Tag Archives: travel

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

8 Jun

Uh, the flight attendants are leaving but you want US to stay on this plane?  An Air Canada pilot found himself trying to convince passengers to stay on a flight from Ottawa to Vancouver despite the flight attendants walking off over a smell from the air filter system, reports the Globe and Mail. Mail columnist Gary Mason happened to be on the flight as the drama played out over Twitter. Mason and most of the passengers (and 1 of the flight attendants) decided to stay on the flight.

There’s a difference between walking and flying? American-Iranian Muslim U.S.  citizen Kavon Iraniha is back in the USA after a year studying law in Costa Rica — and finding himself on the No-fly list, reports NBC San Diego.  As Iraniha tried to return to San Diego, he was told he was on the no-fly list. He was questioned by the FBI, but still not allowed to fly home. So he decided to fly to Tijuana, Mexico, then walk across the border.

No more snow in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested 36 people at San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport after breaking up a drug ring that smuggled more than 61,000 pounds of cocaine on passenger flights since 1999, reports MSNBC.  The sting managed to capture some current and former American Airlines employees.

That’s not the right way to do a pat-down.  Five Transportation Security Administration screeners at Southwest Florida International Airport were fired and another 38 were suspended after an investigation found that passengers weren’t being properly screened, reports NaplesNews.com. Another screener saw the problem and reported it to TSA.

Can you sue dead people? Ok, you have to follow this CNN Travel story closely, kids. Melissa Schram lost her common-law husband in a plane crash where a drunk passenger allegedly kicked the pilot’s seat, which caused the crash. You with me so far? Now Schram is suing the estate of the dead pilot, claiming he shouldn’t have let the drunk pilot on the Cessna-185F floatplane that crashed.

For the umpteenth time – drinking and flying don’t mix!! Grandmother Frances Macaskill has been ordered to repay Qantas A$18,245 after her flight from Melbourne to Perth had to return after her drunken behavior, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.  Macaskill was seen drinking duty-free liquor and began fighting with passengers and shouting profanities aboard the flight, which led to her arrest and a sentence of four months in jail and a A$3,500 fine.

Dude — you can’t sail on the runway!!  A runway at Boston-Logan International Airport was temporarily closed after an empty sailboat broke away from its mooring and running aground at 9/27, reports NYC Aviation.

So I guess the hookers, booze and poker are out too?  Airlines starting service out of Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport are traditionally greeted with showgirls and an Elvis impersonator.  But Dutch carrier ArkeFly won’t get that deal because the arrival of its first flight is too close to the arrival of President Barack Obama, who is coming to town for an official visit, reports USA Today.

The were really “stuck” on this flight.  An Allegiant Airlines flight from Phoenix to Central Nebraska Regional Airport got stuck in the dirt after the pilot made a sharp turn off the taxiway, reports the Omaha World-Herald.  The return flight was delayed nearly five hours while a new plane was brought in.

美國的航空公司的失業的工人應學漢語 (translation: Unemployed American Airline Workers Should Learn Chinese). Representatives of China’s air carriers are reaching out to American Airlines workers who may lose their jobs as the company continues to shed jobs while in Chapter 11: learn Chinese, reports Forbes. Chinese carriers are looking for cabin crews as they continue to grow.

FOAM PARTY!!! Workers at an Eagle Aviation hangar based at Texas’ Abilene Regional Airport got a surprise when they arrived at work: a facility filled with foam, reports ReporterNews.com.  A fire suppressant system went off, causing the foam to fill the hangar and the surrounding outside area.

I’m sorry, but you need to create your own caption on this one, kids. Dutch artist Bart Jansen was distraught over the deal of his cat Orville, named after Orville Wright.  So he decided to keep the dead cat with him forever by turning him into a flying helicopter, reports the Daily Mail.  He called Orville ‘half cat, half machine’, adding he had become a visual art project to pay tribute to the dead animal.

