My hometown airport is Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. You can click on my BWI tag to see my past posts on why I I love my airport. Every time I depart from the airport, I take a nice pile of pictures. In the shot below, I saw Southwest Airlines’ Shamu Boeing 737; in the background is a McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Enjoy!
- Have you seen the April issue of Airline Passenger Experience magazine? Editor Mary Kirby has been hitting it out of the park with great content, with stories on the science of aircraft boarding, the fun of onboard retail therapy and the ongoing debate on paid versus free WiFi. Full disclosure — I have a ball writing a regular column for the magazine (this month, I review the food offerings in JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK Airport).
- Former FlightGlobal reporter Jon Ostrower hit the ground running in his new gig as the aerospace beat reporter for the Wall Street Journal a day early, writing about how tornadoes in Wichita affected aircraft and aerospace manufacturers.
- My flight instructor, Alyssa Miller, has a great job. She spent this week writing for the AOPA Pilot Blog about a major photo shoot of the timed departure of 20 B-25 World War II bombers.
- Was everyone else geeking out over the last “flight” of the space orbiter Discovery as it made its way to the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space museum yesterday? I saw a lot of great photos, but the one shot by Steve Trimble of FlightGlobal (from his office in Old Town Alexandria, Va.) was by far the best I saw.
- I know we all have to get paid, but one has to question the timing of Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines. Weeks before the carrier filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection on April 2, its board gave two top executives healthy pay raises even as it was asking for employee paycuts, reports USA Today. Maybe the raises were justified, but the timing was not good.
- I had to take a flight out of my hometown BWI Airport on Saturday at the crack of dawn. I was surprised at how crowded both security checkpoints were in Concourse A. But I saw a small sign posting about a new security line on the baggage claim level. I scooted down, and the line was practically empty. I had a good laugh with four other folks who saw me leave and followed me downstairs. So check and see if your airport has lower level security lines!
I’ll end this rant with the video clip, below. Mary “Runway Girl” Kirby left FlightGlobal in December and Jon “Flightblogger” Ostrower left last week. But I always enjoyed their videos from the major air shows. So enjoy their last one, from the Paris Air Show in 2011.
Regular readers know I covered the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as a beat for about four years. I learned the good, the bad and the ugly about an agency that is about as popular as the IRS. I think we all understand the need for airport security.
But what frustrates me, and many others, is the inconsistency in implementing its policies. For example, my daughter has been flying since she was 10 days old, but until recently, she still had to take her shoes off. And a big pet peeve with me, as the daughter and granddaughter of Air Force officers, is why military personnel in uniform have to go through the same screening as the rest of us. I’d hate to have to take off those boots all the time!
So I’m happy to see that TSA is trying to ease the process, just in time for the holidays. First, TSA is testing expedited screening for military members at California’s Monterey Regional Airport, reports CNN. Under the pilot, soldiers still have to go through screening, but it would be expedited, similar to the PreCheck program currently being tested with frequent travelers on Delta Air Lines in Atlanta and Detroit and on American Airlines at Miami and Dallas/Fort Worth.
Back in 2008, TSA introduced airport self-select lanes at Denver International and Salt Lake City International airports. These lanes allowed travelers to choose from 3 lanes — Families & Special Assistance, Casual Traveler and Expert Traveler. When the lanes worked, they worked very well. Business travelers well versed in security weren’t stuck behind families with lots of stuff to unload. And TSA screeners were there to guide travelers to their correct lanes. But it seemed like a year or so later, the lines seemed to have petered off — until now.
The Hill wrote about a Nov. 15 post on the TSA Blog that is encouraging holiday travelers to use the lanes again. But it looks like they are only bringing back the family lane, which I guess is better than nothing. I do hope that they’ll have TSA screeners to guide travelers like they did when the program was first launched. Have a great Thanksgiving!
We’ve all been to the airport where we just want to get something quick to eat, and either sit down or take it with us on our flight. We look for the familiar places — McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, etc. — where we know exactly what we’re getting. I love the convenience and quickness of fast food, but I also like to get something off the beaten path. So below are five fast food outlets I suggest you try on your next trip. Enjoy!
