David J. Danto
thoughts in my own, personal opinion
ddanto@IMCCA.org Follow Video &
Technology Industry News: @NJDavidD
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Putting The “EW” Into EWR
one of my too many tweets about a terrible flight home last week someone
replied and ask why I put up with my airline and don’t just switch. Why do I allow them to give me
“confirmable upgrade” certificates that they repeatedly refuse to honor? Why do I sit in tiny, cramped “slimline” seats with useless mesh pockets and sit
waiting-out the constant mechanical delays.
These are certainly fair - if somewhat uninformed - questions. I live a fifteen minute drive from Newark
Airport. What was once a convenience –
living near “New York’s Best Kept Secret” as they used to call it, is now a sentence. I’m a
“hub-captive” to the terrible experiences of flying my local airline. Years ago, when Continental’s Gordon Bethune
made flying their airline miserable I switched to United, happy to connect and
be treated with respect instead of flying directly on a carrier that didn’t
appreciate my patronage. I had a
choice. But when the two airlines merged
(and all of the other airline consolidation took place) my options were drastically
reduced. Unless I move somewhere else it
doesn’t make economic or practical sense to fly any other airline. Taxi fares to JFK or LaGuardia from my home
run in the hundreds of dollars, and more importantly, can take two or more
hours. Unless I move, I’m stuck on the
airline that takes lying and passenger mistreatment to an art form – the friendly skies indeed. In addition to dealing with the awful
flights, I’m stuck leaving from and going home to Newark Airport. Just about everything that’s been done at
this airport - including things touted as improvements - have made the
experience much worse. Look at their
logo above. If it reminds you of a part
of the human anatomy, the reference - as it relates to the people responsible
for all the recent changes - is not that far off.
start with just getting in and out. Newark
terminal C has installed new security checkpoints patterned after those used internationally. One puts their bag in a bin and pushes it
forward. It’s apparently a great system
elsewhere, and it works fine here, except when there is a long line (which is
always.) Each loading point has four
positions. Unless you’re in the last
(furthest) one you have to wait for an opening to push your bin forward. Of course, there is no opening – ever, so a
TSA employee needs to stand there and play traffic-cop over the four
positions. That’s an additional security
person to service an automated system - not less people, not faster – which
makes the whole change pointless from a speed perspective.
other tangible result of all these changes is that there is now only one exit
out of terminal C – near the C2 wing.
Passengers used to be able to exit at all the checkpoints - C1, C2 and
C3. Now the entire flow of passengers
has to walk over to just one exit – past the people just coming in through
security – creating ridiculous and unnecessary new bottlenecks across the main
corridor, and forcing people to go way out of their way to leave the airport. (As I published this blog a second exit – at
the C3 security checkpoint – seems to have been opened. While I’m relieved to find out that a single exit
might not be the final plan, this still doesn’t help those landing in the C1
wing. You try walking from gate C98 to
the exit near C2 security after a long day of business and traveling and see if
you think it is a reasonable experience.)
around Terminal C to the gates is now also much more of a chore than it was in
years past. We used to be able to use
moving walkways to speed up the journey, and ease the burden for elderly or
handicapped travelers, or just help tired people drag their bags. Those are long gone. But to add insult to injury, they have been
replaced with bars. Smack-dab in the
middle of the terminal, where one would walk to one’s gate, there are now
pop-up restaurants and bars. Firstly,
this again creates bottlenecks that make getting through the terminal quickly
impossible. The corridors – originally
sized for the flow of people that need it – are now cut by over half. Try walking past a bathroom next to one of
these bars without bumping into someone.
It can’t be done. Secondly, if
you find yourself on the side of the terminal with even gates, and you need an
odd gate, or if you need to go to a bathroom that’s on the other side, you have
to now walk around the bar. These aren’t
‘conveniences’ or ‘improvements,’ they are inconveniences meant to get you to
spend more money while at the airport.
Whose idea are they? Well, if you
go to one you can spend cash or United Mileage Plus miles. That should tell you who’s profiting from
do need to buy a snack or something to take on the flight, be prepared to spend
a lot of money on a very high-end choice.
The simple chips, snacks, drinks that used to be available in the
convenience stores are now gone – as are the simple convenience stores. They’ve all now been patterned after high-end
bistros and gourmet markets. Is that an
improvement? I suppose that’s a matter
of perspective, but if you wanted to buy a bag of Wise/Lays potato chips or
Chex mix forget it. You can only find a
gourmet brand for a price that can get you a case of chips at your grocery
store. And, many of these stores now
want you to use self-checkout kiosks instead of providing people to help. If you want to get your kids a burger or
chicken sandwich at the McDonalds there, forget it – it’s long gone. You can pay triple those prices for a Smashburger if you’d like.
Less service, gourmet and/or high-end brands, much higher prices.
Of course, terminal C is a paradise
compared to flights out of terminal A.
The security lines in Terminal A are configured lengthwise down what
used to be corridors. Pre-check is not
provided for an unexplainable reason, so all you get is a card that lets you
keep your belt and shoes on. Whatever
background check that cleared you to fly as a trusted traveler one terminal
over apparently doesn’t apply there. You
have to unpack liquids and computers just like everybody else. And, if you happen to have a connection
between terminal A and C then you get to experience the modern convenience of
walking down metal stairs to a bus that rides on the tarmac between wings. There are some real improvements at terminal
A though. The gate areas in Terminal A2
have finally been rebuilt, and look clean and neat. But if you look closely at the chairs you can
again see who is truly responsible for your EWR experiences – despite them
blaming the Port Authority for everything there.
is to blame for the sad and customer unfriendly designs there? Who put the “EW” into the EWR
experience? To answer, I draw your
attention to some recent NY
Times reporting reminding us of the illegal relationship between the Port
Authority and United’s ex-CEO.
Apparently, nothing will be done to take-back any of the enormous
executive pay he received, despite his and the airlines reportedly illegal
actions, because (quoting the article) “clawing back severance awarded to
executives amid a bribery investigation is not industry practice. And if United pursued such a recovery, the
airline would be an outlier and unable to hire good people.” The airline management wants the right to
give excessive awards to executives – even criminal ex-executives – as they
continue to make the flying experience miserable by shrinking seats, removing
benefits, failing to honor existing benefits and raking-in excessive profits.
know who is responsible for the “EW.”
This article was written by David Danto and
contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under
prevailing fair use statutes.