Monday, 10 August 2015

How to Get Away from the Airport

Beijing Capital Airport, headed to ground transportation
creative commons image wikipedia
How do you like to get away from the airport? Do you head to the exit to scope out the taxi situation? Look for your name on the cards held up by a driver as you exit security? Follow the hotel shuttle bus sign? Try to find an airport shuttle bus? If you're lucky enough to arrive at an airport with direct train service, do you take it? Track down the local bus? Rent a car?

Do you always do the same thing? Or do you vary your plan acvording to what airport you are arriving at? What's the best option? How do you decide?

In a recent interview on The Informed Traveler, co-founder Steve Romaine discusses the various forms of airport transportation and tips on getting you out of the airport. Listen to Steve's advice to help you narrow down your choices, and arrive stress-free!

Listen: How to Get Away from the Airport - Steve Romaine interview

Informed Traveler: Twitter, Facebook, Blog

Related resources - An International Traveller's Ground Transportation Guide (100's of airports!)
Airport Arrival Advice
Dealing with Touts
Taxi Rates & Fares: Airport Taxi Advice
Dealing with Taxi Drivers

Monday, 13 July 2015

The 420 from PDX

Heavy metal overhead
Just a week ago, as part of it's World's Best Awards, Travel+Leisure placed Portland Airport (PDX) at the top of it's World's Best Airports - Domestic Airports list. Or, rather, readers of T+L Magazine voted PDX to the top spot during an extensive readership survey.

Putting aside the conundrum-causing juxtaposition of words the title evokes*, there is a new development that could take "Fly PDX" to a whole new level, if you get our drift. Check out this headline in the International Business Times:
Marijuana Legalization In Oregon: Portland Airport Allows Travelers To Bring Weed On In-State Flights
Creative Lights Yes, that's right. The Portland, Oregon airport has indeed declared it acceptable for passengers to carry recreational marijuana - which is now legal in Oregon - on flights departing PDX, as long as the destination is within the state. And that's recreational marijuana, not medicinal.

Known for it's focus on service and its willingness to innovate, this latest move can only be descried as accommodating. What's funny is that there is no mention of this on the PDX website, however social media and news feeds are alive with the news.

If PaxEx means keeping travellers at your airport happy and relaxed, then PDX takes the cake. Oh, speaking of munchies...

coffee people treats at portland airport
Where to eat at Portland PDX - Portland Eater

PDX Carpet
So many people love PDX's trippy carpet
that they've created a way for fans to buy
a piece of the carpet when they are replaced!

Curious? Read on How the Portland Airport
Carpet Became a Hipster Icon
*Do you share our conundrum? How can a list of domestic airports in the United States can be considered "world's best" (wouldn't that be "World's Best Airports - Domestic Airports USA" or "United States Best Airports - Domestic Airports"?!?).... We get what T+L is trying to do, but the liberties they take with wording their award titles makes us (non-Americans) shake our heads, just a little..

Related resources
Oregon’s Portland International Airport to allow passengers to carry recreational marijuana
Is PDX the best airport in America? Travel+Leisure says so (poll)
Portland International Airport (PDX) transportation guide
Private transfer from Portland Airport - arrive stress free!
Private transfer from Portland Airport in a stretch limo - arrive in style!

All images creative commons - click each image for source info

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Heathrow's slick new transport screens

Real time traffic, weather and transportation options come to Heathrow T2 baggage claim, in the traveller's language
A new innovation has been unveiled in the Baggage Claim area at London Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2.

Conveniently located where most arriving passengers will do most of their waiting - for their luggage to arrive at the carousels - the new digital smart screens will display all transportation options. Information on the Heathrow Express airport train, Heathrow airport bus service and London taxi service is now available for the traveller to browse.

What's innovative is the way the screens integrate real-time weather and traffic information, as well as updates on rail service. With this data, the screens can generate relatively accurate travel times for each transport method. They will even estimate taxi fares, allowing the traveller to compare with other options.

Equally innovative is the way the screens will adapt the displayed language translations to those of most passengers arriving on each flight. For example, Japanese translations will be displayed when All Nippon Airways flights arrive, and Egyptian for flights arriving from Cairo or Luxor.

We laud the innovation, as this is the kind of relevant, just-in-time up-to-date information consumers are coming to expect from their portable devices, and from the institutions they frequent. By pulling all this data together and displaying it in baggage claim, when arriving passengers may not have connected their devices, and are most in need of it, Heathrow is setting the standard.

