Love is in the air

Two thirds of the YES! Weekly staff headed to Detroit last week for the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, mingling with peers from across the continent. The lesso convention ns taken away will be seen in our pages in the weeks to come, but the first insight came before the group had even left Greensboro on a direct flight from Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Our airport has been in the news lately because of delays in the construction of a new tower, which we’re told will finally come to fruition in seven years, its increasingly invasive security measures and the increasingly tenuous state of the FedEx hub, which has not been immune to the economic downturn.

Last week Kevin Baker, executive director for the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, gave the News & Record a 13-item wish list that includes a land purchase and grading, new taxiways and other construction carrying a price tag of $350 million.

To read some of the comments after the web version of Donald Patterson’s article, you might think that PTI was the worst thing ever to happen to the city — one commenter with the handle “truthteller” said exactly that. Too much noise and concrete. High gate fees. A facilitator of pollution. But we come to praise PTI, not to bury it. The travel experience of the YES! Weekly staff is considerable, and a quick poll among us reveals that, to a one, PTI is our favorite airport in the country.

The travel experience of the staff is considerable, and a quick poll reveals that, to a one, PTI is our favorite‘  airport in the country.

We love its size — a small airport means shorter lines, shorter walks to the gate and quicker transitions at baggage claim. Though the authority just issued a statement advising arrival 90 minutes before takeoff — 30 minutes less than at almost any other airport in the country — we’ve gotten there half an hour early and still made it. And if we somehow get to the wrong gate, the right one is never more than a five-minute hike away.

We like that we can park within walking distance of the checkin counter, rarely having to rely on shuttles from the outer lots.

And picking up arriving passengers is a breeze.

True, fares out of Raleigh or Charlotte are often — but not always — cheaper, but a $100 savings does not negate the awful feeling of loading into the car for a 90-minute drive after landing, especially when traveling alone. Any Greensboro resident can be home from PTI in 20 minutes, and the shot to Winston-Salem doesn’t take much longer.

We know that expansion of the airport — more carriers, more flights, more travelers — will affect the ease with which we use it, but even if activity triples, our regional airport will still not have the bustle and hassle of Charlotte, the sprawl of Raleigh.

And we recognize that geography is destiny. More travelers coming into our city via PTI means more economic activity, way more than can be generated by a downtown performance center, an arena football team or a generous tax exemption for a favored business concern.

So we say stop talking smack about our airport and start supporting it. As it grows, so does the Triad.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration .