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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: 154411

Reported Deaths: 3836
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10332104
Hinds10190199
Harrison7244111
Jackson6521124
Rankin5805103
Lee523695
Madison4964107
Forrest388286
Jones367788
Lauderdale3575147
Lafayette334952
Washington3241108
Lamar296650
Oktibbeha251362
Lowndes243864
Bolivar242984
Panola229653
Neshoba2241118
Marshall221250
Leflore207791
Monroe203978
Pontotoc202929
Lincoln194865
Sunflower192555
Warren178757
Tate177051
Union171026
Copiah167040
Pike164758
Yazoo158840
Scott157930
Itawamba156135
Alcorn154828
Pearl River154168
Coahoma151943
Simpson151953
Prentiss149531
Adams144451
Grenada142845
Leake139444
Holmes132361
Tippah128030
Covington127939
George126425
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Hancock123640
Wayne120623
Marion118646
Attala117534
Tishomingo110842
Chickasaw109032
Newton108029
Tallahatchie97727
Clay93427
Clarke93053
Jasper84822
Stone80015
Calhoun78113
Walthall77229
Montgomery75825
Carroll74015
Lawrence73414
Smith72816
Noxubee72517
Yalobusha72328
Perry68126
Tunica62319
Greene61222
Claiborne58916
Jefferson Davis58817
Amite55814
Humphreys54719
Benton49918
Quitman4977
Webster46414
Kemper44718
Wilkinson40422
Jefferson36411
Franklin3535
Choctaw3507
Sharkey32317
Issaquena1204
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 249524

Reported Deaths: 3578
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33064500
Mobile19951362
Madison13596148
Tuscaloosa13246154
Montgomery12435236
Shelby1061677
Baldwin889098
Lee781466
Morgan686150
Etowah643966
Calhoun6430121
Marshall635355
Houston537738
DeKalb492236
Cullman451542
Limestone433345
St. Clair432555
Lauderdale422354
Elmore412964
Walker3710111
Talladega359354
Jackson329823
Colbert329642
Blount299740
Autauga278042
Franklin256434
Coffee248315
Dale236254
Chilton227438
Dallas226832
Russell22383
Covington220434
Escambia198931
Tallapoosa184391
Chambers177950
Pike159914
Clarke159819
Marion143636
Winston135123
Lawrence131636
Pickens125718
Geneva12438
Marengo123124
Bibb119617
Barbour117811
Butler117842
Randolph104921
Cherokee103424
Hale97831
Fayette92516
Washington92219
Clay92024
Henry8756
Lowndes80229
Monroe79011
Cleburne77814
Macon74522
Crenshaw72030
Bullock70219
Perry6906
Lamar6898
Conecuh68814
Wilcox64218
Sumter58622
Greene42818
Choctaw42713
Coosa3544
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