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Old Aug 3, 09, 9:33 am   #1
 
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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Moving to GRR, any advice?

I'm moving to Grand Rapids in a few weeks, and would appreciate any advice about the airport from other frequent travelers.

My big first decision will be what airline do I want to fly. I'm a 1MM with American, but am traveling to NJ currently and really am looking forward to avoiding ORD on Thursday nights. I know Continental has a non-stop to EWR, but the timing isn't great (arrives around noon on Mondays, which is too late for me to get to the client site). I've got a bunch of Delta miles still from my time in ATL, so may connect via DTW.

My second question is around taxis. Are they usually standing by at the curb, or should I schedule one in advance? Do they take credit cards, or cash only?

Is there ever a backlog at security? Any "hidden" security checkpoints that don't get used? Any fast-lanes for people with status?

Thanks!
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Old Aug 4, 09, 11:40 am   #2
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I just moved to Holland MI a few weeks ago (Holland is 30 minutes from GRR), but used to fly into GRR when visiting the west side of the state and it will be my airport for future trips.

I think, for the most part, you're going to be connecting - whether it's DTW or ORD, so if you're Plat w/ AA you may want to consider staying with them. I think they run RJs to/from ORD. I'm a UA flyer & am sticking with UA, as they have several flights a day to ORD & DEN. Given the NW/DL merger, that's also a consideration for you and maybe a strong one, given the NW part.

Re: taxis. I usually do rental cars, so trying to remember if any taxis are by the curb. I think they have them, but haven't paid attention much & also outside the airport is under construction at the moment, as they're building a large enclosed parking structure. You might want to call the airport & ask re: taxis. My 'guess' is that they're cash only.

GRR is a pretty small airport (especially compared to ORD), so no 'fast-lanes' or 'hidden checkpoints' that I'm aware of. I've not encountered too many backlogs at security, but that could be because of times I've been flying.

FYI - right outside of security is a small glassed-in room that has some chairs and counters that you can use for bizness. It's underwritten by Steelcase I believe. If I get to the airport early or upon arrival while waiting for luggage, I usually pop into there to access free wifi/make some biz calls.

Post here or PM me if other questions re: GRR area.

Cheers.
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Old Sep 24, 09, 7:26 am   #3
 
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Welcome to West Michigan, wizzy.

I've been a corporate travel manager in the GRR area for 30 years and also would be happy to answer any questions about business travel originating in the area.

Most road warriors in this region tend to favor NW/DL because they dominate the lift and have the majority of nonstop destinations. In the case of flight disruptions they also provide more options for on-line reschedule protects.

Connecting in DTW is preferred because during periods of major flight op disruptions it's an easy Plan B trip between GRR and DTW via land, tends to happen more often than we'd like to admit during the winter months. Most would prefer to have the ability to drive the rest of the way home as opposed to being stranded overnight at a distant hub.

For EWR, you also have back-up nonstop service to/from LGA, or in the case of regional hub meltdowns, at least the combined NW/DL will offer reschedule options via DCA, ATL, CVG, MEM, DTW or MSP.

The CO (Express Jet) nonstop service to EWR is handy but has a bad rap for delays and cancellations. And if the weather is bad in Michigan, it's often ditto for CLE, their only online protect option for connections.

SkiAdcock is correct in that there really aren't any secret shortcuts for security. There are only two check points, one for each of the concourses (A & B) which only have 6 gates each, mostly serving regional jets, so long delays negotiating security are rare.

The major taxi companies in GRR do take credit cards and cabs are readily available during most of the day. I'd say it would only be necessary to consider pre-arranging a cab in the case of a very late arrival. Even then, a quick call to a cab company upon arrival would result in the arrival of a cab pretty quickly. The city is pretty compact and getting to the airport from more urbanized areas is a breeze.
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Old Sep 26, 09, 7:06 am   #4
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While not asked, I thought I'd add to this thread since I've just done my first trip from GRR now that I live in Western Michigan. There's not really a SuperShuttle service like LAX has (where I moved from), & shuttle/taxi GRR-Holland is astronomical from what I was quote, so I actually drove to the airport .

