Saturday, January 29, 2011

Global 2011: Room Service in Terminal B

The International Arrivals Hall at Boston Loga...Image via Wikipedia
Flight canceled? How to get a cot, food, a shower and the fastest flight out.

Almost every night, stranded travelers can be found sleeping inside the terminals of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

"This is the new reality," said James Crites, DFW's executive vice president for operations. "You're becoming a hotel."

These days, airlines are canceling flights more readily due to bad weather and other disruptions. Re-booking is trickier than ever -- as many discovered during the recent snowstorms in the South and Northeast -- because airlines have reduced their schedules and are running at capacity. As a result, passengers should prepare for the dreaded airport sleepover.

Now, however, airports are doing more when they become the hotel of last resort.

Many provide meal vouchers and set up discounted hotel rates for travelers, for example. Some write requirements in leases that restaurants will remain open 24 hours a day when passengers are stranded. Massachusetts Port Authority, which oversees Boston's Logan Airport, has an arrangement with flight kitchens to cook up lots of meals for stranded passengers if the terminal restaurants run out of food or can't stay open. Newsstand vendors at Boston Logan are also required to stock baby formula and diapers for stranded families.

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