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  1. #1

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    Thumbs up US Airways to be a "participating airline" **SEE UPDATE POST #4**

    From this morning's Orlando Sentinel:

    A little more than two years after its launch, Walt Disney World's first-of-its-kind, free airport shuttle has proved wildly popular with customers, ferrying 150,000 tourists a month between Orlando International Airport and hotels within the sprawling resort.

    But fewer than half of those riders check their bags with Disney before leaving the resort for their flight home, a practice Disney executives want to boost in hopes of freeing up customers to spend more time -- and money -- on company property.

    "That's something we're focused on growing," said Michelle Bentubo, director of Disney's Magical Express.


    Disney expects to carry about 1.8 million riders on its Magical Express buses during the company's current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. But only about 800,000 of those passengers will also have made use of the airline-check-in option, which allows them to obtain boarding passes and drop off their bags while still at their hotel. The next time those customers see their bags is when they pick them up at their home airport.

    The check-in service should get a boost next week, when US Airways, the fifth-busiest carrier at OIA, joins the ranks of airlines that allow their passengers to use it. The Arizona-based airline says it plans to do so beginning Wednesday.

    With US Airways on board, the number of airlines participating in Disney's remote baggage check in will have doubled since the company launched Magical Express in May 2005. It will also include eight of the top nine carriers at OIA.

    But no airline is as important as the one that still isn't among them: Southwest Airlines carried nearly one-fifth of all the travelers who passed through OIA in 2006, making it Orlando's leading carrier.

    Representatives for Disney and the company it contracts with to run its check-in service, Orlando-based Bags Inc., say they are still working on an agreement with Texas-based Southwest. An airline spokeswoman said it hopes to join by early 2008.

    Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said much of the holdup stems from difficulties in ensuring that the two companies' reservation systems are compatible. "We just haven't had the technology in place . . . for our system to talk to Disney's," Mainz said.

    Signing up airlines isn't the only hurdle Disney's baggage option faces. For one, the check-in service isn't available yet to international travelers, who account for 6 percent to 9 percent of Magical Express riders, Disney's Bentubo said.

    Craig Mateer, president of Bags Inc., said his company has been granted approval from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to begin processing travelers on international flights. Now it's a matter of working through security details and other logistics with the airlines.

    The goal, Mateer said, is to begin offering the service to at least some international travelers before the end of the year. "It should be coming out shortly," Mateer said.

    Disney's contract with the airport also requires it to drop Magical Express passengers off at least two hours, on average, before their departures. So the resort only offers the remote check-in option to passengers whose flights take off at 8 a.m. or later.

    That cuts out almost 15 percent of travelers, Bentubo said. The company is studying whether it can open its registration desks earlier or check in early-morning passengers the night before their flights.

    Disney hotel guests arriving in Orlando can have their luggage shipped directly to the resort, regardless of airline, because the check-in procedures at their home airports aren't affected.

    And guests who can't, or don't want to, use Disney's remote check in when heading home are still permitted to ride Magical Express -- each bus has space to stow baggage.

    But getting more customers to take advantage of the baggage-check-in option is good business for Disney.

    Travelers on a late-afternoon flight, for instance, are more likely to spend their final morning in a Disney theme park if they don't have to worry about storing their luggage for the day or getting to the airport early enough to trudge through check-in lines in the terminal.

    The baggage option also allows Disney to control more of their customers' vacations.

    "That's so big with them, to have [guests] . . . under Disney's care the whole way," said Jerry Aldrich, president of Orlando-based Amusement Industry Consulting. "Because they feel their care is better. And if you get a better experience, your chances are better of coming back."

    Disney officials acknowledge the baggage service's boost to their bottom line. But they point out that the airport also benefits when more people use the service, because it means fewer people standing in line at ticket counters and less luggage clogging conveyor belts in OIA's main terminal.

    Even now, Disney is handling about 5,000 bags a day. That's luggage that gets processed inside a hangar that Disney subleases from Delta Air Lines, instead of inside the main terminal.

    As Disney handles more of its own luggage, it will free up more terminal capacity for non-Disney travelers, said Chris Schmidt, a deputy executive director at OIA.

    "We're as anxious as Disney is to increase that," he said.
    Last edited by CleveRocks; 09-03-2007 at 03:37 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    ME is the best thing since sliced bread. Love the checkin/checkout of luggag. Makes the trip much more enjyable.
    Robert
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    Going for Goofy #4 in 09

  3. #3

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    finally! can you take advantage of the process, and drop your own bags at the airport? I'm not sure i'm willing to give up that much control of my bags : ) I like the idea of pre airline checkin, we print our boarding passes at home before going to the airport.

  4. #4

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    Here's what the Orlando Sentinel DIDN'T report --

    This is only in the testing phase right now. It is NOT YET available at all resorts. As of 9/05/07, US Airways will be a Resort Airline Check-in participating airline ONLY for those guests staying at Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge.

