Fresno Yosemite International Airport

Travel Tidbits: Switchfoot at SAN and more.

Image courtesy SAN & Pablo Mason

This morning, (Monday, June 19) alternative rock band Switchfoot will show up at San Diego International Airport to perform an acoustic set and play with two area youth music groups.  The event will also promote a new exhibition in the airport about BRO-AM, Switchfoot’s  free annual music and surf festival held in Encinitas to benefit area youth causes.

 

Not that many airports have classic barbershops on site anymore, so it’s quite impressive to learn that Nick Palomares has been operating his barbershop at Fresno Yosemite International Airport for 45 years.

“Mr. Palomares’ milestone anniversary is truly a testament of his professionalism and gracious personality that resonates with his clients, passengers and guests,” said Director of Aviation Kevin Meikle in a statement marking the milestone and reminding travelers – even those that don’t need haircuts – to swing by the shop to check out walls of the barbershop, which are filled with photos of celebrities that have passed through the airport.

 

And when you’re spending money at airports and on airplane tickets around the world, keep in mind that pretty much every one of those companies has a foundation that supports non-profits in many communities.

For example, HMS Host, which operates food and beverage venues at more than 120 airports worldwide, has the HMSHost Foundation, which last week gave a $20,000 grant to Grace-Mar Services in support of the group’s work to provide financial literacy, job readiness and other services in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the groups have also worked together on job placements at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Are airports ready for the new 3-hour rule? Are you?

(photo courtesy Daniel Incandela)

My column on USATODAY.com this month, Are airports ready for the 3-hour rule?, takes a look at how airports are gearing up for the April 29th roll-out of the new Department of Transportation (DOT) rule to upgrade protections for airline passengers.

We’ve been hearing a lot from airlines – they’re not happy – but I was curious about what the fall-out might be for airports if (when?) more planes end up turning around and coming back to the terminal and if (when?) more people end up stuck at the airport.

I was imagining I’d hear worry, maybe even hysteria, from airport officials.  That’s not what I got. In fact, the responses I got down the line were more along the lines of “We’re ready. Bring it on.”

You can read the complete column – and the very intriguing comments readers have been posting – on USATODAY.com.  Here’s some of what airport officials told me:

Airports at the ready

Long before the DOT announced enhanced protections for airline passengers, airports were holding meetings to work on creating tool kits and best practices that could be used during excessive flight delays. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, for example, executive vice president for operations Jim Crites says that in 2007 the airport began purchasing extra equipment to help deplane passengers quickly. DFW also started beefing up communications with airlines, with regional airports that might get diverted flights and with airport concessionaires that might need to stay open later than usual during irregular operations. “The customer expects everyone to be on the same page. So instead of doing business in isolation, you began to see more coordination, more teaming up and partnering across entities.”

It’s the same story at many small and medium-sized airports. “After that incident when people were stuck on a JetBlue plane in New York for nine hours we agreed as a management team that we would not let that happen here,” says Russell Widmar, the aviation director at California’s Fresno Yosemite International Airport, “So we’ve had our own passengers’ bill of rights in place for almost a year and a half now.”

The plan that the team worked out was successfully put to the test in January 2008, when severe weather on the California coast brought 14 diverted planes to Fresno Airport. “It really isn’t any problem dealing with extra flights,” says Widmar, “The only difficulty is that these passengers don’t want to be in Fresno. They want to be San Francisco or wherever they were headed. But if they end up here, no matter when they drop in, we have services available for them. No one needs to be stuck on the airplane.”

Widmar believes that by now pretty much every airport is ready to deal with this type of activity. That includes the many small airports not currently covered by the DOT contingency plan rule, such as Indiana’s Fort Wayne International Airport, which often get diverted flights from Chicago and Detroit. FWA executive director Tory Richardson says “The DOT rule is silent on how the coordination plans are to be handled at small airports, even though there are a few hundred of us. But we will step up … Nobody wants the black eye that happened in Rochester.”

Solar powered airports? Yup!

Earth Hour, Earth Day and Earth Month may be over for this year, but the trend to go green is becoming a year-round thing at many airports.   Rare is the terminals that doesn’t at least have recycling bins these days.  And now many airports are embracing solar power and wind power.

My recent column in USAToday.com has a round-up of aiports generating some of their own juice.  Included: Denver International Airport, Fresno Yosemite International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Austin-Bergstrom Interrnational Airport, Long Beach Airport, Boston Logan International Airport and several others.

Here’s a link to the story: Solar Airports? It could happen.

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7 acres of solar panels field at Denver International Airport

Tree-mendous airports

An airport is like the front door to a city. So a city that wants to impress visitors could start by fixing up its airport.

At California’s Fresno Yosemite International Airport, that sprucing up will take the form of fake sequoia trees.

According to a story from the Fresno Bee, a grove of six fake sequoia trees will be “planted” in the airport terminal next year as part of a $9.2 million renovation. One will even have a space to walk through.

The goal: to “convey a sense of wilderness” and “improve the city’s image by giving visitors a taste of one of the nation’s most spectacular natural wonders.”

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