Airport guides

BDL: 5 Things We Love About Bradley International Airport

Our “5 Things We Love About…” series celebrates features and amenities at airports around the country and the world.

Today we land at Bradley International Airport (BDL), in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, about 15 miles from Hartford. BDL is New England’s second largest airport and has a great tagline: Love the Journey

5 Things We Love About Bradley International Airport (BDL)

1. Rocking chairs at Bradley Int’l Airport

Rocking chairs scattered throughout the terminal are decorated by area high school students to showcase a school, town or region.

2. Art & exhibits highlighting area attractions

Two art pieces from the Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, MA (20 miles away) are displayed at Bradley International Airport. Travelers will also find two scale Lego models showcasing Connecticut’s iconic Mark Twain House and Museum as well as the Goodspeed Opera House.

3. Souvenir shopping at Bradley International Airport

You will find plenty of fun souvenirs in the BLD shops, including lobster lollipops and other items reflecting of the region to university themed apparel, such as clothing and memorabilia from Yale University and UConn, the University of Connecticut.

4. Therapy dogs at BDL

To help passengers “Love the Journey,” BDL airport partners with Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc. for its therapy dog program.

5. The New England Air Museum at BDL

The 90,000-square-foot New England Air Museum is the largest aviation museum in the region and it is located right next to Bradley International Airport.

The collection includes more than 100 aircraft ranging from early flying machines to supersonic jets. More than half of the aircraft are on display in three large exhibit hangars and in an outdoor display area.

The museum has a large assortment of engines, artifacts and historical exhibits, including this wicker balloon basket from the 1870s built and flown by Plymouth, Connecticut native and aeronaut Silas Brooks that is believed to be the oldest surviving American-built aircraft.

Bonus: Sheraton Hotel at BDL Airport

The Sheraton Hartford Hotel is located in the terminal at Bradley International Airport. AvGeek alert: in addition to an indoor pool, the hotel has many rooms offering great views of the runway.

Did we miss one of your favorites amenities at Bradley International Airport (BDL)? Is there an airport you’d like to see featured in the “5 Things We Love About...” series on Stuck at The Airport? If so, please leave a note in the comments section below.

PIE: 5 Things We Love About St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

The ‘5 Things We Love About…” series on Stuck At The Airport celebrates features and amenities at airports around the country and the world.

Today we land at Florida’s St. Pete – Clearwater International Airport (PIE).

Originally named Pinellas International Airport – that’s where the airport call letters PIE come from – the airport was renamed St-Pete Clearwater International in 1958 to capitalize on the airport’s location on tourist-friendly Tampa Bay, north of St. Petersburg.  

© James Borchuck 2010 (727) 420-5867

5 Things We Love About St. Pete – Clearwater International Airport (PIE)

Photo by James Borchuck

1. The art at PIE

The public art collection at PIE includes the 45-foot blown glass wall, SunSkySea, by Guy Kemper (above), glass vessels by Duncan McClellan, terrazzo floor tile inserts by Kelly Taaffe Noto and lots more.

2. PIE PUPS

The PIE PUPS program brings therapy dogs to the airport to help de-stress travelers. PIE also has new Bark Parks in the parking lots.

3. Family-Friendly Amenities

Bonus amenities at PIE includes a kid’s play zone designed by the Great Explorations Children’s Museum that features simulated flights and a lego table with airplanes. 

4. Local favorite Mazzaro Italian Market

Local favorite Mazzaro Italian Market has a branch at PIE featuring Italian hot and cold sandwiches and flatbreads and signature cocktails.

5. Aviation History

PIE airport’s location on Tampa Bay, north of St. Petersburg is credited as being the birthplace of commercial air transportation. 

On January 1, 1914, barely a decade after the Wright Brothers’ pioneer flight at Kitty Hawk, the first ticket for air travel was sold by the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airport line to a fare-paying passenger. 

St. Petersburg mayor A.C. Phiel (center in the photo below) paid $400 to be the first passenger on the St. Petersburg Tampa Bay Airport Line on a flight that marked the beginning of commercial air transportation. 

A replica of the Benoist amphibious airplane flown that inaugural flight is on display in the PIE baggage claim.

Courtesy Courtesy National Air and Space Museum Archives.

