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Last week’s anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks also marked the end of one common travel practice that many of us miss:
Airport pick ups that allowed cars to stop for more than a couple of minutes to retrieve passengers and their luggage.
Since 2001, drivers haven’t been allowed to linger outside terminals in loading zones. Motorists have had to to circle airports over and over while waiting for arriving parties.
The result: Congestion and slow-moving traffic that encourages accidents, wasted fuel, angry passengers and the folks picking them up.
For those who travel frequently, the process can be almost unbearable.Waits can extend the workday, add to travel costs and frustrate traveling workers.
And even when both the passenger and the driver have their cell phones and can coordinate a pick up, airport pick ups are often a logistical nightmare.
In many cases, drivers often pull off on the shoulder of an airport access road to wait for a call that the passenger has collected luggage and is ready for pick up.
Of course, this isn’t the best or safest way way to wait for travelers, so “cell phone parking lots” have been in use since 2004. This is usually a free lot where drivers must stay in their cars and are limited to a one-hour wait. Some lots have arrival boards that provide information on flights that have landed or are delayed.
Pilot programs were launched in 13 airports, including the Los Angeles International Airport, the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, the Houston Airport and the Philadelphia Airport. Most major airports — except Philadelphia — created cell phone lots. This week, the Philly airport finally decided to create one.
These lots are only helpful if airport access roads tout them with adequate and proper signs that direct drivers to the holding area.
Most airports now tout their cell phone parking lots on their Web sites, so a search for the airport name and the phrase “cell phone lot” will likely turn up directions and the rules for using these parking spots once you get there.
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