Why Delta’s ‘ Basic Economy’ Fare Is All Your Fault

5 Jun

A Delta jet at the gate in Atlanta. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Delta Air Lines has begun testing rock-bottom “basic economy” fares on selected routes — and you, the traveler, have no one but yourselves to blame.

Why is it your fault? Because you refuse to pay the higher fares that Delta and other airlines want you to. And since you refuse, they are going to get the money out of you other ways, by hook or by crook. Take a look at what fees have been introduced in the past 10 years: checked bags, food, drinks, change fees, phone booking fees and fuel surcharges, to name some.

So Delta for the past two months has been testing fares that are remarkably similar to those offered by Spirit Airlines, on some of the routes that the ultra-low-fare carrier flies, including Detroit to Orlando, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. With basic economy, travelers can’t make any changes to their itinerary, nor can they choose seats in advance.

You may hate what Spirit does (see why in this guest blog post), but you can see how other airlines have followed some of the things they do.  And someone does like the airline, because they have full flights and regularly make a profit. 

So if Delta is successful with this test, look for it to expand the basic economy fares into other markers.  And don’t be surprised if other airlines follow.

Best of Aviation Queen: Why We Travel

29 May

Editor’s note: Kids, I’m still recovering from the holiday weekend, so today you get a Best Of.  This post first appeared on the blog on Feb. 16 and was inspired by a great New York Times slide show and presentation on why we travel. Enjoy!

There’s so many bookmarks under my aviation/travel links.  The New York Times has been doing this ongoing slideshow called “Why We Travel.” It features some fantastic photos, along with the stories behind then, from the newspaper’s readers.  Looking at those slideshows got me to thinking about some of the cool places I’ve been, confirming why I travel (besides the fact that it has been a part of my job the past 20 years). So below are 10 sights I’ve seen on my travels.

  1. The vast bareness of Greenland. I was flying a 30-seat Saab 340 turboprop from Linkoping, Sweden (where the plane was built) to Minneapolis to deliver it to then-Northwest Airlink carrier Mesaba Airlines.  You just can’t fly direct on a turboprop, so we made several stops, including one in Greenland. It was cold and so stark and barren, it was almost beautiful in a bizarre sort of way.
  2. The colored roofs of Iceland. On that same trip, we spent the night in Reykjavik. As we were landing, I got to sit in the cockpit, which gave me a stellar view of this island nation’s ubiquitous colored roofs.
  3. New Year’s Eve, Times Square, New York City.  I hate crowds.  But in 2004, my sister the police detective, who lives in California, came out to the East Coast with a friend to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Times Square. We spent the day wandering the Times Square area. Everywhere we went, she chatted with cops, who were out in full force.  So as the celebration drew closer, the area went on lockdown. But we got a prime watching spot because the cops recognized my sister and gave us better and better viewing spots. Sweet!!
  4. The food halls of Singapore. During my second trip to Singapore to cover the biannual air show, me and some of my journalist friends found ourselves frequenting these great eat places.  One of my favorites was outdoors, and if you’re adventurous, just order a Tiger Beer and let your server choose what to eat. I sampled whole fried duck (which included the head and feet), chili crabs, fish ball soup and shark’s fin.
  5. Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.  I’ve been an on-again, off-again Catholic for quite a while. During one of my on phases, I happened to be in Paris for the Paris Air Show. Some friends said we should go to mass, and off we went. One of the best things is no matter what the language, you know exactly what’s going on.
  6. Honolulu International Airport. I was on my way to Indonesia for the launch of a new turboprop, and we had a 3-hour layover here.  It was pre-9/11, so I actually ventured outside to see the gardens.  The flowers were colorful and beautiful, and I can still smell them to this day.
  7. Embraer aircraft plant, Gavião Peixoto, Brazil.  I was on one of my many visits to this Brazilian manufacturer, which is headquartered in São José dos Campos.  We flew a small jet to this city, located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, which is home to, among other things, the assembly lines for the Embraer 190 and 195 jets and final assembly for Phenom business jets. I noticed was how incredibly green and lush the region was, home to sugar cane fields and orange groves.
  8. The Corn Palace, Mitchell, S. Dakota. Back in 1992, completely burned out from a very stressful job, I quit and decided to take a road trip across America with my friend Mark, who was moving to Seattle to do his medical residency. Since neither of us was in a rush, we took the scenic route, which included a trip to this facility, which features ever-changing murals made out of corn on the outside walls and colorful onion domes.  The moon landing — in corn. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — in corn. The Iwo Jima flag raising — in corn. You get the picture.
  9. Bandung, Indonesia. This city, about 110 miles southeast of Jakarta, is the third-largest city in the country and was home to aircraft manufacturer Industri Pesawat Terbang Nurtanio (IPTN, now Indonesian Aerospace). I was there for the roll-out of the IPTN N-250, which never took to the skies. But the highlight for me was to see an amazing display of Dutch colonial architecture, defined by the tropical Art Deco style. Amazing buildings I saw included the Institut Teknologi Bandung, the Hotel Savoy Homann and Villa Isola.
  10. Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.  This was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, near the McDowell Mountains. It serves as the home for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and offers tours and programming year-round. When I lived in Phoenix, I actually bought a membership and took visitors on tours of this estate. I was never bored, because each guide at the facility always managed to tell me something about Wright that others missed.

