Entertainment

Nintendo’s pop-up airport lounges

Nintendo pop-up lounge at Dallas Love Field

Calling all Nintendo fans. Or anyone wanting some entertainment while they’re stuck at the airport.

Nintendo has rolled out a cluster of pop-up game lounges at four airports just in time for the spring break travel season,

The Nintendo Switch On The Go pop-up airport lounges are at Washington Dulles (IAD), Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA), O’Hare International (ORD) and Dallas Love Field (DAL) airports.

Each lounge gives travelers hands-on time with game demos using Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite.

According to Nintendo, anyone who visits one of these Switch On The Go lounges can order Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite systems and receive a free carrying case with their order.

Another promised bonus for anyone who stops by is a free Nintendo Switch branded luggage handle wrap and a $10 coupon from Target to use on any Nintendo purchase of $75 or more – “available while supplies last.”

Nintendo pop-up lounge at SEA airport

But: We stopped by the SEA pop-up lounge on Monday, the first day Nintendo’s pop-up lounge was opened. Although the attendants were friendly and chatty and offered to take our photo, no luggage handle wraps or coupons were offered. So, if you’re interested in that, be sure to speak up.  

Look for the pop-up lounges through March 29, 2020 at these airports:

Fresh airport amenities to take the hassle out of travel

Airport amenities that might make summer travel fun. Or less of a hassle

Summer may be half over but many of the hassles of summer travel never end.

Which is why we’re always on the lookout for airport amenities that can take the hassle out of travel.

Here’s a list I put together for USA TODAY Travel.  

Cruise to SEA airport luggage-free

More than a million cruise passengers pass through Seattle on their way to and from Alaska each summer and they bring a lot of luggage with them through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

To keep out all those bags out of the airport check-in halls, the Port of Seattle offers Port Valet. The complimentary service allows passengers to check in for their flights and check in their bags on board their cruise ships and then explore the city luggage-free before heading to their flights. The luggage transfer is free; but regular checked bag fees apply.

Learn how to save a life while waiting for a flight

Los Angeles International is the latest airport to get a Hands-Only CPR Training Kiosk from the American Heart Association.

More than a dozen other airports have these kiosks as well and just five minutes – the time it takes scroll through your Instagram feed again – you can watch a short instruction video (in English or Spanish), practice on a rubber manikin, get feedback on your technique and learn how to save a life.

 Get coffee made by a robot

In two locations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and one brand new one in Terminal 3 at San Francisco International Airport, travelers can order coffee drinks prepared and delivered by a robotic barista in a Briggo automated Coffee Haus kiosk. 

Orders can be sent ahead via the app, no pre-caffeine chit-chat is required, local coffee blends are features, and there’s a robot on duty 24 hours a day.

Food and sundries delivered to you at your gate

You found an empty seat by a working power plug near your gate and now you’re hungry.

Lucky for you gate delivery services are available in an increasing number of airports. The fast-expanding, app-powered airport order and delivery service At Your Gate rolled out this month in Terminal A at Boston Logan International Airport with plans to expand to Terminal C by the end of summer.

The service is also available in all or parts of Newark (EWR), JFK, LGA, MSP, PDX and San Diego International Airports (SAN) with more on the way.

Tour Tampa International Airport without a ticket

Go to the airport – and through the TSA checkpoint- if you don’t have to?

You might say yes if you wanted to greet or say goodbye to a friend or family member at the gate. Or if you wanted to check out the art, shopping, and the bars and restaurants inside the airport.

Since May, the All Access program at Tampa International Airport has been giving passes to 100 non-ticketed visitors each Saturday (25 per airside terminal). Pittsburgh International Airport’s MyPIT Pass program issues passes for post-security access on weekdays.

Free do-it-yourself piano concerts

Many airports provide live music in the terminals during busy holiday periods and year-round.

Some also provide pianos and invite passengers to make their own music before or after a flight.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) recently installed a “Play Me” piano in Terminal 1. And Los Angeles International Airport recently debuted to new Kawai G-40EP manual and self-playing baby grand pianos; one in the Terminal 4 connector and one on the Upper Level of Terminal 7. 

Just Plane Fun at Philadelphia International Airport

It’s like a summer camp at the airport.

The summer-long Just Plane Fun program at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) offers travelers an eclectic schedule of free activities that includes live music, magic shows, artist demonstrations and workshops, beauty demos, local celebrity appearances, and, our favorite, free sips and food samples.

Check the PHL website for scheduled events or pick up a flyer at an airport information counter.

Airport trading cards – collect them all

They’re cool. They’re collectible. They’re free. And they can be a challenge to find.

Over the past few years, more than 70 airports have created trading cards as part of the North American Airport Collectors Series trading card program. The 2019 series is scheduled to debut in September.

