If you haven’t been to Logan International Airport in the past few months, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
An overhaul of the once confusing curb system, a new $310 million rental car center, and an expedited security line make traveling in and out of Boston a little bit easier.
“We’ve really taken a step backward and redesigned how the system works,” said Thomas Glynn, chief executive of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan.
With travel a big part of baby boomers’ lifestyle, the changes at Logan should help reduce the anxiety that often accompanies negotiating a busy airport. For example, instead of waiting at a crowded curb for a bus to your rental car agency while shuttles for five other rental services come and go, everyone takes the same bus to a new headquarters shared by all the rental services at Logan.
Beyond the convenience, the consolidation has dramatically reduced the number of buses circulating at Logan every hour from 100 to 28.
And with fewer buses clogging the roadways, Logan officials decided to reconfigure the curbs outside the arrival gates of each terminal.
Previously cabs, passengers cars, and private coach, express bus, and other ride services all jockeyed for space at the curbs of each terminal, often on a first-come, first-served basis that created a frustrating situation for passengers.
“The curbs tended to be chaotic,” Glynn said. “The system was somewhat random, and people would come out of the terminal and have a hard time.”
The airport cleared the confusion in September by coordinating color-coded signs directing passengers in the terminals and at the curb to each transportation option. Passenger pickup areas are green; the Blue Line, rental car, and airport shuttles are blue; taxis are yellow; the Silver Line is silver;and the Logan Express and scheduled buses are now orange.
Transportation options that travelers use more frequently, such as the Silver Line, were given a more central location on the curb.
And instead of having to wait around for a bus to arrive “every 30 minutes” or other ambiguous time frames, digital countdown clocks at baggage claim and near the curbside project the exact wait time for each bus.
The once limited cab service has also improved. The first-floor parking garage at Terminal B was converted to a cab stand, expanding the number of cab spaces from 6 to 24 and offering a 16-slot holding area for additional taxis, Glynn said.
One of the most interesting and sure to be highly lauded changes is at the security check-in, essentially reversing the time consuming and at times invasive procedures that we’ve grudgingly gotten used to.
Some lucky — and “low-risk” — passengers will be surprised to find themselves whisked through security under the Transportation Safety Administration’s PreCheck program and other new screening measures. Under the program for now, frequent fliers, children under 12, passengers over 75, and uniformed members of the military may be directed to a shorter line where they can keep their shoes, belts, and jewelry on and leave their digital equipment and liquids in their bags.
Passengers who don’t meet this criteria are also being singled out on a random basis and told they can move more quickly through security when they hand over their boarding passes. Passengers are eligible if they clear additional screening measures.
In the coming months, the TSA will expand this to all travelers, allowing anyone to apply for a quicker security check-in, at a price of $85 for a five-year period.
Applicants will be required to visit an enrollment center to provide fingerprints and basic information about themselves. TSA officials will look at legal residency, criminal history, known terrorist associations, and other factors to determine eligibility.
Ann Davis, a TSA spokeswoman, said passengers who qualify for the speedy security procedures shouldn’t expect to take advantage of it on every flight. Instead, passengers will be chosen at random in order to inject unpredictability into the system and prevent people from carrying banned travel items.