Observation Decks

SFO Airport has a new outdoor observation deck

Airport observation decks are a treat – and a rarity – these days.

So it’s a big deal when an airport opens a brand new one.

Better yet, an outdoor observation deck that anyone – even someone without a ticket – can visit.

But that’s what San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has done.

On February 14 – Valentine’s Day – SFO opened a new $6.3 million outdoor observation deck called the SkyTerrace.

Located pre-security in Terminal 2, the 1,460-square-foot SkyTerrace is open to the general public and, as a bonus, offers 180-degree views of the busiest section of SFO, where all four runways intersect.

Visitors will find wooden chairs and benches at the SkyTerrace, drought-tolerant landscaping, bird-safe glass panels to provide wind protection and great views.

Food and beverages are permitted on the SkyTerrace, and later this year a café will open nearby. So this sounds like a great place to hang out with friends or family before a flight.

SFO’s new SkyTerrace will be open seven days a week from 7:00 am – 10:00 pm. And while no ticket is required to access this new observation deck, visitors must still undergo a security check as they enter the space.

As a nice bonus, the SFO Museum has installed an exhibit at the SkyTerrace titled The 1954 San Francisco International Airport Terminal, which explores the history and architecture of the building that was on the spot now occupied by the SkyTerrace.

Courtesy SFO Museum

Designed in the International Style, the seven-story building was dedicated on August 27, 1954 and had panoramic views of the airfield and San Francisco Bay from multiple spectators’ terraces.  The exhibition features objects and imagery from the first decade the building operated.

SFO’s other observation deck

And don’t forget that SFO airport has another snazzy observation deck.

That one also offers 180-degree views of the airfield and is post-security at the end of the International Terminal, Boarding Area G. It also has wooden chairs, tables, and chaise lounges, ten-foot bird-safe glass panels, drought-tolerant landscaping and three bronze sculptures. Hours: 7:00 am to 11:30 pm every day.

Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport opens outdoor patio

The downside of travel is that, sometimes, you can spend a full day long days inside airports and hotels and hardly ever step outside.

That’s why StuckatTheAirport.com is such a big fan of airports with patios and outdoor observation decks.

Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) has a new one to check out.

The 5,770 square foot east terrace patio is located post-security on the mezzazine level between Gates 1-2.

To reach it, walk up the stairs or take the elevator to what the AUS airport calls its “hip terrace patio.”

The space is open 24 hours, is non-smoking and is located adjacent to the new Detla Sky Lounge.

The patio has a view of the 9,000-foot east runway and offers a great opportunity for plane spotting as well as a view of ramp and apron-level airport activities.

Austin can get very hot, so there’s an air-conditioned section of AUS’s patio.

In the outdoor section, patio is partially covered with sunshade blade panels to mimic the wings of an airplane.

The décor of the patio is modern-outdoor round tables, patio-furniture type seating and awnings that cover the family-style bench picnic tables.

Landscaping includes water-friendly native drought-tolerant plants.

And, for those of you into statistics: the airport tells us the patio flooring is covered with 428 wood pavers and 276 concrete pavers. Each concrete paver weighs 150 to 206 pounds and is 30 inches wide x 30 inches long and 2.25 inches thick.

Enjoy! And please send StuckatTheAirport.com a photo of what you see when you’re enjoying this new outdoor space at AUS airport.

The comeback (maybe) of the airport observation deck

LaGuardia Airport’s former Observation Deck – courtesy Port Authority of NY and NY

My “At the Airport” column on USA TODAY this month looks at airport observation decks in the United States. Then and now.

The full story has more than 30 photos, so be sure to take a look over there, but here are some of my favorite photos shared by airports.

Observation Deck at Friendship International Airport – now Baltimore/Washington International Airport.
Observation Gallery at BWI Airport – now
Missoula International Airport. Courtesy Dan Neuman
Oklahoma’s City’s Will Rogers World Airport once had an Observation Tower
When the Central Terminal opened in 1954, the building included an Observation Deck – look for the railings on the upper level.
SFO’s brand new observation deck has plants, art and chaise lounges. Nice, right?

Where are your favorite airport observation decks?

SFO Airport gets observation deck

We’re always happy here at Stuck at the Airport to hear about cool new amenities in the terminals.

A new addition to celebrate is San Francisco International Airport’s recently-opened post-security observation deck for travlers.

Courtesy SFO

The 2,997 square foot outdoor terrace has wooden chairs, tables, chaise lounges, bronze sculptures and a nice collection of drought-tolerant plants.

SFO Observation Deck. Courtesy of the airport.

Ten-foot bird-safe glass panels provide wind protection for passengers, but don’t get in the way of the view up into the skies to see planes taking off and landing.

Want to go?

SFO’s new outdoor terrace is open from 7:00 am to 11:30 pm every day. It is accessible to passengers in Terminal 3 via a secure connecting walkway.

Looking ahead: SFO plans to open another obervation deck in October 2019.

That one will be located pre-security in Terminal 2 and will be accessible to the general public – no boarding pass required.

Of course, now we need to make a list of all the other airports that have Observation Decks. Can you help out?

More snaps from Incheon’s new Terminal 2

Courtesy Korean Air

I’ve got a full review of the new Terminal 2 at Seoul’s Incheon Airport up on the Today in the Sky blog at USA TODAY, but sharing some more snaps from my visit here.

The terminal officially opened on January 18 – just a few weeks before 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games- and it’s a keeper.

Four airlines will use the terminal:  South Korea’s flag carrier Korean Air, Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Photovoltaic panels on the roof and natural greenery inside the terminal help keep the air fresh and lower heating and ventilation costs. A fleet of robots help passengers find their way.

Photo -by Harriet Baskas

Korean music and cultural performances are offered throughout the day and two Korean Traditional Cultural Experience Centers offer passengers the opportunity to try their hands at a Korean craft.

Photo by Harriet Baskas

Beyond shopping and eating, there are activities to keep travelers entertained, including a large Kids Zone, the IT Experience Zone with VR soccer and flying (plus a coffee-making robot) and, in the transfer zone, a ‘digital gym’ that encourages jumping, stepping and other activites.

Photo by Harriet Baskas

There’s also plenty of art and an observation deck with a cafe, views of the airfield and exhibits about the airport.

Photo by Harriet Baskas