fill. It’s a good way to save money, but it also brings with it the possibility of picking up some germs from the drinking fountain. We tend to recommend against filling your bottle at the drinking fountain, but it’s definitely a personal decision based on how much of a germaphobe you are.

Drinking water fountain. Bring This Not That suggests refilling a reusable water bottle.

Drinking water fountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bring This Not That: Carry a refillable bottle if you have the room

However, more airports have begun installing water bottle filling stations, which can be presumed to be cleaner as they’re set up in a way so germy mouths can’t come into contact with them. And if you’re concerned about the environment, packing a refillable bottle can be a great way to make a difference as water bottles do create a lot of waste.

Of course, you may want to consider whether you want to carry a large, bulky refillable water bottle with you. If you’re traveling light, try to stick with disposable bottles, so you don’t have to buy a bottle only to lose it on the second day of the trip.

Finally, consider how long you have to wait for your plane. Most flights still offer beverage service, which means you can get relief in a fairly short time. So if your airport stay is going to be short, you may not need to buy a drink at all. Just wait until you’re up in the air and guzzle down some complimentary water.

What are your hydration habits at the airport? Do you buy your own water or soda, drink at a fountain, or just fill up on the plane? What do you want to see in a future Bring This Not That? Leave us a comment or head over on our Facebook page and let us hear from you.

Brussels Airport Seeks to Reduce Wait Times With Passenger Tracking Sensors

June 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on the Future Travel Experience website discusses a new initiative at the Brussels Airport: tracking customers via their personal electronic devices in order to create estimates of how long it will take passengers to travel through the airport. They’re hoping this will help reduce queues at the airport: If officials know when to expect passengers at the gate, they can effectively staff for the influx.

According to the article, “the sensors, which are supplied by BLIP Systems, track passengers via their personal electronic devices. They collect the unique Media Access Control (MAC) addresses of phones, tablets and other devices searching for a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.”

Brussels Airport Terminal A

Brussels Airport Terminal A

The sensors will record as passengers pass by them to help predict the length of the passengers’ travel time through the airport. This can also provide accurate times to airport and airline personnel about how quickly travelers will get through security and so on.

But many folks may not have their phone searching for a Wi-Fi connection or their Bluetooth activated, especially when traveling internationally. So this type of tracking may not work for everyone. (Of course, most Europeans traveling through Europe will already have their phones activated, so it will track with intra-continental travelers.)

We think this kind of tracking will continue to be on the rise. In the airport of the future, there may be a way to do this easily, and it will be more common as time goes on. Recording and predicting traffic patterns of travelers is something we think will become more widespread as time goes on.

However, it’s not clear whether this is a voluntary tracking system from the viewpoint of the traveler, although the system will only aggregate non-personally identifiable information. Is this something that travelers should be worried about? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Bring This, Not That: Should You Take a Taxi, Hire a Car, or Drive to the Airport?

April 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When you’re going to the airport, what’s the most cost effective way of getting there and getting home again? Should you hire a cab or an Uber driver, or even a black town car? Or should you park your car in long-term parking?

In some cases, this really is a “six of one, half dozen of the other” scenario. So how do you figure out which is the better choice?

English: A checker taxi cab. Deutsch: Ein Chec...

A checker taxi cab. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always prefer to hire a car to take me to the airport if we’re going on vacation. I’m already going to have to pay for parking if we drive our own car, which can really add up if it’s an extended stay. Out of pocket, the car service will be more than parking, but the convenience can outweigh a lot of things.

For one thing, I prefer a car service because being dropped off curb side saves on a lot of stress, especially if the whole family is going. So it’s always important to look for a car service that is decently priced, because prices can vary quite a bit.

Other considerations are the distance to the airport. How far away are you and what is the cost to get there by yourself in your car versus hiring a car or taxi? If you’re close to an airport, it’s a lot more economical to take a cab.

The airport pricing for parking varies. Finding a spot can be difficult if you’re at a busy airport, so you may need to valet park the car, which costs even more.

You can also consider park-and-flies, which are offsite parking services. You pay less, and a shuttle transports you to your terminal. They come by every half an hour, so you can stand on the curb at the airport (and the parking lot) and wait for them to make their return trip. This option is generally a lot less expensive than airport parking

Another option in larger cities is public transportation. In Florida, look for the Tri-Rail, which can get you from West Palm to Ft. Lauderdale airport to the Miami airport with great ease. You have to buy a ticket both ways but it’s a great option for extended stays and could be cheaper than a car service or a taxi.

It is more time consuming because it has more stops, however, so there’s the whole money-versus-time conundrum to figure out. But in terms of total dollars, the only thing cheaper is a friend who’s willing to help you out.

So how do you usually get to the airport? What’s your standard mode of transportation? Do you park and ride, take a cab, or even public transportation? Leave a comment and let us hear from you.

Airline Industry Putting $Millions Into New Terminals

September 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

An airline terminal can be a relaxing place to sit for a moment, after rushing and scrambling with last minute packing. Or it can be stressful with the chaos of other travelers anxious to get home. Airlines are hoping it will be the former, making it a place where more people are willing to spend time, relax, shop, and eat. Many airports are pouring in millions, if not billions, of dollars into renovation projects.

SFO Open House - Thom WatsonWe’ve talked about some of the ways airports are trying to enhance travelers’ experience such as the efficiency of baggage screening and the use of wearable technology. Airports are also revamping the themselves, according to a recent USA Today article.

Examples of the grandiose projects

  • San Francisco International Airport completed a $138 million project that features free wifi and even a yoga room.
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s renovation features kiosks that print boarding passes and luggage tags.
  • The Los Angeles International Airport remade the Tom Bradley International Terminal to let in a lot of natural light through massive windows. It also has an aluminum roof resembling ocean waves.

Enjoyment and productivity for flier

These renovations will enhance both the enjoyment and productivity for the fliers in these areas. Not only is there free wifi for everyone, but there are even work stations and additional power outlets to get work done while you’re waiting. (If your airport doesn’t have additional outlets, here are a few backup battery options.)

Airports are also putting more of their region’s personality into their terminals, adding architectural flair, since it’s the last or first place a flier will see of their city. And they’re adding more and more dining options, including several local restaurants for more of that local “flavor.”

Of course, some people may not appreciate the renovations, because it either means fewer flights during renovation, or more likely, you have to navigate all the construction chaos to get to your gate. Renovations also cost a lot of money, which may mean an increase in ticket prices. And finally, some fliers just don’t want all the extra gadgets or bonuses, so they may not see what all the fuss is about.

But for those of us who travel a lot and sometimes feel like the airport is our second home, these improvements are much needed, much welcomed, and much appreciated. They may be inconvenient at times, but they’re being done to make your flying experience more convenient and stress free.

Photo credit: Thom Watson (Flickr, Creative Commons)

« Previous PageNext Page »