Posts in the category "Fun Stuff":

PDX Carpet & Portland’s Starlight Parade

Pretty darn exciting, isn’t it, that the grand marshal at the Starlight Parade taking place May 30th during Portland’s Rose Festival is going to be the PDX Carpet from Portland International Airport?

The announcement came during Friday’s carpetfest featuring a wide range of products bearing the rug’s pattern.  Stay tuned for more details on how the rolled up flooring is going to fulfill its parade duties – which include waving at spectators along the parade’s path.

Free pie at PIE Airport to celebrate Pi Day

PIE airport

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) is celebrating Pi Day a day early this year by handing out free individual-sized strawberry and Key Lime pies on Friday, March 13 from 1:30 to 3:14 p.m.

Pie will be served both curbside (drive-by pie) and inside the terminal.

Why free pie?

The Greek letter “π” (Pi), is the symbol that represents the mathematical constant that is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and has been calculated to over a trillion digits, the first of which are 3.14.

And, of course, free pie is a great way to celebrate PIE airport, which gets its identifier code from its original name, Pinellas International Airport.

pie osu

Virtual reality testing, courtesy Qantas

Forget the seat-back screen and your bring-on-board tablet.

In an in-flight entertainment first, Australian carrier Qantas will soon be making Samsung’s virtual reality headsets, called Gear VR, available to premium passengers on some long-distance flights.

Qantas virtual reality headsets to be tested on some A380 flights_courtesy Qantas

A three-month trial run begins in mid-March, when Qantas plans to make the headsets available to first-class passengers on some of the airline’s A380 flights between Australia and Los Angeles.

Visitors to Qantas first-class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne have headsets to test now.

Someday, Qantas says the VR technology “will transport customers to an immersive virtual world … and showcase the sights and delights of network destinations, new Qantas products and the latest in-flight blockbuster movies.”

But for now, Qantas is just giving passengers a virtual reality sampler of short features, or “vignettes,” filmed in Australia and produced by Palo Alto-based technology company Jaunt. The playlist that allows headset-wearers to watch a Qantas airplane take off and land and visit the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, a Qantas airport lounge and Kakadu, Australia’s largest national park.

“Travel and VR make a natural pair,” said Jaunt CEO Jens Christensen. “We’ve gone from no in-flight entertainment, to one drop-down screen, then screens in the seats, and now personal screens,” said Christensen.

“VR is the next step on the evolutionary scale,” he added. “Instead of a limited-size screen, a passenger is transported to a new location.”

That’s appealing if the technology is someday used to “virtually transport economy-class passengers in ultra-tight seating … to other more spacious ‘realities’ outside of the metal tube,” said Mary Kirby, founder of the Runway Girl Network. But widespread adoption by airlines “appears unlikely now” due in part to the high costs associated with the headsets and their handling, she added.

Another concern: making passengers sick. For some people find virtual reality experiences can sometimes trigger vertigo, nausea or worse.

“I think putting any device that simulates motion into something that is already moving will guarantee those air sickness bags won’t just be used for scribbling notes,” said Frank Catalano, a tech industry consultant and a columnist at GeekWire.

The stationary filming techniques used in the Qantas VR vignettes should help, said Jaunt’s Christensen, “When you’re in our environments, you’re stable. We found that eliminates the nausea.”

But what if the virtual reality experience is too good? Will travelers no longer need to actually go to the places they’ve “visited” during their flights?

“We think by transporting our customers to the immersive virtual worlds of destinations that [they] have never seen, the VR Gear will actually inspire our customers to travel more,” said Olivia Wirth, a Qantas executive for marketing and corporate affairs.

Catalano, a frequent traveler, agreed. “You simply can’t replicate the smells, the tastes, the serendipitous discoveries, the off-handed casual conversations with locals, the immersion into a new and different culture,” he said. “All virtual reality can do is stimulate the appetite for the real thing.”

(My story about virtual reality testing Qantas first appeared on CNBC in a slightly different format.)

Totally fun video from B.C.’s Kelowna Int’l Airport

Check out this fun video celebrating Kelowna International Airport (YLW) in Kelowna, B.C. All the dancers are local volunteers – and are clearly having a great time at the airport.