  5. #5

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    Quote Originally Posted by AuroraRose View Post
    finally! can you take advantage of the process, and drop your own bags at the airport? I'm not sure i'm willing to give up that much control of my bags : )
    No one in either direction is "dropping off their own bags at the airport."

    For everyone on every airline, since Day One you can check in your bags at your home airport with your airline, and the next time you see them they'll be inside your WDW resort room. This is not a change. And the airline you use doesn't matter.

    The change has to do with US Airways passengers, and then it only has to do with the way home. Passengers on US Airways will soon be able to use Resort Airline Check-in, which is basically curbside check-in that takes place inside your resort lobby (check-in for your flight, get your boarding passes, check your luggage). Just like with curbside check-in, you will have your boarding passes in-hand and you'll no longer have access to your bags.

    As far as giving up the control of your bags, I can understand your relutance. However, two points: A) DME has been doing this for over 2 years now, without widespread problems; b) the DME luggage tags have barcodes, and the barcodes are scanned 5 separate times between the airplane and your resort room. In addition, the luggage delivery trucks are tracked by GPS -- in other words, it's a very high-tech system, and Disney knows where your luggage is at all times.

  6. #6

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    US Scareways? YUK!

  7. #7

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    Agreed TDLFAN ... they might be serving WDW now, but I don't fly US Airways. Made that mistake once, and only once.


  8. #8

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    Wow
    Now if they can get Southwest...

  9. #9

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    Southworst? Double-Yuk!!! But if it makes you feel better... I am told that will be happening soon.. since SWA is the biggest carrier in the frumpy Orlando airport.

  10. #10

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    US Scareways? YUK!
    Yeah, not my favorite either! I had a bad flight attendant experience on the way back from Paris this past year (she was really nasty to a lot of people). I wrote to US Airways, they sent me an unsigned form letter with a voucher written out to someone else. I sent it back to them, and told them not to send me anything else. They didn't.

    Next time I'll fly to London via Virgin or British Airways. They both are much better!
    Denise

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    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    I think it will give more pipping pervs the reason needed to go parasailing
    on Bay Lake.

  11. #11

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    Quote Originally Posted by AuroraRose View Post
    finally! can you take advantage of the process, and drop your own bags at the airport? I'm not sure i'm willing to give up that much control of my bags : ) I like the idea of pre airline checkin, we print our boarding passes at home before going to the airport.

    Maybe it's just me, but unless I am going on a one day (out and back same day) business trip, I allways check baggage. I just like not having to drag stuff around and - knock on wood - I have never had ANYTHING lost on me - either on a plane, bus, or ship.

    And if I am heading to WDW, then DME takes my bags as much as possible.

    I just got back from WDW with my kids. We had a 10:05 PM flight out. That morning I went to Bell Services, checked my luggage and got boarding passes, threw a carry on in Bell Services storage (stuff for the flight and the boarding passes) and then took a pack with three changes of clothes in it. We spent the day at Thyphoon Lagoon, changed (wet swimsuits in a plastic bag) came back to Saratoga Springs, had dinner, played some billiards. Walked over to the DME spot, took 5 minutes to get our other carry on out of storage, got on the bus, went through security and did not have to touch my luggage until I got to baggage claim at EWR. My car pulled up to the curb and we got in.

    The entire trip from WDW to my house I moved my luggage a total of about 150 yards. And 140 of that was from my room to bell services.

    -dave
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    "You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity." - Bullet Tooth Tony

  12. #12

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    I've never lost luggage either dave (knocks on wood as well), but had the unfortunate luck in several flights (to and from Glasgow) that were held up (while we were aboard the plane) for hours due to weather (somewhat understandable) and technical issues (that one made me nervous). I'll never fly US Air again.

  13. #13

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    I love ME, it's such a good idea and service.
    "Thousand Circles 'Round The Sun"

  14. #14

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    I am actually surprised that they haven't started charging for it - but I guess it's good for them, to keep more people from renting cars.
    Denise

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    Favorite TDL Typo:

    Quote Originally Posted by TDLFAN View Post
    I think it will give more pipping pervs the reason needed to go parasailing
    on Bay Lake.

  15. #15

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    Re: US Airways set to become a "participating airline"

    Quote Originally Posted by Trinitys Ghost View Post
    I've never lost luggage either dave (knocks on wood as well), but had the unfortunate luck in several flights (to and from Glasgow) that were held up (while we were aboard the plane) for hours due to weather (somewhat understandable) and technical issues (that one made me nervous). I'll never fly US Air again.

    Newark (EWR) is one of, if not the worst, airport in the US for delays. It's also my "home" airport.

    I have been delayed some many times I have lost track, most of the time on business flights (middle of the day), but I have been delayed on end of day flights as well. I have also had flights outright cancelled on me (and got my luggage back), thats a load of fun.


    -dave
    "I'm gonna build my own amusement park. But with gambling and hookers!" - Bender
    "You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity." - Bullet Tooth Tony

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