Thursday, April 30, 2009

Surviving ATL

This week, I found myself in Atlanta to work with a new client. As this was my first time flying into ATL, I guess I didn't get the memo about how to navigate smoothly through the airport and rental car process. While I sit here waiting for my plane to board, let me offer a few tidbits of wisdom, so that other travelers may avoid some frustrations. If nothing else, read my blurb on airport security…

Take the train

The terminals are connected by light-rail train. If you’re on an airline such as AirTran (which I’m on), you’re likely to end up in Gate C or D (the last one being E). I’m guessing it’s close to a mile to walk to baggage claim and ground transportation. Yes, there are people-mover ramps, but if you’re not up for the walk, do yourself a favor and hop on board for a quick ride.

Rental car – bypass the lines

Ah, the luxury of Avis Preferred. I finally made it to the main area of ATL and saw the Avis counter. I figured I could finagle my way into a car upgrade. Not a chance… I think the saying “Have a slow day…” applies here. Dozens on line, and the agents had no sense of urgency at all. Take my advice: If you’re Avis Preferred (or Insert-your-favorite-rental-company Insert-your-favorite-Special-Program), head straight for the bus. From what I can tell, the bus only comes by every 10-15 minutes, so no dilly-dallying.

Enjoy Atlanta

I can’t suggest much, but I highly recommend Pappadeaux Seafood Restaurant.

Car rental return

If you’re returning a rental car, be sure your on-file credit card on your rental account is the one you plan on using. This makes the return process painless – they scan the car, inspect the car, print a receipt – DONE. I, on the other hand, needed to switch cards. BIG mistake, as now I had to head to the little Avis office and wait on line. Only 6 people in front of me, but it took about 30 minutes. When it was finally my turn, I stared in utter amazement as the agent started typing, one slow key at a time, my entire rental itinerary. I was going to comment about missing my flight, but I was too afraid I’d cause her to fat-finger a key and have to start over.

Airport security

Ok, this one is a true gem (thanks to my co-worker Michael Sparks for tipping me off to this). Assuming you’re already checked in,  head straight to the North Terminal. Go to the far-left side of the terminal and follow the signs for the security checkpoint. There, tucked away to the left, is a set of check-in lanes that typically has no crowd (or at least much less than the other gates). The airport was very crowded when I arrived, but I was through security in just a few minutes.

Safe travels!

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