Posts in the category "Free Stuff":

Gadget glitch at ORD Airport? The Geek Squad is there.

geek squad at ORD

Pretty much everyone travels with an electronic gadget -or three – these days, and sometimes those gadgets get finicky.

If that’s what’s happening when you’re at Chicago O’Hare International Airport from now through December 23rd, there’s free help at the ready.

Best Buy Geek Squad Agents are stationed in O’Hare’s Concourse H from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST daily offering free tech tips and gadget advice, complimentary service on handheld devices, charging stations and tablets and desktop workstations for surfing the web, playing games or shopping for last-minute gifts.

geek squad

Not near Concourse H? Don’t fret. The Geek Squad is sending agents out into the terminals will backpack charging stations and advice.

Got a gadget glitch at the ORD Shoe Hospital, the airport’s aeroponic garden or while waiting for your meal at Tortas Frontera? Tweet to @GeekSquad with #MissionORD in the message and they’ll come to you.

How to save time, money & sanity at the airport

Rocking chairs at Houston Hobby Airport

To make the most of airport dwell time during the busy holiday travel season, be sure to take advantage of some of these time and money-saving services and amenities.  The list is from a round-up I put together for CNBC Road Warrior.

Free shoe shines

It seems like an old-fashioned service, but many airports still have shoe shine stands staffed by friendly men and women who, for very reasonable fees, can transform scuffed travel shoes or boots into impressive footwear while you relax, read the paper, return a phone call or chat.

At Los Angeles International Airport shoe shines are free (so tip generously) in most every terminal. The Shoe Hospital at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport not only shines shoes, but fixes broken heels, sells shoelaces, fixes zippers, repairs bags, purses and suitcases and, for those who indulge a bit too much while traveling, punches extra holes in belts that they will also shine.

Layover spa days

A little pampering goes a long way when it comes to improving your travel outlook and appearance. Barbershops, spas and salons at an ever-increasing number of airports offer services that range from haircuts, shampoos and shaves to facials, pedicures, manicures and massages at prices generally on par with what you pay for these services in town.

Some services are discounted during a happy hour offering during the first hour of business (usually between 6 and 7 a.m.) at the Massage Bar, which has branches at seven airports. “Upwards of 65 percent of our clients are business people who are always traveling,” said Massage Bar CEO Chris Woods, “and the clientele make-up is almost 50/50 men and women.”

XpresSpa, with branches in about 50 airports worldwide, has a free membership program that gives discounts and special offers and $5 in rewards points for each $100 you spend. And between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Terminal Getaway Spa, with branches at Chicago O’Hare, Charlotte Douglas and Orlando International Airport, will be giving away treatments via Twitter.

Leverage the lounges

An uptick in business travel means airlines and independent operators are adding lounge locations and upgrading décor and amenities at existing lounges in many cities. If you don’t already get access with your frequent flier status, business class ticket, credit card or travel buddy, consider the $50 one-time entry fee a sanity-saving investment if only for the drinks, snacks, comfortable seating and workspace it can get you.

“But beware,” says TravelSkills founder Chris McGinnis. “Many lounges won’t allow walk-ins when they are overcrowded, so you can’t always count on getting in to the one you want to.” The solution? “You can often walk across the hall or to another concourse and try buying entry into another one,” he said.

Doggin’ it

Teams of trained therapy dogs regularly visit many airports and there’s no cost to spend a few stress-reducing minutes lapping up some love from these pups when you see them.

Passengers who need to board their own pets while traveling can save time by using pet hotels located on or near airport properties. Now Boarding at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, for example, boards cats, dogs and a variety of “little critters” and offers parking, airport shuttle rides, multi-pet discounts and frequent visitor benefits. The 24-hour service makes early morning drop-offs and late night pick-ups possible, which can reduce the number of boarding nights you’ll need to pay for.

Stop and smell the roses

Instead of parking yourself at a gate, head to a free airport observation deck to chill out and take a look around. The BWI Observation Gallery in Baltimore is located pre-security and, in addition to great airfield views, has aviation exhibits, children’s play equipment, charging stations and a cocktail lounge. At LAX, the Observation Deck on top of the Theme Building in the middle of the Central Area is open each Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., offering airport and Los Angeles views for free.

