Traveling 101
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Airport Parking Websites-A Necessary Service or A Scam?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010 05:37 by Jon

We’ve all experienced what it is like to try to park at the airport.  Sometimes you get lucky and there are available spots on the first floor that you try, but other times you can drive for twenty minutes or more just looking for any spot big enough to wedge your vehicle into.  In acknowledgement of this predicament, many companies have started up online parking websites that enable you to pay for and reserve a parking spot online.  The question is, do we really need this service or should we just be able to find a spot?  Looking around, I find that the opinions on this are quite mixed.

In examining this service, I want to give an equal description of both sides of the coin.  I have spoken with a few people who feel that the service is unnecessary, and I believe the summary of this opinion was best worded when it was called “a solution in search of a problem”.  For many people, that is just what these websites seem to be.  For people looking to fly on slow weekdays or people catching a red-eye, a parking spot can be easy to find.  The same holds true for people traveling from smaller airports.

I have heard many people say that airport parking websites are promising convenience when in truth finding a spot on your own is not overly difficult.  I have also heard it said that the need to visit a website and reserve a space in advance is simply added hassle for travelers and that it is simply easier to drive onto the lot and park your vehicle.  The naysayers seem to have a rather cut and dry approach to the entire issue, but in truth I find that most people who think that the sites offer benefit are pretty adamant in their opinions as well.

There are in fact many people who believe that airport parking websites provide a beneficial service to travelers.  For offsite operators and airports that see a great deal of traffic, these people feel that the sites help to make travel easier.  They also believe that offering a guaranteed parking spot and a clear definition of where a traveler will be parking makes the travel experience run more smoothly rather than adding an unnecessary hassle.

In major cities with large airports, such as LA, Chicago, and NYC, people often spend a great deal of time searching for parking or even driving from one lot to the next comparing parking prices.  Using a parking website offers a greatly reduced search time and even allows parking owners to offer discounts, something that customers will never receive when paying at the booth.  Many people feel that the service also helps to contribute to the green movement by sending travelers directly to their assigned spots rather than forcing them to drive around searching.  This of course reduces emissions, and while it may seem minute for a single car the cumulative savings is significant when many people are utilizing the service.

Having examined both sides of this argument carefully, I tend to walk away with a bit of a mixed opinion.  If forced to choose sides, I am certainly in favor of airport parking websites, but I am able to see both sides of the coin.  In smaller airports and in places where parking is simply never an issue, it may truly be both faster and better to simply seek out a spot on your own.  Even in this event, however, with parking sites offering discounts on spots it is something worth considering.

When it comes to busy cities and major airports, however, I am certainly in favor of the sites.  Having tried on many occasions to find a spot at JFK or LAX before missing a flight, I can appreciate what these sites have to offer.  For most of us, a trip to the airport is already rushed and hectic and being able to avoid the stress of parking is far more of a convenience than a hassle.  I don’t see these sites as a solution in search of a problem, but I also don’t think that they are needed at every airport.  Ultimately, I think that they are needed for the places where parking is an issue and simply welcomed elsewhere by travelers who would rather pay in advance than risk battling other travelers for the last great parking spot.

This article was also published in the April issue of Parking Today magazine.

Visit the Flight Path Learning Center on your Next Visit to LAX

Monday, 3 May 2010 07:17 by Jon

The next time you're asked to pick up a friend or relative at Los Angeles International Airport, stop groaning and jump at the chance to visit the Flight Path Learning Center. Flight Path is an educational facility and museum located in the Imperial Terminal at LAX.

Initially, Flight Path came to LAX as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the airport and the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first powered flight. It started out with sidewalk plaques placed in the airport's business district. The plaques saluted aviation organizations and pioneers and highlighted key aviation-related locations.

Today, the "Flight Path" is just one aspect of the Learning Center at LAX. The museum now provides historical exhibits, research facilities and educational tours and programs. There are also special community events held at the aviation museum throughout the year.

The Flight Path Learning Center at Lax is unique in more ways than one. First, it is the only museum, learning and research center located at a major airport. It is also unique in that it focuses on the historical significance of civil aviation in Southern California and how it has contributed to the region's development.

Exhibits at the Flight Path Learning Center Museum include aircraft models, photographs, aviation uniforms and other artifacts related to aircraft manufacturers, airlines and the airport's history. Items included in the exhibits are largely sourced from private collections. Many of the museum's exhibits contain items that would be otherwise be unavailable for viewing and have never before been included in public displays.