- TIE! The Salt Lick, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport AND Arthur Bryant BBQ, Kansas City International Airport — I come from a long like of grill masters on both sides of my family (shout out to Uncle Charles), so I know my barbecue. Both of these iconic barbecue places have outlets in the airport, and you can smell them before you even see them. Get the brisket at the Salt Lick and the Sausage sandwich with sweet heat sauce at Bryant’s.
- Dish D’lish, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — I once had to spend almost 6 hours at this airport (another story for another time). Of course, I was hungry and I had plenty of time to look at post-security food outlets. I also saw people flocking into the airport branch of this outlet for its sandwiches and salads. I had a chicken salad sandwich that i still dream about 4 years later!
- California Tortilla, BWI Airport — I have to commend my hometown airport for having such a great selection of fast food outlets, especially in the A/B Concourse. And my favorite is this outlet, which serves a great variety of TexMex burritos, tacos, fajitas, quesedillas and salads, along with chips and a fantastic selection of hot sauces. My favorite was a Thai chicken burrito, but it’s no longer on the menu. So instead, I recommend the Crunchy BBQ Ranch Chicken Burrito. Ole!
- Deep Blue Sushi On The Fly, JFK Airport, Terminal 5 — I’m a big fan of the food options JetBlue has in its signature terminal. I’m a big sushi lover, and I always go to the carry-out version of this great restaurant. Splurge a little on one of their signature rolls. I’m partial to the King Crab California Roll, myself!
- Krispy Kreme Donuts, Orlando International Airport — I love these donuts, and they taste just as good in the pre-security food court at the airport. And you even get the iconic Hot Donuts sign!
So, dear readers — what is your go-to fast food joint at the airport? What can I try the next time I fly?
On Sunday, I was checking my Facebook account when I saw a post from my friend Michelle, who was upset about having to pay for WiFi at Los Angeles International Airport. She had left her hotel early (which DID have free WiFi), so she could do work at the airport.
I explained that just like at home, or if you own a WiFi card, it costs airports to provide that service. And in the past 10 years, airports have been squeezed on the revenue side thanks to airline mergers and service cuts, paying for unfunded mandates and underfunded Federal Aviation Administration programs that cover a facilities.
So with that, airports have to find a way to cover those costs. Some, like Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, offer free WiFi in exchange for looking at on-screen advertising. Some have a company or companies sponsor their WiFi. Others, like Boston Logan, ask you to fill out a survey or watch a video to get free WiFi for an hour, then switch you over to a provider where you pay from there.
Others — including LAX, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and my hometown Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport — partner with companies like Boingo for paid WiFi.
So before your next trip, check out the websites below to see if you’re getting free WiFi or if you’re going to be shelling out for the privilege!
- Free WiFi Airports – WiFi Guide
- Free Wi-Fi in Airports
- Jaunted’s Airport WiFi Map
- Air Power Wiki (covers WiFi AND power outlets)
Editor’s note: I’m in Philadelphia this week attending the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention. I won’t fool myself into thinking I’ll actually post this week since I’m presenting and hosting several other side events. The post below first appeared on my blog on Jan. 11, 201. Enjoy!!
I covered the airports beat for almost four years. There was never a dull moment, and among my favorite stories to write were about concessions in the airport.
Remember the old days when most airports’ concessions consisted of “restaurant,” “snacks,” and “news stand?” Well, those days are over, for most airports, anyway. The light bulb went on and airports realized that they had a captive audience that had time to kill and was willing to spend money to pass the time away. I’m a big wine fan, and several of the dozens of airports I’ve visited have some great wine concepts. Below are four of my favorites. I’ll share more of my favorite concessions, by category, in the coming months.
Vino Volo – what a perfect concept. Drink world-class wines by the glass or a flight, eat savory snacks and sit at a roomy table with an outlet. What’s not to love? And bonus-you can buy their wines by the bottle and take them with you to your final destination.
- Vintage Washington Wine Bar – this is a nice little oasis at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I like ths place because it showcases Oregon and Washington state wines.
- La Bodega Winery - my family is from Texas, and they are quite fond of Texas wines. They’ve become a favorite for me too. And this little slice of paradise at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is a favorite for me. And don’t worry-if you’re scared to try Texas wines, they have a great selection of wines from around the world.
- Cibo Bistro and Wine Bar - I had an unexpectedly long layover once in Philadelphia International Airport when one of my fellow passengers told me about this place. It has a great wine selection by the glass and some really great bistro food.