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Souvenir Sunday at Space Center Houston

Stuck at the Airport has been in Houston this week taking part in the citywide celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and the first time humans walked on the Moon.

While here, we visited Space Center Houston, the science and space exploration center where the public gets a chance to see (and touch!) Moon rocks and learn first hand about what it takes to go into – and come back from – space.

There’s also a great gift shop. And for Souvenir Sunday, we’re sharing some of the fun gifts we’re taking home.

Moon rocks

Thanks for joining us this week while we celebrated the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Mission.

Thinking about being an astronaut?

Tomorrow marks 50 years since humans first walked on the Moon. Everyone seems to be talking about astronauts, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar mission, where we’ve been in space and where we may go next.

Stuck at the Airport is in Houston – Space City – this week to be part of the festivities. We’re meeting with former astronauts, visting the labs that train and prepare food for astronauts and getting a first look at the restored Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

If all this space talk has got you thinking about becoming an astronaut, consider taking this Astronaut Apitude quiz filled with questions based on the official NASA Astronaut Candidate requirements and real-life psychological tests. Let us know how you score.

Houston celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Stuck at the Airport is in Houston this week, joining in the celebrations and events to honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar expedition.

Here are some snaps from a special United Airlines flight to Houston on July 17 and some fun stuff from on the ground. Stay tuned for pics and stories throughout the week.

United Airlines Flight 355 from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) was dubbed “MissionSpaceCity.” Regular passengers arriving at the gate in EWR were met with this giant HOUSTON sign – and some suprises.
Two former astronauts were among the special guests on board this flight: Peggy Whitson, who holds records for most days in space (665) and Kevin Ford, who is now a pilot with United.
Each passenger received some freeze-dried ice-cream as well as a small backpack filled with fun space-themed goodies.
“Spacey Casey” welcomed passengers to Houston – Space City
This mural was in the gate arrival area in Houston, as a backdrop for a celebratory press conference.
Media (including Stuck at the Airport) are being hosted at the 5-star Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, which put together this all-chocolate welcome amenity and a special moon-themed cocktail.

Stay tuned for more…

Should an airport be named for a city or a celebrity?

City or celebrity? Branding goals fuel airport name changes

Louisville, Kentucky is well known for bourbon, the Kentucky Derby and Louisville Slugger baseball bats.

It’s also the city the late, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali called home.

In his honor, Louisville International Airport (SDF) was recently renamed Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport and a new logo honoring The Champ and his famous praise, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” was adopted.

In addition to honoring a native son, the airport name change is expected bring economic benefits to Louisville and both built on and boost Ali-related tourism to the city.

“Even three years after our city’s most famous son’s passing, Louisville continues to see people coming from across the globe to discover and trace Ali’s legacy,” Karen Williams, President and CEO of Louisville Tourism said in a statement, “The airport rebranding supports current marketing efforts to engage in Ali’s ‘Footsteps of Greatness’ as a reason to inspire visitation to Louisville.”

Location, Location, Location

While Louisville added the name of a local icon to its airport’s name, other airports are moving away from celebrity names in favor of stronger geographic branding.

In 2016, the Allegheny County Airport Authority declined to change the name of Pittsburgh International Airport to the Fred Rogers International Airport.

 An online petition seeking to honor the late star of the locally produced “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” PBS TV program was signed by more than 15,000 supporters. But airport representatives said vacation planners were more likely to search online for “Pittsburgh Airport” than for “Fred Rogers.”

In southern California, regional Bob Hope Airport (BUR) is now Hollywood Burbank Airport.

The switch came in 2017 after airport officials realized that while the general public knew that the late Bob Hope was a comedian, few outside the region knew the airport was so located so close to Hollywood and many top Los Angeles-area attractions.

“Some thought the airport was in Palm Springs,” said airport spokeswoman Lucy Burghdorf, “Others thought it was in Vietnam,” because Hope had hosted annual USO Christmas tours to entertain troops during much of the Vietnam War.

To help solve BUR’s identity problem, “We studied what other airports had done and why,” said Michael Fiore, cofounder and chief brand officer of the Anyone Collective, “And for the most part we found the same answers: those with a geographic identifiers attached to them were performing better than others.”

The name-change, coupled with branding and marketing efforts that include everything from new signage at the airport and on highways to online advertising, has garnered the airport national awards and, more importantly, more passengers, said Fiore.

Some other airports have gently tweaked their names in the interest of better branding.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL) was renamed St. Louis Lambert International Airport in February 2017. The move was made “to improve marketing positions locally and globally while also expanding connections with the St. Louis region,” according to the airport’s strategic plan.

And Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) now uses the brand name Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.

“This decision was made to better identify our geographical location to travelers who are not from this region,” said MKE spokesman Harold Mester, “Our new brand adds the name of our anchor city while still honoring our namesake, Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell, who is considered to be the father of the U.S. Air Force.”

Next up may be Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport .

“As we continue to market the airport in international and west coast markets, we have found that these populations are challenged to locate us,” said Kevin A. Dillon, Executive Director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, “Accordingly, we are undergoing a review to be completed by the end of the year to determine if it is feasible to change the airport name, and, if so, how we can continue to preserve the memory of Eugene Bradley at the airport.”

Bucking the Trend 

While the benefits of geographic branding are convincing some airports to change or tweak names, at least one airport is bucking the trend.

In 2017, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) changed the name of Honolulu International Airport (HNL) to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

The much-beloved Inouye served as Hawaii’s first representative in Congress in 1959 and went on to represent the Aloha State in both the House and Senate for a combined 53 years.

This is the fourth name change in the airport’s history, notes HDOT.

When it opened in 1927, HNL was named the John Rodgers Airport. After surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor, in 1947 the airport was renamed Honolulu Airport. “International” was added to the name in 1951.

It is too soon to tell if the name change will boost the local economy or increase tourism to Honolulu. But HDOT pegs the cost of new signage, parts, materials, labor and other tasks associated with this latest name change at one million dollars.

What do you think? Should an airport be named for a city or a celebrity?

Shop for the moon at an airport near you

It’s Souvenir Sunday here on Stuck at The Airport and it’s big week for space buffs as celebrations get underway to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.

Airport and airport shops are celebrating as well.

OpenBook at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and Book People at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) sent along some snaps of the space-themed books and gifts that have been flying off their shelves.

Souvenir Sunday needs your help. If you see fun, unusual, locally-themed gift in an airport during your travels, please take a snap and send it along to us. If we feature your souvenir on Stuck at The Airport, we’ll send you a fun travel-themed souvenir.