National Pancake Day – at IHOP

Today is National Pancake Day at IHOP – which is doling out free short stacks of pancakes throughout the day.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is the only airport I’ve found that lists an IHOP among its dining outlets and I’m not sure if the free pancakes offer extends to the airport.

ATL’s website says this IHOP Express in the Atrium is open 24 hours, so (free or not) it’s always possible to have pancakes at the airport.

New gear and gadgets for the road

For a piece on CNBC, I spent much of last week looking at the gear and gadgets companies are bringing with them to the Las Vegas this week for the annual trade event known as the International Travel Goods show – and at a few items that are new on the market but will not be featured at the show.

Here are a few of my favorites:

I usually leave a few lights on in my hotel room so I can figure out where I am in the middle of the night.  Talus has this handy Nightlight Charging Station ($19.99) that will work as a nightlight and as a place to charge my gadgets.

Icky restrooms are a hazard of traveling.  The Restroom Kit is a one-use portable packet that comes with an oversize toilet seat cover, 1 yard of 3 ply toilet paper, 1 hand wipe and 1 tush wipe.

Travel pillows come in all shapes and sizes and each year more models come to market. Two new products promising to solve the pesky bobbing-head problem on airplanes are Cabeau’s Evolution S3 pillow (above) which has a strap that attaches to the airplane seat headrest to keep your head from falling forward, and the nod2.0  from zdoze, which has cord clips that do the same.

Not at the show, but new on the market, is a travel-sized version of the Water Pik.

My dad was an early fan of the Water Pik flosser when the gadget was first introduced (sometime in the 1960s) and we always had one in the house when I was growing up.

The company recently introduced the 5X7 inch, travel-sized Water Pik Sidekick, so it is now possible (and, I’m sure my dad would say, advisable) to take this useful gadget on the road.


Water pipe break at JFK piles on the misery

As if the flight delays, diversions and cancellations from last week’s nor’easter weren’t enough to ruin a gazillion travel plans into the middle of next week for travelers hoping to fly into and out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, on Sunday afternoon a water pipe burst at JFK Terminal 4, sending  several inches of water into the arrivals area of Terminal 3, which serves Delta, Virgin Atlantic and more than two dozen other international airlines.

For safety reasons, electricity to the terminal was shut down, and that meant delayed flights, stranded passengers, diverted flights  – and a big pile-up of baggage.

To make matters worse – there’s more bad weather on the way and some airlines have issued a new round of change fee waivers and cancellation alerts for Atlanta and some northeast and mid-Atlantic airports.  Here are links to some of the alerts posted by airlines late Sunday evening:

Delta Air Lines


Southwest Airlines

United Airlines

As always, be sure to check with your airline to see what’s up before heading to the airport. And stay safe.

More holiday entertainment at airports

Many airports go all out during the holiday season with decorations and entertainment designed to make the busy travel season festive and a bit less stressful.

Here’s what’s on tap at a few airports around the country. I’ll add more as they come in.

At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, holiday entertainment kicks off on December 20 with Ray Benson & The Barton Hills Choir performing from 12 to 1:30 p.m. The Austin Jazz Workshop performs holiday hits on December 22 from 2 to 3 p.m.  These performances are in addition to the 16 live, post-security music performances presented weekly at the airport. See a schedule of performance and locations here.

The Voices of Christmas

At Los Angeles International Airport Santa, carolers and holiday-themed entertainment are roaming the terminals through Thursday, December 21.

Dallas Love Field has scheduled live music events all through the month, right through December 30.

And at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport live music and costumed characters will be on duty passing out gifts, hanging out with travelers and participating in a daily parade from December 15 through December 24 at 9:30 a.m. with Frosty the Snowman, Sugar Plum Fairies, Santa and others marching rom the D Concourse to the Central Terminal.


Oktoberfest at Frankfurt Airport

It’s Oktoberfest season and a good time to check out pubs and tap rooms in airports.

I’m making a list of some travelers’ favorites – so send in y our suggestions, please.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a layover coming up this month at Frankfurt Airport, you can grab a beer in the airport’s traditional beer tent and be entertained daily by Bavarian brass bands.  There’s evidently even a ‘high striker’ on site where guests can test their strength.

Restaurants and bistros throughout the airport are serving special Bavarian specialties, including white sausage, giant soft pretzels and one-liter mugs of fresh tap beer and there are some Oktoberfest-themed items in the shops, including this Minnie Mouse in a dirndl and Mickey Mouse in leather trousers.