I allocated a lot of time since I've never done long-term parking, etc, but the drive was pretty easy (of course it's not winter yet!) & the shuttle busses run about every 5 minutes from the long-term parking lot. I thought I was going to be there forever & was pleasantly surprised to find I wasn't. The long-term shuttle parking is $8/day or $48/week, and it does take credit cards. There's a dedicated exit line for ccs.

The covered parking structure is supposed to be done in November, which I think will beat the winter snows. Hope so, as my car hasn't been exposed to snow; just beach salt air

Cheers.
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Old Sep 26, 09, 8:45 am   #5
 
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Welcome to West Michigan flying, SkiAdcock. The new covered parking structure was a long time coming and we sorely needed it. You'll understand why more than a few frequent users of GRR will shed a little tear of joy when winter gets here.

Driving to the airport is de rigueur in these parts I'm afraid, or one cops a ride from a friend or associate. An acquaintance of mine tried to start up a private shuttle service from outlying areas to GRR but the enterprise fell flat due to lack of interest in our neck of the woods.

That said, in my rolodex (yes, some of we old farts still have them) I have listed for the Holland Area a company called Coleman's that advertises airport shuttle services. A quick Google search found a website: Coleman's

It might be worth a shot getting a quote from them.

A popular Plan B in this area is booking a Park & Fly package at one of the airport area hotels. The rates vary by season and midweek/weekend, start at about $80.00, include one night's lodging before or after your trip, free parking of your car for up to a week or two (need to check restrictions) and use of their airport shuttle.

It might sound kind of silly since you live close in to the airport but I live just an hour from GRR and use it frequently for myself, primarily for super early departures or late arrivals but especially during times of inclement weather when slogging to the airport can be a challenge in the dark on bad roads. You'll know what I mean when you experience your first heavy lake effect snow event.

I usually use the Hilton but know that the Baymont Inn and Crowne Plaza also offer them. They come and go with others so you need to check direct. It's just another way to take some of the stress out of winter travel in these parts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAdcock View Post
While not asked, I thought I'd add to this thread since I've just done my first trip from GRR now that I live in Western Michigan. There's not really a SuperShuttle service like LAX has (where I moved from), & shuttle/taxi GRR-Holland is astronomical from what I was quote, so I actually drove to the airport .

I allocated a lot of time since I've never done long-term parking, etc, but the drive was pretty easy (of course it's not winter yet!) & the shuttle busses run about every 5 minutes from the long-term parking lot. I thought I was going to be there forever & was pleasantly surprised to find I wasn't. The long-term shuttle parking is $8/day or $48/week, and it does take credit cards. There's a dedicated exit line for ccs.

The covered parking structure is supposed to be done in November, which I think will beat the winter snows. Hope so, as my car hasn't been exposed to snow; just beach salt air

Cheers.
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Old Sep 26, 09, 6:42 pm   #6
 
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Thanks for all the replies. I've been happy with Metro Cab. I've only had to wait once (for 3 minutes) when I exited baggage claim, and they've been on-time for the early AM pickups on Monday morning (called in the night before). Car service is $25 flat rate, but my cab ride is only $15 plus tip.

My first week security was about 10 minutes for some reason, but only a few minutes on my other trips. Half the time I've walked by Continental at 5am there have been 10+ people in line to check bags, etc. Wish that continental would use the jetway on A3, especially when the weather turns nasty.

I'm enjoying GRR, and hope that they have good plows come winter!
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Old Sep 28, 09, 7:50 am   #7
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Booker, thanks for the Coleman contact. I'll contact them. When I was on some Holland hotel sites checking something for another FTer, they were listing shuttles at $65one way, which is $130r.t. & cabs at $80o.w or $160rt. I can't quite justify that to a client.