Speaking of missed, why do you travel?  What are some of the more interesting or off-the-beaten-path places you’ve seen in your travels?

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

25 May

She was left to her own “devices.”  A French woman born in Cameroon caused a US Airways flight from Paris to Charlotte to divert to Bangor, Maine after claiming to be carrying a surgically implanted device, reports Reuters. The woman was questioned by Customs and Border Protection and taken into custody by the FBI.

Maybe Breathalyzers might help. India’s civil aviation minister reports that 14 pilots and 31 crew members were caught reporting for duty under the influence of alcohol between January and March, reports the Times of India. Most of the offenders worked at Jet Airways, it added.

It looks like things flared up in Philly.  A US Airways Express flight from Elmira, N.Y., to Philadelphia experienced a close call when allegedly a flare was shot up around 50 feet of the Dash 8 turboprop, reports USA Today.  The flight landed safely.

A change might be due. Officials at Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport say they are looking at making changes as their security checkpoint after a Piedmont Airlines pilot managed to bring a loaded gun onto a flight, reports the Daily Progress.  The pilot was charge with attempting to carry a weapon or explosive on an aircraft.

FORE!! Staff at Florida’s Hallandale Beach golf course found a big surprise on the greens — an aircraft door, reports the Daily Mail.  The door had fallen off a  Canadair CL60 jet that had just taken off from Opa Locka Executive Airport.

Watch what you say!  A female flight attendant on Brazil’s Trip Airlines had a male passenger tossed off a flight after he was heard making disparaging remarks about the crew’s woman pilot, reports MSNBC.

Hot DOG!  Detroit-based American Coney Island restaurant decided to celebrate its 95th anniversary in a unique way.  It teamed with a local radio station to rent a helicopter to dump almost 1,000 hot dogs and have 25 contestants stuff as many of them on their persons as possible, reports ABC News.  The winner received $1,000 and a year’s supply of hot dogs.

We’ll end the week with a video from our good friends at the New York Aviation website. In this video, a passenger records how the engine cover on a TAM Airbus A320 traveling from Natal to Sao Paulo breaks off and hurls itself into the side of the plane.

INFOGRAHPIC Mobile Dependence: A Growing Trend in Business Travel

10 May

Today we have a twist on the usual Random Aviation Photo.  Our new friends over at PC Housing, a temporary housing provider, sent me this cool infographic that explores the relationship between mobile technology and the business travel population.  I can see myself in more than one of these graphics. Enjoy!!

