Cranky on the Web (March 17 – 21)

Airline industry pours millions into new terminalsUSA Today
I was asked my thoughts about airports spending money to improve the experience for travelers. I had mixed feelings. (Experience = good, cost = bad)

In the Trenches: Relying on Customer Service When Technology FailsIntuit Small Business Blog
We found a quirk of Google Apps over the weekend and that meant we caused problems for a customer. We had to fall back on customer service skills to smooth things over.

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12 Comments on "Cranky on the Web (March 17 – 21)"

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David SF eastbay
Member

Never trust technology no matter how good a company says their products are.

Nick Barnard
Member

Like they say, to err is human, to really screw something up takes a computer.

Nick Barnard
Member

I had this misfortune of flying through IAD earlier this month. The terminals there were….. dreadful would be too kind of a word.

The terminals I was in (A/C/D) all just need replaced. Sooner rather than later. Declare a superfund project or something.

laurala
Guest

Even after the latest round of upgrades in the United terminals at IAD, that place still feels like a basement rec room to me.

waynerutman
Guest

Everytime I see a nicer-than-it-needs-to-be airport terminal in the USA — and that’s pretty often — I always wonder how much I’m paying for it. Do local taxpayers EVER pay for airport terminals these days? I assume it’s all PFCs added to tickets and, perhaps, landing fees. True? If so, it’s not surprising that cities build airports that are “monuments.” It makes them feel good, and if somebody else is picking up the tab, why not?

Chris
Guest

We’re still paying for the AeroTrain system at IAD…that doesn’t go to all the terminals!

Carl
Member
While I totally agree that the IAD concourses A, C & D need a major reconstruction to bring them to an acceptable standard, on the whole I am extremely reluctant to give any airport authority the right to collect any additional Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs). PFCs are essentially taxes on the passengers. Airports raise revenues in so many ways – they rent space to merchants, the rent space and gates to airlines, they charge the vans (and sometimes taxis) that service the airport for hotels, parking and rental cars, they put surtaxes on car rentals, landing fees, etc. On the… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

The use of the fees are limited to “FAA-approved projects that enhance safety, security, or capacity; reduce noise; or increase air carrier competition.” Plus you miss the whole fact that in hub situations the main carrier can and will shift traffic if the costs to both passengers and the airlines get too high.

Carl, how would you fund improvements to IAD? I’m not suggesting they put in a Taj Mahal, but something like the cost effective JFK T5 wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Carl
Member

Redoing IAD is a good use of the PFCs, and they should also bond future revenues the facility will provide.

But too often these fees finance food courts and shopping malls. I’m sure they find a way to justify them as safety, security and capacity, but they are often overbuilt. By the time the bill comes due, the city has less air service, airlines have left, and the airport commission has new members.

Carl
Member

PS: I don’t mean off-airport shopping malls, I mean retail areas in the secure part of the airport. Which might be nice to have but aren’t needed by the travelers, so they should only get built if they pencil out on their own.

Nick Barnard
Member

AFAIK, aren’t food courts additional income for the airport? I’d guess that designers figure out the basic shell (e.g. gates here, building here, then figure out how to fit in food and retail..)

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