Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Renting a car at Burbank airport? little problem

passing through Bob Hope Airport in Burbank can leave you downright dirty these days. The handrails on recently installed moving walkways are leaving some travelers’ hands covered in black grime.

How dirty? Well, bless the woman at the Avis counter who saw me approaching a few days ago and sympathetically pulled out a tub of wet wipes so I could clean the fingers and palm of my right hand.

The agent told me she had stocked up on the wipes after witnessing a steady stream of customers arriving at the new rental car facility with sooty hands. She said the culprit was the handrails.

If you haven’t been to Burbank’s compact airport in the last three months, you’re in for a surprise. The rental cars used to be parked in an oh-so-convenient lot right outside the terminal.

But to accommodate an expanding fleet and to allow seven rental car companies to move onto the airport from satellite locations, a new, three-story garage was built out along Hollywood Way. It opened in July.

The new facility--and the Amtrak/Metrolink rail station just across the street--are now accessed by an elevated platform. Three moving walkways shorten the trek to and from the terminal.

Airport spokesperson Victor Gill wasn’t aware of the issue when I contacted him, but he soon discovered that the airport operations team knew all about the messy matter. Gill said they had already obtained “an emergency purchase order” to cover the cost of cleaning.

The first wipe-down, conducted sometime around Oct. 22, didn’t work, as I discovered a few days later. On Thursday, Gill and some other airport employees tested the handrails for themselves.

“We easily replicated your experience,” he told me. In the future, the janitorial team will be directly supervised by airport staff so the need for a wipe-down can be eliminated.

Gill, however, acknowledged that at least some of the black residue could be coming from the rubber rails themselves. If that’s the case, regular cleanings may not solve the problem.