Environment

Airline amenity of the week: free sunscreen on Hawaiian Airlines

Here’s a nomination for airline amenity of the week:

Hawaiian Airlines has partnered with reef-safe sun care company Raw Elements USA, to offer complimentary packets of sunscreen to passengers on all flights from North America to Hawaii throughout the month of April.

Discounted full-size bottles of the eco-friendly sunscreen will also be sold on flights to Hawaii through June.

Complimentary sunscreen is a nice gesture, but it’s also an educational one.

Preserving Hawaii’s natural resources is important and the ingredients in many traditional sunscreen products can harm Hawaii’s coral reefs.  To explain how, the airline has also debuted a new educational in-flight video, Reefs at Risk.

“Hawaii is a very special place, and we believe it is our kuleana, or responsibility, to care for our home,” Avi Mannis, senior vice president of marketing at Hawaiian Airlines said in a statement,

In addition to offering Hawaiian Airlines passengers complimentary sunscreen samples, Raw Elements USA is also hosting a social media sweepstakes for US residents.

The prize: two roundtrip tickets (140,000 HawaiianMiles) to Hawaii courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines, a five-night stay at The Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club (an Aqua-Aston Hospitality Hotel), the choice of three complimentary island activities, and a year’s supply of Raw Elements reef-safe sunscreen.

Entries in the Protect the Reef sweepstakes are being accepted through 4/30/18. Good luck and see you on the beach!

Honey, I’m home! Airports help bees make a comeback

Don’t worry, ‘bee’ happy: the number of honeybee colonies in the United States is on the rise and airports are doing their part to help.

The county of honeybee colonies is up from 2.8 million in April, 2016 to 2.89 million in April, 2017, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That’s a plus for bees, of course, but because bees are credited with pollinating more than $15 billion of U.S. crops each year, it’s also a bonus for the economy.

It’s also news because since 2006 honey bees have been disappearing from their hives and dying at unprecedented rates due to a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

The culprits may be global warming, pesticide use, habitat loss and parasites, say researchers, but (more good news) the USDA survey reports that in the first quarter of from January to March 2017 there was a 27 decrease in the number of colonies lost to the disorder compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Honey helpers

Honeybee colonies are getting some comeback help from a growing number of airports hosting beehives and sharing their sweet stories of success.

In Victoria, British Columbia, Harbour Air just put four hives with 10,000 bees on the one-acre grass roof of its floating airport terminal for seaplanes. A “bee cam” lets passengers waiting in the airport lounge below watch the bees at work and, come fall, the airline plans to offer its own “Harbour Honey” to passengers to use as sweetener in the complimentary in-terminal coffee and tea.

Besides making a contribution to the local ecosystem, “This will be an important way to educate people of all ages on the importance of honeybees to our local environment,” said Bill Fosdick the president of the Capital Region Beekeepers Association, which is overseeing the introduction of the bee colony.

In late 2015, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport partnered with the “Bee Squad” program at the University of Minnesota to set up an apiary on airport property. Now 31 colonies are being tended to by U.S. military veterans.

Some of the honey extracted last year was sold to Chef Andrew Zimmern (of “Bizarre Foods” fame) and to General Mills to benefit the program. “We also gave some to the Veteran participants,” said Bee Squad Program director Becky Masterman, “This year’s extraction will be larger and we hope to sell some of the honey in the airport and have some used in MSP restaurants.”

Beehives were also installed at Montréal-Trudeau airport in 2015 (following a similar project at Montréal-Mirabel in 2014) and now each airport is home to about 300,000 honey bees. Some of the honey produced is sold to employees to raise funds for a local non-profit that helps low-income families and individuals; the balance is donated to local food banks.

Back in the United States, there are apiaries on property at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

At O’Hare, where the bee program is in its seventh season, there are currently 30 to 40 hives (down from a high of 75) and about one million bees on duty.

Operated by Sweet Beginnings, which gives training and jobs to formerly incarcerated individuals and others who may have significant barriers to finding jobs, the apiary produces about 35 pounds of honey per hive.

Under the ‘beelove’ brand, products made with the O’Hare honey, including lip balm, skincare creams, soaps and, of course, jars of raw national honey, are sold in Hudson News stores at O’Hare and in the Farmers Market kiosk in Terminal 3. Some O’Hare restaurants, including Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless, also use the O’Hare honey in meals.

In 2013, the Port of Seattle teamed up with The Common Acre, a local non-profit, to place clusters of honey bee hives on unused, open land at three Seattle-Tacoma International Airport locations.

Like the symbiotic relationship between bees and flowers, both the airport and the non-profit get something valuable from the deal.

The Common Acre is collecting scientific data from the hives “crucial to understanding and supporting pollinators,” said group founder Bob Redmond, and is selling the honey to help offset costs. Among other benefits, the bees help the airport keep large birds away from airplanes by supporting the growth of dense vegetation on a former golf course area.

(A slightly different version of my story about bees at airports first appeared on CNBC)

 

 

The buzz about Victoria Harbour Airport

You can take a ferry between Seattle, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia, but it’s much faster – and far more thrilling  –  to take a seaplane and land at Victoria Harbour Airport (YWH), a floating seaplane airport that is home to Harbour Air and Kenmore Air.

To mark the first anniversary of the floating terminal, Harbour Air, which serves 9 destinations in British Columbia, put a colony of honey bees (four beehives containing about 10,00 bees) and 50 solar panels on the airport’s one-acre green roof.

A screen inside the terminal will let passengers see how much electricity the solar panels are generating and a ‘bee cam’ offers a live feed of what the bees are doing.

The airport beehives – which airline officials think may be the world’s first floating hives – are already generating honey and by fall Harbour Honey should be available for purchase in the terminal’s coffee area. Sweet!

 

Airports go dark for Earth Hour

Courtesy LAWA

Airports around the world will join thousands of iconic landmarks, buildings, attractions, hotels and homes in turning off (non-essential) lights on Saturday, March 25 in honor  of International Earth Hour.

The event began in 2007 with a single lights-off event in Australia and is now observed  in 178 countries and territories – including the International Space Station – with more than 12,700 monuments turning off their lights for one hour in 2016.

Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) signature 100-foot-tall Gateway pylons (above ) will glow green – and then go dark between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Courtesy Denver Int’l Airport

Denver International Airport (DEN) will be turning off the lights on the iconic “32-foot-tall Mustang” statue and the “Shadow Array” artwork at the Hotel and Transit Center. Shadow Array is made up of 236 beetle-kill spruce logs that are usually illuminated at night.

Here’s a link to an Earth Hour map of other places going dark around the world for an hour on March 25. Check to see if the lights will be going out where you are at 8:30 local time.

 

Just Plane Fun at PHL Airport – again

 

The Philadelphia Mummers entertain airport visitors during the holiday season at Philadelphia International Airport.

Courtesy PHL

It’s back!

Philadelphia International Airport has kicked off another summer of its customer appreciation program, called Just Plane Fun, which will present live entertainment, magicians, caricature artists, beauty makeovers and demonstrations and fun activities to passengers right through to Labor Day.

There’s plenty to do at PHL even when the Mummers, the magicians and the makeover artists aren’t on duty: PHL has a robust arts and culture program that currently lists almost two dozen permanent and temporary exhibitions around the airport.

Courtesy City of Philadelphia

Courtesy City of Philadelphia

 

Right now, for example, in anticipation of the Democratic National Convention is being held in Philadelphia July 25-28, the airport is presenting an exhibition about the city’s long history of hosting presidential conventions.

The exhibit, Philadelphia’s Presidential Convention History 1848-2016, is in Terminal A-East and will be on display through June 2017.