Letter to Dave: Pittsburgh E-Gate Problems

Dear Dave,
I''m a furloughed employee writing to bring to your attention a problem at the E-gate terminal in Pittsburgh.
Although the plan ultimately is for US Airways to fly an all-jet Express fleet, for the time being we continue to operate, and our customers continue to fly on, the turboprops. In Philadelphia and Charlotte new Express terminals can make the experience downright pleasant for the customers -- but Pittsburgh is the weak link.
The Problem:
The E-gates in Pittsburgh are a disaster. Our customers are piling on top of one another in the narrow hallways. Employees are huddling inside for warmth on cold days, blocking gate-podiums, chatting, and ignoring valued customers. The Transportation Security Administration is sending 4 - 6 security screeners to each gate to randomly screen 1 or 2 passengers on a 30 seat turboprop! In between flights, these screeners sit in the very limited seating near the gates reading newspapers and discarding them on the floor, playing handheld video games, and talking. This not only creates a very unprofessional environment, but it limits the seating available for customers. The terminal is loud, often hot or cold, and too small for the number of people we''re trying to stuff in there.
In the E-gate lobby on landside the special service desk is hidden around the corner, so our less-frequent fliers can be confused after coming up the escalator. The TSA screeners (who do not have a break-room of their own) have taken up the space in front of the Gloria-Jeans Coffee restaurant as their break / rest area. At times you see three entire rows of white shirts sitting there -- taking space away from the US Airways customers. It is not right. They exist to serve US Airways and protect customers and crewmembers, not to be a continued annoyance that is constantly in the way.
The Competition:
I think US Airways is on the right track with the new terminals in Charlotte and Philadelphia, but I''m certain you will agree we have a long way to go if we are to match the convenience of the Comair terminal in Cincinnati, or the American Eagle terminal at O''Hare. The facilities are equal in almost every respect to their mainline counterparts -- they make the travel experience more seamless for the customer.
In Cincinnati Delta''s customers are held in the central core of Comair''s X-shaped facility. When their flights are called they approach a secure door and are escorted to the gate. TSA stays behind the secure door, unseen by the public until they walk past them or are stopped for random search. The last time I was in Cincinnati I did not see a SINGLE TSA agent milling about the Delta terminals -- I can only assume that Delta put a stop to such behavior. US Airways should try to do the same.
The Solution:
You''ve already started a good part of the solution -- regional jets. I expect that once US Airways begins additional RJ flying, you will build jetways to accommodate those aircraft in Pittsburgh (to keep our customers from walking down stairs onto rainy, snowy, hot, cold ramps, and then up aircraft stairs into the airplane). This will make the A-concourse in PIT a world-class RJ facility.
Until then, however, you need to address the E-gate situation in Pittsburgh. I believe that you should consider adopting the Comair model.
First and foremost you need to contact the TSA and tell them to keep their personnel OUT of the US Airways customer gate areas. Our gate areas are NOT break-rooms.
Secondly, the E-gate lobby should become a holding area, and the three sliding-glass doors at the rear of that lobby should be secure doors. This will solve quite a few problems.
#1. Customers will have a climate-controlled, comfortable waiting area with numerous services in which to wait for their flights.
#2. TSA agents can set up camp beyond the security doors giving them plenty of room to do their jobs without interfering with the traffic flow in the corridors, or taking up valuable seating space for the customers.
#3. Outside ramp agents will have a (relatively) warm and quiet area to escape to between flights, but when their is not time to retreat to their own break-room.
#4. Pilots and flight crews can use existing E-gate podiums (at the gates) to access the valuable weather-radar information available on The Hub.
#5. Electric carts would have much less crowded corridors to contend with while carrying disabled or elderly customers.
The Delta Solution:
This solution would require very little change in the E-gate lobby itself. Podiums would have to be set up at each sliding door labeled A, B, and C. Screens could be located above or adjacent to each door with flight numbers and corresponding gate numbers.
Rope-barriers and lines would need be only long enough to accommodate 30 - 60 customers at any given time, since flights would be boarded individually.
When a flight is called in the holding area customers would be asked to move to door A, B, or C. Their tickets could be collected and the customers then sent to the gate shown on the video monitor adjacent to the podium. TSA security screeners would perform their random screening immediately outside of the secure door.
At the gate only one customer service agent would be required to direct customers to the proper aircraft once they leave the building.
Quick, Easy Changes, To Make Traveling on Express Better:
My degree in college was in Aviation/Airport management. I took several classes on airport and airfield design, including throughput of passengers. Even with that very elementary background I can tell that the E-gates are not acceptable -- not when US Airways is competing with facilities offered by American Eagle and Delta''s Comair.
I invite you to take one day out of your schedule to travel to Cincinnati and watch Comair''s operation for an hour or two. Then fly to Chicago to see the American Eagle operation there. In the afternoon, please come to Pittsburgh and see the facility that we have to work with as we strive to provide a quality product to our customers.
Thank you for your time.
 

gilbertguy

Senior
Aug 29, 2002
368
0
[blockquote]
----------------
On 11/22/2002 8:23:46 AM Furloughedagain wrote:

Dear Dave,

I'm a furloughed employee writing to bring to your attention a problem at the E-gate terminal in Pittsburgh.

Although the plan ultimately is for US Airways to fly an all-jet Express fleet, for the time being we continue to operate, and our customers continue to fly on, the turboprops. In Philadelphia and Charlotte new Express terminals can make the experience downright pleasant for the customers -- but Pittsburgh is the weak link.

