Tag Archives: Orlando International Airport

Random Aviation Photo

19 Apr

Back in October 2009, I was in Orlando to cover the National Business Aviation Association show, one of my favorites.  It was a great show, but I was beyond ready to go home. As I took the monorail to my terminal, I had the chance to snap this picture of the airport’s tower.  Enjoy!

Best Of Aviation Queen: Airport Concession Confessions-The Quirky Little Stores Edition

7 Feb

Editor’s note: thanks to a mishap with my ankle that landed me in the emergency room, I didn’t have a chance to write my Tuesday column. So you get a best of, which was originally published on March 31, 2011.  Enjoy!

Regular readers know about my coverage of all things airports for four years.  And by far, my favorite stories were the ones covering concessions in airports.  Back on Jan. 18, I did a post here about great wine stores/restaurants in airports.

In the second of an ongoing series, I’m writing about what I call quirky little stores.  These are my top five stores that may or may not be chains, that just happen to sell very interesting things that I’ve bought in my travels.

  1. Bijoux Terner – the motto for this chain of stores is “Luxury at $10″ – and they are serious.  They sell everything from my beloved pashima scarves (I have 12 so far) to watches to jewelry to handbags and hats — all for $10.  I’ve bought: a lovely pink silk beaded handbag/clutch with a pearl handle; a green beaded glass necklace/earring set; a red watch with a giant face; and those pashimas!
  2. Lush – I first discovered Lush in a small shop in London’s Covent Garden. The store specializes in handmade soaps, cosmetics, bath/shower products and hair/skin care products. The company has a shop across from the Food Court, pre-security, in Orlando International Airport.  My favorites are the Twilight Lavender bath bomb and Red Rooster and Sea Vegetable soaps.  Check out the Up Up & A Gay blog for his take on Lush.
  3. Stars of San Antonio – this outpost in Terminal A at San Antonio International Airport has a great selection of gourmet hot sauces that I’ve added to my collection.  They also sell Armadillo Droppings, which is the Texas answer to Louisiana pralines.
  4. Renaissance Book Shop – no offense to the usual chain bookstores in airports, but I just love this outpost at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.  They have a huge selection of used books, and I dare you to not find what you need.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and no one looks askance at you if you linger and read a book to pass the time.
  5. Creative Kidstuff — this store in Salt Lake City International Airport has one of the best selections of children’s toys and games I’ve ever seen.  Most of what they sell is educational fun items, and they don’t mind if your children touch the merchandise.

Random Aviation Photo

17 Nov

I was Orlando International Airport for a conference back in October 2009.  I was preparing to leave after a great tour of the facility.  My tour guide took me to the top of a parking lot, where I was able to snap this photo. Enjoy!

 

Airport Concession Confessions-Fast Food

8 Nov

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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?

Best Of Aviation Queen: How To Find Those Elusive Airport Power Outlets

31 May

Editor’s Note: I have a bunch of family obligations going on this week, so for today, tomorrow and Thursday, I’ll be re-posting some of my more popular topics.  The post below on power outlets in airports was first published on Jan. 27.  It’s all about the Air Power Wiki, which tells you exactly where to find those elusive outlets in hundreds of airports worldwide.  I’ve made submissions to this wiki, and I encourage you to do the same.  Enjoy!

We’ve all been there — our laptop/smartphone/iPad is running on fumes after a flight or a long delay and we’re desperate to find that power outlet.  Many a time I’ve seen people wandering an airport like the lost tribes of Israel, looking for that plug.  I’ve even seen people almost come to blows over outlets.

Airports and airlines are getting better at providing more plugs.  Several, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Newark Liberty, Los Angeles International, have power outlet poles sponsored by Samsung.  DFW Airport has a Samsung Lounge with power outlets and work stations, and Delta announced in December that it was adding recharging stations at 19 airports that will have 6 110 volt outlets as well as two USB ports.  Southwest Airlines also provides outlets and USB ports at many of its larger cities.

But there is a great resource that can help you find outlets in hundreds of airports worldwide – the Air Power Wiki.  This wiki was created by Jeff Sandquist, a team leader at Microsoft who became  frustrated when trying to find power plugs in airports.   It even has a companion Flickr group with actual pictures of some outlets and includes available free and paid wi-fi access at some airports.

