Harriet Baskas

How one airport keeps animals away from airplanes

I’m working on a story about wildlife management at airports and this week did a ride-along with Nick Atwell, the  Aviation Wildlife Hazard manager at Portland International Airport.

His team is responsible for keeping animals – mostly birds, but also coyotes -away from airplanes, and one of the tools they use are home-made traps like the one above that allow birds to be safely captured, and then banded and relocated.

“Sometimes we drive them a few hours away,” Atwell told me, “Sometimes we fly them to Seattle and take them to the Canadian border.”

Here are some snaps of a few other tools the PDX wildlife team uses to keep birds away:

These and other images and stories gathered from airports around the country will be part of my next “At the Airport” column on USA TODAY.

Find free ice-cream on National Ice Cream Day

National Ice Cream Day is Sunday, July 15 and there will be plenty of opportunities for people – and pets – to score free frozen treats and great deals on ice cream creations.

Here are some of the free offers and events planned.

On Sunday, July 15 participating Carvel shops will offer a buy one-get one (BOGO) free deal on any size soft ice cream cup or cone.

Dippin’ Dots is celebrating its 30th anniversary on National Ice Cream Day by giving away prizes and free mini cups of Dippin’ Dots during a two-hour window at participating locations.

Ice-cream fans who download the Baskin-Robbins Mobile App will get special offers for use only on National Ice Cream Day, including BOGO Cone offer for 99-cent sundaes and $2 off a medium Milkshake. To cap off National Ice Cream Month, on Tuesday, July 31, all regular and kid-sized ice scream scoops will be $1.50.

For the fourth year running, participating Your Pie fast-casual pizza locations around the country will be offering customers a fee scoop of Italian gelato on National Ice Cream Day. (Use the hashtag #ypfreegelato to share your gelato experience for a chance to win free gelato for a year.)

In New York City, which has experienced record high temperatures this summer, there are several special deals on tap for National Ice Cream Day:

Camp Arlo, located in the courtyard of the Arlo Soho in Lower Manhattan, is partnering with Tipsy Scoop to offer complimentary scoops of the limited edition “Frosè All Day” (white Peach sorbet infused with Notorious Pink Rosè) to the first 50 guests (21 and over) starting at noon. (After that, the slightly boozy scoops are $5 each).

Also in New York City, on July 15, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream and Winky Lux cosmetics are teaming to give away free mochi ice cream to in flavors such as Ripe Strawberry, Sweet Mango, Green Tea and Salted Caramel. (Register for this free event here.) New York’s Nickel & Diner will be offering complimentary mini home ice cream cones to brunch customers from 11 AM to 4 PM.

Lucky pups in New York City get free treats too: On National Ice Cream Day, Wag!, the on-demand pet walking and boarding app will roll a cart into the Central Park Dog Park area to serve up free dog-friendly treats from 2 to 6 pm.

Nationwide, PetSmart is celebrating National Ice Cream Day on both Saturday July 14 and Sunday July 15 with complimentary four-ounce servings of dog-safe ice cream at PetSmart stores with PetsHotel facilities.

Head out on the Ice-Cream Trail

In Utica, Ohio, Velvet Ice Cream and its Ye Old Mill attraction are celebrating National Ice Cream Month throughout July, with specials and events including free entertainment each Sunday and $1 single-dip sugar or cake cones on National Ice Cream Day (July 15)

Velvet Ice Cream is just one of the stops on the newly launched 15-stop Ohio Ice Cream Trail.

The Buckeye State, which boasts to being where both banana splits and ice cream cones were created, is inviting ice-cream fans to cast a vote for their favorite stop on the ice-cream trail for a chance to win a year’s worth of Velvet Ice Cream.

Ohio isn’t the only state with an Ice Cream Trail. New Hampshire’s ice-cream trail including about 50 ice-cream shops in the Granite State and Indiana’s I Scream for Ice Cream Trail has more than 20 stops listed. Maryland, which lays claim to being the first place on the continent where ice-cream was served (1744) and the first state to boast an ice cream factory (1853) issues an ice cream passport. And New York State has an ice cream trail that winds through the Adirondacks.

 

Want: KLM’s cute little suitcase-toting robot

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cute little robot to tote your carry-on around the airport and to the gate?

KLM is testing that idea out with its prototype self-driving cart – called KLM Care-E – that is designed to escort a passenger through the airport and carry their luggage for them.

The airline will be testing this out at JFK and SFO this summer, drawing stares and collecting data on autonomous technology at airports along the way.

KLM says the units will use non-verbal sounds to greet passengers after security and somehow prompt them to scan their ticket barcodes.

Then the unit will use GPS data to navigate through the terminal to their gate and – somehow – understand if a passenger wants to stop at a shop, restaurant or restroom along the way.

(Will the cute little blue cart wait outside the restroom with your stuff or try to go with you into the stall? That’s my first question..)

KLM says Care-E will move at 3 mph (the average human walking pace) and is designed to know if there’s a boarding gate change.

“We wanted to surprise our customers with an airport concept that was an extension of our friendly, smiling staff,” said Boet Kreiken, Executive Vice President Customer Experience at KLM. “We have the ambition to revolutionize the delivery of care through the power of existing innovations and move diagnostics from the laboratory to where our customer really is. ”

KLM worked with product development firm 10xBeta to create these e-carts, which are scheduled for 2-day long trials at JFK and SFO in July and August.

Sadly, KLM says it is only testing the interaction between machines and humans and has no plans to roll out permanent or additional Care-E carts anytime soon.

I miss the little carts already!

Portland tops T+L list of 10 Best Domestic Airports – again

For the sixth year running, Portland International Airport, with it free movie theater, cool shops, celebrity carpet and long list of other amenties, has come out on top of the  Travel + Leisure’s list of Best Domestic Airports for 2018.

And, as you might imagine, the folks there are awfully pleased.

“The credit for this accomplishment goes to our Portland International Airport team—the more than 10,000 who always deliver the best travel experience you’ll find anywhere,” Curtis Robinhold, Port of Portland executive director said in a statement. “The caring spirit of our PDX team, served up with local restaurants and shops, gives PDX its much-loved heart and character, reflecting the very best our region offers.”

Here are all 10 airports airports that made this year’s list

1. Portland International Airport

2. Indianapolis International Airport

3. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

4. Tampa International Airport

5. Pittsburgh International Airport

6. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

7. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport

8. John Wayne Airport, Orange County, CA

9. Palm Beach International Airport

10. Dallas Love Field

Travel + Leisure has been inviting readers to rate airports since 2013 on categories such as access, check-in and security, restaurants/bars, shopping and design.

Do you agree with the list? Which airports would you add?

Southwest Airlines nixes peanuts starting August 1

Giving way to the concerns of passengers who have peanut allergies, Southwest Airlines has announced that, as of August 1, it will stop serving those tiny little packets of peanuts during flights.
“Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest’s history and DNA,” the airline said in a statement, “However, to ensure the best on-board experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning August 1.”
On its website, Southwest has told passengers with peanut allergies that if they made a note in their reservation, an effort would be made to make sure no peanuts would be served on their flights. But that didn’t always work out.
Other airlines stopped serving peanuts long ago, but for Southwest peanuts are part of the company’s branding. The airline is often “nuts” about this or that and has a quarterly newsletter called “In a Nutshell.”
Starting next month, the airline hopes passengers will pleased with the pretzels that continue to be served on flights, along with the other free snacks distributed on longer flights.

“Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where all customers—including those with peanut-related allergies—feel safe and welcome on every Southwest flight,” Southwest said in its statement.