Another fascinating exhibit at the Museum is a large-scale model of the Curtiss P-6E Hawk bi-plane. This biplane is modeled on a 1930's era US Army Air Corps aircraft. This large model biplane is on permanent display.

With its 6-foot, double-deck wingspan and authentic detail, this model is sure to excite kids and aviation enthusiasts of all ages. It even has a working engine and was flown by remote control in the past. The Hawk is just one of the models on display at the Flight Path Learning Center Museum.

In addition to permanent displays, Flight Path also has changing displays at the Museum. Currently, a huge panoramic mural that salutes the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight and the 75th anniversary of LAX is on display. This mural includes authentic historic photographs related to the early history of aviation in Southern California.

You can visit the Flight Path Learning Center Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. There is no admission charge. The William A. Schoneberger Research Library is open during Flight Path regular operating hours. Researchers should call ahead to be sure the materials they need and staff assistance are available.

The Museum is located at 6661 W. Imperial Highway in the LAX Imperial Terminal on the south side of the airport. Designated Free Parking is available adjacent to the Flight Path.

The Flight Path Learning Center Museum is the perfect place to wait for a cell phone call to pick up an arrival at the airport. Depending on your interest in aviation, plan to allow yourself at least ½ hour to an hour to explore the Museum's exhibits.

Hybrid Vehicle Drivers Enjoy Preferred Parking at Midway and other Airports

Monday, 26 April 2010 04:47 by Jon

Hybrid vehicle drivers know all about the advantages of driving "green" cars.  These vehicles combine the best of regular cars with the best of electric cars. Hybrid cars have lower toxic emissions and better fuel economy. Owners save a considerable amount on fuel costs long term. These vehicles are safe, reliable and comfortable, and today there are even tax benefits for buying a hybrid car.

Today there's one more advantage of driving a hybrid to consider – preferred parking! Chicago's Midway airport offers preferred parking for hybrid vehicles. This makes parking at Midway much more convenient, and hybrid drivers are practically guaranteed a good parking space.

You can easily find and download a map detailing Preferred Parking spaces for hybrid vehicles at Midway. There are 6 spaces located in Employee Parking lot B, and 1 space designated in Employee Parking lot A.

Midway's Orange Economy Parking Lot offers 14 hybrid vehicle spaces. This is a great choice for hybrid drivers who prefer economy long-term parking. There are also 13 hybrid car spaces in the Terminal Parking Garage.

The Red Economy Parking Lot at Midway has 11 hybrid spaces available, while the Yellow Economy Lot has 3 spaces. The Terminal Parking Garage spots are the most convenient spaces as they are closest to the Terminal. The Yellow Lot and Red Lot options are the next in proximity to the Terminal respectively. The Orange Lot and Employee Lots are the farthest away.

Preferred parking spaces for hybrid vehicles at Chicago Midway International Airport are designated by the green leaf symbol. These spaces are located close to elevator lobbies in parking garages or near Shuttle Bus Stops in surface lots.

Midway airport is one among many airports across the nation that now offer preferred parking as a type of reward or incentive for drivers who go green with hybrid cars.

Some airports such as Boston's Logan International Airport not only offer preferred hybrid parking, but grant preferred parking privileges to clean fuel vehicle taxis. Clean fuel taxis get head-of-line privileges at the airport's taxi stand.

This is a big incentive for taxi companies that serve the airport, as it equates to more time on the road, less time in the taxi queue and subsequently, more earnings in fares. Not only do green taxi companies save on the cost of fuel, they're able to earn more on airport transfers in the process.

If you happen to drive a hydrogen vehicle and you're traveling out of a Los Angeles airport, you may be able to take advantage of the public access hydrogen fueling station at LAX. This BP station serves not only the fleet of hydrogen vehicles owned by Los Angeles World Airports and operated at LAX, but the growing number of owners in the community driving cars powered by hydrogen.

Promoting and supporting hybrid vehicle use is just one aspect of eco-friendly trends that are becoming popular with airports around the world. Airports can do little to reduce the emissions produced by airplanes, but they seem eager to support the reduction of ground level emissions through the use of clean energy cars.

Is Park, Sleep and Fly the Best Option for La Guardia Travelers?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010 08:10 by Jon

If you're exploring options to save on parking at La Guardia, you'll find plenty of options with a quick search online. You can opt to park at the airport, but parking lots there can fill up, especially during peak travel times. There's no shortage of off site parking options that offer guaranteed parking space and discounted rates, but there's still the hassle of driving to any parking area near the airport.

