Events

Burners heading for Reno-Tahoe International Airport

Burning Man Festival - stilts - images from Reno Airport Exhibit


Burning Man 2019 takes place August 25 – September 2 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

About 20,000 of the more than 70,000 event attendees make their way to the region via Reno- Tahoe International Airport (RNO).

And the airport is ready.

On Monday, a Burning Man art exhibition and therapy dogs dressed in costumes will welcome arriving burners.

Local volunteers and airport docents (perhaps in costumes as well) will be on site to help with information about and directions to the Playa.

And airport shops will be stocked with Burning Man essentials such as water, snacks, camping equipment and apparel.

The airport is also prepping for when the Burners leave.

Everything that comes back from the festival site will be covered with dust from the Playa that can ruin the baggage systems. So airlines are ready with rolls of large plastic bags to cover suitcases and anything else Burners will need to check in and take home.  

Win a seat on United Airlines’ Apollo 11 party flight. Eat like an astronaut on the ground.

Courtesy NASA

Celebrations are already underway to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the first steps taken by humans on the moon.

July 20 is the official anniversary day, but United Airlines and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport are among the groups that have a planned more than a month’s worth of activities to mark the lunar milestone.

Win a seat on a special United Airlines celebration flight

Top among the events is a special flight from Newark to Houston on July 17, the anniversary of the day astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Buzz Aldrin made their first TV transmission from Earth to space.

On that day, United Flight 355 from Newark Liberty International Airport to Houston will be a celebratory flight with space-themed entertainment, inflight gifts and special guests who have been to space.

Want to go along? United is hosting a social media contest on Twitter with a prize that includes seats on board the Apollo 11 celebration flight as well as a behind the scenes tour of NASA facilities in Houston. Deadline to enter is June 22, 2019 at 10:29 a.m. CT.

Click here for rules on enterting United’s contest.

Beginning July 1, members of United’s Mileage Plus mileage program can bid miles on space-themed experiences such as VIP access to Space Center Houston’s Apollo 11 50thAnniversary Celebration featuring the band Walk the Moon. More information on that here.  

Courtesy NASA

No contest entry needed for these Apollo 11 activities:

There’s more: Starting July 1, seatback and personal device entertainment on United flights will include a channel with dedicated space-related program from NASA, including action cam footage of astronaut spacewalks.

In United’s Terminal C and E at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), there are lots of activities planned as well:

In Terminal C, gate lounges will display digital photographs from the Apollo 11 mission on the monitors.

From July 9-11 Space Center Houston will provide Apollo 11-themed pop-up science labs in the terminals. In the United Clubs, customers will have a chance to meet and take photos with retired Astronaut Ken Cameron.

During July, travelers will also have a chance to eat like an astronaut at In United Airlines’ at two restaurants at IAH, one in Terminal C and one in Terminal E.

What did the astronauts eat?

Courtesy National Air and Space Museum

Between liftoff and touchdown back on earth, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins were running experiments, taking pictures, gathering samples and making history.

They also took time to eat.

“More than 70 items comprise the food selection list of freeze-dried rehydratable, wet-pack and spoon-bowl foods,” NASA explains in the 250-page typewritten press kit for the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission on July 6, 1969.

The press kit lists the day-by-day, meal-by-meal menu for each crewman and explains how some of the meals were prepared.

“After water has been injected into a food bag, it is kneaded for about three minutes. The bag neck is then cut off and the food squeezed into the crewman ‘s mouth,” the release explains.

Freeze-dried ice-cream isn’t on the list, but powdered fruit-drinks (not Tang; NASA doesn’t use brand names), along with bacon cubes, shrimp cocktail, beef stew, frankfurters, fruit cocktail, tuna salad and many other familiar foods are.

Familiar foods, or even just fresh foods, are often hugely satisfying in space for the memories they trigger and warm feelings they generate,” said Jennifer Levasseur, Museum Curator, Department of Space History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which has 13 packets of food the Apollo 11 astronauts didn’t eat.

Like modern day travelers, food is one of the few things astronauts can control during a journey far from home. “Food must have had a very important role on Apollo 11 because they were doing things that had never been done before,” said Vickie Kloeris, NASA Food Scientist Emeritus.

Dine like an astronaut

Many of the foods found on those original Apollo 11 menus are featured during July on a special menu at OTG’s Ember Tavern and Tanglewood Grille in United Airlines’ Terminal C and E at IAH.

To ensure authenticity, OTG’s culinary team visited NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory in Houston to learn about and taste food prepared by NASA’s food scientists.

“We wanted to understand what food meant to astronauts having that experience and what it means now,” said Dan O’Donnell, OTG’s Head of Culinary, “We wanted to know the science and philosophy behind space food; where they were then and where it is now.”

The biggest take-away, said O’Donnell was that the astronauts could choose a lot of the foods they wanted to eat. “It wasn’t just about sustenance. Much of it was food that reminded the astronauts of home; like beef and potatoes, tuna salad and sugar cookies. Our menu is a play on those items.”

