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Parking at Logan Airport -- now there's a challenge
Summer vacation is a time when millions of Americans spend a week or two trying to get away from their usual existence.

Some look for adventure and head for eco-tours in Belize; others hitchhike through Europe. For Bostonians there's an easier way to experience adventure -- defined by Webster's as an "undertaking involving danger and the unknown" -- without getting on a plane and traveling halfway round the world.

It's parking at Logan Airport -- or, more accurately, the search for Logan's equivalent of the Holy Grail.

These days it's even tougher to park at the airport thanks ironically, to a construction project to build 3,000 more spots. Some cultures devote themselves to building great works. The Egyptians built the pyramids; the Romans built the Colosseum; and the French built the Eiffel Tower. Here in Boston, we're "building" parking spaces. But at least those new spots will make things better if you believe a Massport direct-mail offering that promises: "If you're tired of enduring all the construction at Logan Airport, there is a light at the end of the tunnel." Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Massport doesn't give a specific completion date.

In the meantime, according to the Massport guards who waved me off from Central Parking, Tuesdays and Thursdays are especially difficult days.

Part of the problem is the electric sign at Logan's entrance, which lacks the accuracy of National Enquirer articles. Parking lots at several terminals were "open," the sign displayed with confidence. No such luck. Another problem is the preprinted map Massport guards distribute to help hapless would-be travelers find available parking . . . near Cleveland, it would seem. The map to "Satellite Parking Lot 2" we received didn't include information about "Satellite Parking Lot 1," another parking alternative, but did include this marginally helpful tip: "Map is not to scale." I wouldn't say the trip to the lot was far, but I'm glad we had plenty of gas.

The map also includes a phone number for more information, but if you're trying to make your flight and don't have a cell phone, you're out of luck.

And if you're unprepared for the "ground delay," you could easily miss your flight.

For those who haven't parked there before, getting to the satellite parking lot can take more time than flying to New York City, with a scheduled flight time of an hour. Compare that with: 25 minutes circling Logan's other parking facilities before realizing the only possible spot may be in satellite parking; 20 minutes to drive there; five minutes to park, unload, and drag your stuff to where you wait 10 minutes for the shuttle bus; and that's before the bus's 30-minute journey to each terminal before it gets to yours. Think it can't get worse?

You haven't parked in auxiliary parking at Suffolk Downs, which adds 15 minutes to find the parking area and another 20 for the shuttle bus. You're so far away Massport actually offers a free cup of Starbucks coffee (good only at the terminal).

Upon returning, you have to wait for your shuttle bus back. The only bright side about the long ride to the parking area is that it gives you enough time to remember where you parked your car.

According to a friend who has watched one too many "X-Files" episodes, the inadequate parking problem isn't an accident -- it's part of a conspiracy to distract you from the overcrowded rows, overpriced tickets, underventilated cabins, undercooked food, and late departure times.

His theory: By the time you get from satellite parking to your seat, you're just happy to have made the flight.


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