Since last August, I’ve been a regular visitor to San Jose Airport. Every week I travel to LA to see my daughter and have a pretty regular routine down now.
As I frequent airports, some thoughts come to mind:
Love online check-in!
Printing out the Southwest boarding pass is sooooo cool. I am guaranteed an A boarding line spot if I do it hours before I leave for the airport.
Getting on a Southwest flight is like getting in a taxi.
Not sure if this is good, but nowadays it seems no different than hailing a taxi and going on an hour drive. Is this good or bad…?
Love self-service check-in!
American Airlines started doing this and I think it’s great. It speeds things up so much faster, even if you have luggage. They’ll just come over and put the luggage tag on for you.
Hate long lines.
Who doesn’t?
Airports are becoming a meeting place for me.
Hanging out at the airports has meant actually seeing people I wouldn’t have normally seen. I have bumped into old Yahoo! acquaintances and my old aikido teachers as well.
I keep thinking about the design of interiors of airports. They aren’t really optimized for personal interaction. At the gate, it’s just rows of seats. What about creating a pattern of seating and tables so that people can meet and interact and feel more comfortable than just being lined up for 2 hours? How about more facilities for comfortable meeting – maybe they should take some cues from the executive/first class lounges. If you’ve ever been in there, they are great for just this kind of thing. Move some of those couches outside and you’ll have an airport that you’ll want to be in, not just a place to get out of as soon as possible.
The world is getting smaller. There are more business travelers than ever as businesses connect on a global scale. So many people spend so much time in airports now it is staggering. A bit of comfort and consideration for the new jet-setting community would be nice.
Food sucks on planes, and also sucks in airports.
Can we have better food than Burger King at SJC? My favorite meals now are the barbecue chicken chopped salad at California Pizza Kitchen and fish burrito sans tortillas at this Mexican place down near gate A1.
Kind of sad in a way too when I met a few friends at LAX last week and they asked me what the best food was at LAX, and I directed them to the Mexican place there and the fish tacos were great. Somehow knowing the best places to eat at an airport isn’t the same as knowing the best restaurants to go to in Manhattan….
I don’t like getting squeezed by the airlines.
This last trip I brought my Ritchey Breakaway on board a Southwest flight. This bike is made to be packed away in a suitcase sized case for the very purpose of avoiding extra fees. But the Southwest people told me that it was oversized, and upon measuring it, it exceeded the height+length+width limitation of 62″. They didn’t charge me but they could have charged me an extra 20 bucks for this. In a few short months, they are changing the free weight limitation from 70 lbs. to 50 lbs. for checked luggage. Geez. If you’re taking a long trip like me, it’s hard to not put a lot of stuff in your suitcase, and especially going to a place like New Zealand where I brought some climbing gear and my snorkeling equipment.
We keep getting squeezed by the airlines. On a flight I booked on American Airlines from SJC to JFK, you need to purchase on-board meals in coach. Oh like I WANT TO SPEND MONEY ON CRAPPY FOOD. I eat it because it’s included, but now I need to pay for it?
Pretty soon they’ll be measuring humans. They’ll pack so many seats into a plane that you’ll need to be measured before you can board. Have you ever flown Pleasant Hawaiian Hoildays from SFO to Hawaii? That is the epitome of feeling like a cattle car. And the screaming kids don’t help either….
Then, you’ll be weighed along with your suitcase. Gotta optimize fuel. So you pay by the pound. Hmmm…maybe there are some health benefits to this for the society at large – encourage overweight people to lose weight to save money on flights….hmmm…
So as the amenties on airlines disappears, will airports transform to comfortable, inviting places to be in? Unfortunately, I think the chances are slim.