So let’s say you’re stuck waiting in Phoenix/Sky Harbor International Airport (one of my personal favorites) and you need a plug.  Here’s what that entry looks like:

  • Sky Harbor plugs, Terminal 4 behind the elevators near security Photo by Benet J. Wilson

    Gate 10: to the right when facing the gate (2 outlets, chairs, good WiFi signal)

  • Gate A-17: on the pole near the bank of payphones (2 outlets)
  • Gate A 18: on the pole near the women’s restroom (2 outlets) – chair close by!
  • Gate A 18: on the wall about half way up (2 outlets) – above bank of chairs!
  • Gate A-19: under the arrival/departure televisions (2 outlets)
  • Gate A-20: on the pole near the Gate A20 sign (2 outlets)
  • Gate B-25: on the pole beside the seating near the gate desks (2 outlets)
  • Gate D-1: on granite pillar
  • Gate D-5: also on pillar facing terminal hall. Most outlets in D are covered!
  • Wireless internet service is now available free of charge to Sky Harbor visitors. It is available on both sides of security, in retail areas and near the gates at the airport. If a passenger’s laptop computer or wireless electronic device is configured to operate in a wireless mode, it will automatically connect to the internet when powered up near the shops and gates at Sky Harbor.

And yes, I’ve contributed power outlets to the wiki and pictures to the Flickr group.  Now that you know about this wiki, I hope you do the same!

 

Random Aviation Photo

30 May

Back when I was still covering the airports beat, I would always take time to wander around any airports I visited and snap away.  International gateway airports are especially fun because one, I get to see my beloved Boeing 747, and two, you can see some of the world’s flag carriers.

I got two treats in one during a visit to Orlando International Airport, when I saw this Virgin Atlantic 747 parked at the gate ready to depart.  Enjoy!

Business Travelers – And Aviation Queen – Pick Their Favorite Airports

10 May

Back in March, Gary Stoller of USA Today did an article entitled Business travelers pick their favorite airports.  I know I’m a bit behind on my articles, but I saved this one because it was all about airports.  I have spent my fair share in many airports, and I know what I like — and what I don’t.  So I’m going to weigh in on five of my personal favorites.

  1. Kansas City International Airport All photos by Benet J. Wilson

    Kansas City International Airport: this one is my hands-down favorite of all time.  Why? It’s the ultimate in easy in, easy out.  Each gate has its own TSA screener checkpoint AND its own baggage claim.  So there’s never any long lines for screening and for those who check baggage, there’s never a long wait.

  2. Jacksonville International Airport: this is one of the most customer-friendly — and focused — airports I’ve ever been in.  Everyone (and I MEAN everyone) from the janitorial staff to the concession employees to TSA screeners are warm and friendly.  And the airport is nice to look at and it’s very easy to get around.
  3. Terminal A, Boston-Logan International Airport

    Terminal A, Boston-Logan International Airport: (full disclosure-I worked at Delta and did the PR on the grand opening of this terminal.) This was one of the first terminals built after 9/11.  You can see this at the TSA security checkpoint, which was built as part of the terminal’s design, not just cobbled together after 9/11.  The terminal was the first to gain LEED certification.  It’s light and airy, has a nice mix of concessions, and again, has easy in, easy out access.

  4. Orlando International Airport: I know, I know–this is a leisure airport.  But the last few times I’ve been there, it has been for business, and Orlando is serious about getting you in and out — quickly.  For example, the airport was the first in the nation to have a registered traveler line under the old Clear program.  They monitor their security lines to keep them moving, and they have a great selection of concessions just in case you forgot to buy that last-minute souvenir.
  5. Pier A, BWI Airport

    Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport: yes, I’m throwing a bone to my home airport.  The ease to get in and out of Pier A (controlled by Southwest Airlines) can’t be beat.  It’s the first terminal you  see when arriving at the airport, and has two checkpoints that are pretty speedy.

So, do you agree? What other airports are easy in, easy out?

Random Aviation Photos – The AirTran Edition

2 May

Today is the day that the Southwest Airlines-AirTran Airways merger officially goes through.  So below are five of my favorite AirTran photos from my Flickr account.  Enjoy!

An AirTran Boeing 717 at BWI Airport (all photos by Benet J. Wilson)

An AirTran Boeing 717 at Orlando International Airport

Part of the AirTran fleet at Boston-Logan International Airport

An AirTran Boeing 737 on the tarmac at Boston-Logan International Airport

NBC News' Tom Costello prepares for a live shot on the Today Show during AirTran's first wifi flight

BONUS shot! Me with AirTran CEO Robert Fornaro on the wifi flight

Airport Concession Confessions-The Quirky Little Stores Edition

31 Mar

Regular readers know about my coverage of all things airports for four years.  And by far, my favorite stories were the ones covering concessions in airports.  Back on Jan. 18, I did a post here about great wine stores/restaurants in airports.

In the second of an ongoing series, I’m writing about what I call quirky little stores.  These are my top five stores that may or may not be chains, that just happen to sell very interesting things that I’ve bought in my travels.

