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News Article - September 24, 2008

GIVE AN "A" TO PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT  

  I was away last week on business. I flew from Philadelphia to Chicago on to Honolulu and back. It certainly was a shock to me to learn that of the three airports, Philadelphia International Airport was the most efficient and easiest to navigate. Philly's airport has gotten a, deservedly, bad rap over recent years, but they seem to have passed that hurdle and are now running pretty well.

   Check-in at United was very efficient thanks to the new automated kiosks. Even with the addition of the new, and hated, baggage charges, check-in tool less than five minutes. The United Customer Service Representative weighed my bags, placed my luggage claim checks and gate information into a folder and directed me to the proper gate. Security at Terminal D was equally efficient and the line moved quickly. I really like those new dark blue TSA shirts. They help the TSA officials stand out really clearly.

   All of the businesses and restaurants near my gate were open by 6:00 a.m. The gate area itself had several working flat panel TVs. Boarding was early and went quickly. My flight left on time with very little delay between leaving the gate and takeoff. My return flight from Chicago to Philadelphia arrived 5 minutes early and my luggage was already on the belt by the time I reached the baggage claim area.

   The same cannot be said for the other airports I used. Chicago's O'Hare still requires lengthy and time consuming walks between terminals on almost every flight I take - even using the same airline. The lounges are too small for flights using larger wide-body planes and too many passengers are left waiting without seats. Boarding seems to take forever and then you sit either at the gate or on the tarmac waiting to take off. It was almost an hour between the time I boarded and the time my flight for Honolulu actually took off.

   I've always enjoyed traveling through Honolulu International Airport but I have to say I'm getting really tired of the long walks from the gate to the baggage area and from security to the departure gate. It's at least a half mile. Also, with all flights sharing the one huge baggage claim area, it's a zoo trying to find your bags. On this trip my flight's baggage was loaded on two different baggage carousels. That made it totally insane -jumping back and forth along with hundreds of other people looking for the bags in two separate locations. The good news remains that the rental car companies are mostly all still right across the road from baggage claim, so rental car pickups are easy.

   So, at least for this trip I give a solid A to Philadelphia International Airport. That's a vast improvement over recent years and a good sign for the future.

Source - About.com



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