Cool, quirky airport carpets

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

Foot-forward selfies with the carpet are popular at PDX.

 

It’s usually a bit of an inconvenience, but not that big a deal, when an airport changes out the carpeting in the terminals.

But because the current carpet at Portland International Airport has become a social media sensation, all manner of media will be on hand Friday when construction crews begin removing the existing carpet at PDX and preparing the floor for the installation of 13 acres of new carpet—enough to cover nearly 10 football fields.

6__PDX_ A sample of the new carpet design, scheduled to begin being installed over the next year.

This is what the new PDX carpet will look like.

 

Here’s the story of the PDX carpet and a round-of of some quirky airport carpets found at other airports around the country that I put together for my “At the Airport” column on USA Today.

Installed in the late 1980s, the old PDX carpet sports a geometric pattern inspired by the airport’s intersecting north-south runways and was for years an ignored part of the airport décor.

1_Sample of the current_old carpet pattern at Portland International Airport

But then Portland began celebrating its core weirdness, social media became the big thing, and the rug became a hip symbol of home celebrated on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and with souvenirs ranging from socks, caps and water bottles to T-shirts, mugs, tote bags and bike helmets.

4_Portland Int'l Airport Carpet water bottles

Carpet-inspired art and ale followed: Nancy Wilson’s 11-foot by 16-foot collage, made of pieces of PDX carpet and titled “Carpet Diem!” was recently installed at the airport and Oregon-based Rogue Ales & Spirits just introduced PDX Carpet IPA.

7_PDX_Carpet Diem! _ Artwork by Nancy Wilson celebrating the Portland Airport carpet.

5_PDX_new on the market_ PDX Capret IPA

PDX isn’t the only airport to forgo tile, terrazzo or other hard flooring in favor of rugs more difficult to maintain, but worth a second look.

When it was time to order 10.5 acres of new carpeting for its three terminals, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport looked for something that would hold up to high foot traffic and repeated cleaning, and be easily recycled when it came time for replacement.

In 2005, PHX got all that (at the cost of $34.66 per square yard) plus a cool, custom pattern that looks like an aircraft on a radar screen.

8_PHX_The carpet at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has an aviation-inspired design

In the pedestrian walkway between Terminal A and the parking garage at Sacramento International Airport, travelers walk across the 150-foot-long “Flying Carpet” created by artist Seyed Alavi. Installed in 2005, the woven, woolen carpet portrays a digital, aerial image of about 50 miles of the Sacramento River and nearby farm fields and orchards.

9_SMF-Flying Carpet rug offers a digita aerial view of the Sacramento  River, farm fields and other landscape.

Part of an “Art in Public Places” project, the commission for SMF’s Flying Carpet included a duplicate version of the rug that has been in storage.

There are no socks, caps, beer or other official souvenirs (yet) bearing the carpet patterns from Phoenix Sky Harbor or Sacramento International Airports, but visitors regularly post images of the carpets on social media.

12_Nashville International Airport_ the carpet reflect a celebration of music.

With subtle musical notes and musical instruments throughout, the carpet at Nashville International Airport celebrates Music City.

Denver International Airport recently installed 42,000 square yards of new carpeting in Concourse B and 25,000 square yards of new carpeting in Concourse C, at a cost of $2.5 million and $1.7 million respectively. The pattern isn’t aviation-themed, but casually references rivers and streams (in the walking areas) and (in the seating areas) things passengers often see out the windows at DEN: rain and snow.

11_Denver International Airport _Some sections of the recently installed carpet references rivers and streams

The pattern in the 33 acres of teal and white carpeting at Orlando International Airport is quite simple but, along with plenty of light, water and live landscaping, is in keeping with the goal of creating an environment that is comfortable, people-friendly.

14_Orlando International Airport_carpeting and, water features, lots of light and live landscaping are part of the Orlando Experience

Meanwhile, back at Portland International Airport, the old carpet will be gone, but not forgotten: a limited number of 1,000 square yard sections of the old carpet will be made available to winning applicants who will likely sell or give it away small bits of the carpet to others.

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