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Transportation at International Airports

There are a wide variety of options when it comes to transportation at international airports. Many people find that they prefer one type of transportation over another. 

Travelers should know how they plan to get to an airport, how they want to get around it, and how they plan to get from their final airport to their destination. 

Here’s what they need to know to make those decisions.

Inside Transportation

Once inside an airport, most travelers are not yet where they need to be. They may need to go to ticketing and check-in, then make their way to their gate.

Here are the ways they can get from one part of the airport to another.

Walking

Walking is the preferred mode of transportation for many people in international airports. It is efficient and distances are not usually too far for most people.

Note that travelers who are elderly, chronically ill, or injured may need to make other arrangements. Distances in international airports can be long and it’s not worth an injury.

In addition, some airports require people to use other forms of transportation, especially when moving between certain areas. 

Walkers may need to get on a bus, tram, train, or other conveyance at some point. It’s usually clear when this needs to happen and travelers can always ask airport staff for aid.

Walkers need to make sure that they can handle their luggage as they move around the airport. If they pack too much, walking becomes difficult.

Travelers who want to walk and have a lot of luggage may use a luggage cart, or check their luggage at a designated location, then retrieve it in time to get on their plane.

Walkers may also want to consider checking any luggage that is large and cumbersome. They are not likely to be able to carry these bags on a plane, anyway.

Rising and Flat People Movers

Rising people movers, called escalators, and lateral people movers can help walkers reach their destination faster, and/or without the stress of walking so far.

These are automated movers that people can stand on. Once on, they can choose to walk in the same direction as the mover or simply stand and wait to arrive at their destination.

Long concourses often have flat people movers along their length. These break up every so often so people don’t have to walk too far back to a gate they passed on the mover. 

They also often break up so people can walk through shopping and eating areas, then get back on the mover on the other side.

People who use these movers should know that there’s often one side for walkers and one side for standers.

Most of the time, people stand on the right and walk on the left. Standers should get their luggage on their side, too, so it doesn’t impede the progress of walkers.

Golf Carts

People who need a lot of extra assistance getting to their gate or getting around the airport may be eligible to ride in a golf cart-like conveyance.

Usually, the person who qualifies can bring their entire traveling party on the conveyance with them, though they may be limited to a single helper in certain situations. 

These carts may have to be requested when the person books their ticket, or by calling the airline in advance.

People who get injured while on a trip can usually make arrangements at the airport, though.

These carts are driven by airport or airline employees. They may make a circuit, so travelers will need to make sure they get off at the right gate.

When the airport is busy, travelers may have to wait some extra time for access to one of these carts. If they are in a hurry, they need to tell airport staff who can prioritize their transport.

Shuttles, Trains, & Trams

Many international airports have outlying concourses that are not accessible on foot. Travelers whose gates are on these concourses will need to take designated transportation to get there.

Most of the time, this designated transportation takes the form of a shuttle bus, a train, or a tram.

Travelers should follow signs to the concourse they need. These signs should also give instructions about the form of transport required to get there. 

If travelers cannot read the signs, they should ask airport staff for help. Someone who speaks their language should be able to get them to the right place and give necessary instructions.

Sometimes, these shuttles, trains, and trams are optional. In these cases, travelers can take the type of transport they desire, or they can take the one that is faster.

Outside Transportation

When it comes to getting to and from an international airport, there are usually multiple options. Here are the most common ones that travelers need to be familiar with.

Private Vehicles

Many people travel to and from the airport in private vehicles, either their own or one that belongs to someone they know.

This is often an efficient way to get to and from major airports, even though it may not be the most environmentally friendly, due to fossil fuel usage.

Most airports have designated pickup and drop off areas for people using private vehicles for transportation. These may or may not be separate from other pickup and drop off areas.

Travelers should follow signs or ask for help when it comes to getting to the right place to meet their private vehicle.

Taxis

Taxis often serve airports in significant ways. In fact, many taxi drivers hang out exclusively around airports, because they get so much business there.

