rjpieces
Topic Author
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Review Of The New AeroTrain At IAD

Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:01 pm

I arrived at Dulles at about 6:30 AM for a 7:50 AM flight. I checked-in within two minutes at Delta's lovely new kiosks, and walked around the main terminal for a few minutes. Since the new security checkpoints opened up, the main terminal feels much more spacious and airy. I arrived at the airport extra early because I knew I wanted to take the AeroTrain around. It is very exciting when a construction project is going on for years and you get to experience a new people mover or airport terminal for the first time! Anyhow, this was not my first time using the new security checkpoint but it was my first time using the AeroTrain. I descended down the stairs to the checkpoint and found a super long line. I was a little surprised as it was about 6:45 AM. It was about 30 minutes before I cleared security. I was shocked as this is the longest I have waited at any airport in quite a while. They have plenty of room for extra TSA checkpoints down there; I don't know why they would invest millions in a new security area and then not have enough stations open to process passengers efficiently!

After clearing security, you take a short walk down to the AeroTrain platform. The train came fairly quickly and I headed towards Concourse C. It was a nice ride; the trains are very bright and modern. Very few seats, though the ride is quick. I would say it is a little nicer then the people mover at ATL. However, the walk to Concourse C once you exit is much longer than I expected. The moving walkway is not bad, but the inclined ramp to the moving walkway is a pain (at least in one direction). From exiting the train, it is at least a three to five minute walk until you get off the escalator in Concourse C. Unfortunately, since there are no plans to build the new midfield concourse anytime soon, it will be at least a decade of this setup for passengers using United Airlines. A shame really as the system is quite nice otherwise.

I walked back from Concourse C to the train again. It came fairly quickly again, and I took it to Concourse B (it made stops at Concourse A and then the Main Terminal on the way). I did not exit at Concourse A, but I understand that for passengers flying United Express, it is a real pain--up the escalator to the terminal, then up to bridge, then down to the concourse again. Until MWAA/United build the new midfield terminal and all of United's operations are under one roof, it will be a pain for all United passengers (it a schlep to the regional concourse A AND to concourse C). Once the train arrived at Concourse B, I exited and noticed that the escalators leading away from the platform were limited and narrow. As a result, there was quite a bit of crowding once the train doors opened and everyone flocked to the escalators. I guess the solution to this problem is to run more aeroTrains so that they are not as crowded all the time. However, it was a very quick walk/escalator ride up to Concourse B.

Overall, the train is a much needed step for Dulles. It is very convenient for the passengers on the ~30 airlines (excluding IAD's Hub carrier United) that fly to Dulles, although the underground walkway has been open for the last six years and has generally made Concourse B pretty convenient to get to. However, for the ~60% of Dulles passengers who use United, the AeroTrain is arguably less convenient than the old people movers. So I wonder if the investment was intelligent, at least in the short term. Perhaps it will give MWAA and United much-needed pressure to get serious about a new midfield Concourse that will replace Concourse C & D, and put all of United's operations under one roof. In a sense, only then will the AeroTrain project really be complete! But I am sure that many passengers have already complained about the schlep when using United Airlines.

I do hope the security wait was a one-time thing. It would be a shame if they do not use the new lovely security checkpoint more efficiently. I hope you enjoyed reading, and look forward to comments and observations.
"Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon"
 
Mir
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RE: Review Of The New AeroTrain At IAD

Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:38 pm

Quoting rjpieces (Thread starter):
It was about 30 minutes before I cleared security. I was shocked as this is the longest I have waited at any airport in quite a while. They have plenty of room for extra TSA checkpoints down there; I don't know why they would invest millions in a new security area and then not have enough stations open to process passengers efficiently!

Are you saying they had the stations in place but not enough people to man them, or that they had the space for the stations but they didn't have the equipment? The former is attributable to the TSA - I experienced the same thing at T5 in JFK, where there were plenty of stations available but only enough manpower to keep three of them open, and the lines were long as a result (it was also early morning). But if they just didn't have the equipment around, that's another story.

Quoting rjpieces (Thread starter):
Perhaps it will give MWAA and United much-needed pressure to get serious about a new midfield Concourse that will replace Concourse C & D

One can hope.

-Mir
7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
 
rjpieces
Topic Author
Posts: 6849
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2003 8:58 am

RE: Review Of The New AeroTrain At IAD

Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:51 am

Quoting Mir (Reply 1):
Are you saying they had the stations in place but not enough people to man them, or that they had the space for the stations but they didn't have the equipment?

I don't recall exactly. I believe they had space for more stations but did not have the equipment, if I remember correctly. Either way it really defeats the purposes of investing so much money in trying to smooth over operations.
"Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon"
 
washingtonian
Posts: 749
Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2010 5:56 pm

RE: Review Of The New AeroTrain At IAD

Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:35 am

Quoting Mir (Reply 1):
Are you saying they had the stations in place but not enough people to man them, or that they had the space for the stations but they didn't have the equipment? The former is attributable to the TSA - I experienced the same thing at T5 in JFK, where there were plenty of stations available but only enough manpower to keep three of them open, and the lines were long as a result (it was also early morning). But if they just didn't have the equipment around, that's another story.

I'm still not sure who to blame for this situation: MWAA or TSA. I'd be curious to know.
 
working2gether
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:44 pm

RE: Review Of The New AeroTrain At IAD

Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:56 am

Quoting rjpieces (Reply 2):
I don't recall exactly. I believe they had space for more stations but did not have the equipment, if I remember correctly. Either way it really defeats the purposes of investing so much money in trying to smooth over operations.

Dulles has 2 main security checkpoints. The one on the East side (basically all of United passengers use it) is fully stocked with equipment: x-rays and metal detectors. The one on the West side, is stocked with probably 85% of it. The last few lanes have remained empty with no equipment. Do not know the reason for this.

Quoting washingtonian (Reply 3):
I'm still not sure who to blame for this situation: MWAA or TSA. I'd be curious to know.

TSA has been doing a lot of hiring over the past few months and at least for me, I have still not seen a lot of improvement with staffing of the security checkpoints. MWAA gave them the new space but TSA chooses not to staff them. I work for MWAA and one of our job responsibilities are to time the TSA checkpoints to see how long it takes passengers to clear them and report the results to the Airport Manager.
At first by timing TSA, it helped make more TSA agents appear all of a sudden but lately they have gotten lazier.

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