Five ways to get to the airport

Your bags are sitting in the hallway, and you’re ready to go to the airport. How to get there involves a tradeoff between cost and hassle. A sacrifice is always necessary, and it’s significant: you’ll have to give up something important. But, this is the nature of travel, so the best you can do is understand the good and bad associated with each.

1. Drive
Take yourself to the airport, and you don’t have to rely on anyone else’s schedule. You own your time. But, you may have to deal with traffic, and parking can get expensive. Choose a long-term parking lot to trade convenience for savings.

2. Taxi
This is more an urban option. It’s cheaper than a town car but can still become costly, especially with tolls and tip. If it’s early in the morning or raining, you might have trouble finding a cab.

3. Public transportation
Public transportation is generally the cheapest alternative, but leave lots of time (especially if you live in the suburbs); it can take hours. How much is your time worth?

4. Town car/limo
You’ll pay to play with a town car or limousine, which can be the most expensive (unless you drive to an airport that charges a small fortune for parking … and you’re taking a long trip). But, your car should arrive early and be ready to wait for you (no honking or phone calls until you’re a little late), and it will be clean and comfortable.

5. Find a friend
Convince someone to drive you, and you save a fortune and win some convenience. Do this too often, though, and your friends will hate you.

Create a custom experience at the Palazzo Sasson

It doesn’t take much to make Italy enticing. The prospect of staying at the Palazzo Sasso in Ravello, though, will effectively deprive you of your free will. This twelfth century palace has the laudable goal of treating you to the same standard as its original inhabitants.

Yeah, I can live with that.

Of course, times are tough, so everybody’s upping the ante. For the Palazzo Sasso, this means that booking a King Sea View room (or one in a higher category) will get you the bonus amenity of your choice! There are plenty:

  • One spa treatment (massage, manicure or pedicure only)
  • A 20 percent discount on all lunch charges in house
  • Parking in hotel garage for entire stay
  • Mini-bar usage for entire stay
  • A guided walking tour of Ravello (approximately two hours)
  • One transfer to Amalfi and back from the hotel
  • Internet access for entire stay
  • Laundry service for entire stay (excluding dry cleaning)
  • In-room movies for entire stay
  • Fresh flowers and fruit upon arrival

If you can’t find something on this list to enhance your stay, it’s because you hate comfort and convenience.

As always, there’s a catch. You have to stay for at least three nights from June 1, 2009 to October 15, 2009. Rates vary from €198 to €2,200, depending on how high-maintenance you are.

Pay to play in Aussie airport parking lots

For the past decade, Australians have griped about the escalating cost of short-term airport parking. Accusations of monopoly pricing were leveled, and a year ago, the government got involved, having the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) keep an eye on parking lot fees at the country’s five largest airports. The results are amazing.

Airports pull in 11 percent of their revenue from parking. In Melbourne, it’s a whopping 21 percent, while Sydney‘s airport pulls in a more modest 7 percent of its financial take from the parking lots. Since no government agency is willing to put its head on the chopping block the ACCC would only say that this is “consistent with airports having a monopoly position.”

Of course, there are perks to paying. People parking at the Melbourne airport were the most satisfied customers, with those frequenting Sydney’s lots at the bottom.

But, convenience always wins.

The Sydney airport is only 10 kilometers (a little more than 6 miles) from the city, and only 13 percent of passengers use the airport’s parking lots. Melbourne’s airport is more than twice as far away, making airport parking more sensible.

It’s a cruel world – departing Continental Airlines CFO gets free airport parking for life

The airlines giveth, and the airlines taketh away. This has never been more true than in recent years. From pretzels and pillows to in-flight movies, we have all been robbed of the few things that made flying bearable.

But none of this applies to the airline executives that helped create the current situation. Most retiring executives leave the airline with hefty retirement packages, often including free flights and free medial care for life.

Departing Continental CFO Jeffrey Misner is clearly more creative than any of his colleagues. As part of his retirement package, he has secured a lifetime free executive parking spot at Jacksonville airport “in a lot that is the same or similar to the lot available to airport-management personnel”.

He’s also taking a cool $3 Million in unrestricted Continental stock with him, which is ironic since that is the same amount of money CO lost in their second quarter.

It’s all spelled out in his retirement agreement posted online by the SEC. None of the other juicy details were described, but one can expect a pretty healthy chunk of our ticket money to head his way for years to come.

Misner joined Continental in 1995 and became their CFO in 2004. During his tenure, shares of the airline rose to the upper $40’s in 2006, only to plummet back into the single digits in 2008.

So, next time you spend $26 a day for parking at the airport and another $20 for a snack on the flight, think of poor retired Jeffey Misner.


Parking structures around the world

The feature story over at is on parking garages around the world. It’s actually a fun slideshow essay they’ve got going through the history of parking structures. Apparently it all started on the corner of Temple St. in New Haven, a corner that’s two blocks down from where I live. That parking garage was built by Paul Rudolph in 1962, and was meant to revitalize New Haven’s notorious dilapidated downtown (it’s a fun place nowadays, I promise).

Anyways, I’ve never thought much of the parking garage whenever I pass it, guess I’m not much of a parking garage connoisseur. It’s described as “macho monumentalism–all brawny forms and structural muscle … ingenuity with concrete.” Hmm, all I really see are the bums who always seem to be hanging under the lights taking a smoke.

And from the archives, Slate also has a fun article about mechanized parking garages, worth a read.