United Airlines says it has begun its popular Mercedes-Benz car service at LAX

United will offer Mercedes-Benz rides to some customers at LAX. Photo: Mercedes.

United will offer Mercedes-Benz rides to some customers at LAX. Photo: Mercedes.

United Airlines on Wednesday confirmed my March report that it is bringing its popular chauffeured Mercedes Benz service to Los Angeles International Airport.

This is good news for all you big spenders, folks who spent $10,000 or more on a single plane ticket to London or Sydney. The rest of us will probably only notice the program when we see the cars parked on the ramp.

Here’s how it will work, according to a United release. (The Global Service customers mentioned below are United’s version of high rollers.)

“United will chauffeur selected Global Services members and United Global First customers to their connections in Los Angeles using its fleet of Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC SUVs, powered by environmentally friendly, clean diesel technology,” the airline says in its release. “United representatives will meet customers at the aircraft, escort them to the waiting Mercedes-Benz vehicle and drive them across the tarmac to their connecting flight.”

Delta PorscheDelta has a similar service at LAX, but it uses Porsches.

United has already rolled out its Mercedes service in Chicago, Newark, San Francisco and Houston.

Not that long ago, I interviewed travel industry expert Henry Harteveldt about these on-ramp car services. 

“I think only an appearance from Santa Claus and being able to ride in his sleigh would get people more excited,” Harteveldt told me. “I have seen adults get all giddy like schoolchildren when they realize they get the Porsche transfer in Atlanta. It’s special. It’s different. It’s distinct. It shows Delta’s appreciation for its most important customers.”

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The week’s best aviation links, as cultivated by your blogger

Have you read these aviation industry stories yet? If not, you probably should.

“Balky Wi-Fi Above the Clouds,” in which the New York Times checks in on the race for faster, more reliable internet aloft.

“Be Very Afraid: The 27-Inch-Pitch Airline Seat Is Coming.” Blogger Tim Winship says low cost airlines are trying to cram even more seats on planes. According to Seat Guru, Spirit’s pitch on its A320s is now 28 inches.

LAX begs your patience for the next several years as it modernizes. This from AP reporter Justin Pritchard.

You’ve probably already seen pictures of Etihad’s new “apartments” and “suites” on its A380 airplanes. But if you haven’t, this Mashable piece is your best bet. “The Best Airline Seat That $21,000 Can Buy.”

Want a double bed on an airplane? Ethiad might be the airline for you. Photo: Associated Press.

Want a double bed on an airplane? Ethiad might be the airline for you. Photo: Associated Press.

Something to think about the next time your upgrade doesn’t clear. Prince William flies American Airlines coach. So says the New York Daily News.

And finally. Jaunted has a nice piece on “The Instagram Travel Hashtag That’s Worrying the Airlines.” The hashtag? It’s #crewlife. Search for it on Twitter or Instagram and you’ll find dispatches and pictures from pilots and flight attendants, some of whom complain about the tough parts of the job. The honesty of these posts is refreshing. And some posts do make flying seem like a great job. But I can’t imagine that employers like this candidness.


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Virgin America ups its game in attempt to win Dallas Love Field gates

Virgin Is it still a grassroots campaign when one big corporation goes up an even bigger, more powerful one?

Virgin America would like you to think so. Virgin, the Northern California-based airline with about 50 airplanes, is trying to win two gates at Dallas Love Field. The airport is dominated by Southwest Airlines, which, despite cultivating a reputation as the underdog, is actually huge. Southwest has more nearly 700 planes and it is a giant in domestic air travel.

Virgin has created a website — FreeLoveField.com — to plead its case. The website even includes a petition for customers to sign. And of course, customers are asked to use a hashtag — #lovetoflyvirgin — when they Tweet about the issue.

Virgin AmericaThe two gates up for grabs have been held by American Airlines, but the carrier has been forced to divest itself of them as part of its merger deal with the U.S. Department of Justice. The city of Dallas ultimately must sign off on which airline gets the gates.

If it gets the gates, Virgin plans to fly to  Los Angeles, New York LaGuardia, San Francisco and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Which airline do you think should get the gates?

Virgin America 3

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LAX unveils new slogan, “LAX is happening”

Good morning, everyone. I have good news for you. LAX is happening.

Yup. That’s the airport’s new slogan, effective today. You can find all you need on the website, Laxishappening.com

The site includes nifty videos like this one, in which an LAX “tipster” recommends travelers accessing the airport by car use the 96th Street Bridge. (I use it all the time, and it is a nice trick.) See below for information on how to do it.

The site does not have a lot of information, at least for now, but it does offer real-time traffic reports, as well as information on all the restaurants at the airport.

Here’s a video on the new food choices at LAX:

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LAX plans ambitious ground transportation projects; Read the report

Hello Transportation Nerds.

You’ll be pleased to know a consultant hired by Los Angeles International Airport gave a 100-page presentation to airport officials on Monday. The presentation covered a bunch of plans favored by new Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. They include construction of a consolidated rental car facility as well as an integrated transportation center that likely would connect, in some manner, to Metro trains. (Yes, rail eventually should eventually connect to LAX.) Both projects would be built to the east of the Central Terminal Area. From those facilities, passengers would board an automated people mover for the final journey to the terminals.

These projects are still in their initial stages, and it’s not clear when they will be built or how, or who will pay for them. But in this report, you can view all the issues that airport officials are wrestling with. City leaders are downright giddy about these plans. In part, that it is because it would almost certainly alleviate traffic in the Central Terminal Area.

One concern is how the automated people mover will flow through the terminal area.

One option — the Scissors Alignment — is listed below. According to the report, this option would take 7-9 year to build, cost $2-2.5 billion and take 8-10 minutes for the journey from the transportation center to the terminals.

Scissor Alignment

Another option is what’s called the Spine Alignment. It would take 5-7 years to construct, cost $1.5-2 billion, and take 9-11 minutes for the journey from the transportation center to terminals.

Spine allignment

You can read the full report below. Enjoy!

BOAC Briefing 2014-05-04

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