sports

United Airlines serving up Olympic super heroes & snacks

United Airlines is super excited about the Winter Olympics and, as the official airline of Team USA, is going all out with stateside celebrations.

On Friday, Feb 9, the airline will be giving out super hero action figures of a half dozen Olympic athletes at seven hub airports: Houston (IAH), Dulles, DEN, LAX, SFO, Newark and O’Hare. Details here.

United will also be serving up Olympics-inspired food and beverage at more than 50 club locations through February 24.

On Friday, February 9,  they’ll be serving a Perfect 10 cocktail made with prosecco and cranberry juice, garnished with blueberries and cranberries and a Super Sundae, made with vanilla ice cream,  strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.

Through February 24, foods served will include a fruit bar with blueberries, pineapple, blackberries, honeydew and strawberries and a mix-and-match candy bar.

And in addition to specialty cocktails ($5 each) such as the The Rings (Vodka, triple sec, white cranberry juice and simple syrup garnished with lifesavers), on February 24 the menu will include a red, white and blue parfait, made with vanilla yogurt, fresh strawberries, blueberries and a sprinkle of granola.

 

MSP Airport is ready for Super Bowl fans to arrive – and leave

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is ready for the Super Bowl 52 fans to arrive – and leave .

“For many Super Bowl attendees, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will be their first and last impression of Minnesota, and we want to ensure it’s a great one,” said Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which owns and operates MSP.

The airport has spruced up with a special Super Bowl info page on its website, an enhanced Wi-Fi system, new carpeting, new furniture, new shops and restaurants and has added lots of NFL signage and pop-up Super Bowl souvenir shops in the terminals.

Extra volunteers have been recruited to help travelers with airport wayfinding and extra space has been arranged for all the taxis, rental cars, limos and Uber and Lyft cars that will be supplementing public transportation options at the airport.

Weather contingency plans are in place. Airport police and fire crews have been working with city, county and federal law enforcement agencies on how to deal with various scenarios. And the Transportation Security Administration is bringing in extra officers and passenger screening canines to help process passengers heading home after the game.

“TSA operations at MSP following the Super Bowl will be an ‘all hands on deck’ operation,” said TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers, “From uniformed staff to plain-clothes administrative personnel, everyone will be working.”

TSA and MSP expect to set passenger records on the Monday and Tuesday after Super Bowl, but airport officials are confident their team is up for the challenge.

“We have a solid plan in place to keep everyone safe, the operation running smoothly, and travelers’ experience positive,” said MSP’s Ryks.

Safe and smooth is good, but MSP’s Super Bowl welcome team is also offering fans of the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots some fun extras.

A 10-day “Performing Arts Spectacular” is underway, with a lineup of events featuring everything from Bollywood, hip-hop and flamenco dancers to vocal and drum performances. The airport’s animal ambassadors will be out in full force. And giveaways in the terminals will include a series of Super Bowl/Winter-themed MSP buttons and foldable terminal maps with disposable hand warmers attached.

Several airlines, including Delta, Southwest, American and United, have added flights to MSP from Boston, Philadelphia and many other major hubs for Super Bowl ticket holders and last-minute planners heading to the Twin Cities to partake of Super Bowl festivities.

In addition to the extra flights, American Airlines, the official airline for the Philadelphia Eagles, is handing out Eagles rally towels to all passengers flying on from Philadelphia to Minneapolis-St. Paul through Sunday, February 4.

And on Saturday and Sunday, United Airlines is serving “football favorites,” including hot dogs and macaroni salad, to customers visiting the carriers’ lounges in its hub cities. United Club visitors in Boston, Philadelphia and Minneapolis will also find extra treats, including lobster roll and New England clam chowder in Boston; Tastykakes and a build-your-own hoagie bar in Philadelphia; and Captain Ken’s Wagon Trail Chili (a Minnesota favorite) in Minneapolis.

 

Bay area airports gear up for Super Bowl 50

Mineta San Jose International Airport ready for Super Bowl 50 fans_edited

No matter which teams end up playing in Super Bowl 50 on February 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, airports in the Bay Area are ready for all those sports fans to arrive – and depart.

Here’s what some of the area airports have in store:

Officials at San Francisco International Airport are gearing up for a steady stream of arriving traffic in the days leading up to the Super Bowl and for a big crush of travelers on the Monday following the game.

