Posts in the category "Shopping":

United Airlines has a new super shopping app

United_MileagePlus X image

A select group of United Airlines Mileage Plus members are testing out MileagePlus X, a new mobile app (different from the existing United mobile app) that lets them use their smartphones at participating stores and restaurants in the real world – not just online – to earn bonuses miles on top of those already earned on certain credit cards.

Here’s how it works: once you download the app, you add in your Mileage Plus account information and the credit cards associated with it. Then, when you’re out at a participating restaurant or store (that the app will help you find) you can use the app to purchase an electronic gift card that you then use to pay your bill – and collect extra bonus miles on top of those your affiliated cards already offer.

Will other airlines do the same? I bet yes… and soon.

Not flying? You can still shop at PIT’s AIRMALL

PIT AIRMALL CUPCAKES

Remember the days when the amenities at most airports consisted of generic news and gift stands offering magazines and snacks, such as hotdogs rotating under a heat lamp, at outrageous prices?

Those days are gone – for a long list of reasons – but thanks in no small part to the AIRMALL at Pittsburgh International Airport, which introduced the concept of an eclectic mix of shops right in the terminal and the promise of regular mall pricing – way back in 1992.

PIT’s AIRMALL recently got a $10 million overhaul and the central core of the terminal now has 25 restaurants and bars, 35 specialty retail shops – including luxury brands such as Armani and Hugo Boss – and 10 news and gift stores.

Here’s a full list

The shops and restaurants are all post-security and usually you have be flying somewhere to gain access. But on Saturday, December 6, PIT airport is inviting everyone to come by and to shop and eat and hang out from noon until 6 p.m. – whether they’re flying or not.

There will be discounts and special offers, free parking, entertainment and, of course, Santa.

What’s the catch? If you plan on going, you’ll need to register ahead of time so you can get through security.

Click here to learn more and to register

Snack Saturday: new food cart at PDX Airport

PDX FOOD CART LOVE AND WHISKEY

In October, we learned that Portland, Oregon’s food truck craze had finally made it to the airport, with two food carts making their debut and the promise of more to come.

Promises have been kept and a third food cart operator, Love & Whisky, has opened in the pre-security shopping and dining area known as the Oregon Market.

On the menu: gourmet food with savory burgers and pancakes, all “made with love… and sometimes a little whisky.”

The food cart program at Portland International Airport is designed to feature a rotating selection, so Love & Whisky will be at PDX through May 2015.

The Stuck at the Airport team is planning to check out the PDX food carts next week when we arrive in town for a holiday shopping adventure that takes advantage of local shops that have branches at the airport, the airport’s street-pricing policy and the fact that there’s no sales tax in Oregon.

While in town, we’re also looking forward to shopping at the art and craft-filled independently-owned stores participating in Portland’s post-Thanksgiving Little Boxes shopping event and prize raffle that takes place in the city’s super-hip neighborhoods.

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.

Gifts for Avgeeks

I’m gathering up a list of cool aviation-related products and handicrafts, just in case Santa reads StuckatTheAirport.com, or in case you’re looking for some cool gifts this holiday season.

Two for today:

Jerome Daksiewicz has a kickstarter campaign going to create a boxed set of his runway prints of 30 of the large hubs in the US and a screenprint illustrating all the runways.
 
runways

And Matthew Mahler at Skyebags has a refreshed line of items – a wallet, a tote and a Dopp kit – made from upcycled leather from old Delta Air Lines seats.

7_Skyebags Dopp Kit

Have a great avgeek gift to recommend? Send in your suggestions.

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