To help meet the feverish demand for gate space, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines started using a remote stand at San Francisco International last month.
Remote stands are a lot more common overseas than they are in the U.S. where nearly every flight loads and unloads passengers via enclosed jetways at each gate. Instead, passengers take a bus (usually crowded) across the airport apron to or from a plane parked at a remote “stand.” At the plane, passengers use portable (or built-in) stairs to get to or from the doorway.
Remote stands are different from open air boarding at the gate seen at many smaller airports. These stands are usually located far from the gate and require a sometimes lengthy bus ride. (Last year at Heathrow, I was on one for about 20 minutes!)
When flying down to Los Angeles last week I peered out the window of the plane and saw an Alaska Air Embraer parked at a remote stand with a passengers boarding via a staircase leading up to the door. A low-slung SFO bus was parked next to it.
Doug Yakel confirmed to TravelSkills that a remote stand has been in use at SFO since mid-August. “Right now, it’s being used by Alaska on a scheduled basis…about 4-5 of their Embraer aircraft per day are operating remote. This is due to the Alaska/Virgin growth, and their efforts to operate more in a single terminal, along with the fact that Terminal 1 is under construction right now.”
The bus runs from SFO’s gate 59 in Terminal 2.
Most travelers dislike remote stands since since they add a delay to the airport boarding/deboarding experience. I’m not sure how they comply with ADA requirements. Plus wind and rain can make using them less than comfortable. However as an aviation geek I find it exhilarating to be out on the ramp on a clear day with engines roaring and the smell of jet fuel in the air… but that’s just me 🙂
On the upside, remote stands do allow airlines to add new service or flights, and reduce the increasingly frequent and irritating “wait for the gate” type delays upon arrival.
What are your thoughts on remote stands? Have you used one at SFO yet? Anywhere else? Please leave your comments below.