Triangle Trip

Tag: terminal review

How to quickly check in at United at SFO’s Terminal 3

by on Jan.31, 2009, under Airlines, Business Travel, Vacation

As a frequent flyer of United in and out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Terminal 3, here are some hot tips for you:

1.  When flying on a domestic flight out of Terminal 3, you should always go through TSA security checkpoint near Gate 74 and 75. Gate 74 and 75 is located between the domestic and international terminals. It is called out “Boarding Areas” (the bottom red dot) if you refer to the map below.

The Gate 74 and 75 checkpoint is to the left of the Ticketing area, opposite side of the regular boarding area. No one is aware of this security checkpoint as it is geared towards travelers coming from the international terminal or BART. Lines here are always shorter than the Premier lines.

picture-10

2.  When you are in transit through SFO from domestic to international terminal, the best approach is via the bus interlink. The bus is located near the Yankee Pier restaurant or Gate 72. Referring to the map above, it is the 2nd red dot from the top. You will need to go through a door near the information booth, then down the stairs to the waiting area. The bus comes every 15 minutes or so. Going by bus means you will be able to avoid going out of Terminal 3, taking the Airtrain, and go through security screening at the International terminal.

Try these two tips and let us know your thoughts.

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(Fly) Clear Experience

by on Jan.26, 2009, under Business Travel, Travel Partners

I experienced Clear for the first time last night and thought it was quite valuable if the airport is packed. I was at JFK last night (Sunday night) and it was a zoo. As a Clear member, you actually get to skip the line – even bypassing people with status.

The Clear process is as follows:

  1. Show your Clear membership card at the Clear station. A Clear representative will look at your card and make you identify yourself via your finger print (thumb, index finger, etc.) or retina scan.
  2. Once you have been verified by the Clear representative, he/she will assist you with the removal of your shoes, belt, laptop, liquid items, etc.
  3. The Clear representative then takes you from the Clear station directly to the front of the line of a security scanning machine.

My experience was extremely pleasant and efficient as I was a seasoned traveler. I can see how the $199 per year fee can help some of the novices/rookies running late to airports. The jury is still out if Clear is actually worth me giving up my personal data + $199 per year. The limited airports with Clear machines still baffles me. You can find more insight on the registration process from my December post.

Finally I would like to let everyone who considers joining to know that they actually will only get 11 months of service vs. 12 months if they decide to sign up. It took Clear a four weeks to get me my card. Here was the entire process:

  1. Registered online:  around December 15
  2. Registered at Clear kiosk:  December 30
  3. Received Clear card:  January 21

Hope this article helps… Happy Lunar New Year!!  May the year of the Ox bring prosperity to all my fans.

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Top 5 Airports in America

by on Jan.15, 2009, under Airlines, Business Travel

A follow up to the post of the worst airports in the US, here’s a list of the best airports in the US. We used the same evaluation criteria to come up with this list:

#5. Washington DC Reagan (DCA) – DCA is extremely easy to get in and out of since it is located in Arlington, VA and only 3 miles from DC . The DC Metro is linked to the airport and takes you right into DC after only a couple stops. The one bad thing about DCA is the curfew they impose on flights past 10pm. US Airways is the main carrier with other carriers like American and United flying primarily only to their hub cities. And if you are luckily enough you may run into your congressman.

#4. Las Vegas (LAS) – We are not rating LAS as a top 5 simply because it’s in Las Vegas and you can play Wheel of Fortune while you are waiting to board the plane. We truly believe LAS has a lot to offer and is quite efficient. Although there are no public transport from the Strip to LAS, it is quite convenient to find a cab in Vegas. Cabs do however need to take a big loop around the private airport to get to LAS. Rental car returns can be quite painful as the return facility is out of the way. Then again, why are you renting a car in Vegas?

The security lines are very efficient. They have a line dedicated to travelers with status. Once you pass security, you board a tram that comes every minute. It is super efficient. All terminals (1 to 4) have food courts and a wide variety of shops for you to spend more money. Flights out of Vegas are rarely delayed (can’t say that about coming in though). And if you were delayed, there is always time for you to head back to the casinos to make another withdrawal! You also can’t beat the slot machines right in front of the gates.

#3. Orange County (SNA) – Orange County’s snobby neighborhood imposes a curfew at 11PM meaning you may end up at LAX if your flight to SNA is delayed. Oh… the planes are also required to shut off their engines after take off. Aside from these two minor issues, SNA is the preferred airport in So Cal. Its short term and long parking facilities are within walking distance of the airport. The streets leading to SNA are very well organized, and traffic lights are synchronized. You can get to SNA from all major freeways and there’s now a toll road access (73). I am going to omit the public transportation part here since we’re dealing with So Cal…

The security lines at SNA are quite efficient. Once you pass security, the gates are right in front of you. Food selection is decent given the size of the airport. The airport is also extremely clean.

#2. Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – We need to give the city of Chicago a great deal of credit for its ability to connect an airport with the amount of traffic to a large city. Despite the flight volume and bad winter weather, ORD is very good at getting planes on and off the ground.  Not only do the United and American hub terminals offer great food, Terminal 2 which houses all the Hodge podge carriers at ORD has good selection as well. The terminals are also connected via a walkway which has food and art work. And the international terminal is relatively new.

It is also easy to get to ORD by public transit. The ‘L’ (elevated train) takes you from ORD directly to the loop for USD 2 – that’s cheaper than a cart for your luggage at JFK. To and from the city via the blue line is 45 minutes guaranteed.

Cab lines are very well organized at arrivals. To handle the Monday morning rush, ORD has police directing traffic at the departure ramps.

#1. San Francisco (SFO) – SFO is first by only a close margin. Transportation to and from SFO is awesome. There are tons of signs on the highway as you’re getting close to SFO. The stretch of 101 traffic by SFO is pretty light. You can get to and from the city to SFO via can for less than 30 minutes. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) takes you directly to the Terminals. It is only $3.50 one way to get you to SF and for $7 or so, BART can take you as far as Fremont. SFO’s tram system is also extremely fast and efficient. Trams connect long term parking and rental car facilities. If you don’t like the tram, you can always walk from terminal to terminal.

Food courts are abundant at SFO. All types of cuisines are available in the International terminal before you board. For domestic flights, you can find food courts once you have passed security. Security screening is also very efficient. United and American in Terminal 3 both have Status lines to separate the travel professionals from the rookies. Clear is also an alternative at SFO.

SFO does not have many delays. And if you are delayed, there are plenty of shops around for you to do window shopping or help out the economy 🙂   SFO also has updated art exihibits featuring from new technology to movies to wineries.  SFO

We welcome your feedback and counterpoints.

Statusmonger and Captain G

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