Sunday, March 03, 2013

Why are some simple things still hard to discover online?

My Delta flight left from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) terminal 3, but Google told me a Lids store was in Terminal 1. I was looking for Lids  because #1 child wanted a USC cap, and since USC is hundreds of miles south of SFO a cap store seemed my best option.

So, I wondered, how much extra time did I need to get from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1? Was it conceivable that I'd have to exit security?

This official statement seemed pretty clear:

SFO - San Francisco International Airport - frequently asked questions

AirTrain, SFO's fully automated people mover, provides a convenient way to transfer terminals. AirTrain operates on two lines: the Red Line, which connects all terminals, terminal garages and the BART Station; and the Blue Line, which connects all terminals, terminal garages and the BART Station with the Rental Car Center. AirTrain operates 24 hours every day.

Please note that all of SFO's terminals are connected, and passengers may also transfer terminals by walking.

Yeah, pretty clear, until, looking back, you realize it doesn't say you can transfer terminals without passing through security.

In fact SFO terminals don't connect behind security. Indeed, United and Delta both have gates in Terminal 1 and you still need to exit security to pass between them.

Sprinting between gates I thought of a friend who died doing an airport sprint. So I slowed down a bit. I made my flight; an attendant met me at the checkpoint looking for her last arrival.

Oh, and there's no Lids Store in Terminal 1. Not any more. Thanks Google.

So why was it so hard to discover that SFO doesn't currently have useful connections between domestic terminals? That's the interesting bit of this post. Had I asked anyone who actually used the terminal I'd have gotten the right answer immediately, but this kind of common knowledge wasn't known to Google.

Some important questions are still hard to discover online. It would be interesting to catalog these "edge questions" and ask what they have in common.

1 comment:

GZ said...

Just heard a podcaster grumbling about this. They were grousing how it is easy to find out that this batter hit such and such for lifetime and this average in 1982 SO easily with the net.

But he wanted to know what the calories were for a Big Mac. Finding it for today - easy. Finding for what it was in 1975 ... not so much.