Transportation

Amex offering free Uber rides from 11 airports

Uber app

Here’s a great perk for travelers who need a ride from the airport this holiday season.

Uber is partnering with American Express to give card members 2 free rides home (up to $65 a ride) from 11 different U.S. airports through December 31, 2016.

To get your ride credits, start your Uber trip one of these airports:

JFK International Airport

LaGuardia Airport

Newark Liberty International airport

Chicago O’Hare Airport

Chicago Midway

Dulles International Airport

Reagan Washington National Airport

Boston Logan Airport

Houston Bush International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

McCarran International Airport – Las Vegas

Then: enter ‘AMEXAIRPORT’ in the promotions tab on the Uber iOS or Android app when you request a ride and make sure you’ve selected your American Express card as your method of payment.

The $65 will automatically be taken off the total cost of the ride when your trip has ended.

Amex Card Members (prepaid cards aren’t eligible) can redeem this offer for up two eligible rides during – for a total value of $130 – through December 31, 2016.

See more details here.

Travel Tidbits: Use Thanks Again points for an Uber ride

Temporary sign at PIT Airport marks where Uber pick-ups are allowed.

Ride-hailing service Uber is making inroads at an increasing number of airports and, as you head off for that end-of-summer vacation, keep in mind that you can now use those Thanks Again points you’ve been earning for purchases you’ve made while stuck at the airport to pay for part of an Uber ride.

Earlier this month Thanks Again announced that program participants can redeem 500 Thanks Again points for a $10 Uber promotional code good toward rides – whether at the airport or in town.

What’s Thankgs Again? It’s a free program that lets you accumulate points for purchases (restaurants, shopping, services and, in many cases, parking) you make a more than 100 airports around the country. That’s on top of points/miles you might get for using your credit card in the first place.

Thanks Again program participants can redeem their points for a array of hotel and airline miles and even towards the  TSA Precheck registration fee.

You can download the Thanks Again App and earn 100 Thanks Again Points for enrolling on the Apple App Store or Google Play.  And if you haven’t yet signed up for Uber, use the “ThanksAgain2016” promotional code to get $15 off your first ride.

Travel Tidbits: rides, babies & parks

SFO exhibit

Ride-hailing services got the go-ahead to serve some airports just in time for the busy Thanksgiving weekend:

Lyft can now pick-up and drop off passengers at O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway, but Uber is still working out its paperwork. And Mineta San José International Airport (SJC) gave the green light to Wingz.

OHare mother's room chair

OHare Mother's Room sink

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has opened a third “Mother’s Room.” This one is located past security in Terminal 1, B Concourse across from Gate B10. The other Mother’s Rooms at ORD are in theTerminal 3 Rotunda area and Terminal 5 near Gate M14.

MIA EVERGLADES GRASS

Clyde Butcher, Big Cypress #2.

And, to help mark the National Park Service’s Centennial Year, Miami International Airport is hosting an exhibition of black-and-white photography by Clyde Butcher featuring images of South Florida’s three national parks: Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and Biscayne National Park.

The arrival: airports that do it right

[This is a slightly altered version of my “At the Airport” column published in  USA TODAY in May 2015]

Palm Springs International Airport _courtesy of the Airport

Palm Springs International Airports

Sometimes, the best part of going away is coming home. Or feeling at home in a new place. And for many travelers, that sensation begins at the airport.

Sound designer Peter Comley relishes his return visits to Vermont’s Burlington International Airport where, he’s welcomed by a view of the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain and the Burlington Air National Guard Base, which is “a sight just across the runway – with their F-16s.”

For Evan Deahl, an about-to-graduate college student in Philadelphia, it’s the approach into Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. “You come in over Lake Michigan and directly over the Chicago skyline. Cue Rhapsody in Blue in head. It’s like a movie,” he said.

Washington, D.C.-based literary agent Anna Sproul-Latimer enjoys landing at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, which has a “beautiful view coming into the Strip, and you can roll straight into gambling in the terminal. What’s not to like?”

In other airports it’s the immediate access to local culture, scenery and cuisine.

Passengers arriving at Fort Wayne International Airport in Indiana are greeted by local volunteers handing out cookies from a nearby bakery. At California’s Palm Springs International Airport, passengers exiting their planes enter an outdoor space with palm trees, real grass and a view of the mountains.

“I’m always happy to fly back to my old hometown airport in Atlanta and get my southern fried food fix of grits, greens and fried okra at Paschal’s or a Chick-fil-A sandwich and a sweet tea,” said Chris McGinnis, who writes the TravelSkills blog.

Some airport “Welcome Home” scenes take a moment to unfold.

When you walk off the plane at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, “the first thing you feel in the jet bridge is the thick sticky subtropical ether,” notes Christopher Schaberg, author of The Textual Life of Airports and the forthcoming book, The End of Airports. “This gradually gives way to the cool air conditioning of the terminal; then you see a bartender pouring a tall glass of Abita amber ale, and further down the concourse a sign beckons you to purchase some Crawfish Strudel—you know you’ve arrived in New Orleans,” he said.

Both San Francisco-based Kat Snow and Seattle-based freelance writer Pam Mandel appreciate the food offerings at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. “I was super impressed by the offerings for those arriving hungry,” said Mandel. “Austin BBQ and tacos … great coffee and tea from a local café,” said Snow, “It really helps to arrive at the airport hungry, because some of the best food is pretty rich and filling.”

Arriving passengers at AUS airport are also welcome to attend any of the almost two dozen live, local music performances held in the terminal each week. And, speaking of music, Chicago-based management consultant Mitch Lieber says, when at Kansas City International Airport, the interpretive panels sharing stories about the jazz-era history that earned Kansas City the title of “Paris of the Plains” help him feel welcome and plugged in.

Fast getaway routes are a big draw at other airports.

“I love small airports like Albany International,” said Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, family travel expert at About.com. “There’s never a crowd at the baggage carousel, long-term parking costs a reasonable $12/day, and I can find my car without walking miles.”

 

Transportation revelations: how fast things go

Did you know that a sea horse can move as quickly (or as slowly) as a Galapagos tortoise? (.2 MPH), that a hedgehog and a millipede move at about the same pace (1 MPH) and that a swift and a Hughes MD 500 Helicopter can each travel at 125 MPH?

FullSpeedAhead_swift_Hughes MD500 helicopter

I didn’t.

But thanks to a book of ‘transportation revelations’ called Full Speed Ahead!: How Fast Things Go by Cruschiform (an Abrams Books imprint), I now know.

The brightly-colored, large format book is designed for young readers, but is perfect – and perfectly educational – for transportation fact-fanciers of all ages who might be curious about how fast things go – and how fast things go compared to animals.

A peregrine falcon, for example, can go as fast a Formula 1 Racer (217 MPH) but once we get to the tornado (310 MPH), the passenger jet (620 MPH), a Blackbird spy plane (2,175 MPH), the Apollo 11 spacecraft (25,000 MPH) and a shooting star (more than 60,000 MPH), no animals can keep up.

FullSpeedAhead_passenger jet

Buy it for the kids you know. And get a copy for yourself.