Entertainment

Travel Tidbits: Switchfoot at SAN and more.

Image courtesy SAN & Pablo Mason

This morning, (Monday, June 19) alternative rock band Switchfoot will show up at San Diego International Airport to perform an acoustic set and play with two area youth music groups.  The event will also promote a new exhibition in the airport about BRO-AM, Switchfoot’s  free annual music and surf festival held in Encinitas to benefit area youth causes.

 

Not that many airports have classic barbershops on site anymore, so it’s quite impressive to learn that Nick Palomares has been operating his barbershop at Fresno Yosemite International Airport for 45 years.

“Mr. Palomares’ milestone anniversary is truly a testament of his professionalism and gracious personality that resonates with his clients, passengers and guests,” said Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle in a statement marking the milestone and reminding travelers – even those that don’t need haircuts – to swing by the shop to check out walls of the barbershop, which are filled with photos of celebrities that have passed through the airport.

 

And when you’re spending money at airports and on airplane tickets around the world, keep in mind that pretty much every one of those companies has a foundation that supports non-profits in many communities.

For example, HMS Host, which operates food and beverage venues at more than 120 airports worldwide, has the HMSHost Foundation, which last week gave a $20,000 grant to Grace-Mar Services in support of the group’s work to provide financial literacy, job readiness and other services in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the groups have also worked together on job placements at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Fresh films at Portland Int’l Airport’s in-terminal movie theater

 

In February of 2017, Portland’s historic nonprofit Hollywood Theatre opened a​ free 17-seat movie theater post-security, on Concourse C, at Portland International Airport.

The theater is open to travelers around the clock, showing an hour-long program made up of short films from Oregon filmmakers, including documentaries, music videos, animations, and short fiction.

At the grand opening it was announced that the program would change quarterly. And so it has.

The new program of Oregon-made short films running through the summer includes shorts about beekeepers and slugs; power lifters and circus mice.

Here’s the line-up.

THE MOUSE THAT SOARED, Kyle T. Bell (5:45): A famous flying circus mouse reflects on his humble beginnings in this classic tale of hope and goodness. This six-minute animated short tackles adoption, blended families, and nature vs. nurture. It demonstrates that nothing is more powerful than unconditional love.

A STREET ROOTS STORY, Street Roots (3:07): Learn how Portland’s ​Street Roots​,a nonprofit street newspaper, provides opportunity, hope and community for Marlon and other people living in poverty. As Marlon shares, “Every single person who buys the paper helps humanity grow and grow.”

I DON’T KNOW YOU ANYMORE, Alicia J. Rose (5:02):In this music video for Bob Mould’s “I Don’t Know You Anymore,” the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy offers guidance to Mould on how to promote his new album in the age of iPhones and social media, which sends Mould and his band off on a stealth mission of “hype” at Portland’s own Music Millennium.

MOSSGROVE, Kurtis Hough (5:44):A close examination into the locomotion of Oregon’s banana slugs and mossy landscapes. Made with over 10,000 photographs taken in the Columbia River Gorge.

1850 LBS, Jin Ryu & Pete Gibson (7:04): Jesse Marvin is a 23-year-old powerlifter from Portland, OR, with a heart of gold. He is gunning to lift a total weight of 1850 lbs at an upcoming competition. This film shares his philosophy and determination as he reaches toward his goal.

SUPERHEROES, Mic Crenshaw (4:21): A collaboration between Mic Crenshaw and Dead Prez that highlights the fact that everyday people are heroic. The video features local professional dancers from Portland who are also parents. Each scene has emcees rapping poignant verses as dancers perform with their real-life children. Learn more at ​miccrenshaw.com

BOTTLE NECK, Joanna Priestley (2:56): A luminous crush of still-life silhouettes, abstract shapes, and complex, interlocking patterns, BOTTLE NECK renovates the commonplace objects of a classical painting in a modern setting.

PIANO PUSH PLAY, Alex Thornburg (3:01):Short docu-style piece about ​Piano Push Play​’s public pianos in Portland, OR.

CPR, Kimberly Warner (6:26): While watching lifeguards perform rescue drills at a neighborhood pool, a woman faces her own need to be saved.

LAY ME DOWN, Isaac King (4:24): The song “Lay Me Down,” by Portland neo-soul band ​Dirty Revival​,focuses on drug addiction and its effects on people and families, as well as how little help society offers to those who are struggling. The video illustrates a prologue to this; as rents skyrocket and wages stagnate, too many Portlanders are living on the brink of collapse.

