Where’s my Limo?

 In News

Are you a frequent business flyer?  Does your frequent business travel include arriving at (or departing from) Chicago O’Hare International Airport or Chicago Midway Airport?

Not so long ago, if you’d hired a chauffeured vehicle to pick you up from either of these busy Chicago airports, getting in touch with your transportation provider to announce your arrival was the first call you’d probably want to make after touching down.  However, if you called too soon – perhaps while still taxing, or before exiting the airplane, or maybe prior to having collected your luggage from the airport luggage carousel – the chances were good that you’d be told to call back once you had made your way through the entire terminal, collected your checked bags (if any), and were otherwise ready to stand outside and begin waiting for your vehicle.

OK, so you hang up, take a long brisk walk through the Chicago O’Hare or Midway airport concourse, wait patiently to collect your bags from the monotonously slow carousel, and thereafter, as instructed, you make a second attempt at announcing that you are now good to go, ready to be picked-up.  The sympathetic dispatcher at the other end acknowledges your reservation and fires-off a flurry of important driver, vehicle and meeting location data – all of which you vow not to forget.

After exiting the terminal, you take a position outside and begin the wait among side other business traveling colleagues… namely those who similarly refuse to suffer the cramped and typically filthy back bench of a Chicago taxi cab.  So you scan the frenzied airport traffic and, just as you’re about to initiate your third irate ‘where’s my vehicle’ call to your limo company, your chauffeured Lincoln Town Car, SUV or limousine emerges from the vehicular mayhem that characterize Chicago’s airports.

So what’s changed?

Let’s start over… you’re on route to Chicago, flying on a scheduled airline and you’ll soon be landing at Chicago O’Hare or Chicago Midway Airport.  On the ground, about twenty minutes before your flight’s scheduled arrival, your chauffeured vehicle has already checked-in.  Both O’Hare and Midway airports have designated staging areas just for commercial vehicles waiting and reserved in advance by business travelers to provide private ground transportation to their final destination.

Your flight touches ground in Chicago, wheels-down!  Because your private transportation company’s reservation and dispatch systems are electronically linked to local and national air traffic control systems, a wheels-down notification gets pushed through to the company’s reservation and dispatching system.  In-turn, their system automatically pushes an update to their driver waiting for you in the staging area.  All parties are now sharing the same updated fight information; each one is on the same page.

This early notification system amounts to series of pre-programmed electronic triggers that are calibrated to minimize or, ideally, eliminate wait time.

As your flight taxis toward the gate, the airplane cabin comes alive with a flurry of smart phone sounds.  Your smart device has a new SMS text that you have not yet opened and read.  It’s from your transportation provider.  The text is another automatically generated and customized message that was triggered to send by the company’s vehicle dispatch system at the precise moment that your flight touched ground.  It reads… “Dear Ms./Mr. Smith, Welcome to Chicago. Your chauffeured vehicle is waiting for you. Please collect your luggage and call us at 800.871.7627 just prior to exiting the terminal.”  In addition to the welcome message, you’re provided with all the info you need to identify and meet up with your chauffeured vehicle.  There’s no more need to worry about memorizing names, license plates or related information.

So now you can relax a bit.  Your transportation provider hasn’t forgotten you.  Your chauffeured Town Car is waiting and ready when you are.  Nice!  Just relax as your flight continues its journey toward the terminal.

The airplane reaches the gate and the cabin door is unlocked.  Your provider receives another system generated alert, this one triggered as a result of having their system synced with the airport’s ground control flight management system.  Your driver’s smart device is updated and the ‘countdown’ begins.

For purposes of this Chicago limousine service narrative, the countdown is defined as the length of time that it will take you to get from your seat on the plane to the airport terminal exit door.  The countdown begins at the precise moment that the cabin door is unlocked allowing arriving passengers to exit the aircraft.  Depending upon the airline, the airport concourse, the arrival gate, and the type of airplane you’re on, your transportation provider has a pre-loaded database with a vast array of historical countdowns which makes estimating the time you’re likely to be ready to be met by your chauffeured vehicle a highly predictable science.

Depending upon traffic and weather, you’re chauffeur has already exited the staging area and begun navigating airport traffic toward your terminal.  You exit the plane and begin your brisk walk toward passenger arrivals and the exit doors that lead outside toward awaiting ground transportation services.  With the exit doors in clear sight, you make your first – and only – call informing the dispatch representative that you are ready to be picked-up.  The representative tells you that the time is now 8:21 PM and that your vehicle is scheduled to arrive at 8:27 PM, in approximately 6 minutes.

You continue your walk, exit the terminal, and, at 8:23 PM, take your position outside among fellow business travelers, each awaiting private ground transportation.  Your chauffeured vehicle is now less than two minutes away and its on-board GPS-fencing system has alerted the company’s dispatch system of its ETA.  A second – and last – SMS text message appears.  It reads as follows: “Your chauffeured [Town Car/SUV/Limousine] is now arriving. Thank you for choosing SMARTCars.”

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