  1. Bijoux Terner – the motto for this chain of stores is “Luxury at $10″ – and they are serious.  They sell everything from my beloved pashima scarves (I have 12 so far) to watches to jewelry to handbags and hats — all for $10.  I’ve bought: a lovely pink silk beaded handbag/clutch with a pearl handle; a green beaded glass necklace/earring set; a red watch with a giant face; and those pashimas!
  2. Lush, Orlando International Airport All Photos by Benet J. Wilson

    Lush – I first discovered Lush in a small shop in London’s Covent Garden. The store specializes in handmade soaps, cosmetics, bath/shower products and hair/skin care products. The company has a shop across from the Food Court, pre-security, in Orlando International Airport.  My favorites are the Twilight Lavender bath bomb and Red Rooster and Sea Vegetable soaps.  Check out the Up Up & A Gay blog for his take on Lush.

  3. Stars of San Antonio – this outpost in Terminal A at San Antonio International Airport has a great selection of gourmet hot sauces that I’ve added to my collection.  They also sell Armadillo Droppings, which is the Texas answer to Louisiana pralines.
  4. Renaissance Book Shop – no offense to the usual chain bookstores in airports, but I just love this outpost at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.  They have a huge selection of used books, and I dare you to not find what you need.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and no one looks askance at you if you linger and read a book to pass the time.
  5. Creative Kidstuff — this store in Salt Lake City International Airport has one of the best selections of children’s toys and games I’ve ever seen.  Most of what they sell is educational fun items, and they don’t mind if your children touch the merchandise.
  6. Drugs & More, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    BONUS! Drugs & More — this shop at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has all the over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics and other sundries you may need.  It’s located pre-security in the center of Terminal 4, right near the food court.

Aviation Queen’s Top 10 Favorite Airports For Shopping

1 Mar

Last week, the “Today” show website’s travel section included an article polling writers for Sherman’s Travel on their favorite airports for shopping.  I have been to –and shopped in — more airports than I care to remember, so I thought I’d share my top 10, in no particular order.

  1. All photos by Benet J. Wilson

    Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – I could spend my life in this airport, and I think they designed it like that on purpose.  I have bought everything from tulip bulbs to sunglasses.  It’s also a great airport to pick up that last-minute souvenir you forgot to get when you were actually in Amsterdam.  The prices are fair, so you don’t have to feel like you’re being ripped off.

  2. London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5 – I know, I know: everyone calls this place a shopping mall with an airport terminal attached.  That said, I really enjoyed the shopping. Heathrow is known for its alcohol tastings and they have great duty-free liquor selections.  I switched from Tanqueray 10 to Bombay Sapphire gin after a tasting at Heathrow.  And the selection at Harrods is pretty good.
  3. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — Back in November 2006, the facility rebid its retail concessions contract (my Towers and Tarmacs blog post on that is here), that brought in a bounty of new stores, including Sean Jean, Kiehl’s, Ermenegildo Zenga and Lather, among others.  And Hartsfield was the first airport to get ZoomSystems’ vending machines, which at the time sold Apple iPod products.
  4. JFK Airport JetBlue Terminal 5 — I just love the feel and design of this terminal.  And the shopping is pretty good too.  I’m a BIG fan of the Harmony Pharmacies, which sell over-the-counter drugs, beauty/cosmetics and will fill a prescription.  I went a bit nuts in Japan’s Muji store, which sells everything from travel accessories to office supplies.  I just love the shrink-wrap tshirts that are compressed into a cube that fits nicely into a carry-on bag.  I could spend hours in the Techshowcase looking at the latest in geek toys.
  5. Pittsburgh International Airport — Back in the day when it was still a hub for US Airways, the facility decided to go all out and revamp its retail concessions.  I bought shoes for the man at Johnston & Murphy and toys for my godchildren at Creative Kidstuff. They also have a Clinque store and the fabulous Pajama Shop.
  6. Orlando International Airport — The airport for amusement park central has stores from Disney, Sea World and Universal Studio.  It also has beauty/bath store Lush (a favorite from my time spent in London), the Kennedy Space Center store, Harley Davidson and Swatch watches.
  7. Incheon International Airport — a girl could lose her MIND in this airport.  The airport authority went all out to attract all the major luxury brands to the facility, including Channel, Burberry, Christian Dior, Missoni, Guess, Max Mara, Dunhill, Nina Ricci, Givenchy, Calvin Klein and  Samsonite, among others.
  8. Changi Airport — see Incheon.  Plus a bonus — if you go to the Singapore Visitors Center in any terminal and you have at least 5 hours to kill, you can get a FREE 2-hour colonial or cultural tour.
  9. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – I know this one is a surprise, but I like the shopping choices in this airport.  The Authors Bookstore is not to be missed, and there’s a nice balance of national and local brands.
  10. Vancouver International Airport – I had to include this airport.  I just love The Gourmet Shop and La Cava del Cigarro, which sells gourmet foods and has a great selection of cigars.  Although not shopping per se, Vancouver also has the Plaza Premium Lounges, which features a place to nap, eat and shower.

My list only includes airports that I’ve actually seen and experienced.  I know there are plenty of others out there, so what did I miss?

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