Boutique airports and airlines: Why smaller is better

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

Posted: Jan 7, 2019 11:42 AM
Updated: Jan 7, 2019 11:42 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.

Air transportation

Airlines

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Transportation and warehousing

Airports

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: 315026

Reported Deaths: 7257
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21684260
Hinds20385416
Harrison17973309
Rankin13650278
Jackson13456246
Madison10130217
Lee9988174
Jones8388163
Forrest7701152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6411148
Lamar624686
Lafayette6210119
Washington5342134
Bolivar4804132
Oktibbeha463298
Panola4601107
Pearl River4524146
Marshall4454103
Warren4397121
Pontotoc421172
Monroe4120133
Union411276
Neshoba4033176
Lincoln3972110
Hancock380287
Leflore3500125
Sunflower336490
Tate335484
Pike3330105
Scott316773
Alcorn313670
Yazoo311870
Itawamba300877
Copiah297865
Coahoma295979
Simpson295388
Tippah289068
Adams288682
Prentiss280360
Marion269680
Leake268673
Wayne262941
Grenada261987
Covington260381
George249448
Newton246963
Winston227881
Tishomingo227567
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208457
Holmes189174
Clay185654
Stone183033
Tallahatchie179041
Clarke178180
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164838
Smith162734
Walthall134345
Greene130633
Lawrence129324
Montgomery127242
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121929
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107233
Tunica105726
Claiborne102530
Benton100125
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67631
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540267

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798791529
Mobile41295809
Madison35175506
Tuscaloosa25932455
Shelby25309249
Montgomery24736593
Baldwin21422310
Lee15997172
Calhoun14577319
Morgan14431280
Etowah13927353
Marshall12280225
Houston10650282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10075151
St. Clair9955245
Cullman9773194
Lauderdale9465243
DeKalb8866188
Talladega8344176
Walker7261278
Autauga7010108
Jackson6840112
Blount6776139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5583118
Dale4878113
Russell445938
Chilton4383113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia395177
Chambers3598123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303698
Winston275873
Bibb264864
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219069
Fayette213162
Henry190043
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178241
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153657
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140753
Wilcox127430
Bullock123342
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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