PDX

Pleasant perks at Portland International Airport

 

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

 

Disclosure: this story was sponsored by National Car Rental

As the author of this blog, a monthly USA TODAY column and various features about how to make the most of your time stuck at just about any airport, I’m often asked which airport is my favorite.

The short answer is always, “The airport where I board the plane that takes me to a new adventure, and the one where I board the plane that takes me home.”

But when pressed, I admit there are a few airports I’ll actually build a trip around.

Oregon’s Portland International Airport is one of them.

Its perks are plentiful and, like the city, PDX airport is super environmentally-conscious and kind of quirky.

For example, an assembly/repair station and a tool check-out where cyclists can borrow a pedal wrench or air pump encourage biking to the airport. And the recently-replaced but hipster-embraced terminal carpet lives on in everything from coasters and caps to dog leashes and luggage tags made from remnants of the old rug.

Shopping for these and other unique-to-the-region items at PDX is a pleasure, in part because Oregon has no sales tax and the more than 60 stores and restaurants must offer their goods and services at prices no higher than what would be charged at off-airport locations.

And there are plenty of Oregon-based venues where you’ll want to spend your money, including the pre-security branches of Oregon-based Pendleton, Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Powell’s Books, the selection of Portland’s favorite food trucks, and at the post-security outlet of House Spirits Distillery, where the makers of Aviation American gin and a variety of other regionally-themed, small-batch spirits offer samples.

PDX also has a pop-up Farm-to-Table stand offering Oregon produce, wine and cheese; a spa; a barber shop; a great art collection; and an extensive schedule of vendor events and live entertainment that extends through the weekend. And, later this summer, Portland’s non-profit Hollywood Theater will open an 800-square foot in-airport mini-movie theater that will run short films telling Oregon stories.

While spending time inside PDX airport is a delight, you’ll eventually want to head outside and explore.

The MAX light rail line makes the trip to downtown in 38 minutes for $2.50, but renting a car is almost as easy and allows visitors the freedom to explore everything the Portland area has to offer.

On-airport rental car companies are on the ground floor of parking garage P1, across from baggage claim, and the National Car Rental location here has an Emerald Aisle. That means Emerald Club members can bypass the counter, choose their own car and be immediately on their way to the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area just 20 miles away, Mount Hood, an easy 60 miles away, or the Oregon beaches, which are less than 100 miles from the airport.

Or you might not want to drive very far: the Cascade Station shopping center, home to restaurants and shops, including an IKEA, is located just outside the airport grounds.

 

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.

Fresh shops & restaurants for PDX & LAX

PDX_KeepPortlandWeird

75 percent of the existing leases for shops and restaurants at Portland International Airport are expiring in 2017 and agreements for many fresh new options are just beginning to be rolled out.

The list kicks off with the recent announcement of leases for 11 new outlets that should be open in early 2015, including Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen, Café Yumm!, Henry’s Tavern, Hissho Sushi, Mo’s Seafood & Chowder, a branch of The Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar – and more.

Meanwhile, at Los Angeles International Airport, Terminal 2 is beginning its transformation.

In the video below, Westfield shares information about its plan for 20 new dining and retail outlets and fresh amenities destined for that terminal.

The plan includes doubling the dining options – to 12 – with two Starbucks, SeaLegs Wine Bar, SLAPFISH Modern Seafood Shack The Pie Hole, Pepita Cantina; Pick Up Stix; Fresh Brothers Pizza, Ciabatta Bar; BUILT Custom Burger and Barney’s Beanery, a classic American roadhouse modeled after Route 66.

For shopping, the retail outlets will include a SPANX outlet, a Duty Free shop, 2 CNBC shops and 2 Univision shops, which will carry many products targeted to the Hispanic traveler.

Amenities-wise, we can look forward to gate areas with lounge-style seating, lots more charging stations, new restrooms, terrazzo flooring and new lighting.

Win prizes at BWI and PDX airports

Baltimore Ravens football fans – and everyone else – can enter the “AIRMALL Purple Zone” contest at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) for the chance to win official Ravens gear and other prizes – including a trip to a Ravens away game during the 2013 season.

Passengers who make a purchase at participating BWI Marshall retail locations will receive a Ravens scratch-off ticket and have a chance at winning prizes that include Ravens t-shirts, hats, polo shirts, and autographed mini-helmets, discounts at some airport shops and – the grand prize : a trip for two to a 2013 Ravens away game, including round-trip airfare, game tickets, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, a Ravens prize pack and lunch. (You can also get a scratch ticket by mail. See the contest details.

And travelers who live in or near Portland, Oregon should definitely enter the Holidays Take Flight contest at Portland International Airport. The winner gets a $1,000 traveler voucher redeemable for round-trip travel from PDX to any Alaska Airlines destination. Enter here.

Tidbits for travelers: Pink’s at LAX, $5 haircuts at PDX

Pink's Hot Dogs at LAX

Airport employee Timothy Ihle's recipe was chosen for the LAX International Dog

(Photo credit: Jay Berkowitz/LAWA photographer)

Hot dog fans rejoice. There’s now a branch of Pink’s Hot Dogs in the pre-security food court at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport. On the menu: the LAX International Dog, based on a “recipe” suggested by an airport employee.

And in Oregon, there’s now a branch of The Barbers at Portland International Airport.

The Barbers now at PDX

Look for the lighted barber pole

(Photo courtesy szlea, via Flickr Creative Commons.)

Like the company’s 16 other Pacific Northwest locations, the pre-security airport shop has an old fashioned barbershop appearance and offers haircuts, hot lather neck shaves and shoe shines.  (Still checking to see if the free popcorn served at other branches will be offered here.)  To celebrate the grand opening, haircuts are only $5 through August 15th. Another reason you – and your hair – should head to the airport early.