 

Right Or Wrong? Southwest Sued Over Obese Passenger Policy

7 May

This headline on ABC News – ‘Too Fat To Fly’ Passenger Sues Southwest Airlines For ‘Discriminatory Actions’ - caught my eye, since I’ve blogged several times (here and here).  For my newer readers, I am a woman of size – rubenesque, as it were — but I can still fit in one seat. So I understand the sensibilities on both sides.

I happen to agree with — and appreciate — Southwest Airlines’ policy of how it deals with passengers of size.  But I also see the point of Kenlie Tiggeman, the overweight passenger who was originally judged too fat to fly, who filed the lawsuit.

The problem with the Southwest policy, as Tiggeman (and I) sees it, is the inconsistency in how it is administered.  I’m all for having a row of seats at the end of a ticket counter placed behind a screen if an agent feels someone might not fit into their seat. The issue is that as humans, we all have our own views and prejudices.  I’m betting that if you put Tiggeman in front of 10 different gate agents or even 10 different travelers and asked if she was “too fat to fly,” you’d get myriad different answers.

A few years ago, my daughter and I were flying Southwest home from San Antonio on a full flight.  She was still using her SkyMall stroller/car seat. She was at the window (she can’t block a passenger in) and I was in the middle seat.  A man “of size” came to sit in the aisle seat. I knew it was going to be a tight fit — and it was.

Several flight attendants came by and looked at him, but didn’t say a word. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be rude. I should have. That was the longest 3.5 hour flight of my life.  A passenger who has paid for a seat should not be forced to have a passenger of size taking up their space.

So my wish is that before this goes to court, Tiggeman and Southwest Airlines come up with  a plan that balances the needs of passengers of size to have a consistent second-seat policy with the rights of “normal” sized passengers who deserve to have their own whole seat.

So, what do you think? Is Tiggeman right to sue Southwest Airlines? Do you think Southwest Airlines’ Customer of Size policy?  Tell me!!

The ORIGINAL Strange But True Aviation News

4 May

Did the baby get a pat-down? The Transportation Security Administration found itself closing Terminal C at Newark Liberty Airport after agents failed to screen a baby, reports Gizmodo.  TSA lost track of the family, so the Port Authority shut down the terminal and rescreened all travelers.

Nabbed!!  Employees at US Airways’ hub in Phoenix were dubbed heroes after they captured a prisoner being transferred from Detroit to Yavapai County, reports KTVK-TV. The prisoner had escaped from  two sheriff’s deputies who were escorting him.

This airport has gone to the dogs! A 30-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy escaped from his kennel during a transfer at LaGuardia Airport, causing the facility to close for 10 minutes while we was recaptured, reports USA Today.

This ISN’T Candid Camera! Grant Calderone received a warning letter from the FAA after he used his iPad to videotape a bird strike aboard a Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Los Angeles, reports CNN. The letter said his record would be expunged after two years.

2, 4, 6, 8 – what airport do we appreciate? Go Dalian Airport!  China’s Dalian International Airport has found a unique way to soothe travelers when their flights are delayed — cheerleaders, reports CNN.  The airport had the cheerleaders perform during a recent  fog delay.

We’ll end the week with a video I learned about from our good friends at the Brown Girls Fly blog.  It’s around the world, to 17 Countries in 343 Days and 6237 Photographs. Enjoy!

Randy Peterson To Airports: My Observations (Part 3)

26 Apr

So here we are at Part 3 of frequent-flyer Randy Peterson‘s thoughts on the good and bad in airports. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.  I have been to more than my fair share of the world’s airports, and as I listened to Peterson, I found myself nodding in agreement with some of his observations and disagreeing with others.  So below, I offer my thoughts on five of the good and bad things about airports.

Don’t Change a Thing…What your Customers Like

I agree with Peterson on Number 10, Top Chef.  I love different concepts and local/regional brands that have popped up in airports.  One of my favorites is Vino Volo, which offers premium wines by the bottle and the glass. They also offer flights of wine with tasting notes.  Interestingly enough, I ate Torta Frontera food at Chicago O’Hare with Peterson and I’d gladly fly through O’Hare to eat it again.