THE BEE HUNTER, Jotham Porzio (7:36): Driving across Portland with approximately 10,000+ honey bees in her Toyota truck at sunset, Wisteria knows she has done it again. She has successfully captured a swarm of wild homeless honey bees. We ride shotgun in this short documentary as we follow Wisteria on a swarm call, showing us just how unique and personal the process is.

 

 

 

Music returns to Pittsburgh International Airport

 

Thursday afternoons are now a great to time to be stuck at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Starting today, the airport brings backs its Thursday afternoon Performing Arts Series, which will feature local musicians and “artists of all genres,” for shows in the Baggage Claim and in other areas of the airport terminal.

The series began in 2016 with a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and last year featured about 35 artists – pianists, harpists, guitarists, duos, trios, and soloists.

The performance schedule for 2017 is posted here, but the 2017 line-up looks like this so far:

3/30/2017            1-4 pm  Dan Bubien

4/6/2017              1-4pm   The New Mingle

4/13/2017            2-4pm   JuliAnne Wright

4/20/2017            1-4pm   The Squirrel Hillbillies

4/27/2017            1-4pm   Dan Sty

5/4/2017              1-4pm   Samantha Sears

While  you’re at PIT airport, don’t forget to look for the art , which includes work by Andy Warhol from Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum, a giant robotic figure (Arch) by Jackie Ferrara, Toby Fraley’s Robot Repair installation, Alexander Calder’s Pittsburgh mobile and more.

 

 

 

 

Airports add pet potties & play areas; dump pay phones, banks

Modern-day airports no longer concentrate solely on being gateways to help passengers get from here to there.

That’s still their key role, of course. But today the focus is also on making the airport experience efficient and enjoyable for travelers – and profitable for the airports – through an ever-improving mix of dining and shopping options and an evolving mix of amenities.

“Whether engaging with passengers through an animal therapy program to instill a sense of calm in a busy terminal or providing ample electrical charging stations for mobile devices, airports are committed to not only meeting passengers’ expectations but exceeding them.” said Kevin Burke, president and CEO of Airports Council International – North America.

A recent survey by the airport membership organization identified the top 10 airport amenities in North America, the top amenities airports are adding and several amenities many airports say they will likely be eliminating in the next few years.

According to ACI-NA’s Passenger Amenities Survey, the top 10 most commonly offered airport amenities and services are:

  1. ATM Services
  2. Gift Shops / News Stands
  3. Airport Websites
  4. Electrical Charging Stations
  5. Restaurants and Bars
  6. Lost and Found
  7. Parking / Taxi and Limousine Services
  8. Free Wi-Fi
  9. Pre-Security Pet Relief Facilities
  10. Food and Beverage Vending Machines

No surprises there, but among the amenities on the rise are some designed to make traveling with kids – and pets – a bit easier:

  1. Nursing mothers’ rooms and pods
  2. Post-security pet relief facilities
  3. Children’s play areas
  4. Airfield observation areas
  5. Adult changing and washroom facilities.

In part to make way for these new amenities, airports say that over the next three to five years they’ll be phasing out and, in some cases, eliminating a few other amenities.

So get ready to say goodbye to smoking rooms, payphones and bank branches at airports.

ATMs are plentiful at many airports, but staffed bank branches are already quite rare.

One holdout is Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where there is a branch of Wings Financial.

“The local bank has a built-in customer base, as they began as a credit union for airline and airport employees,” said airport spokeswoman Melissa Scovronski, “So we don’t expect to eliminate that service.”

Smoking lounges still exist at just a handful of major U.S. airports, including Washington Dulles International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but in 2016, Salt Lake City International Airport closed all its smoking rooms and by the end 2018 the last remaining smoking lounge at Denver International Airport will end its contract.

And those once ubiquitous banks of pay phones at airports are being replaced with charging stations or making way for other services.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport removed the last of its payphones in 2016.

With the rise of cell phones, “Folks simply don’t use pay phones,” said SEA spokesman Brian DeRoy, “And there are hardly any companies now that want to have the financial burden of taking on a pay phone contract for a very limited number of users.”

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has also ditched all its payphones, but provides a courtesy phone for free local calls next to the information desk on the baggage claim level.

“Our information desk staff can also make calls for passengers when needed, such as when cell phones batteries are dead,” said AUS spokesman Derick Hackett.

The number of payphones is being steadily reduced, but not yet eliminated, at airports in Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis and Chicago, where there are now 503 payphones at O’Hare International (down from 650 five years ago) and 174 payphones at Midway International (down from 180).

