For Atlanta Hartsfield Experts!

Old Dec 19th, 2006, 04:21 PM
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For Atlanta Hartsfield Experts!

I have to pick up someone who arrives on a Delta flight at noon and then someone who arrives on United at 2:30. I'm trying to figure out the best logistics for picking them up. I notice that the airlines are separate terminals but the same concourse (T). I don't get that.

Anyway, any suggestions for the easiest way to handle this would be appreciated. I plan to park, by the way. (And in case anyone's wondering, I don't live in Atlanta, accounting for my ignorance.)
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Old Dec 19th, 2006, 04:50 PM
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There's one single HUGE terminal at ATL, divided into North and South side. Delta uses "Terminal South", while everybody else uses "Terminal North".

There are 6 concourses - T, and A thru E. T is connected to the main terminal, the others require a train ride. DL uses basically the whole airport and every concourse.

All you need to do is to drive to "Terminal South" to pick up the person arriving on DL and then continue to "Terminal North" to pick up the other who arrives on UA, if both have luggage to claim. If they don't, then you can tell both to go to North, or both go to South.

ATL has strange layout where both arrivals and departure are on the same level. Very heavy traffic. But there's also another ramp in the lower level for departure dropoff. That may help, but if none of you have been to ATL, that sounds too complicated.
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Old Dec 19th, 2006, 07:46 PM
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Hi Cimbrone, here is the website for the airport http://www.atlanta-airport.com/

I had never been in the new airport until about a year and a half ago. Inspite of the website I really thought I would be confused. But actually I found the airport quite easy to use, it amazed me. Good signs etc. Well especially compared to SFO.
Hope it goes smooth for you!
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 01:22 AM
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Thank you both for the replies!

Question: Do you know that big atrium-like area with the shops and restaurants in a circle around a seating area? Is that a convenient place for both of my arrivals to meet me once they have their baggage? I could park myself there with coffee and a book and just wait for everyone to find me (with the help of cellphones, of course). I'm assuming there's a starbucks or some similar place (perhaps someone knows?) Also, I'm assuming there's only one of these areas for the entire terminal and not two without my realizing it. Am I right?
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 03:05 AM
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Hi, cimbrone. The atrium (yep, just one) is a good place to meet. There's an Atlanta Bread Co and a Hoolihan's and a big clock in the center(if you're not interested in food or drink).Everyone usually congregates at the top of the escalator for incoming passengers located between the North and South Terminals (they sound divided but they're not). Easy to spot folks getting off the escalators.
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 03:14 AM
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Thanks, sallyjane!
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 03:43 AM
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The atrium is a perfect solution. Paschal's has great Southen/ soul food if you want to eat. Houlihan's has a bar and piano downstairs and quieter places to eat upstairs (with its own elevator). There are lots of options in the food court of the atrium.

All of Hartsfield is one big building. Same security, rental cars, atrium, etc. serving you no matter which "terminal" you use. The terminals are just opposite sides of the building - North and South. Once you get in past ticketing (or baggage claim) everyone is in the same space.

T is the former International terminal and it is JUST past security. Passengers departing or arriving at T gates don't get on the train that goes to the other Concourses (A through E).

If parking is full on one side (say South, where Delta is located), you can just park at North and then walk through either the baggage or ticketing to get to atrium. The North side is usually less crazy than South (because of Delta's hub). In other words, unless you are picking up or dropping off someone outside at a particular terminal, it's 6 of 1 or half dozen of another
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 04:28 AM
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That's good info, starrs. What's strange is that, considering this is supposedly such a HUGE airport, it seems more compact than many smaller ones I've been to with multiple free-standing terminals that you'd have to shuttle between.
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 04:41 AM
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It is big, but very well designed. It handles all the people traffic very, very well.

The middle part - atrium, security, trains - serve everyone.

The two sides - North and South - house the ticketing and baggage claim for certain airlines - and then pops you out to the middle part.

The train stations/ Concourses are 1/4 mile away from one another. You can take the train or walk or use the rolling sidewalk. All of that is underground. So, THAT'S the huge part of it. It is really spread out - but easy to use because there is really just one terminal - split into two sides/ North and South.

The T gate stuff can be confusing. You actually see it as you drive up to the South ticketing/ baggage claim. I loved finding out I was flying out of T, because it is RIGHT off security - no trains. There used to be a cool display of uniforms, cutlery, service items, etc. through the decades as you walked into the T gate from security.

Hartsfield handles the crowds very well. Never feels chaotic like DFW or Miami or the NY airports.

Have fun this holiday season!
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 04:48 AM
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Cimbrone, regarding parking.

Hourly parking is the priciest, but right next to the terminal.

If you want to save a little $$$, (these instructions are for South terminal parking), then go to Daily parking, drive straight ahead and all the way up the ramp to the top of the parking deck. Drive toward the terminal building and you'll be able to get pretty darn close (usually). Walk toward the terminal and the middle of the parking deck and you'll see elevators/ escalators that will take you back down to the check-in level. If it's not raining, I always park up top - not too crowded and you can get pretty close either at the far right or left of the parking deck. It's great with luggage because you'll never have to deal with stairs.
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 04:55 AM
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While ATL is the world's busiest airport by all accounts, a lot of them are connecting traffic on DL and AirTran, not origin & destination.

While one doesn't need to shuttle between terminals, most have to ride the train among the concourses. It makes some of the connections pretty time consuming.

I flew to ATL last weekend. From the plane get to the gate at the D concourse, it's 25 minutes walk/train to get to baggage claim. At some airports like DFW, you can be into a car picking you up in 5 minutes if you have no luggage.

And the central security checkpoint means there's no "shorter lines" at ATL. It took me about 20 minutes to clear it on a Sunday afternoon, longer than the dozen of times I've flown out of IAH since 9/11.

The one-level, one-ramp traffic arrangement for vehicular traffic also makes it pretty bad outside.

Overall, it's not a bad airport, but it's far from perfect.
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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DFW is a joy for dropping off/ picking up. My SO flew out of there weekly and it was GREAT for me - dropping him off.

I despised changing planes at DFW. My worst experience ever was having to change terminals to change planes and being in one of those exterior trains - that just stopped. Stopped. No movement. No reason given. Clock ticking. About to miss my connection. No options. I hate the sense of helplessness.

I wonder what the perfect airport would be? I love flying in and out of the little ones - Sarasota, Chattanooga, Columbia, Savannah. But, high volume airports? Don't know. Seems like you have centralized terminal like Hartsfield - and the good and bad that goes with that approach - or the muliple terminal approach - and the good and bad that goes with that.

That would be an interesting thread. What is the "perfect" high volume airport?
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Old Dec 21st, 2006, 06:52 AM
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Another option might be to have both parties take MARTA so you can avoid the airport all together. Around Christmas parking is pretty impossible and there are people milling about all over the atrium area. If your friends took MARTA (right by baggage, only $1.75) they could ride to the Lindbergh station (right of I-85), where there are several restaurants and free parking, and it's only about a 20-30 minute ride. I do that with my sister every time she flies into town. Just a suggestion, as Hartsfield can be messy around Christmas.
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