I’m an iPhone freak who loves her apps. In Number 5, Peterson mentioned one of my favorite apps — GateGuru.  This s my go-to app when I need to find a retail outlet, restaurant or service. I paid $2.99 for the app, but it’s now free. You not only get directions to what you’re looking for, but you get folks like me (AviationQueen) who give reviews on the listed services.

Not only do I travel, but I’m always picking someone up from the airport, so I’m with Peterson on the convenience of cell phone lots, Number 4. My favorite is at Phoenix-Sky Harbor Airport. There’s plenty of space, you can do great plane spotting and the airport has billboards with phone numbers of all the airports so you can check on flight status.

I am a BIG fan of art in airports just like Peterson, so Number 3 appeals to me.  San Francisco (my original hometown airport) has the best art I’ve seen in airports.  I’m also a big fan of what I’ve seen in Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Hartsfield-Jackson and Pittsburgh.

Shopping is fun — and a sport — for me. Back when I worked for Mesa Air Group in Phoenix, I used to fly through Pittsburgh regularly just for the shopping, as outlined in Number 1.  I love how airports have really stepped up their game in the shopping arena. Some of my favorites are Hartsfield-Jackson, Orlando, JetBlue’s JFK Airport Terminal 5 and Seattle-Tacoma.

Time to Rethink…This is When Customers Gripe

Now we get to the not-so-fun part — what airports need to work on.

In Number 10, Peterson bemoaned slow WiFi and pay WiFi (yes, that means you, BWI and Hartsfield-Jackson), and I agree with him 100%. We all like to surf the web, check email and upload/download content.  I appreciate the free WiFi, but it does me no good if it takes too long to download the latest picture of my beautiful child or open an attachment on my email.

I have the TSA app on my iPhone. One function on it is security checkpoint line wait times.  Good idea in concept, but when people don’t update it for days, it does no good, although I post my wait times faithfully. So like Peterson I’d love to see an app (Number 8) that gives more accurate wait times to cut anxiety.

Ah…airport floors. My behind has seen more of my fair share of airport floors (Number 7), and frankly, kids, I’m getting too old for it. I, like Peterson, would like to see more chairs in gate holding areas.

When I worked at Delta Air Lines, I got to be part of the team that opened the new Terminal A at Boston-Logan International Airport. One of my favorite parts was mentioned in Number 6 — the bathrooms.  The bathrooms in Terminal A were wide a spacious, and the stalls had more than enough room to bring in a purse and a rollerboard. Unfortunately, there are still too many facilities that can’t — or won’t — adjust accordingly.

And our Number 1 is the same — Power To The People. I’m usually the most popular girl in the airport. Why? I carry the Belkin Mini Surge Protector with three plugs and two USB ports. It is amazing how many friends I’ve made sharing my surge protector with people whose phone were mere bars away from death. Airports are doing better (thanks DFW and Boston Logan), but we need more plugs!!

Randy Peterson To Airports: Give The Travelers What They Want (Part 2)

25 Apr

In yesterday’s episode, frequent-flyer guru Randy Petersen used a webinar hosted by New York-based Clear, which offers a shorter airport security checkpoint experience for travelers, to discuss the good and bad in airports.  The shorter version of this post appeared Monday on the APEX Editor’s blog.

Peterson took a page from David Letterman and did a top 10 list about airports,  “Don’t Change a Thing…What your Customers Like.”  As promised, we have part two of his top 10 list, “Time to Rethink…This is When Customers Gripe.”

Number 10 is Why Sigh.  “Airports have slow WiFi speeds. These systems need to be modernized so we can upload photos quickly. We already feel like we’ve paid for WiFi with all the airport fees.  So modernize and stop charging and we’ll love you for improving our experience,” he said.  “It also makes you look good.”