“For the departure activity, we’re working with the TSA and airlines to open ticket counters and security checkpoints much earlier than usual,” said airport spokesman Doug Yakel, “and many airlines are actually planning to remain open 24 hours from Sunday into Monday to keep customers moving.”

The “5-4-3-2-1” campaign, should help move things along on departure day. The campaign encourages travelers to check out of their hotels 5 hours before their scheduled departure flight, to return their rental cars 4 hours before their flights and to check in at their airline ticket counters 3 hours before their flights. SFO is urging Super Bowl fans to get through the security checkpoints at least 2 hours before their flights and be waiting at their departure gates a least an hour before the scheduled departure time.

Other airports in the area are promoting the 5-4-3-2-1 campaign as well.

SFO MUSEUM FOOTBALL HELMET

That means, of course, that a lot of passengers may be spending more time than usual at the airport and SFO is ready for that with an exhibit of artifacts from the NFL Hall of Fame (in Terminal 3) and a planned program of live music in all the terminals.

SFO has also set aside 150 parking spaces for private and corporate aircraft activity.

Pop-up Super Bowl shop at Oakland International Airport_edited

Oakland International Airport already has a pop-up shop selling Super Bowl memorabilia inside the terminal and is bracing for full flights during the week of the Super Bowl but, right now, has no additional commercial game-related flights scheduled for that week.

“What we are anticipating is an increase in corporate flights and are expecting to have the most private jet activity in the region, given that we have the most physical space for aircraft parking,” said OAK spokesperson Keonnis Taylor.

Mineta San Jose International Airport, “the gateway to The Big Game,” has spent months been planning for a significant increase in Super Bowl 50-related travelers and aircraft, including the arrival of the two Super Bowl team planes, currently scheduled on Sunday, January 31, and up to 10 commercial-sized aircraft transporting NFL family and friends, which are likely to land on February 4, said SJC spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes.
Some airlines will likely add commercial flights to accommodate increased demand, once the two teams playing have been decided, but SJC is also planning to accommodate what may be up to 150 private aircraft.

Passengers will find super-sized NFL graphics inside and outside of the terminals and in the Rental Car center, an increased presence by the San Jose Police Department and extended TSA checkpoint hours and personnel on Game Night through Tuesday after the game.

A helpful Game Week Travel page on the SJC website offers everything from tips on ground transportation options to a reminder from the TSA to pack Super Bowl 50 souvenir program in carry-ons only, “due to the program’s hologram feature.”

(My story about Bay Area airports gearing up for Super Bowl 50 first appeared on USA TODAY )

 

 

Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l Airport ready for Super Bowl

PHX SUPER BOWL CLOCK

At the end of January, about 100,000 football fans will be heading to the Phoenix area for Super Bowl XLIX and a wide range of related festivities.

Most all of them will be arriving and departing from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport ,where the busiest day will be the day after the Super Bowl, February 2nd.

Is the airport ready for the big game? You bet.

This will be the Phoenix area’s third Super Bowl (games were held there in 1996 and 2008) and planning has been underway for months. Airport officials have been working closely with the Super Bowl Host Committee, airlines, the TSA, car rental companies and other partners to make sure everything is in place.

To accommodate the influx of football fans, restaurants inside the airport will increase their hours and the number of available taxis will be increased by approximately 50 percent.

Sky Harbor will also have increased customer service staff at the ready to welcome visitors. In addition to the 400 volunteer ‘Navigators’ at Sky Harbor, PHX will have about 200 Super Bowl volunteers on hand to answer questions.

Then there are the security preparations.

PHX is coordinating with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Phoenix Police Department and other public safety partners to make sure there’s increased law enforcement presence around the airport, including firefighters from the two Phoenix Fire stations located at Sky Harbor who will be patrolling the terminals on bikes.

(My story about PHX getting ready for the Super Bowl first appeared on USA Today in a slightly different version.)

Super Bowl XLIX? Phoenix Sky Harbor is ready

Super Bowl XLIX will be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 – about six months from now – but Sky Harbor International Airport is already planning how it will welcome all the football fans that will be coming to town.

To remind everyone that the countdown is underway, the airport has installed two giant digital clocks in the baggage claim area of Terminal 4 to mark the days, hours and minutes until the big game.

PHX SuperBowl Clock

Courtesy Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

In the month surrounding the big game, Phoenix Sky Harbor expects to serve about 4 million passengers. Many will be attending the game, of course, but plenty of people will be coming to town to party in the 12 downtown city blocks that will be turned into Super Bowl Central for the four days leading up to the game.