Fun Stuff

Recap: April Fool’s pranks from airports and airlines

In case you missed these, here are some of the April Fool’s pranks cooked up by airports and airlines this year. If I missed one your favorites, please let me know and I’ll try to add it.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airpot has some great amenities, so it may not have seemed odd to tell travelers that an aircraft viewing area – with a pool – would soon open:

Here’s how the airport described what was in store.

“The space – located near Terminal 2-Humphrey – will bring aviation enthusiasts even closer to the action, while having access to amenities like rentable floaties, private changing rooms, an old-fashioned concessions stand and a full-service bar. While open to anyone interested in a unique experience, we expect travelers with longer layovers will choose to enjoy some pool time as well, and get a taste of Minnesota summers.”

Admission will be a very reasonable $15 a day. Drinks, treats and floaty rentals are additional. If the pool is successful, the airport plans to install a larger pool near Terminal 1-Lindbergh in 2019.”

At Orlando International Airport, this already very real-looking sculpture by artist Duane Hanson seemed to come alive on April 1 and re-located to various spots around the terminal:

Denver International Airport, which has dogs – and one cat – in its Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS), shared (fake) news about adding Norbert the turtle to the team:

Not to be outdone, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport posted a photo of its new airport therapy animal, Aquino the Chameleon,

Southwest announced it own version of Alexa:

Emirates shared news of a transparent lounge coming to its 777x planes, starting in 2020:

Virgin Australia announced in-flight spin classes:

Hong Kong Airlines posted this fun news about its newest in-flight amenity:

Jetstar Airways promised on-board karaoke:

Thomas Cook showed off its newest aircraft:

And Swoop Airlines, the low budget carrier from Canada’s WestJet, let travelers know that it  planned to charge travelers by the minute for time spent in the airplane lavs. Toilet paper?  That will be an extra charge.

 

World’s largest miniature airport

Hamburg, Germany has a popular tourist attraction called the Miniatur Wondurland.  It offers visitors the largest model train exhibit in the world, a miniature carnival, several countries in miniature and, now, the Knuffingen Airport, which is being billed as the world’s largest miniature airport.

It cost about $5 million to create and has more than 100 aircraft (many move around – and take off), 15,000 figurines, 500 cars, and 10,000 trees. It’s adorable and incredible.

Here’s a video:

More Wacky Festivals

(Dillsboro, N.C. is having its Easter Hat parade today)

I knew this would happen. And I’m really happy about it.

People keep sending emails with the subject line “Heh! You forgot….” in response to my Wacky Festivals slide-show on msnbc.com this week.   Here are a couple that showed up yesterday.

“I am disappointed you missed the Heeney, Colorado, World Famous Tick Festival, held during the second weekend of June each year.”

“You should have Sauk City Wisconsin on your list…the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival.”

And we all just missed Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, CO! “One of the wackiest festivals that celebrates a cryogenically frozen man that has been in a Tuff Shed for over 12 years. They hold coffin races and frozen salmon toss-off.”

(song written & performed by Sister Merry Harmony; discovered on Nederland Area Chamber of Commerce website.)

All wonderful! Thanks, everyone. I could – and maybe should? – start an entirely new website, or a book, to gather up all the offbeat festivals in North America alone.  But right now, I’ve got to get started on tomorrow’s Souvenir Sunday feature.  You’ll be tickled when you see what a Stuck at the Airport fan found!


Airports – and now airlines – trash talking each other

For my At the Airport column on USAToday.com this month, Airport wars escalate with attack ads aimed at rivals, I wrote about a new YouTube video about San Francisco International Airport, that features cameo appearances by SF  Mayor Gavin Newsom and Marion & Vivian Brown, the kooky 83-year-old identical twins who have become beloved San Francisco icons.  Designed to promote SFO as the connecting hub of choice for travelers coming to the United States from New Zealand or Australia, the short video compares SFO’s airy, international terminal to an unnamed airport simply referred to as “the bad airport.”

An SFO spokesperson insists there is no specific “bad airport,” but given the target market I’d guess, oh… that LAX is the airport campaign designers had in mind.

Other airports have no problem calling out the competitor they’re trashing by name. Canada’s Edmonton International Airport recently rolled out a “Stop the Calgary Habit” campaign, urging residents of central and northern Alberta to stop connecting through or driving to Calgary International Airport.  The campaign has tag line: “When you go south, so does your air service,”; videos showing repentant passengers; and a tool kit that includes an “Emergency Hypno Cure” to help break the habit.

Of course, there was the challenge Air New Zealand threw down to Southwest Airlines.  Air New Zealand  produced a series of cheeky commercials and an in-flight safety video that showed airline employees dressed in nothing but cleverly applied body paint.  Then ANZ challenged Southwest Airlines to do the same:

Southwest’s answer?  “We’d rather rap”:

Now we have two airlines trading smackdown videos.  Air Tran Airways and Southwest.  See how Southwest started it.

Air Tran’s response?

“We thought about it and thought about it and decided to not respond at all. After all, focusing on running the best low-cost carrier in America is enough to keep us busy.  BUT…if we were to respond, it might look something like this:”

Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Classic games of chance at SFO International Airport

SFO PINBALL CONTROL TOWER

If Lady Luck is on your side, then your next plane trip will include a long layover at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Thanks to the San Francisco Airport Museums program, SFO always has about two dozen temporary and permanent exhibitions on display to keep travelers entertained. Two of the current shows are thematically linked – and especially intriguing.

SFO PINBALL BALLYHOO

The colorful history of pinball is explored in Pinball: from Bagatelle to Twilight Zone, on display in the International Terminal through April 2010.

Games on display are from the Pacific Pinball Museum and various private collections and range from the earliest and very basic pinball games from the late 1800’s to the multi-player,  feature-filled games of the 1970’s and 80’s.

SFO PINBALL FIREBALL

Over in Terminal 3, there are more games.  

SFO SLOTS 3

For Amusement Only: Slot Machines and Other Gambling Devices of the Mechanical Age includes more than 90 slot machines, guessing banks, coin drops, poker machines and punchboards from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries.

SFO SLOT one

These objects are courtesy of Joe Welch’s San Bruno American Antique Museum and are located post-security in Boarding Area F until May, 2010.

You can find out more about these and other exhibitions at San Francisco International Airport on the San Francisco Airport Museums Web site.