Expect to see the initiative rolled out to Heathrow's other terminals in the not so distant future. Expect to see a mix of adoption of the technologies in the industry as a whole: we wonder who the early adopters will be (a favourite airport near you, you hope!), and fully anticipate those airports that are still charging for WiFi to remain in the PaxEx dark for some time to come.

Related resources:

Heathrow’s new transport screens are such a cool and useful airport amenity
Journey comparison screens simplify onward travel options for Heathrow passengers
Heathrow announces Microsoft as the launch partner on the Towers@T5
Heathrow clinches ACI EUROPE Best Airport 2015 Award
London Heathrow International Airport (LHR) transportation guide
London Heathrow Private Car Transfer - BOOK NOW

Friday, 26 June 2015

The stunning Atlantic Road in Norway

Atlantic Road, Norway
Posted by 3dfirstaid visual architecture on Thursday, June 25, 2015

Friday, 15 May 2015

Myanmar adds airports to meet tourism demand

Departure Lounge
Departure lounge at  Myanmar's Yangon International Airport
creativecommons image by mikecogh on flicrk
Look at any list of the world's hot travel destinations, and Myanmar will probably be on the list. The former nation of Burma, emerging after decades of being closed to tourists, is busy making plans to handle all those new visitors.

Myanmar currently has 3 international airports (along with about 30 domestic airports):
The on-again, off-again, plans to build a 4th is back on again with the recent announcement of new investors for the Hanthawaddy International Airport project [more]. Located in the central Bago region, just 80 kilometres from Yangon, the new greenfield Hanthawaddy International Airport will be capable of handling 18 million passengers, and is expected to open in 2018.

Construction on a 5th is already underway. Expansion of the renamed former domestic Tavoy Airport to international standards has commenced, with runway and other facilities to follow. Dawei International Airport (TVY) is being developed in conjunction with the Dawei Deep Seaport project, and will be fully operational by 2017.

Related resources

Singapore-Japan consortium wins deal to build new airport
Myanmar reboots new airport tender
Myanmar to add two new int'l airports to meet future development
Myanmar Coming to a Crossroads - Travel Pulse
Myanmar airport transportation guides

Friday, 3 April 2015

Even taxi drivers are chill about Cairn's free airport bus

Even the Cairns taxi drivers support the new airport bus
Cairns Airport has a new airport shuttle bus service - and it's FREE.

The new service, Airport Connect, provides a vital missing link between the city's public transportation system, and the Cairns International Airport, which has no public transit options. Passengers, airport staff and pedestrians who have no desire or budget to pay for a taxi or shuttle, or who are not staying at hotel with shuttle service, have had little choice but to walk.

Airport Connect will operate just once an hour, so it may not work for most passengers. But now, at least, they have a choice.

The motivation behind the move is sad, but also inspiring: 2 months ago a pedestrian died after being struck while walking along Airport Avenue. The new service means that Dinah Boughton's life was not in vain.

The Airport Connect service is not without its detractors, but we'll take a free bus service over no bus service at all. If the only thing better is a direct bus service from the city centre, well maybe that would be a good outcome. And if advocates for cycling and walking paths are heard, and additional facilities are created, then all the better.

The free bus experiment is limited to a 3-month trial period, which we think is a shame, as this isn't nearly enough time for visitors to learn about the service and begin to use it.

Nonetheless, it's a brilliant idea, and whoever seized the funding to get the project off the ground should be congratulated. Now it's up to both the public to show their support - by using the bus - and for airport executives to show their leadership - by standing their ground and extending the service. If government officials drop the ball by failing to permanently fund the initiative, then it really will be a shame.

Cairns taxi drivers not fazed by free Cairns Regional Council bus service to Cairns Airport
The Cairns Airport bus service is set up to fail
How the Cairns Airport Connect shuttle bus works
Cairns International Airport (CNS) transportation guide
Cairns Layover Ideas & Things to do in Cairns

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Don’t let sensationalized travel fear invoke paralysis

standing at the precipice
creativecommons image by charleskremenak on Flickr

by Todd Romaine

Let’s face the obvious fact – you will die at some point. Now, getting over this depressed reality should not paralyze you from living life and seeing the world in real-time versus from in front of a television set.

It seems all too often that the world is becoming a small place to travel within when the broad strokes of generalization of ‘no-go zones’ are factored into trip planning. Generally speaking, the Middle East is considered very volatile with the usual images of suicidal bombers and revolution. Africa is considered dangerous for contacting deadly viral diseases to war and to horrific crimes against locals and tourists alike. Much of Asia, with the exception of the southeast portion, is considered to share the same traits as the Middle East and Africa.