There doesn’t seem to be a master list of participating airports, nor a formal way to acquire the cards. But to start your collection we suggest stopping by an information desk in any airport you happen to be traveling to or through this summer.

Let’s all go to the movies – at the airports

The 17-seat free Hollywood Theatre micro cinema at Portland International Airport (PDX) has a fresh reel of short films by Oregon filmmakers, including Rob Tyler’s “The Way We Melt,” starring brightly-colored, rapidly thawing frozen confections.

Summer travelers may also watch free films at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) courtesy of the SFO Museum’s Video Arts Program, at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) in the See 18 Film Screening Room on Concourse C, near Gate C18.

Sensory-friendly Space with real airplane seating

Going to the airport and getting on a plane can be stressful for anyone, but kids or adults with autism or other special needs may need extra help acclimating and adjusting.

To help out, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) just opened Presley’s Place, a 15,000 square-foot sensory-friendly space in Concourse A, by Gate 9. In addition to a calming transition foyer, family room, soundproof adult area, and restroom with adult changing table and adjustable sink, Presley’s Place is the first airport sensory room to also have the walls and floor of a real jet way and a seating section from a realistic airplane cabin, courtesy American Airlines.

Have a favorite airport amenity? Let us know; maybe it will be featured here on Stuck at The Airport.

Listen up at Los Angeles International Airport

Local entertainers, sports figures, musicians, actors, chefs and other celebrity voices from Los Angeles are lending their voices to the recorded welcome messages at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The first group of voices include:

  • Jimmy Kimmel, host and executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • Justin Turner, third baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Gustavo Dudamel, internationally renowned conductor, Music and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Susan Feniger, L.A.-based chef, author, radio and TV personality, and owner of BBQ Mexicana, Socalo and Border Grill restaurants, which has a location inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal. 

The messages will rotate throughout the day and be replaced on a regular basis with new voices. Travelers will hear the messages on the overhead announcement system at the curb and inside each terminal.

Give a listen to the new celebrity welcome messages at LAX here.

Why is LAX doing this?

“Los Angeles is globally recognized as the entertainment capital of the world, offering the best in movies, television, sports, music, food and culture,” said Deborah Flint, CEO, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). “We continue to put the L.A. in LAX by offering our guests immersive experiences – from fashion shows to performances by local musicians and artists – so we are excited to begin welcoming tens of millions of people with voices of iconic, local personalities.”

While LAX may have a more famous group of celebrities to choose from, LAX isn’t the first airport to do this.

McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Denver International Airport and many others invite local dignitaries, entertainers, sports players and others to record welcome messages and public service information advisories for travelers.

So listen up. And let us know your favorites.



At the Airport: Summer camp at PHL Airport

It may seem as if Philadelphia International Airport has a summer camp.

The Just Plane Fun program at PHL is the airport’s summer-long entertainment program that includes live performances, beauty care demonstrations, educational and informational displays, artist demonstrations, interactive arts and crafts activities for kids and adult, historical impersonators, caricaturists, food sampling and more.

Here’s some of what’s on the menu this week:

Today, July 23, there will be free tastings at Legal Sea Foods in the B/C connector from 11 am to noon.

Tomorow, July 24, you can pick up a free food samples at Noobar in Concourse B from noon to 2 p.m.

On July 25, there will be a story-time and coloring at the airport library in the D/E Connector from noon to 1 p.m. The library is also home to a fun, free short dispenser as well.

PHL short story dispenser
Courtesy PHL Airport

Later that afternoon, from 1 to 3 p.m. there will be complimentary summer drink samples at Chickie’s & Pete’s on Concourse E and Gatorade Zero sampling at the B/C connector stage from 4 to 6 p.m.

Not heading through PHL this week? Don’t worry. There are fresh ‘summer camp’ activities popping up each week. Many are listed ahead of time in the “Happenings” section of the PHL SHOP DINE page but many activities just pop up.

United, American add to free entertainment menu

Now there are even more excuses not to talk to your seatmates on American Airlines and United Airlines flights.

Starting February 1, American Airlines passengers will have access to Apple Music songs, playlists and music videos on domestics flights equipped with Viasat satellite Wi-Fi.

To access the service, passengers will connect to the inflight Wi-Fi at no cost and then log in with their Apple Music subscription. Customers who don’t already have an Apple Music subscription will still be able to get access to the music by connecting to the Wi-Fi (at no cost) and then signing up for free access to the service for three months.

Not to be outdone in the “more free entertainment” department, United Airlines announced that, starting now, passengers have access to free live DIRECTV channels on the carrier’s 211 Boeing 737 aircraft equipped with seat back TV.

That’s in addition to all the movies and TV shows available on personal devices through the airline’s app.