Westchester: New York's boutique airport

New York's Westchester County Airport is the only airport in the United States to have a curfew -- and locals like it that way

Posted: Jan 8, 2019 2:52 AM
Updated: Jan 8, 2019 3:10 AM

We spend a lot of time celebrating aviation's brashest achievements -- biggest, fastest, longest.

And when it comes to investing and improving, airlines often focus on the premium customer: offering larger beds and better first-class cabins.

But for most of us, the everyday reality of travel is economy and short-haul, and that can often mean crowds, delays and a whole heap of wasted time.

There are some regional airlines and airports making efforts to improve the short-haul experience, however, and to bring some of the humanity -- and sanity — back to travel.

Here are three of them:

The hometown airline

Massachusetts-based Cape Air operates up to 550 flights a day around North America, using a 90-strong fleet of 11-seater Cessna planes, with no route longer than 90 minutes.

"Cape Air is an employee-owned company," Cape Air CEO and founder Dan Wolf tells CNN's Paula Newton. "Everybody is treated like they are an individual person. [That's] the nice thing about flying in an airplane with relatively few people."

Security lines are never longer than nine people -- because that's the maximum number of passengers on the plane.

And, adds Wolf, although usually when a passenger gets on board "the window shade comes down, the television comes on," when you fly on a little Cessna, "you're part of the experience of flying."

What could be a dull commute becomes an opportunity to enjoy incredible panoramic views over the East Coast and connect with your fellow passengers.

Fares range from $29 to $299, and the airline offers a bulk commuter pass at a discounted rate.

Kevin O'Shea, a local businessman who regularly flies Cape Air, says, "It feels like a hometown airline. You arrive at the airport, everyone knows your name; It sort of brings some humanity back to air travel which we don't seem to have these days."

The boutique airport

At Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, there are no shops, limited dining options, and it's the only airport in the country to have a curfew.

But, says airport manager Peter Scherrer, that's because it's "an arrival-destination airport. People don't want to stay here, they want to go on their flight and they want to exit. This is not a mall and we like it that way."

At Westchester, the emphasis is on speed and convenience. Once you exit your flight, you're right at the baggage carousel, and the rental car desk is just a few steps away.

"Time is very important," says Scherrer. "If you look at the departure lines, [people are] on cell phones, they're trying to do things, but they're waiting for the flight. So if they can reduce their time waiting in line, they can get here a little later than they would at a larger airport."

Turnaround time is a neat 45 minutes because "an airplane doesn't make money if it's sitting on the ground," adds Scherrer.

As for the curfew, "we have an agreement with the FAA and the airlines that limits the commercial service here. It's a very important agreement for the county of Westchester and the residents here. You don't want this turning into a large commercial airport."

Around 1.5 million passengers pass through Westchester each year. Compare that to Atlanta, the world's busiest airport, which handles 100 million passengers a year, and you can see why small is beautiful.

The savvy Scandinavian

"More than 90% of our passengers fly short haul," says Rickard Gustafson, CEO of Scandinavian Airlines. It constitutes "75% of our revenue."

Which is why SAS is currently upgrading its short-haul fleet by replacing one-third of its aircraft with A320neos by 2020.

But, he explains, "if the flight is only for an hour, you cannot really have a very different offerings on board in terms of seat pitch or sizes. You have to compete on other things."

So SAS offers free tea and coffee, and prepares a menu of healthy, locally sourced food.

However, adds Gustafson, "The experience on board is not the most crucial part of the travel experience."

His airline is also investing in making things easier on the ground: fast-track capacity, lounge upgrades and digital tools to assist the passenger, beginning with the booking process and continuing right through the journey.

Globally, more people are flying than ever before -- and the majority of that is on flights of fewer than six hours.

Airlines and airports which ignore the quality of their short-haul, economy experience are missing out on a big slice of the pie.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
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Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
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Washington5323133
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Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
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Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
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Jasper220848
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Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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