Right off the bat, most people now eliminate 2/3rds of the world and stick to safe countries in safe regions to ensure a continuance of life as they know it. And with the overload of information in people’s lives, we thrive and make decisions based on a combination of news or research snippets followed by gut reasoning.

When Ebola hit the news, people were avoiding Africa and all parts of it, despite the fact it only impacted three countries in West Africa and left the remaining 51 countries alone. While images of the Middle East show chaotic conditions, much of the region is peaceful or safe to travel, or countries considered dangerous generally have pockets of it, versus a wide swath of territory (exception being ISIL in Iraq, Syria).

Unfortunately official country reports tend to reinforce these stereotypes and this compounds the issue further with insurance companies, travel companies and the likes also terminating or intensifying their view of the area.

I am not suggesting you shrug this information off completely but spend time doing research on where you want to travel and what areas to avoid.

Admittedly, I went to Yemen last year as a tourist, a country that only receives a handful of American tourists and likely even less Canadians. Despite the political issues, kidnappings etc., I was able to find pockets of the country that were very safe and was able to enjoy it without dealing with hordes of tourists.

Traveling solo or with a small group tends to attract less negative attention and spending money with a reputable tour group also greatly assists with navigating away from potential dangers.

Maybe the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, but most of the world is still relatively safe and if do your own detailed research, and do proper planning, you have the opportunity to see reality in your own eyes versus the often drummed up sensationalism of mass media.

Related resources
Fear, Risk and Travel - Gary Arndt, Everything Everywhere
Travel warnings and advisories - Independent Traveler
Why you should ignore travel warnings - Reid's Italy
Travel in the time of Ebola
May the odds be ever in your favour
What counts as a country visited?

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Spain’s ‘white elephant airport’ comes back from the dead

El hombre avión
The Plane Man, by Juan Ripollés - sadly, the sculptor was left out-of-pocket for expenses associated with the stunning work

The desire of some European politicians to spend future public funds to help reinvigorate their domestic economies resulted in numerous civil work projects, many of which were abandoned shortly after construction. In places like Spain, the situation is glaringly obvious with public buildings, pools and even airports sitting empty, based on failed speculative theories on increased consumption and use.

In Castellon, a province in NE Spain, a 15 year plan to construct an airport to increase tourism to its postcard-perfect beaches eventually came into existence 4 years ago. The project was launched with the hope it would tap into various regional carrier markets, on the assumption that foreign money would continually flow into the region’s hospitality and that the real estate market would see increases on par with other parts of the world .

Europe’s sustained economic recession, however, has resulted in high levels of unemployment and corresponding less continental travelers flocking to Spain, let alone relatively undiscovered regions such as Castellon.

Despite the airport sitting idle beyond a few charter flights, expenses were paid for security and rodent and bird exterminators, anxiously preparing for the days when the airport would receive national approval and international use.

This was more than an unneeded, useless €150 million boondoggle - the former politician who cooked up the idea, Carlos Fabra, is currently serving 4 years behind bars for tax fraud associated with the project. The renowned sculptor Juan Ripollés was left out of pocket for his masterpiece gracing the airport's grounds. A whopping €30 million was wasted on advertising. The private contractor hired to operate the airport for 50 years sued for cancellation of his contract. And it took f4 years to be approved as meeting regulatory requirements. No wonder Spaniards were sore about the ghost airport.

Well, the day of waiting has come to an end.
Ryanair will start operating flights to/from Castellón de la Plana Airport, or Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport, with multiple weekly flights from London Stansted and Bristol. Ticket sales have opened, and flights commence in September.

Related resources

Spain's 'ghost' airport finally gets ready to welcome its first flights as Ryanair confirms routes between Castellon and the UK
Ryanair to serve Castellón Airport from Bristol and Stansted
Spanish 'ghost' airport's unused runway to be dug up - 2012
In Spain, a Symbol of Ruin at an Airport to Nowhere - 2012
Castellon de La Plana Airport (CDT) transportation guide (watch for updates)

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A few thoughts on Frankfurt Airport

This feature originally appeared on our LayoverIdeas blog:
Frankfurt airport
creativecommons image by bortescristian on Flickr
While we are often inspired by innovative airport design and unique features, Frankfurt International Airport takes the cake, by going above and beyond what has become to be expected of world class airports.

Among the many passenger-friendly services at Frankfurt International Airport, the following strike us as definitely created with human creature comforts in mind [continue reading... ]

Related resources
Layover City: Frankfurt
Frankfurt Layover Private Sightseeing Tour with Airport Transport
Frankfurt International Airport private transfer service from IHateTaxis
Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) transportation guide
Frankfurt Hahn Airport (HHN) transportation guide (120km away)