Airline passengers annoyed by add-on fees will be pleased that Spokane International Airport is listening.
Passenger surveys in recent years have shown that people who fly, many of whom are business travelers, want free wireless access at the airport.
Starting today, laptop users will get 20 minutes of wireless Internet before fees kick in.
The airport is giving up $30,000 a year to offer the service.
Airport Director Lawrence Krauter said he believes passenger satisfaction is worth it.
“We are at a time when the public is feeling nickeled and dimed by the travel experience,” he said.
Krauter, who took over the airport job in March, said he is pushing to make the airport more passenger-friendly. His goal is to remove the time limit for free wireless once the airport’s contract with its wireless provider expires in two years.
Boingo, the provider, is going to get bumped.
In addition, the airport next month is going to make baggage carts available free of charge, at a cost of $5,000 a year to the airport budget.
Currently, passengers are charged $4 to use a baggage cart. Smart Cart, which provides the carts, was planning to raise its fees, Krauter said.
The airport’s contract with Smart Cart expires next month, and that company will be leaving Spokane’s terminal.
The airport will have to invest some money to make the changes happen: Baggage carts must be purchased and Wi-Fi equipment will need to be installed.
Other changes are likely.
Passenger surveys have revealed that the airport needs a filling station and convenience store. Out-of-town passengers often discover they can’t buy gasoline at the airport, and then end up paying rental company prices when they arrive for a return flight.
Krauter said the airport is negotiating with Airport Plazas to develop a gas and convenience store next to the airport.
“We are completely changing the culture here,” Krauter said.
Passenger surveys are conducted three times a year.
Among the findings, passengers report that they arrive about 90 minutes ahead of their flights and most often spend five minutes or less going through security. Visitors reported spending $500 to $600 while in Spokane.
WSP launches anti-DUI effort
A new law enforcement campaign to catch impaired drivers began last weekend and will continue through Labor Day.
The Washington State Patrol and other agencies will seek out people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Last year, the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed effort resulted in 99 arrests over the same period, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which sponsors the campaigns.
In a related effort, law officers wrote 409 speeding tickets in the two counties from July 15 through Aug. 7.
The special patrols also turned up other violations and even some crimes.
Among the 409 drivers who were pulled over for speeding, officers arrested four people for felony warrants and eight people for misdemeanor warrants.
Also, eight drivers were charged with driving under the influence; 22 for aggressive driving; 11 for cellphone violations; 21 for not wearing seat belts; 63 for lack of insurance; and 30 for having a suspended or revoked license.
Sullivan limits now two-way
Weight restrictions on the Sullivan Road crossing over the Spokane River will affect north- and southbound traffic over the next month.
The restrictions went into effect earlier this year on the southbound bridge.
Construction of a new intersection at Sullivan and Indiana Avenue will force northbound traffic onto the older, western bridge of the two spans. As a result, northbound traffic will be required to match the existing weight restrictions for southbound traffic through Sept. 21.
Spokane Valley officials said they are designing a replacement for the older bridge and acquiring funds for the project, estimated to cost $20 million. The restrictions are intended to preserve the older bridge’s life until it can be replaced.
15th Street work begins
In Coeur d’Alene, work begins today on reconstruction of 15th Street from Margaret to Dalton avenues. Delays and lane closures are likely during the work, which will include new pavement, curbs and sidewalks.
Other road work
Construction of a new concrete intersection at Francis Avenue and Addison Street will begin today. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Francis, while Addison will be closed to traffic. A new traffic signal is part of the $641,000 job.
Nevada Street from Broad to Decatur avenues remains closed for reconstruction.
Mission Avenue from Napa to Greene streets also remains closed for a major rebuild.
Also closed are Grand Boulevard from 29th Avenue to High Drive; Bridgeport Avenue from Division to Crestline streets; and Upriver Drive from Rebecca Street to Frederick Avenue.