Events

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Orlando Int’l Airport

It’s only Monday, but we may already have a nomination for Airport Amenity of the Week.

Especially if you’re a fan of Star Wars and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Passengers traveling through Orlando International Airport (MCO) will find that some of the tram shuttle stations are now decorated to evoke Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the new 14-acre land inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Arriving passengers getting ready to board the shuttles for the airport’s Main Terminal will see life-size depictions of characters and scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

One scene creates a dimensional landscape that feels as if visitors are standing inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. They’ll see the iconic Millennium Falcon and other landmarks from the new amusement park land.

In another scene, it will appear to passengers as if First Order Stormtroopers are waiting to step off the shuttle as the train arrives in the station.

Make way…

There’s more.

At the Magic of Disney store located inside the main terminal in the pre-security West Hall, there’s now a fun new photo op location featuring droids from the Star Wars galaxy.

And when the airport’s second Magic of Disney store reopens on November 22 in the Main Terminal East Hall, an exterior wall will feature a 36-foot-long video screen showing scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Should we just go ahead and make this the Airport Amenity of the Week?

(Photos courtesy Orlando International Airport)

Giant puppets at San Diego Int’l Airport

 Halloween may be over, but at San Diego International Airport there’s more to go.

Today, November 1, the airport is marking Dia de los Muertos (the “Day of the Dead”) by inviting the San Diego Guild of Puppetry and their larger-than-life, 10-foot-tall puppets back for a giant puppet parade.

The parade takes place today from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. in the pre-security baggage claim area of Terminal 2.

The San Diego Guild of Puppetry has been creating large-scale puppet parades in the community since 2004 and its Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) figurines are the creations of Felix Diaz, his family, and his students.

Puppets in the Day of the Dead parade at SAN will include versions of skulls, skeletons and butterflies, which represent the spirits of the departed returning to join their families for the celebration.

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.