When travelers hire a taxi, they will have to pay to get to where they want to go. They should try to find out how much it will cost before they choose a taxi, so they don’t get surprised later.

Many airports have taxi stands, where taxis wait for people. Travelers simply walk up to the taxi stand and take the next available vehicle.

At other airports, travelers may need to use a special phone to request a taxi, or call a certain number. They should research ahead of time to know what will be expected of them there.

Travelers should be able to state their destination in the language that is standard in their destination. If they can’t, they should write it out ahead of time to show to the driver. 

Travelers should make sure they only get into an authorized taxi. If they aren’t sure, they should ask at the airport or research ahead of time so they know what companies to use.

This way, they will be charged a fair price and can know that they are safe and sound in their taxi, no matter what.

Ride Hailing Services

Ride hailing services, like Uber and Lyft, are similar to taxis in that travelers pay a certain amount to get to their destination.

However, travelers will hail a ride service using an app on their phone, and can arrange to meet a driver in a certain location.

Sometimes, ride hailing services have their own queue at an airport. Most of the time, though, travelers will use the app throughout the process.

Most drivers for ride hailing services drive their own personal vehicle, which must meet certain standards to be eligible for the service. Others may rent vehicles to drive for work.

Travelers should note that the ride hailing services they are familiar with may not be popular (or used at all!) in international locations.

They should research ahead of time to make sure they choose a trustworthy service with good reviews that is readily available in their destination country.

Rental Cars

Most international airports have rental car services nearby. Sometimes, these are housed within walking distance of the airport, though travelers usually have to take a shuttle bus.

Rental agencies use shuttles because they need extensive lots where they can park their vehicles. Otherwise, they can’t keep enough rental cars on hand to meet the demand. 

Travelers who want to be sure to get a car will need to reserve one ahead of time. They can do this online, choosing the international airport as their pickup location.

Once at the airport, they can follow directions to the rental car company spot. They will need to sign papers, purchase insurance if necessary, and pay for the car if they haven’t already. 

Then, they will be taken to their vehicle. They will get the chance to inspect it, so they can be sure they are not charged later for damage done by another renter.

Once they have their car, they can drive anywhere they like, as long as they keep to their rental agreement. At the end of their trip, they can return the car before they board their flight.

Buses

There are many types of buses that serve international airports. Travelers should get on the right bus so they can reach their ultimate destination.

Many local hotels and other venues will offer shuttles from the airport to their location. This makes it easy for travelers to get where they need to go without having to walk or pay for a ride.

It is in the hotel’s best interests to get as many people in their doors as possible, so they often offer courtesy shuttles from airports. 

Other shuttles may go to rental car locations, as mentioned above, or to outlying parking lots. These will be labeled. Travelers can also ask drivers if they go where the traveler needs to be.

Other types of buses serve airports, too. Local buses can take people all around the area.

Other buses might take travelers on to destinations that are not well-served by air. Ski resorts, for instance, often offer buses because they can be hard to get to any other way.

Travelers who want to take a bus should arrange to do so ahead of time. If they can’t buy tickets online, they should know how to do so when they arrive and where they need to meet the bus.

Some airports have buses drive in the same place as taxis, ride services, etc. Others have designated bus areas.

Even others have specified areas for shuttles and others for buses. Travelers can research ahead of time to find out exactly where they need to go. 

Many times, they can even access a map of the airport on a mobile device so they can find their way once they arrive.

Trains

Some international airports offer easy access to trains. These may be local trains that can take travelers to destinations in the same city.

They may also be trains that take travelers to other cities in the country. This may be especially true for smaller cities that do not have airports or that cost a lot to fly into.

Trains often offer a more economical method of transportation than other options. Travelers will, however, have to wait for the train to arrive and make sure they get off at the correct destination.

Many airports have train stations inside the airport itself, or within easy walking distance. Travelers can find out how to get to the trains they need before they arrive.

This makes transport so much easier when they are at their destination.

There are so many transport options, both inside and outside of international airports. Travelers should choose the one that works the best for them, then plan to use it accordingly.

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