Travelers who order from the Apollo 11-inspired IAH menu won’t be served meals that need to be reconstituted and squeezed into their mouths from bags. Nor will they find 1969 prices.

Instead they’ll find modern-day versions of many menu items from the Apollo 11 mission.

“For instance, our take on the Tuna Salad uses seared ahi instead of regular tuna, but we prepared it in the same way with walnuts, grapes, celery, apple and some fresh yogurt,” said O’Donnell, “The Beef & Potatoes is made with grilled ribeye, scalloped potatoes and parsley pesto.

Although there was no alcohol on Apollo 11, there’s are cocktails on the IAH Apollo 11 anniversary menu.

“The original menus said, ‘orange drink,’ ‘grapefruit drink’ or ‘citrus drink.’ They were very flavor focused and on the sweeter side, because people taste things differently in space,” said Allison Kafalas, OTG Beverage Director, “I took those flavors and translated them to cocktails that are a bit more relevant and modern for today’s eater, including a peach bellini, a martini using an orange vodka from Texas and a pineapple margarita.”

Travel Tidbits from airports and airlines

Chattanooga Int’l Airport goes all solar. Virgin Atlantic’s bespoke coffee. And a DJ Drag Brunch at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Tennessee’s Chattanooga Airport (CHA) is celebrating the completion of its 2.64-megawatt solar farm project.

And reaping the rewards.

For now, CHA is the first and only airport in the U.S. generating enough renewable energy to offset all the airport’s energy needs.

Power generated by CHA’s solar farm is sold through a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and EPB (the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga) and the airport then gets enough credit to cover its full electric bill.

“This project has immediate benefits to our airport and community, and we’re proud to set an example in renewable energy for other airports, businesses and our region,”said Terry Hart, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Airport, “While generating a local renewable resource, we are also increasing the economic efficiency of the airport.”

Virgin Atlantic’s bespoke coffee helps the homeless

Virgin Atlantic is getting a bespoke coffee blend made by Change Please, an award-winning coffee company that provides support services for people who are homeless.

The new blend will be available on all Virgin Atlantic flights and clubhouses worldwide beginning in Fall 2019. Profits from the partnership will go towards Change Please’s efforts to help the homeless community reenter the workforce.

DJ Drag Brunch at Newark Liberty International Airport

In support of Pride Month, airport restaurant operator OTG and United Airlines hosted a DJ Drag Brunch on Thursday, June 20 at Novella restaurant in the Terminal C Global Bazaar at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Proceeds from the brunch will support The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) young people that operates free and confidential crisis services including a 24/7 phone lifeline, text, and chat programs.

Before and after brunch, travelers got a treat and, no doubt, great pictures, as the brunch entertainers traveled throughout the terminal.

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you 

Multi-sensory room at Miami International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and several others have them.

Now Miami International Airport has one too.

Miami International Airport now has a multi-sensory room just beyond the Concourse D TSA security checkpoint. The room provides a quiet area for young passengers with cognitive or developmental disabilities such as autism.

The dimly lit space includes sensory-soothing fixtures, including an aquatic bubble tub, wall puzzles, cushioned seats and a light projector. Hours: seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Party at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Amy’s Ice Cream is back at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and a good time to indulge is today during the kick-off party for the refreshed Asleep at the Wheel Stage in the center of the Barbara Jordan Terminal.

Located near Gate 19, there’s a 9-foot neon lighted guitar spinning above the area and seating for 190 patrons.

The party runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes a ribbon cutting ceremony and performances by Ray Benson, Heybale Band, and Love & Chaos.

NFL Hall of Famer Earl Campbell will be on hand to help celebrate the Heart of Austin area of the airport that includes the Saxon Pub Bar, Joe’s Coffee and Earl Campbell taco-themed food truck.

Fresh art at John Wayne Airport


A new photographic exhibit at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA by Jane Szabo’s is titled “Family Matters” and uses childhood posessions and simple objects to tell a complicated story of family dynamics.

After moving her 86-year-old father and 91-year-old mother into assisted living, Szabo began to organize the contents of their home of 36 years. “Family Matters” is a result of the final selection of treasures she kept before placing her parent’s home for sale.

Fiesta at San Antonio International Airport

San Antonio International Airport held its Second Annual Fiesta San Jacinto Day Parade recently, with mariachi music, parade floats, mascots and festive colors through both terminals of the airport.

Watch: Light & sound show at Jewel Changi Airport

Greetings from Singapore

Jewel, the new over-the-top attraction at Changi Airport, hasn’t officially opened to the public. But thanks to ticketed previews for local residents and, of course, all the media reports, word has been getting around.

The venue is part mall, with 280 swank and unusual shops and restaurants, and part forest theme-park, with the world’s largest indoor waterfall right in the center.

The flow of the waterfall and the size of the droplets can be controlled. And somewhow each evening the water becomes a screen upon which two different 360-degree light & sound shows are projected each evening.

Take a look.

This video is courtesy of Changi Airport. I took a video too during one of the preview nights, but there were so many thousands of people and cameras in front of me that my version features the back of someone’s bald head.