SAN: 5 Things We Love About San Diego International Airport

SAN: Five Things WE Love about San Diego International Airport

Our “5 Things We Love About…” series celebrates features and amenities at airports around the country and the world.

Today we land at San Diego International Airport (SAN), North America’s second-ever carbon neutral airport.

We know that due to health concerns, some amenities we love may not currently be available. We’re confident they’ll be back.

5 Things We Love About San Diego International Airport (SAN)

1. The art at San Diego International Airport

San Diego International Airport has a robust art program with great permanent public art pieces and temporary exhibitions.

Above are some snaps of The Journey by Jim Campbell. The light ribbon is both the Airport Authority’s largest commission and largest scale artwork and is made up of 38,000 suspended LED pendants spanning six feet wide by 700 feet long. Located in Terminal 2, the artwork has images of people swimming, dancing and walking, and birds in flight, fluttering throughout the sculpture.

2. SAN is home to the California Least Tern

The San Diego International Airport is home to the California Least Tern (Sterna antillarum browni, “CLT”), a federally listed endangered seabird species. The airport provides the tern with a nesting habitat and easy access to foraging opportunities in nearby San Diego Bay.

3. SAN has its own beer

San Diego International Airport (SAN) partnered with local brewery Ballast Point and industrial water purification company, Water Works, Inc., to brew a beer – called SAN Test Pilot.

The water for SAN Test Pilot comes from condensate that drips from the bottom of air conditioning units attached to jet bridges. The Airport’s Environmental Affairs team began collecting the dripping condensate in 2014 and currently captures about 100,000 gallons per year from 18 of the most heavily used jet bridges at terminals 1 and 2.

In addition to making beer, the water is used to wash sidewalks, equipment, vehicles and building exteriors and in the cooling towers that control the temperature in the terminals.

4. SAN’s artist in residence program

In addition to a performing arts program, San Diego International Airport has a performing arts residency program that gives area groups space to develop new work and the opportunity to perform.

The program kicked off in 2016 with the Fern Street Circus and since then has hosted a wide variety of performance groups, including an aerial dance theater.

5. SAN’s Innovation Lab

SAN’s Airport Innovation Lab is a 16-week accelerator program that helps entrepreneurs, start-ups, and other businesses get a healthy foothold in the airport industry.

The program provides testing for the ideas and a one-year technology-intensive collaborative program. 

Past Innovation Lab start-ups you may recognize include Fuel Rod and At Your Gate.

 Did we miss your favorite amenity at San Diego International Airport (SAN)? If so, drop a note in the comments section below.

And please take a look at the other airports featured in the ‘5 Things We Love About..” series. Let us know which airports you’d like to see added.

Not a joke: Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport (BER) ready to open.

After 9 years of delays and false starts, Germany’s third-largest airport, Berlin Brandenburg “Willy Brandt” Airport (BER) is scheduled to open on October 31, 2020.

We won’t be able to be there for the opening, but we’re looking forward to a visit once this COVID-19 business is resolved.

In the meantime, here’s a recap of our 2014 visit to the airport site, when we joined a bus tour of the unopened airport.

Our report first appeared on USA TODAY.

Berlin  Brandenburg Airport is late for an important date

The highlight of my late June visit to the unopened and much-delayed Berlin Brandenburg  Willy Brandt Airport was racing down a runway as a passenger in a tour bus going more than 60 miles per hour.

It was also one of the saddest parts of the tour.

That’s because due to technical glitches, cost overruns, corruption and project mismanagement, tour buses – not airplanes – are likely the only vehicles that will be barreling down the BER runways for quite some time.

Under construction since 2006, Berlin’s much-needed new airport was designed to serve 27 million passengers, with an initial opening target date of November 2011.

That date was pushed back to June 3, 2012, and, despite trial runs during which the airport authority did tests of the baggage carousels, check-in desks, and security checkpoints, and simulated what it termed “all imaginable scenarios,” a problem with the airport’s fire safety and suppression system was discovered.

With just four weeks’ notice, opening day was called off.

Since then multiple target dates for a new opening day – six or seven, it’s hard to keep count – have come and gone. Now all the company managing the project will say is that “an opening date is expected to be announced at the end of the year.”

2016 has been bandied about as the next possible opening date, but additional problems and embarrassing operational revelations keep cropping up.  