I like the Park-n-Fly idea; hadn't occurred to me, but if rates are possibly that low, definitely worth considering, especially for the early morning or late night flights. My recent trip was $72 for long-term parking & my flight got in late at night. Most of my trips are shorter, but definitely something to consider, especially during winter months.

I was on the Coleman site & they do 'tours', incuding during Holland's Tulip Time Festival. I live on the Tulip Lane route. Guess I'll be waving to the Coleman & other tourists next spring

Cheers.
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Old Jul 7, 11, 2:06 pm   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Booker View Post
That said, in my rolodex (yes, some of we old farts still have them) I have listed for the Holland Area a company called Coleman's that advertises airport shuttle services. A quick Google search found a website: Coleman's
I had a 17-day holiday in Europe, which put me past most ParknFly packages. So caught a ride to the airport w/ a friend & figured I'd do shuttle or taxi home. I would be arriving at GRR at 11:30pm from ORD.

I had emailed Coleman's for a quote before going to Europe & received an email back saying $58+tip from GRR to Holland. I emailed that was fine & provided all my flight data & my cell #.

Fast forward 16 days & I'm a bit uneasy that I've not heard back with a confirmation, so I called from Europe (thank you Skype) & got the owner. I expressed my concern about not hearing back. He apologized for it getting lost in the shuffle. I reiterated my pick-up time, that I had bags, & I'd be coming in from ORD. He asked one way to Holland. I said yes. He mentioned he had drivers busy the next night, weather was unpredictable out of ORD, etc, didn't sound enthusiastic, and suggested I take a taxi.

So I ended up calling a taxi service from Holland (Rosebud Taxi) that quoted me $70, and said they'd be there waiting in the commercial when I exited baggage claim. They were. I was told the reason they have to use the commercial area (which is just the 2nd driveway & about 20 feet further to walk) was because GRR has a deal w/ a taxi service.

This was the first time I hadn't gone to the parking garage via the bridge & exited at baggage claim, so actually the first time I even noticed cabs sitting outside the airport baggage claim area, although I assume they're always there. Rosebud did say that the taxis waiting outside the airport charge more for a Holland trip.

So while I'm not saying I'd never use Colemans, my first impression of them wasn't that great. They might be better for the GR area than outlying areas.

Cheers.
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Old Jul 21, 11, 11:05 am   #9
 
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After having been here for a while, I figured I'd post some updates:

- Terminal A just added a 3rd security line a few weeks ago, which was needed. Lines has gotten bad, taking up to 45 minutes at peak times
- Continental just moved from Terminal A over to Terminal B (B6), to be closer to United. Allegiant moved from B to A. Lines in the morning are about 15 minutes to get through security.
- Taxis are plentiful outside the main terminal (except in big snows!), and they always try to upsell you to the towncar. I also take a taxi to the airport, and Metro has gotten much better in the last year about being on time.
- They took out the Redbox dvd machine a few months back, and it looks like the ATM's over by Terminal B weren't there this morning, so not quite sure what's going on.
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Old Aug 4, 11, 6:48 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizzy View Post
After having been here for a while, I figured I'd post some updates:

- Terminal A just added a 3rd security line a few weeks ago, which was needed. Lines has gotten bad, taking up to 45 minutes at peak times
- Continental just moved from Terminal A over to Terminal B (B6), to be closer to United. Allegiant moved from B to A. Lines in the morning are about 15 minutes to get through security.
- Taxis are plentiful outside the main terminal (except in big snows!), and they always try to upsell you to the towncar. I also take a taxi to the airport, and Metro has gotten much better in the last year about being on time.
- They took out the Redbox dvd machine a few months back, and it looks like the ATM's over by Terminal B weren't there this morning, so not quite sure what's going on.
I wasn't aware Allegiant had moved to A, learn something new everyday. I've never sat in the security line for terminal A for more than 10 minutes, but I have seen those lines everyone speaks of first hand.

