The World's Best Transit Options to and From the Airport
Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Thursday and I hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far. Dab the AIDS Bear is on the road until the end of the year speaking at events and doing our holiday parties for children living with HIV. So stay tuned for more new picture soon.
I speak about traveling on airlines often. But how do you get to the airport for your trip? Today I will blog about the best transit options to and from the airport.
Some airport trains are as cheap as a subway ride; others let you check your luggage a day ahead.
Once your plane lands, another (sometimes more difficult) trip begins. You still have to get to your hotel, your client, or wherever point B is. For our money, airport-to-city trains are the best choice. Sure, you can book a taxi or car service, but that’s often a road to nowhere fast, especially in traffic-choked capitals. With that in mind, here’s a highly subjective guide to airport trains across the globe.
BEST NEW SERVICE: UPEXPRESS, TORONTO
Toronto went big for the Union-Pearson Express, which launched in June 2015. It’s the first dedicated express airport rail link in North America — others are part of regular commuter services. New-generation Japanese-built trains are smooth-riding, emissions-reducing diesels; inside, the cars come in oh-so-tasteful muted green, pumpkin, and claret. UP’s even got its own “in-flight” magazine, a cute digest designed by the ubiquitous Winkreative. Most importantly, the 25-minute ride to downtown’s Union Station makes a huge improvement over the frozen-in-amber schlep over the city’s clogged highways. Drawback: At $27.50 CDN one way, it’s not cheap, but the favorable exchange rates softens the bite for US visitors..
BEST VALUE: CTA, CHICAGO O'HARE
Though it’s a long ride into town on the CTA’s Blue Line subway — and a transfer’s inevitable — it’s hard to complain when the fare’s just $5. You’ll get the fare on Ventra, the contact-less fare cards that now work across the entire CTA system. The train’s a very easy walk from anywhere at ORD to Terminal 2, where trains arrive and depart. Since the CTA’s the nation’s second-largest mass-transit network, it’s a sure bet you’ll be able to get to your destination without the help of a car. Just remember to bring reading material for the 50-odd-minute trip.
CHEAPEST: MAX, PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
For $2.50 — or $1.25 for those under 18 — Portland’s MAX light-rail train will get you downtown in less than 40 minutes. Smartly designed trains let you roll your bags aboard from the platform; the train runs from 4:45 a.m. to 11:50 p.m. daily. It’s clean, it’s smooth, and it’s one of those services we’d actually pay more to use. It’s also one of the reasons PDX has twice been named Best U.S. Airport in the Condé Nast Traveler Business Travel Awards.
SMARTEST: AIRPORT EXPRESS, HONG KONG
Hong Kong’s Airport Express train seems designed with actual humans in mind. There’s free Wi-Fi, and comp charging stations for your devices. A free shuttle bus takes you from the train station to your hotel. Dedicated porters happily help with bags. And best of all, a brilliant “in-town” check-in service lets you drop your bags at one of two stations up to a full day ahead of your flight. So if you have to check out of a hotel, have time to kill, but don’t want to schlep a suitcase, you’re free as a bird the rest of the day. It’ll set you back about $28.
BEST TRAFFIC-BEATER: BEIJING AIRPORT EXPRESS
Beijing’s Airport Express can get crowded at rush hour; it’s part of a commuter rail line. But there’s no better way to beat the traffic in one of the world’s most congested cities. You’ll find signs in English directing you to ticket machines and windows; from Terminals 2 and 3, the train stops at Sanyuanqiao and Dongzhimen stations downtown, both transfer spots for the Beijing subway. Best of all, the ride’s just 25 RNY — about $4 at published time.
BEST FOR TAXIS: CHANGI, SINGAPORE
At Changi, one of the world’s few beloved airports, taxis work beautifully. They’re all metered, and well-organized stands operate at every terminal; you’ll get where you’re going in the city for about $30. The train, however, is an offshoot of a busy commuter rail line; there’s no space for luggage, and cars get crowded. There’s no direct link downtown, either — you have to switch at Tanah Merah station to a city line. But if you can abide the inconvenience, it’s just $1.25.
EASIEST TO FIND: SCHIPHOL, AMSTERDAM
It doesn’t get easier than this: At Amsterdam’s Schiphol, the train station’s directly below the terminals. As a bonus, trains run 24/7, and baggage trolleys are free. Moneysaving tip: For about $27, you can buy a three-day Amsterdam Travel Ticket, which includes the Schiphol train and unlimited transport on GVB, Amsterdam’s main public transport network. Look for kiosks at Schiphol Plaza, the big arrivals concourse.
FOR FIRST-CLASS FIENDS: HEATHROW EXPRESS, LONDON
London’s Heathrow Express gets to central Paddington Station in just 15 minutes. If you're determined to go luxe in that quarter-hour, you can pony up for first-class seats at £53, or about $80 round-trip. You’ll get a little more legroom, free newspapers and magazines, and at-seat power sockets —don’t forget that converter. But that’s about it for goodies. A coach seat costs £35 return, or about $53 — still no bargain, but at least it’s fast.
PRICIEST: ARLANDA EXPRESS, STOCKHOLM
These speedy yellow-and-white trains jet you 25 miles into central Stockholm in just 20 minutes, but the fare is hefty. On the plus side, the express is hypermodern, impressively service-oriented, and scarily punctual — an average of about 96 percent on time. But it’ll cost you. At 280 Swedish krona one-way, that’s about $32, making the Arlanda Express anything but a budget option. Considering taxi rates can start at 450 krona and head skyward from there, maybe it’s not such a luxury.
BEST “AIRPORT TRAIN” THAT’S NOT A TRAIN: ALILAGUNA BOAT FROM MARCO POLO AIRPORT, VENICE
This airport connection just cruises into the city—literally. The Alilaguna public water-taxi service glides from Marco Polo Airport to the center of Venice in about 15 minutes. You’ll find ticket counters at the arrivals hall and at the dock just off the airport. It’s a bit of a schlep from the pier, though, so keep in mind if you’re lugging heavy bags. And — this is Italy! — boats run about every hour, so you may face a wait if you just miss one. But you’ll get beautiful views of classic buildings like the Tower of San Marco as you approach. Expect to pay about $15 one way.
Hope you have a beary safe and great Thursday!
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,