Number 9 is the 80/20 rule.  In airport security, travelers spend 80% of their time waiting for someone to check their drivers’ license and 20 percent is going through security, said Peterson.  “Something is wrong with that.  In some it’s the airport and some is the Transportation Security Administration,” he said. “The lines are the lines, so airports need to work with the government and the infrastructure to stop long lines just to check IDs.”

Number 8 is Til It’s Time To Go. There’s a lot of anxiety for road warriors, said Peterson.  “We’re waiting for things like buses to the terminal. There’s a lot of anxiety on whether will I make my flight,” he said.  “Of the 73 apps on my iPhone, 42 will tell me airport security checkpoint wait times, but they don’t tell me my personal wait times. It would be good to know how long a wait is at given points.”

TSA says anxiety is a sign of a terrorist, said Peterson. “No. It’s anxiety to get on your flight.  Just et us know if we will make our flight.”

Number 7 is Sitting Not So Pretty. “Its uncivilized to sit on the floor waiting for your flight. I won’t sit on a floor,” said Peterson. “Airports need more chairs to match the size of an average aircraft.  We don’t sit on the floor at a restaurant or in the doctor’s office. It doesn’t look good when half of your people sitting on floor at a gate.”

Number 6 is Two-Lane Highway Versus The Interstate. Peterson uttered two words: narrow bathrooms.  “I have crashed into other folks with rollerboards because bathroom entrances are abysmal and badly designed,” he said.

Number 5 is Drag And Drop. There’s always a conga line at Immigration, standing in line having to kick their luggage, said Peterson. “Sometimes I have to hold it for 45 minutes, then put it on the floor, move three feet – it’s kick the can,” he said.  “I’m getting too old to pick up my belongings.  There must be some way for those lines to be structured. Can we invent better way do to this?”

Number 4 is Do You Know Who I Am? “I’m an important guy. I have a titanium card and I have access to an airline premium line,” said Peterson. “I’m in different cities like Boise, and I don’t know where airports have these designated security lines.  I’m in a long line, and I see a small sign that says premium passenger line here.  So get better signage.  We have egos, so show us where to go to get the premium lines.”

Number 3 is Beware What You Wish For.  Congress wants to get rid of premium lines and have airports do their own security, said Peterson.  “I don’t think it will work. Security is not just guys with a black light checking licenses.  Where will you find the money to do biometrics?” he asked.

The folks from Clear got my attention in Denver and I like what I see, said Peterson.  “I see there’s less manual processes in security.  Can DIA do this without Clear? Can TSA?” he asked.  “Security is not like the old days.  Where will the money come from? I’d prefer to let Clear take my money.”

Number 2 is No I Can’t Hear You Now.  “When a flight is delayed, I can’t always hear what’s going on.  Plus I move to another area because they have more seats (see Number 7),” said Peterson.  “Airports and airlines need a better way, like social media or apps, to get information out to passengers.”

Number 1 is Power To The People.  We all can see the huddled masses on the cold floor near the trash cans plugged in, said Peterson.  Programs and apps suck the life out of travelers’ devices, he added.  “I see some airports have power poles, but it’s not enough.  Smart road warriors bring their own power strips and extension cords, but that’s an accident waiting to happen. We need more and we need it to be accessible.”

Tomorrow: my own observations on some of Randy Peterson’s comments.

Randy Peterson To Airports: Give The Travelers What They Want (Part 1)

24 Apr

Me with frequent-flyer guru Randy Peterson in July 2011 at United Airlines' Red Carpet Club at Chicago O'Hare.

On Friday, I got to attend a “virtual cocktail party” (the virtual lychee Martinis were divine) online webinar with frequent-flyer guru Randy Petersen.  The event, entitled “The Airport Experience:  Insight from Customers,” was hosted by New York-based Clear, which offers a shorter airport security checkpoint experience for travelers.  The shorter version of this post appeared yesterday on the APEX Editor’s blog.