I do wish they would widen concourse A a bit, as if you're flying out first thing in the morning that concourse gets extremely packed with ppl catching the morning bank of Delta flights.
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Old Aug 8, 11, 6:16 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GVSUflyer View Post
I wasn't aware Allegiant had moved to A, learn something new everyday. I've never sat in the security line for terminal A for more than 10 minutes, but I have seen those lines everyone speaks of first hand.

I do wish they would widen concourse A a bit, as if you're flying out first thing in the morning that concourse gets extremely packed with ppl catching the morning bank of Delta flights.
I gave a few pieces of misinformation. Allegiant is still in B. I thought they had moved since Continental is now using B6 and there are Allegiant signs still in a few places. Turns out they just shifted over to B4.

On the ATM front, the ATM's are to the LEFT as you come out of the B concourse. I looked to the right and saw the space where the Redbox machine used to be.

The last two Monday's the line for B security about 5:10am has stretched most of the way back to the ticket counters. I could see that A stretched about the same distance. It's a good thing that the airport is so busy, right?!
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Old Jan 9, 12, 11:35 am   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizzy View Post
On the ATM front, the ATM's are to the LEFT as you come out of the B concourse. I looked to the right and saw the space where the Redbox machine used to be.

The last two Monday's the line for B security about 5:10am has stretched most of the way back to the ticket counters. I could see that A stretched about the same distance. It's a good thing that the airport is so busy, right?!
Are you sure you don't mean 'right' as you come out of the B concourse? Left is the windows/TSA line. It's on the left side as you approach the B concourse from the UA ticket counters.

Last time I was at GRR the ATMs were still there. I'm not sure I've noticed a Redbox, but that could be because I'm just looking for the Chase machine when I realize I forgot to get cash at the local Chase.

Of course this is GRR we're talking about - shouldn't take more than 30 seconds to find any ATM

Short of the holidays, I've never seen a link stretching back to the ticket counters. But then again I'm usually getting to them about 5:30am for a 6am flight, so I'm probably missing the 'rush hour'. LOL.

Cheers.
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Old Jan 9, 12, 5:44 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAdcock View Post
Are you sure you don't mean 'right' as you come out of the B concourse? Left is the windows/TSA line. It's on the left side as you approach the B concourse from the UA ticket counters.

Last time I was at GRR the ATMs were still there. I'm not sure I've noticed a Redbox, but that could be because I'm just looking for the Chase machine when I realize I forgot to get cash at the local Chase.

Of course this is GRR we're talking about - shouldn't take more than 30 seconds to find any ATM

Short of the holidays, I've never seen a link stretching back to the ticket counters. But then again I'm usually getting to them about 5:30am for a 6am flight, so I'm probably missing the 'rush hour'. LOL.

Cheers.
I did mean left, and that was my original problem. The ATM's are right next to crew security lane, and I was expecting them to be further away from a bunch of people standing in line and staring while you enter your PIN.

Re: security, last week (Jan 3) the line went almost all the way to the doors again, but today it ended just outside the stanchions, and I was through in less than 15 minutes. It would (will?) be nice if they add a 3rd security lane to B.
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Old Feb 22, 12, 8:28 am   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizzy View Post
Re: security, last week (Jan 3) the line went almost all the way to the doors again, but today it ended just outside the stanchions, and I was through in less than 15 minutes. It would (will?) be nice if they add a 3rd security lane to B.
On my way to LHR on the 9th, there was the line that ended outside of the stantions. First time I've ever seen that! Luckily this time I had gotten to the airport earlier than I normally do. Because there's never been a line I got in the habit of cutting it close.

When I returned late on the 20th, it was obvious that construction was going on so perhaps they are adding a 3rd security line in B?

Of course given they're funneling everyone through the stoo-pid nude-o-scope who knows how much difference it will actually make. I refuse to go through it, and while I was getting the 'enhanced' pat-down I observed every 2nd person going through the nude-o-scope getting a pat-down as well because they forgot stuff in their pockets, etc. So the timeframe to use the nude-o-scope machine is longer than the regular magno detector.

Cheers.
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