WE’RE COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS…until the opening of United’s shiny new Boarding Area E in Terminal 3 (with a shiny new acronym: “T3E”). When TravelSkills took a hard hat tour last month, things were still very much under construction, but we are starting to see and hear about more of the finished product, including some of the unusual art installations. Last week United posted a press release about the new terminal (but still has not revealed which flights will be the first to arrive or depart when it opens on Jan 28.) And then there’s this from the San Mateo Daily Journal:
At the waiting area at the end of the terminal lies the suspended light sculpture ‘Sky’ by Merge Conceptual Design. The artist team Franka Diehnelt and Claudia Reisenberger created the sculpture, which is made up of 27 mirror-polished stainless steel spheres of different sizes. The globes are hollow with circular openings oriented at various angles and their interiors are painted a matte blue. They are also illuminated by LED lights to create a soft interior glow, while a computerized program causes these lights to brighten and dim at intervals creating a changing pattern of light.
GETTING BETTER? Included in United’s press release about T3E was a blurb claiming, “United’s operational performance [at SFO] has improved significantly, with baggage-handling reliability up 25 percent in 2013 versus 2012, and ‘controllable delays’ – those not attributed, for example, to inclement weather – down nearly 50 percent for mainline flights and more than 40 percent for regional flights. Satisfaction among San Francisco customers, as measured from post-travel surveys, has increased six-fold since mid-2012.” Then there’s last weeks damning Bloomberg story about how United is still wracked with computer malfunctions affecting its performance. Do you agree with United’s assessment that things have improved at SFO over the last 18 months? Please leave your comments below.
SEE IT BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE. GET FREE GOGO WIFI. Would you like to see the new Boarding Area E before it opens on Tuesday, Jan 28? Then RSVP for the “T3E Community Day” on Saturday, Jan 25. Attendees can crawl all over the modern new terminal, soak up the new (and old) art installations, check out the terminal’s dramatic runway views, and enjoy food and entertainment for the whole family. It’s from 12 noon until 5 pm—admission is free, but you must reserve a ticket ahead of time. (The first three BATs who submit photos of the new terminal get one free Gogo inflight internet pass! We’ll create a slideshow for the blog with your photos. Send here.)
FORTY NINERS VS SEAHAWKS FARES. As of this morning, fares between Bay Area Airports and Seattle are running in the upper $300′s for those headed to the playoff game scheduled for 3:30 pm Sunday Jan 19. Alaska and Virgin seem to have to lower fares of the bunch, coming in at about $390 for trips northbound on Saturday and southbound on Sunday night. United and Delta nonstops are already priced over $500 roundtrip. Are you going?
UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT (INDY) 500. Deep beneath the blizzard of news about the Polar Vortex and how it was affecting air travel, United pulled off the inaugural nonstop flight between SFO and Indianapolis on Tues, Jan 7. As the Airbus A319 readied for departure on time at 1:35 pm, the temperature in Indy hovered at a bitter 4 degrees F and the city was at the tail end of a “level red” emergency, which forbade all driving except for emergencies. Undoubtedly, those flying into SFO from Indy were happy to escape the winter blast and enjoy some of our disturbingly sunny, dry California weather! Clever: The flight number for the IND-SFO leg is UA500 (Think Indy 500 race). The SFO-IND leg is flight UA317– and 317 is the area code for Indianapolis.
And just in case you missed it, here’s what else you need to know about Bay Area Travel over the last month: