This week’s featured link:
The bus to the plane: On board Sun Country’s first Landline connection – TPG
I love multi-modal, and here’s a trip report of the latest attempt to combine bus with plane. The biggest hurdle remains the inability to operate the bus “behind security.” People still need to get off in Minneapolis when the bus gets to MSP, and go through security there. If the bus is late or if lines are long, that always makes me nervous. I’m sure they’ve thought it through and planned it out the best they can, but being able to operate behind security would be the real game-changer.
On a related note, we should all thanks Ned Russell for sacrificing by taking a trip to Duluth AND checking a bag just for this story. That’s dedication.
Two for the road:
The sobering history of crashes by Alaska’s biggest rural air carrier – Anchorage Daily News
This won’t get a ton of coverage down here in the lower 48, but it should. Flying in Alaska is challenging, but that doesn’t mean that people should just accept it.
At the old New Orleans airport, the final goodbye — and one last drink at the bar – Nola.com
Congrats to the people of New Orleans who finally have a sparkling, new airport terminal. The old one was crumbling, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for nostalgia. This article fills that need. I had to look up what second-lining was, but that combined with the last passengers to board being drunks stumbling on at the last moment made for a very New Orleans-goodbye.
Just a heads up, the first link above is to a LA Times article on the LAX-it situation, not to the TPG article on Sun Country airlines.
Link for the Duluth story is wrong. It bring you to a story about LAX and Park and Ride.
Great articles, although the first Sun Country one links to a different article.
Well that’s embarrassing. Fixed.
The SY link goes to a LA Times story about Uber & Lyft at LAX.
The Alaska article was very interesting, but it would have helped to compare the accident record of the current airline ownership with that of its previous owners. I have a general sense that Alaskan flying is riskier than most, and so I can’t tell how unusually bad the current situation is. With a Part 121 fatality, they’ve really poked the bear now.
With regards to operating the bus “behind security”, tamper evident seals on the doors to the bus (including its luggage compartments and emergency exits) would appear to be a logical solution. GPS monitoring (to flag/alert if the bus goes off the specified route) and remote camera monitoring of the outside of the bus (to assuage concerns of the unlikely possibility of someone trying to mess with the seals) could be added as well if required, or perhaps even used instead of the seals.
The tamper-evident seals could be made weak enough to easily break when force is applied in an emergency situation (in the event the bus crashes and people need to evacuate it, for example), while still remaining intact during the transit.
/Before anyone brings it up… Yes, I know that many, if not most, types of tamper-evident seals can be bypassed in various ways (and there are a few great videos from DefCon and other “hacker” type events on YouTube showing just that), but that’s where other possible layers of security (GPS tracking, cameras, etc) could come in. Pardon my cynicism, but I’d argue that some combination of the above would be more than enough to reach the realm of greatly diminishing returns in the game of “airport security theater”, and make things plenty safe enough.
Maybe the effort should be focused on ensuring there are no significant security lines for anyone.
I’d agree, that’s probably the best approach.
If Sun Country expands the bus service, I hope it coordinates the schedules so that the arrival of the buses is spread out a little bit (within reason, given reasonable waiting times). Having several buses arrive/depart MSP at the same time could easily jam things up compared to having 10 or 15 minutes between buses.
Considering Sun Country operates out of Terminal 2, which is rarely backed up in my experience, it is unlikely they will run into major issues. The bigger issue would be if they were housed at Terminal 1 where the vast bulk of flights leave from.
Another option that would be easier than a secure bus would be to build a dedicated TSA area at the arrival bus stop only for bus connections and staff it when buses arrive. Wait times would be predictable and relatively short compared to the main security lines (if those get busy at all)
Don’t forget that operating “behind security” assumes that TSA is willing to provide agents at those starting point bus terminals–such as Duluth. It’s hard enough for them to remain fully staffed in the major airports.
I fondly recall many occasions of pulling into MSY in an MD-80. The Captain would go get the paperwork and my job was to get 2 coffees with chickory and a bag ‘o’ beignets. We’d spend the first 30 minutes airborne out of MSY trying to brush the powdered sugar from the beignets off of our uniform pants! I do not recall ever second lining back to the jet, though.
I am glad that Sun Country is giving this a try, but I can’t see this working long term. Like many of the Delta Connections flight, they will get cancelled frequently due to weather and eventually due to lack of interest. I live about 80 miles from MSP and I have tried a few different bus services to it and it has really not been worth the time investment although if you have to park at Terminal 1 for $26 a day, it can be worth the money. From Duluth, I am not so sure and further out of the Range and over to the Bemidji area, maybe. If it is reliable but if it follows what Delta has done with their regional connections, it will die a quick death. It would be better for Sun Country to invest in it’s own reliability and it’s own staff instead of this. I’ll be glad when they can get rid of Bricker someday, he has been the wrong person for this airline.
Interesting that this is only now being attempted at MSP. We have had bus service to surrounding cities in Chicago for years with bus service to Rockford, Madison, etc.
I think MSP had existing regional bus service – the difference is that Sun Country is selling a combined bus+flight ticket. I’m not aware of other instances of this, except for United’s EWR-ABE bus connection.
Regarding the MSY story on NOLA.com: It is NOT the old airport, it’s the old TERMINAL! We’ve been dealing with this in IND for more than 11 years now. Thanks, I feel better!
I flew through New Orleans last week, and was in the new terminal. I am less than impressed. First, it seems just a shiny new place with lots of restaurants…but short on benefits for fliers. There is STILL a dearth of places to charge electronics. In today’s world, that is a must, and they didn’t provide them.
The more frustrating thing is, they built this terminal without bothering to fix the road access to it. So access is via surface streets and side streets. As a result, it took almost 30 minutes to ride the rental car bus from the terminal to the old rent car center.
Plus “consolidated” security checkpoints are often a code for “fewer” checkpoints, and the lines are VERY long.
Yes they built a pretty new terminal. It’s just not very user-friendly. Maybe Mardi-Gras types won’t care, but business travelers might. Next time I might fly to Baton Rouge and not have to jack with a rent car bus or long security lines.