The Problem:
The E-gates in Pittsburgh are a disaster. Our customers are piling on top of one another in the narrow hallways. Employees are huddling inside for warmth on cold days, blocking gate-podiums, chatting, and ignoring valued customers. The Transportation Security Administration is sending 4 - 6 security screeners to each gate to randomly screen 1 or 2 passengers on a 30 seat turboprop! In between flights, these screeners sit in the very limited seating near the gates reading newspapers and discarding them on the floor, playing handheld video games, and talking. This not only creates a very unprofessional environment, but it limits the seating available for customers. The terminal is loud, often hot or cold, and too small for the number of people we're trying to stuff in there.

In the E-gate lobby on landside the special service desk is hidden around the corner, so our less-frequent fliers can be confused after coming up the escalator. The TSA screeners (who do not have a break-room of their own) have taken up the space in front of the Gloria-Jeans Coffee restaurant as their break / rest area. At times you see three entire rows of "white shirts" sitting there -- taking space away from the US Airways customers. It is not right. They exist to serve US Airways and protect customers and crewmembers, not to be a continued annoyance that is constantly "in the way".

The Competition:
I think US Airways is on the right track with the new terminals in Charlotte and Philadelphia, but I'm certain you will agree we have a long way to go if we are to match the convenience of the Comair terminal in Cincinnati, or the American Eagle terminal at O'Hare. The facilities are equal in almost every respect to their mainline counterparts -- they make the travel experience more seamless for the customer.

In Cincinnati Delta's customers are held in the central core of Comair's X-shaped facility. When their flights are called they approach a secure door and are escorted to the gate. TSA stays behind the secure door, unseen by the public until they walk past them or are stopped for random search. The last time I was in Cincinnati I did not see a SINGLE TSA agent milling about the Delta terminals -- I can only assume that Delta put a stop to such behavior. US Airways should try to do the same.

The Solution:
You've already started a good part of the solution -- regional jets. I expect that once US Airways begins additional RJ flying, you will build jetways to accommodate those aircraft in Pittsburgh (to keep our customers from walking down stairs onto rainy, snowy, hot, cold ramps, and then up aircraft stairs into the airplane). This will make the A-concourse in PIT a world-class RJ facility.

Until then, however, you need to address the E-gate situation in Pittsburgh. I believe that you should consider adopting the Comair model.

First and foremost you need to contact the TSA and tell them to keep their personnel OUT of the US Airways customer gate areas. Our gate areas are NOT break-rooms.

Secondly, the E-gate lobby should become a holding area, and the three sliding-glass doors at the rear of that lobby should be secure doors. This will solve quite a few problems.

#1. Customers will have a climate-controlled, comfortable waiting area with numerous services in which to wait for their flights.

#2. TSA agents can "set up camp" beyond the security doors giving them plenty of room to do their jobs without interfering with the traffic flow in the corridors, or taking up valuable seating space for the customers.

#3. Outside ramp agents will have a (relatively) warm and quiet area to escape to between flights, but when their is not time to retreat to their own break-room.

#4. Pilots and flight crews can use existing E-gate podiums (at the gates) to access the valuable weather-radar information available on "The Hub".

#5. Electric carts would have much less crowded corridors to contend with while carrying disabled or elderly customers.

The Delta Solution:
This solution would require very little change in the E-gate lobby itself. Podiums would have to be set up at each sliding door labeled "A, B, and C". Screens could be located above or adjacent to each door with flight numbers and corresponding gate numbers.

Rope-barriers and lines would need be only long enough to accommodate 30 - 60 customers at any given time, since flights would be boarded individually.

When a flight is called in the holding area customers would be asked to move to door "A, B, or C". Their tickets could be collected and the customers then sent to the gate shown on the video monitor adjacent to the podium. TSA security screeners would perform their random screening immediately outside of the secure door.

At the gate only one customer service agent would be required to direct customers to the proper aircraft once they leave the building.

Quick, Easy Changes, To Make Traveling on Express Better:
My degree in college was in Aviation/Airport management. I took several classes on airport and airfield design, including throughput of passengers. Even with that very elementary background I can tell that the E-gates are not acceptable -- not when US Airways is competing with facilities offered by American Eagle and Delta's Comair.

I invite you to take one day out of your schedule to travel to Cincinnati and watch Comair's operation for an hour or two. Then fly to Chicago to see the American Eagle operation there. In the afternoon, please come to Pittsburgh and see the facility that we have to work with as we strive to provide a quality product to our customers.

Thank you for your time.


----------------
Apparently you didn't get the job at TSA!
 
C

chipmunn

Guest
Furloghedagain:

This was an extremely well written letter. Thanks for your efforts to help US Airways Group.

Chip
 

gilbertguy

Senior
Aug 29, 2002
368
0
[blockquote]
----------------
On 11/22/2002 9:31:59 AM genejockey wrote:

Starting at just over $11 per hour, who would want a TSA job. At PHL, the acronym for TSA means "Thousands Standing Around".
----------------
Actually closer to $13 per hour.....about were US employees will top out in a few months.....and TSA means 'take scissors away [img src='http://www.usaviation.com/idealbb/images/smilies/10.gif'] [img src='http://www.usaviation.com/idealbb/images/smilies/9.gif']
 

flyin2low

Veteran
Nov 4, 2002
577
1
www.domain.com
Within 2 years time, their won't be a need for too many E gates in PIT........Don't waste your money Dave[A style=CURSOR: hand onclick=return InsertRichText('
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