“The payphones taken off line were removed because of low usage, requests from the airlines due to construction in their gate areas and repurposing of space for revenue producing ventures,” said Gregg Cunningham of the Chicago Department of Aviation, but some will remain “because they are still a necessary means of communication for some customers.”

At Reno-Tahoe International Airport, free local or toll free calls can be made from any courtesy phone in the airport.

“In 2008, AT&T ended their payphone contract at the airport, at same time they pulled out of shopping malls and other public buildings due to decreases in revenue,” said RNO airport spokeswoman Heidi Jared, “But the airport authority knew an option was needed to fill that void since not all travelers have a cell phone.”

And, totally bucking the no-payphone trend, thanks to a deal dating back to 2012, Denver International Airport still has about 200 payphones in the terminal and on the concourses that provide unlimited free national domestic calls and international calls that are free for the first 10 minutes.

(A slightly different of this story about airport amenities appeared on CNBC)

Let’s all go to the movies – at the airport

 

My ‘At the Airport’ column for USA TODAY this month is all about airports where travelers can watch movies.  All the time and on special occasions.

Here’s a slightly abbreviated version of that column:

In February, Oregon’s Portland International Airport hosted the official opening of a free microcinema on Concourse C.

A branch of the city’s historic Hollywood Theatre movie palace, the new Hollywood Theatre at PDX has a bright, 1920s-inspired neon marquee, seating for 17 (but capacity for 49) and a $200,000 state-of-the-art projection and sound system isolated from the roar of the planes and the shaking of the airport building.

The cinema replaces a rarely used post-security service center. Now, instead of sitting at work tables with power outlets, passengers can use this space to watch an hour-long reel of G-rated short films by Oregon filmmakers that will run around the clock and be refreshed quarterly.

The opening program reel includes the premier of an animated film, a music video, a documentary, mini-shorts about Portland by local film students and more than a half-dozen other features.

More airport cinemas

Portland International isn’t the only airport to offer movies to passengers who have a bit of extra time to spend at the airport.

At the end of 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport opened its “See 18” Screening Room near gate C18 to show short films, documentaries, music videos and art programming by Minnesota filmmakers and shot predominantly in Minnesota.

All films are under 10 minutes, run 24/7, are curated by The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul and are refreshed three time a year.

Elsewhere, Lithuania’s Vilnius Airport promotes its free ‘cinema hall’ showing work by Lithuanian filmmakers and there’s a Cinema Time screening room showing a wide variety of free films at the Vaclav Havel Prague Airport.

Terminal 3 – Transit – Movie Theatre – Interior

Singapore’s Changi Airport has two 24-hour movies theatres (in Terminals 2 and 3) offering free screenings of full-length movies for passengers, with a line-up that currently includes ‘Star Trek Beyond,’ ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses,’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings.’ And there are movie theaters selling tickets to recent films in the public areas of Hong Kong International Airport, South Korea’s Incheon Airport and a few others.

Special screenings  

Airports without dedicated film-screening spaces have dabbled with movies events as well.

While the Toronto International Film Festival was underway in 2010, passengers at Toronto Pearson International Airport could watch movie trailers from the festival in a pair of 10×10-foot pop-up screening rooms. Free popcorn was provided each night.

https://vimeo.com/14827161

For the past three summers, Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport has hosted an outdoor cinema to show blockbusters on a giant screen set up on a concourse rooftop, with wireless headphones for each moviegoer. The series returns in July with ten screenings.

During 2016, Denver International Airport showed free outdoor movies on the outdoor plaza between the main terminal and the Westin Denver International Airport as part of a “Film on the Fly” series.

No program is set yet for 2017, but the 2016 line-up included “Top Gun”, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

And, at San Francisco International Airport, in Interim Boarding Area B, a selection from Laurie O’Brien’s Peephole Cinema features silent film shorts inspired by travel and the writings of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

Back to the Future

While an airport movie theater may seem like a fresh new amenity, the idea is far from brand new.

From the early 1950s into the mid-1970s, there was a ‘regular’ movie theater – the Skyport Cinema – showing first-run films at Pittsburgh International Airport.

And when the new Dallas/Fort Worth International airport opened in January 1974, “all the major airlines moved their operations there from Love,” said Bruce Bleakley, director of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, “That left a big empty terminal with only Southwest flying its 8-10 flights a day.”

In November 1975, a developer turned the terminal lobby into an entertainment center with three movie theaters, skating rinks, and other activities and called it the Llove Entertainment Center, said Bleakley, but the complex was closed by May 1978.