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:
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
Chris McGinnis is
the business travel columnist for BBC Travel