Posts in the category "Airports":

Transit tour program at Narita Int’l Airport

Narita Airport

If you’ve got a long layover at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.

In addition to shopping and dining, the airport has a Japanese culture program of craft projects and performances, a hospitality program that offers discount coupons for use of the shower rooms, two observation decks , and a kabuki gate that has mannequins wearing Kabuki costumes and wigs, a shop selling products associated with Kabuki and a Kabuki Face Photo Booth where passengers can email themselves a photo of their face with Kabuki make-up superimposed on it.

Narita Kabuki

If that’s not enough to keep you occupied inside the airport, Narita has also put together a series of guided and self-guided tours in Narita – the town – for passengers with long layovers.

Various guided tours in the Narita Transit Program visit a temple and a park in Narita, the nearby countryside or the Museum of Aeronautical Sciences. The tours are free, except for transportation costs and admissions.

The self-guided tours direct travelers to nearby shopping areas and offer some discounts.

Greetings from Victoria, B.C.

YYJ Airport_Victoria_Flower_Sunrise

These flowers welcome travelers at B.C.’s Victoria International Airport. Courtesy of the airport.

Two airport firsts for me this weekend on a very short trip to Canada.

I took my first Kenmore Air seaplane ride from Seattle to Victoria, B.C. and I finally had a chance to visit Victoria International Airport.

I actually took two seaplane rides.

Kenmore Air

The first flight from Seattle to Victoria had to turn around due to low visibility and return to Kenmore Air’s Lake Union base. While some passengers (there were five of us on board – plus one tiny dog) rushed off to find alternate transportation to Victoria, I considered myself lucky to have gotten a bonus scenic tour and settled in to wait for the next flight.

Clearing customs on arrival at the seaplane terminal in Victoria, B.C. was incredibly easy: just two Canada Border Services Agency employees in a shack on the dock asking each passenger if they had fruits and vegetables with them and if they’ve been near anyone with Ebola. The entire plane was processed in two minutes.

The  Victoria Seaplane Terminal is tiny, but packed with amenities that include free Wi-Fi and complimentary computer workstations, newspapers, coffee, fruit and morning pastries.

Then it was on to Victoria International Airport  (YYJ), about 30 minutes away, for a tour.

The airport serves about 1.5 million passengers a year and besides being on lovely Vancouver Island, it has a lot going for it. Here are snaps from my tour:

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Inside the terminal, the foliage is live and the color palette for the finishes draw inspiration from “At Beacon Hill Park,” a painting by the well-known Victoria artist Emily Carr.

atbeaconhillpark

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Spinnakers On the Fly, an airport outpost of a popular local gastropub, has 12 Spinnakers beers on tap, including one called, Departures,’ brewed just for the airport

spinakers

The gift shop sells lots of locally-made Roger’s Chocolates and a wide assortment of handmade gift items.

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In addition to a play area for kids, an art-filled indoor observation deck, pet relief areas, workstations and bike assembly stations with loaner tools, the airport has several water fountains with water bottle re-fill attachments and counters that keep track of how many plastic bottles are being kept out of landfills.

YYJ COUNTER

Surrounding the airport is the Flight Path - an almost 6-mile biking and hiking path with informational signs about the landmarks and history of the area along the way such as Hospital Hill, once the site of medical facilities for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

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An interactive map of the Flight Path includes the historical information listed on each sign along the path.

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Dallas Love Field gets a re-boot

Here are some snaps from Dallas Love Field, where celebrations were underway and finishing touches to the terminal were on display in celebration of the lifting of the Wright Amendment on Monday, October 13. The ruling, created in 1979 to foster growth at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, had imposed flight restrictions on long-haul flights from Love Field.

 

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Airport trading cards: collect them all

MKE Trading Card Front

Baseball teams have them, some police forces have them and the TSA’s K-9 unit has them.

Now more than 20 North American airports have trading cards too.

Unveiled earlier this month, each card has the look and feel of a traditional baseball card. But instead of portraying a rookie player at bat, the cards in the North American Airport Collectors Series feature an iconic image of an airport on the front and geographic information, fun factoids and historical tidbits about the airport on the back.

The card for General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, for example, tells passengers about MKE’s free ping pong table and “recombobulation areas.” The card for Pittsburgh International Airport lays claims to being the first large U.S. airport to offer free wireless.

The idea for airport trading cards started at Lambert-St. Louis International, where “like a lot of other airports, we get calls from collectors all over the world asking for anything with the airport code on it,” said STL spokesman Jeff Lea.

Lambert’s trading card has iconic pictures of the airport’s two terminals on the front and, on the back, historical information, including STL’s connection to Charles Lindbergh.

STL_TradingCard_FRONT

“The cards are inexpensive to produce in bulk, so airports can hand them out for free at information booths and other places” said Lea. “It’s an old way to tell a new story and we know people will hold onto that one piece of cardboard longer than if you gave them a brochure or a pen.”

More importantly, the trading cards remind collectors, aviation enthusiasts and passengers that local airports are part of the larger aviation network, said Kevin Burke, President and CEO of ACI-NA, the trade group for airports in the United States and Canada.

PIT Trading card one

“Airports don’t get the attention they deserve and trading cards are one way to illustrate the importance of an airport in a community, especially the airport’s economic contribution,” said Burke, who plans to hand out airport trading cards, perhaps instead of briefing papers, when visiting elected officials in Washington, D.C.

Here are some of the other cards in the series.

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(My story about airport trading cards first appeared as part of my At the Airport column on USA TODAY.)

Travel Tidbits: Free Wi-Fi & More Fees

There’s good news and bad news for travelers this week.
Alaska Electronics

In Japan, rules have been eased so that airlines may allow passengers to use their personal electronic gadgets from gate to gate.

Free, unlimited Wi-Fi was introduced last week at Amsterdam’s Schiphol.

But as of today Allegiant Air follows the lead of Spirit Airlines in adding a fee to have an agent print out a boarding pass for you.

Here’s a link to my story about that Allegiant fee on USA TODAY, where I’m filling in on the Today in the Sky blog.

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