Even New Yorkers in the know about the traffic situation around La Guardia dread trips to the airport. Whether you're traveling from midtown Manhattan or another location makes little difference. Routes to the airport involve everything from costly tolls to serious delays in traffic at the Midtown Tunnel, the Grand Central Parkway or the Long Island Expressway near Queens Blvd. Not only is the drive to La Guardia arduous, it's unpredictable in terms of how fast you'll be able to make it to the airport.

Park, Sleep and Fly packages available at nearby hotels can relieve the burden of driving to the airport to make a flight on time. These packages usually include free shuttle service to the nearby hotel, or at most involve a very short (and cheap) taxi ride.

If you have an early morning flight and you'd like to avoid the dreaded drive to La Guardia plus save a lot of money on parking, a Park, Sleep and Fly package may be the best choice. La Guardia primarily handles domestic flights, and if you'll be returning within 7 days, parking will probably be free with just one night's stay at a Park, Sleep and Fly hotel.

Park, Sleep and Fly packages are popular with travelers going through major airports, but they aren't necessarily the best choice for everyone at all times. The timing of your flight has a lot to do with whether or not this option makes the most sense.

If you're taking an afternoon flight that won't involve rush hour traffic, driving yourself to an off site airport parking site may be the best choice. Nothing says you won't run into traffic delays, but the odds are much better you won't during non-peak traffic times. This also applies for weekend flights when traffic isn't likely to be overly heavy.

Think you'll be fine to drive and park yourself for an evening flight out of La Guardia? This may be the case, but traffic is very unpredictable in the early evening. Consider that even if your flight is at 8:00 pm, you'll want to arrive at the airport by around 6:00 pm, as La Guardia is very busy during late afternoon and evening hours. This means you'll need to drive to La Guardia during evening commute hours, which can involve serious delays.

Consider when you'll be returning from your trip when deciding on Park, Sleep and Fly, too. Will you arrive just in time to hit evening rush hour traffic? You might be much more comfortable relaxing at the hotel where your car is parked for an hour or so than you would be sitting around La Guardia waiting for traffic to die down.

Park, Sleep and Fly Packages are Perfect for Morning Flights

Wednesday, 24 March 2010 07:11 by Jon

When you've got a morning flight, the hardest part of the journey is dragging yourself out of bed pre-dawn, then fighting traffic to get to the airport on time. Depending on how far you live from the airport, this can easily add on hours to what's likely to already be a much longer than usual day. Today, many airport hotels offer travelers a great way to avoid all the stress and discomfort associated with early flights. 

Park, sleep and fly packages include an overnight stay at an airport hotel, plus several days' worth of parking. Hotels typically offer between 5 and 7 nights of free parking, and some offer extended parking options for a small additional fee. Travelers are provided with free shuttle service to the airport located just a few minutes away, and return shuttle service is also provided. 

Instead of arriving at the airport exhausted, you can sleep in to a reasonable hour, enjoy breakfast at the hotel and still be at the airport in plenty of time for check-in.  When you return, you take a shuttle back to your hotel, hop in your car and drive away. In the case of a very long flight or late arrival, you could also plan to spend the night of your return at the hotel. 

One of the best things about park, sleep and fly packages is how affordable they actually work out to be considering what's included. In most cases, the price of an overnight stay at the hotel is much less than paying for 7 nights of airport parking. Even if the hotel charges a modest fee for parking while you're away, the package is still likely to cost much less than long term airport parking alone. 

In the past, travelers sometimes opted to book later flights just for the sake of saving on the hassle of getting to the airport at an early morning hour. Yet given a convenient option like park, sleep and fly, most people would prefer to take that morning flight. 

Morning flights tend to have fewer delays. Business travelers can attend afternoon meetings or conferences, and leisure travelers can comfortably fly early and arrive at their destination as soon as possible! There's no need to make a compromise when you take advantage of a park, sleep and fly package. 

Today websites that specialize in pre-booking airport parking often include park, sleep and fly package options. You can check with specific airport hotels for information on their policies regarding how long you can park for free, what the cost would be to park longer and other details. 

Although you can book with hotels directly, it may be cheaper to pre-book your package with an airport parking website. They may offer coupons or special discounts off the regular prices charged by hotels. 

As a final benefit, many hotels offer frequent park, sleep and fly customers special rates or discounts. If you fly on a regular basis,you may want to choose a hotel that offers frequent package purchasers discount rates. You'll save on the cost of airport parking, plus enjoy an additional discount the next time you need to park, sleep and fly.

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