In May, there was an announcement of a suspected corruption case involving bribes for the awarding of contracts. In early June, there was out-of court settlement between the airport management company and airberlin, the major tenant at Berlin’s outdated Tegel Airport, over claims the airline felt it was due because of delays in the switchover.

And at the end of June, it was revealed that the engineer responsible for designing the new airport’s fire safety system was in fact just a draftsman, not a real engineer, and had been fired.

Besides showing off any progress, one reason the airport authority offers BER tours “is because it’s important that people don’t only read about the airport in the newspaper and see the reports on TV,” said an airport spokesman.

Tour buses stop first at a 105-foot-tall observation tower offering a bird’s eye view of the unopened airport terminal, the unused runways, empty parking lots, and assorted other facilities-in-waiting.

At the bottom of the tower is an airport information center, with a scale model of the airport and a glass cabinet of souvenirs emblazoned with the BER logo.

The staff on duty the day I visited said they don’t sell many of these souvenirs to tourists. And they seemed amused when I asked about purchasing some BER t-shirts, baseball caps, tote bags, inflatable plastic beach balls, and small, plastic lunch boxes.  

Our tour bus then drove slowly past the very quiet office, cargo, and airport security facilities and by the railway station, where empty trains run each day to make sure systems remain working.

Photo ops of the front of the main terminal building were only offered from inside the bus, but the terminal’s glass façade offered a glimpse of “The Magic Carpet,” by Pae White. The large, red, work of art, one of several pieces specially-commissioned for the airport, hovers over the check-in lobby.

Out back, the bus pulled up at BER’s one A380-compatible gate, which has a jet bridge draped with Olaf Nicolai’s “Gadget,” a piece of art that looks like a string of giant pop beads and is designed to change colors to match those of the livery of the airplane at the gate.

Tour-goers were allowed off the bus here and invited up a set of not-quite-finished stairs for a look at a gate area where seats were installed, but still wrapped in plastic, and ceiling panels gaped open.

“It’s not unusual for big projects like this to be over budget,” said Johann Bammann, a retired architect whose tour ticket was a gift from a friend. But delays are dragging on too long, he said, “it’s time for the city to have a new front door.”

After a stop near the control tower, the bus made that dash down the runway, stopping to let passengers out to run around and pose for photos.

“It’s just unbelievable. I can’t understand why it’s taking such a long time to open this airport,” said Barbel Liedtke, a former Berlin-based Pan Am Airlines employee taking the tour with a friend. “But I’m sure there are a lot of people to blame.”

SDF: 5 Things We Love About Louisville Muhammad Ali Int’l Airport

Our “5 Things We Love About...” series celebrates services and amenities at airports around the country and the world.

Today we land at Kentucky’s Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF).

Keep in mind that some of the features we love may be unavailable due to health concerns. We’re confident they’ll be back.

If we miss something you love about SDF Airport, or if you have an airport you’d like to be featured, please drop a note in the comments section below.

5 Things We Love About Louisville Muhammad International Airport (SDF)

1. The airport’s name honors Muhammad Ali

Louisville International Airport became Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) in 2019 to honor boxing legend and Louisville native Muhammad Ali.

Ali was born on January 17, 1942, and died on June 3, 2016. The Muhammad Ali Center, on Louisville’s Museum Row, explores his life.

2. The rocking chairs at SDF

Kentucky is bourbon country and we love that rocking chairs at SDF are made from bourbon barrel staves by local Wood Artisan Jason Cohen.

 

3. The Virtual Information Booth at SDF

SDF has a Virtual Information Booth staffed by volunteers from the Airport Ambassador Program who answer questions from a remote spot in the airport. A perfect social distance solution to customer service and safety.

4. Bourbon and Baseball Bats

Louisville is home to the Urban Bourbon Trail and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.

So it’s good to know that travelers can purchase both bourbon and Louisville Slugger bats in the airport shops.

5. The SDF Wags Team

The SDF Wags program at Louisville Mohammad International Airport kicked off in 2019.

Certified pet therapy animals and their handlers visit the airport terminal two to three times a week to help make the travel experience less stressful.

6. Bonus: the SDF Mascot

We love airport mascots, plain and simple, and the mascot at SDF – named Skye- is one of our favorites.