There’s an indoor, aeroponic garden at Chicago O’Hare Airport where herbs and vegetables used in many airport restaurant dishes are grown and, the recently renovated Dallas Love Field airport, the pre-security outdoor Moss Lee Love Garden is home to live plants and grasses and artwork that includes 12-foot-tall cast-bronze trees.

Shopping for deals

Shopping can be great therapy and shopping for gifts during a layover can save time and money.

Many airports have a “street pricing” policy that prohibits shops (and restaurants) in the terminals from adding surcharges to the prices. You can avoid sales tax on all purchases when shopping at Oregon’s Portland International Airport and avoid sales on clothing (and shoes) when shopping at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and Pittsburgh International Airport’s AirMall.

And don’t be shy about using coupons. MSP airport regularly updates a long list of downloadable discount coupons good at airport shops and restaurants, and while no expiration dates are listed on the coupons available from San Antonio International Airport, airport spokeswoman Nora Castro says they are updated quarterly to reflect the latest vendor deals.

During the holidays, many airport shops provide free gift wrapping and shipping and gift-with-purchase offers as well.

Bruce Lee & 150+ museums free this weekend

If you’re home or on the road this weekend, and have a Bank or America or Merill Lynch credit or debit card, you’re eligible for free admission at more than 150 museums, science centers and gardens around the country, courtesy of the Museums on Us program, which makes the same offer the first full weekend of each month.

Kiss V, 1964, Roy Lichtenstein, courtesy Seattle Art Museum. Collection Simonyi, © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein, Photo: Eduardo Calderon.

If you’re in Seattle, that means you can get free admission to the Seattle Art Museum (regular admission: $19.50), which is currently showing a great pop art exhibition.

Another great option: The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, which is the only place outside of Hong Kong to have an exhibition about martial arts and film star Bruce Lee, who had deep connections to Seattle and is buried at Lake View Cemetery

Bruce Lee - Wing Luke Bruce Lee on the set of ‘Way of the Dragon’ – courtesy of The Wing and Bruce Lee Enterprises.

Lufthansa food truck on the road in the US

food truck

Lucky passersby in several cities don’t have to buy a ticket on Lufthansa to get a taste of the airline’s new menu featuring regional dishes from around the U.S. such as Coffee and Ancho Chili Dusted Beef Filet, Soda Pop Braised Short Ribs and Pumpkin Ravioli.

The airline is sending its ‘Taste of America’ food truck – designed to look the exterior of an airplane – on a two-week road trip, with stops a six Lufthansa gateways to offer free meals to 200 people at each stop.

The truck started off in New York and will stop next in Charlotte, NC (October 9); Miami, FL (October 12); Atlanta, GA (October 14); Dallas, TX (October 18); and Los Angeles (October 21). At each stop, the airline will set up tables with white tablecloths and red roses and provide music.

There’s also a contest for two round-trip tickets running with this promotion on
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. You can enter the contest here.

Snack Saturday: Free Currywurst during World Cup

AIRBERLIN CURRYWURST

Germany faces Brazil in the World Cup finals on Tuesday and, as I learned during my visit to airberlin headquarters in Berlin recently, that means free currywurst for passengers on airberlin flights during the game.

Currywurst, a popular fast food dish in Germany that consists of whole or sliced pork sausage topped by a mixture of ketchup and curry powder, is one of the more popular buy-on-board options airberlin offers on its menu of dishes prepared for the airline by the Sansibar restaurant. The on-board version usually sells for about $9 (6.90 euros) and is sliced, made from veal and pork and served with a spicy curry sauce, a packet of extra-strong curry powder, a roll and, as is tradition, a wooden fork.

airberlin pilots have been announcing the results of World Cup matches that take place during flights and offering half-time scores for matches involving Germany. The free curry-wurst is served on all German domestic flights between 5 pm and 8 pm on the days when the German team is playing.

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