Dubai's RTA Metro Financial Centre station. (Chris McGinnis)
It seems I’m not the only one that feels strongly about getting to or from the airport on time.
In response to my column last week, Using the train to catch your plane, readers from around the world shared their favourite airport-to-city rail connections and added plenty of excellent suggestions and advice to our Facebook page.
However, airport-to-city connections have their downsides too, such as inconvenient operating hours, multiple connections, lack of luggage storage, lengthy rides and unreliable service. It’s important for business travellers to know about these downsides before getting stuck or delayed on their way to or from the airport.
For example, after taking a rush hour, traffic-choked taxi ride from Dubai International Airport to my hotel last week, I noticed the Dubai Metro station across the street. It could have easily whisked me from the airport to the front door of the hotel for a fare of just over AED 4.10 — a tenth of what I paid for the cab. I had hoped to take the train back to the airport, but later learned that the Dubai Metro operates on limited schedule from 2 pm to midnight on Fridays, which are holy days in Dubai (and also the day my flight departed). It also does not operate between 11 pm and 6 am, when most long haul international flights are arriving or departing from Emirates’ giant hub there.
Later that week, I was equally excited to take Delhi’s modern new rail link from my hotel back to the airport, to catch a 4:15 am flight back to Dubai. But I was disappointed to learn that the train does not operate between 11 pm and 5 am, so I ended up taking a taxi instead. Its operating hours seem especially odd to me since most international arrivals and departures at Delhi’s gorgeous new Indira Gandhi International Airport occur during the wee hours of the morning, when the rail link is needed most. However, the train is a solid bet for sailing over Delhi’s massive daytime traffic jams.
Readers shared some other airport-to-city let downs you should know about:
“The AirTrain at New York’s Kennedy airport only transports passengers to nearby subway or rail stations, not all the way into the city. Getting on and off those trains is difficult with luggage and confusing to visitors unfamiliar with how it all works,” warned Joan Wilfong in an email. I agree with Joan, and only use the AirTrain option when rush hour traffic clogs freeways to/from Manhattan.
“My hometown of Sydney doesn't even have a real airport express, just an overpriced suburban train which rattles in from the suburbs (and hence [is] packed with commuters in morning and afternoon peak hours), with no special luggage storage facility at all,” wrote David Flynn. However, referring to Sydney’s traffic woes, Dave Watson said that the city’s airport rail line is “the only way to leave Sydney on a Friday.”
“Shanghai’s Pudong Airport maglev rail link is fun to take to airport, but does not save you much time because of the long walk from [the] rail station to the airport terminal,” wrote Monty Seay. Things aren’t much better at the end of the line in Pudong, across the river from the more central Puxi area, where most travellers are headed. Utkarsh Gosain said that the Maglev train “leaves you in middle of nowhere”.
Do you have any warnings about airport-to-city connections that have let you down? Please leave your comments on our Facebook page.
Chris McGinnis is the business travel columnist for BBC Travel