Rarified air

By Charlie Morasch, contributing writer

IdleAir has long prided itself on bringing many of the benefits of a hotel right into a driver’s truck. The company made its bones piping in air conditioning, heat, Internet, cable TV and electricity at 40 locations in 16 states.

Many expected the model to go away as newer, cheaper technologies came into the fold.

Fifteen years, one bankruptcy, a closing and a relaunch later, however, IdleAir remains in business and is growing.

Jeff Maurer, IdleAir’s chief listening officer, said the company is adding locations at Pilot Flying J truck stops in Beaverdam and Hubbard, Ohio, and is planning a pipeline of new locations along the Interstate 10 and I-20 corridors throughout California, Arizona, Texas, Alabama and Florida. By late July, the company planned to open its first dedicated terminal in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

“The technology landscape has changed dramatically,” Maurer said. “While there are many idle mitigation options out there, we strive to maintain the best return on investment wherever IdleAir is available – especially during hot summer weather. We have streamlined our own cost structure to be able to lower our average prices even while diesel prices have also declined.”

IdleAir offers a $1.25 per hour 40-hour Reset Special as well as a 10-hour overnight Convoy TV+Power bundle. This fall, the company will offer an electric only service in select markets for close to $1 per hour.

IdleAir wants to be available however the service can fit into a truck driver’s needs, Maurer said.

“If the weather is mild, a driver can get a fan and a screen for their window,” Maurer told Land Line. “Why spend anything extra to stay comfortable? IdleAir will be available as an affordable and efficient option on demand.”

In the future, drivers can expect more IdleAir locations, particularly in the southern U.S., Maurer said, including smaller self-service locations. Fleet terminal locations are cheaper to build and operate and average $1.49 per hour for rates, Maurer said.

Maurer said IdleAir has seen a wave of new drivers in the industry since the company’s 2010 reboot. Coming from other careers and a variety of lifestyles, the new crop of drivers have certain expectations for their off-hours, no matter where they’re parked.

The company will continue meeting new needs for 120-volt electricity to power small appliances and will keep adding higher Wi-Fi bandwidth.

“Many of these drivers want the same comforts of home and the technology to stay connected in more meaningful ways,” Maurer said. “There are two things that haven’t changed: the love of the open road and the need for a good night’s sleep after a hard day’s work.” LL