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Welcome back, AskthePilot.com

I haven’t had the honor of meeting Patrick Smith in person (yet), but I have his “Ask the Pilot” book on my shelf, followed his column on Salon.com and am delighted that he answers my emails and picks up the phone when I need a pilot’s perspective for a story I’m working on.

The last time I quoted Smith in a story, his AskthePilot.com website was being revamped and the link I shared with readers brought up one of those “Come back later” screens.

But now the site has been officially re-launched with a blog feature, a questions and answers section about things anyone who flies might wonder about and a collection of his essays, including “What’s the matter with airports?” which includes a nice list of 15 things no terminal should be without.

(Photo above of Smith’s retired flight case. Courtesy Globe Trodden)

Portland International Airport loves cyclists

Despite all the rainy days, Portland, Oregon is known as one of the most bike-friendly and bike-able cities around.

Photo of bicycle

Stenciled bike-riders with personality are everywhere  –

Book-reading bicycle stencil Portland, Oregon

And the city makes it easy to take a bike on the MAX light rail train that runs to and from Portland International Airport, where there’s bicycle parking and easy access to a bike and pedestrian path.

Now the airport has added a welcome and very useful amenity just for cyclists: a bike assembly station where travelers can easily assemble and disassemble their bikes before and after flights.

Portland Airport bicycle assembly station

(Photo courtesy Portland International Airport)

And – here’s a nice touch – Travel Oregon and the Port of Portland have basic bike tools, such as a pedal wrenches and air pumps, available for check out.

Look for the bike assembly stations at Portland International Airport on the lower terminal roadway near the TriMet MAX station.  Check out tools and find out about local cycling activities at the State Welcome Center, near bag carousels 5 and 6.

Souvenir Sunday: panda hats from PEK airport

Happy Souvenir Sunday!


Shopping is always a great way to spend some time when you’re stuck at an airport. You just never know what you’ll find.

That’s why here at Stuck at The Airport we celebrate Souvenir Sunday every week.

PEK - panda hats

This week: cute panda hats from China’s Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). The photo is courtesy of Michael Crockatt (left), from Canada’s Ottawa International Airport Authority (left) and Carol Hutchins (right), from the Edmonton International Airport.

PEK LOGOPEK airport seems huge  – Terminal 3, which opened for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, is the second largest airport terminal in the world – but not boring.

According the airport Web site, an entertainment center at the airport offers:

“…Chinese tea ceremony, beauty saloon [I think they mean salon, but a beauty saloon seems intriguing],  hairdressers, foot care house and so on. …There is time-meter hotel in the first underground floor,  …You can also go to the cinema hall to enjoy the latest films or go to enjoy Chinese massage.”

All that sounds great, doesn’t it?

But this is Souvenir Sunday, so let’s celebrate those panda hats (and the brave models) and let me invite you to send along your photos of a fun souvenir you’ve found at the airport.

There are just a few rules: to be featured on Souvenir Sunday, an airport souvenir needs to be under $10, “of” a city or region and, if possible, just a wee bit offbeat.

Like those panda hats!

(More) ideas on what to do when you’re stuck at the airport

Kelli Grant wrote a lovely article for Smart Money about my favorite topic: what to do when you’re stuck at the airport. She was nice enough to include a few quotes from me in her story.

The bottom-line message from me and pretty much everyone else she spoke with is that there’s no need to just sit around: “airports now offer upgraded amenities and swanky new terminals, which not only provide added revenue, but also serve to soothe frazzled travelers.”