Airport guides

Greetings from Missouri’s Springfield-Branson National Airport

I’m visiting Springfield, Missouri this week to join the festivities for the opening of the Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium and had a while to explore the public areas of the Springfield-Branson National Airport on arrival while waiting for a ride into town.

In the soaring lobby/baggage claim area, there’s a replica of the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer and  a 3/4 scale  Curtis Jenny, the first mass produced American aircraft. After World War I, stunt pilots used this type of plane in airshows and signage at the airport tells us  that in May 1918 the US Postal Service began using Jennys for the first scheduled U.S. Air Mail Service.

EZ-1, the first fire rescue vehicle used by the Springfield Municipal Airport, is also on display.

SGF airport has an art gallery with mulitple display areas in the pre and post-security areas.  The current exhibit  – Come Fly with Me – is up through mid-November.

artwork by Christine Riutzel

And in the newstand I found a great cow-tipping t-shirt.  Is that really a thing?

 

 

 

Pleasant perks at Portland International Airport

 

2_PDX_Foot-forward selfies with the PDX carpet are very popular at Portland Int'l Airport

 

Disclosure: this story was sponsored by National Car Rental

As the author of this blog, a monthly USA TODAY column and various features about how to make the most of your time stuck at just about any airport, I’m often asked which airport is my favorite.

The short answer is always, “The airport where I board the plane that takes me to a new adventure, and the one where I board the plane that takes me home.”

But when pressed, I admit there are a few airports I’ll actually build a trip around.

Oregon’s Portland International Airport is one of them.

Its perks are plentiful and, like the city, PDX airport is super environmentally-conscious and kind of quirky.

For example, an assembly/repair station and a tool check-out where cyclists can borrow a pedal wrench or air pump encourage biking to the airport. And the recently-replaced but hipster-embraced terminal carpet lives on in everything from coasters and caps to dog leashes and luggage tags made from remnants of the old rug.

Shopping for these and other unique-to-the-region items at PDX is a pleasure, in part because Oregon has no sales tax and the more than 60 stores and restaurants must offer their goods and services at prices no higher than what would be charged at off-airport locations.

And there are plenty of Oregon-based venues where you’ll want to spend your money, including the pre-security branches of Oregon-based Pendleton, Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Powell’s Books, the selection of Portland’s favorite food trucks, and at the post-security outlet of House Spirits Distillery, where the makers of Aviation American gin and a variety of other regionally-themed, small-batch spirits offer samples.

PDX also has a pop-up Farm-to-Table stand offering Oregon produce, wine and cheese; a spa; a barber shop; a great art collection; and an extensive schedule of vendor events and live entertainment that extends through the weekend. And, later this summer, Portland’s non-profit Hollywood Theater will open an 800-square foot in-airport mini-movie theater that will run short films telling Oregon stories.

While spending time inside PDX airport is a delight, you’ll eventually want to head outside and explore.

The MAX light rail line makes the trip to downtown in 38 minutes for $2.50, but renting a car is almost as easy and allows visitors the freedom to explore everything the Portland area has to offer.

On-airport rental car companies are on the ground floor of parking garage P1, across from baggage claim, and the National Car Rental location here has an Emerald Aisle. That means Emerald Club members can bypass the counter, choose their own car and be immediately on their way to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area just 20 miles away, Mount Hood, an easy 60 miles away, or the Oregon beaches, which are less than 100 miles from the airport.

Or you might not want to drive very far: the Cascade Station shopping center, home to restaurants and shops, including an IKEA, is located just outside the airport grounds.

 

What’s up at Walla Walla Regional Airport

Walla Walla onion_edited

What’s that giant onion doing at Washington’s Walla Walla Regional Airport?

Besides being a shiny distraction for those waiting for their bags at the tiny airport’s baggage carousel, the onion artwork celebrates the area’s most famous crop – Walla Walla Sweet Onions.

You’ll find a few other treats at ALW airport.

In the ticket lobby, a plexiglass case displays a impressive collection of luggage tags one couple collected during their travels.

walla walla tags

A small alcove filled with photos and clippings tells the history and highlights of the airport, including the day in 1971 when Richard Nixon stopped by on his way to Alaska.

Nixon in Walla Walla

And once you pass by security to the waiting area at the airport’s one gate, you’ll find a machine offering complimentary coffee and a “take one/leave one” bookcase.

WALLA WALLA free coffee

Walla Walla free books

Free digital magazine from Miami Int’l Airport

Here’s a nice free perk from Miami International Airport: a lovely e-magazine – in English and Spanish – that offers tips on dining, shipping and entertainment inside the airport and out in the community.

MIA magazine

You can view the digital magazine for free inside the airport on the airport Wi-Fi network (www.MIAConnex.com). or from anywhere else you have Wi-Fi access.

The inaugural issue has articles, with great photos, about the impressive art collection and exhibition program at MIA, the national parks and preserves in South Florida, shopping tips for both in and outside of the airport, and stories about local architecture, great places to visit and where to eat regional treats in and outside of the airport as well.

MIA CARYBE

Big things you won’t see at Heathrow’s new T2

There are plenty of fresh, new things you will see when Heathrow Airport opens its new Terminal 2 on June 4th, but you won’t see the giant passport and the behemoth gift bag pictured below.

passport

These two giant-sized props were used during some of user trials that have been taking place in the terminal during the past few weeks.

Gift bag

But although they seem like they’d be fun, photo-friendly objects for real passengers to encounter, during my recent pre-opening tour of the terminal a Heathrow staff member told me the props were about to be removed and discarded.

Too bad!