Peterson took a page from David Letterman and did two top 10 lists:  “Don’t Change a Thing…What your Customers Like” and “Time to Rethink…This is When Customers Gripe.”  So part one of this post covers the good things airports are doing.  Come back tomorrow to see some of the not-so-good things airports are doing, according to Peterson. And on Thursday, I’ll offer my own thoughts on Peterson’s observations.

Number 10 is Top Chef.  Peterson praised airports for bringing a “Top Chef” mentality to concessions by bringing in restaurants like celebrity chef Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera at Chicago O’Hare.  “I love name brands and local flavors in airports. I never look at the price tag at Frontera. Frequent flyers like quality and are willing to pay for it,” he said. “I just learned that Blanco Tacos + Tequila is coming to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, and I will try and route through Phoenix more to get this food. Local brands catch my attention.”

Number 9 is Fill ‘er Up.  “I’m a busy road warrior who loves expediency and things that save me time, like Clear,” said Peterson.  “I love the fact that some airports have valet parking.  I may be running late and don’t want to catch a bus from the parking lot.  They also have extra services, like car washes and oil changes.”

“Chores like this take me away from the fun things I can do. I go on a trip, and when I return, my car is clean and oiled,” said Peterson.  “We love airports as entrepreneurs. It make it easier for us, and shows that they are looking at lives of frequent flyers.”

Number 8 is Check It Out. Peterson said he is a big fan of people watching at airports. “Many airports are making it easier to do, with better seating.  I love to sit in the rocking chairs at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and watch the world go by,” he said. “I sit and guess what people are doing.  He’s wearing flip flops – is he going to the Caribbean? There’s a little People magazine in all of us. “

Number 7 is Couch Potatoes.  “When there’s a delay, we like comfortable chairs and couches. Seeing that in an airport blows me away,” said Peterson.  “I can sink back in a chair with my iPad. That’s comfy and I feel more at home like that.”

Number 6 is Chicken Or Beef.  Airlines gave us that choice, said Peterson.  “It’s not much of a choice, but it is a choice.  If you look at ways to get through the airport, like Clear, it  lets you get though pressure points quicker.  We like having a choice.  I don’t mind paying a fee if there’s a faster way through. Faster is good.”

Number 5 is Like You? Peterson has 73 apps on his iPhone that he barely uses, and airports want to give him another one. Instead of building separate smartphone apps, Peterson urged airports to work with existing offerings including TripIt and GateGuru (my personal favorite).  Give them the information so we can have it all in one place. I know you want your own app, but support the leaders and know that your information is included.”

Number 4 is It’s Not All About Me. “I have a lot of people in my life who are involved in my travel, even at the airport.  I love airports that have cell phone waiting lots,” said Peterson.  “It was aggravating to pay for parking and wait.  Now we have a secure zone where we can wait.”

Number 3 is Public Displays of Affection. Peterson noted that he doesn’t go to art museums, but loves public art. “So it’s fun and interesting to have them in airports.  I love San Francisco Airport,” he said. “I never take the moving sidewalks there. I like to see the displays of interesting and educational things, like the sewing machine display.  I thank airports for enriching my life and making me feel smarter when I get home.”

Number 2 is Kids Fly Free.  Airport play areas are great for kids, said Peterson. “Kids are road warriors too, so they’re part of the experience, so they need a playground where they can yell and have fun,” he said.  Minneapolis-St. Paul and other airports are doing a great job of building kid zones, he added.

And Number 1 is The Real Mall of America.  “I love see `coming soon’ banners at the airport like you see at shopping malls.  Travelers are no longer just looking for souvenirs. I’m now shopping for myself and m family,” said Peterson.  “When I bring a Coach purse from Minneapolis-St. Paul for my wife, it’s not a souvenir. It makes me the guy who brought that purse home.”  Peterson admits that when he’s on a business trip, he has no time to shop downtown.  “But I can do that at the airport, which has become the real Mall of America.”

Tomorrow: Time to Rethink…This is When Customers Gripe.

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