Austin Airport Parking – Inefficient, and Surprisingly Not Automated

Austin Airport

My gripe is with the Austin airport parking specifically…I like Austin, it is a very nice city to live in, tons of places to go and things to do.  You want music – SXSW, Austin City Limits and numerous live bands playing throughout the year at multiple venues…

Austin Circuit of the AmericasYou want fast cars – there is the Circuit of the Americas – where in November of each year you can experience a tremendous rush of excitement as you watch 700 hp rocket like cars zoom on the track…

Austin ABIA Airport Parking MapThe Austin airport parking has been weird for a long time.  I had noticed over the last several years a big problem – the place needs to be automated.   There are multiple times throughout a day when you can get to the airport and when you try to park in the short term parking you will find it closed due to the lot being full.

In reality, I have observed on multiple occasions, the lot is NOT fully occupied at all.  Earlier this week, I arrived at the airport around 3:30pm – and as I was going to be gone for 2 days decided to park in the near / short term parking. The lot was closed as being full.  Off I then went to the long term parking lots – and after leaving my car I decided to walk to the terminal through the short term parking area – Lot A in the map above.  As I walked through lot A (observing only 3 parking rows) I counted 18 empty spaces!!!  18 out of approximately 80….!!! How can this be you would ask…?  Yes, it is very annoying – here was I, a customer willing to pay the delta of $4 per day more, the parking spots were there (more than just a few), but the airport management system failed us all.

I remember talking with a senior member of Walt Disney Imagineering – specifically about Walt Disney.  After he built Disney Park, he was obsessed with finding ways to leverage the assets 24-hours per day / 365 days per year.   Why?   Well assets are to be leveraged once put in operation!

This notion appears to be lost on ABIA!  I really do not understand why ABIA cannot implement a smarter way to monitor and manage their assets!   I can immediately see two simple solutions:

  1. Brute force – ABIA has a minivan that circles the lots for safety and to see if someone needs vehicle help etc.  The minivan can certainly take notice of the empty slots – even if you drive through the lot A (and other lots) once every 3-4 hours, you can capture the empty spaces (make note of them) and open the lot correspondingly
  2. A simple database monitoring system – count the number of tickets issued at entry in the Lot A and subtract the number of tickets paid by cars leaving Lot A – the Net is your available parking capacity!

The result – more $$$ for ABIA and more happiness for us passengers!

What do you think?


Southwest Airlines – Gripes Abound…q

Southwest Airlines

Seems like this is the season of griping about the airlines abilities to make things work.

Last night was the night to experience (with bewilderment) the inability of Southwest Airlines, otherwise lauded for its efficiency, to operate a working IT system.  Here is the situation that unrolled last night, and you be the judge

* over the last 9 months or so I have called the airline on numerous occasions due to the fact that every time i checked in and printed a boarding pass I would not get a tsa pre on the boarding pass.  So each time I would call the airline and diligently explain that yes, I have a global entry, give them my number, the airline agent would apologize profusely and promise that the number is now in the airline database….

* this time again the whole rigamarole repeated in exact same fashion – print –> no tsa pre –> call –> apologies –>….

* this time around though as if the hassle is not enough already, Murfy’s Law added a step – the agent updated supposedly my record but the new boarding pass did NOT show that –  so next had to call in again

* except now we got disconnected twice by the alsouthwest airlines system while in the middle of calls…and once when the airline automated system called us back when our turn was up.   The system called us and promptly disconnected us which meant we had to call back in and get us on the call back list again for the next time period…

So, after 5 or 6 calls I finally was able to print my correctly updated boarding pass….

I cannot wait for my next trip on Southwest Airlines !   This is such a precious experience …. NOT!!!

Flight Frustrations on American Airlines

Flight Frustrations

Flight-SunsetSome flight frustrations are explained by bad weather or just purely unpredictable issues with planes or infrastructure.  Some, though are of just pure human nature – and those frustrate me the most…Read further and you will understand.

Earlier this week I flew from Austin to San Jose via Phoenix.  Over the last 1 year I have taken this set of flights / route many times.  The reason I decided to post this is because it finally dawned on me that the issues that I have observed on several occasions with how arrivals in Phoenix are handled are not isolated ones….They happen too often and have implications on the travelers…

Flying to Phoenix, the American flight had strong head winds.  The captain informed us (the passengers) of that even before we left Austin.  Due to the weather, we landed about 15-20 min late.  My connecting flight to San Jose originally had about 40-min buffer, so I thought “still good as I will have time to my connecting flight…”

Well, we landed, the pilot taxied quickly towards the gate and then we stood still about 20 yards from the gate…!  We had to wait to be marshaled in.

The gate was open – no plane

People with the right uniforms were walking around …and we just stood…

The time buffer till my next flight was melting away…

When we finally started moving towards the gate, my next flight was boarding…(according to my helpful AA iPhone App)

Long story short I had to run across the airport, as of course,  my connecting flight was at a gate quite a walk away – we landed at gate B17 (Phoenix Sky harbor) and were to take off from A24…. As a result I had a “nice” morning exercise and made it to the gate and boarded the plane with 9 minutes to spare to the time to push from the gate!

Now – why would it be the case with American to have the ground crew be so uncaring about the situation???

  1. surely they knew the plane was coming in late ( we knew we will be late based on the captain’s announcement the moment we left Austin)
  2. They saw the plane taxing to the gate once it landed…
  3. They must have known that there are people on board who are rushing to connecting flights…
  4. And on and on…

Only one way to explain this in my opinion – the ground crews operate at their own pace and don’t give much attention on the rest of the operation – and I am putting it in very moderated language – in other words they did not care…

Go figure … I hope one day they are seeing the same from the passenger view (if they travel)