Category: Airport

Hacking PDX: Compiling a geek’s guide to Portland International Airport

[Editor’s Note: Why an article on airports? What does that have to do with startups or geeks? Well, there are a couple of things.

First and foremost, when I started out on my own, I thought I would be sitting around in my home office, eating bon-bons while the world beat a path to my door. In reality, I wound up traveling far more than I ever had—and I thought I traveled a lot in other gigs. So PDX has become like a home away from home to me. No doubt as your startup begins to gain traction, you’re going to be wishing you had a personal parking space at PDX, too.

Second, we’re just beginning to enter the crazy jam-packed event season here in Portland. And no doubt there will be a number of our geeky friends from other locales attempting to navigate PDX. It seems only neighborly to give them a few tips, as well.

So, either inbound or outbound, I give you, Scott Kveton‘s…]

Hacking PDX: Compiling a geek’s guide to Portland International Airport

In the last year, I’ve flown about 40 legs through Portland’s airport, which we most commonly refer to by its call-sign designation of “PDX.” We have a great airport with plenty of features that just about any traveler could need. But, despite all its ease-of-use, there are always a few tips-and-tricks that make the experience that much better.

Here are some things that I’ve learned:

  • Take a picture of where you parked with your camera phone. I know it sounds dumb, but the more you travel, the more the visits start to blur together. I’ve been at the airport and gotten on the wrong bus and looked around the wrong area for a long time only to remember, “Oh yeah, I parked over there,” only to have to get back on the bus. Which brings me to my next point.
  • Park in the same area each time you fly out of the airport to avoid the previous problem.
  • Park in area “X.” Have you noticed that there are oodles of people that are waiting at the area “X” for parking? There’s a reason: it’s the best spot. Why? First of all, it’s the last stop on the blue bus route. That means that, once you’re on the bus, the next stop is the terminal. Another reason is that when you return from your trip, you can take either the blue or the red bus and get off at “N” or “A” and be very close to X (both of these are the first or second stops for each line). Now, when it gets past 12 midnight, only the red line runs so again, you’re in good shape. I know, I know … how often are you there after 12 midnight? Well, it only takes once my friends … 🙂
  • This may sound like a no-brainer but participate in the frequent flyer programs for the airlines you fly. The sooner you can become an MVP, 1K, or super-mega-ultra-all-star, the sooner you can take that cool line for people flying first class or in the “elite” of travelers to get through security faster. With my Alaska MVP status, I can get to the airport a full 45 minutes later and not worry about long lines.
  • Taking a day trip to San Francisco or Seattle? Think about using the short-term parking lot. I know, its $24 for the day, but there is nothing like stepping off that plane and walking straight to your car. I find levels 3 or 5 the best as you can take one flight of stairs to one of the walkways and be over to the terminal without dealing with crossing traffic. Also, the handy-dandy overhead “free parking” lights help you find the perfect spot in only seconds instead of minutes. Time is money people!
  • Speaking of money… take the MAX red line. Did you know that for a little less than $2 you can take Trimet’s MAX line straight into the city? If you’re a reverse commuter and coming to Portland there’s nothing like taking the MAX to downtown Portland and your hotel. (It amazes me that people from out of town don’t know this, but then again, I’m a Portvangelist and need to remember that not everybody knows everything about Portland).
  • PDX was at the forefront (IMHO) of providing free wireless Internet throughout the airport for the last few years. Even though I’m rarely stuck in the airport for any length of time, it’s nice knowing that if I get there early before a flight I can be productive anywhere in the airport with laptop + coffee. Did I mention this was free?!

Okay, so those are my tips for gaming the Portland airport … how about you? What are the little tips and tricks you’ve found help make travel so much easier at PDX?

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