25,000 Burners land at Reno-Tahoe Int’l Airport

More than 80,000 people are attending the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Black Desert this week.

And about 25,000 of those Burners are making their way to the event via Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO).

And, as it does each year, the airport is welcoming festival-goers with art and fun activities.

Over the weekend, arriving Burners were welcomed by party-pups from Paws 4 Passengers and treated to a Burning Man art exhibition.

Stay tuned for more pictures from the end of the Burning Man Festival.

That’s when thousands of Burners head home. Along with their wild festival costumes, sand and dust-encrusted suitcases, and garbage (it must all be packed out).

Burning Man is the single biggest event each year at RNO and the area, bringing in approximately $11 million in economic impact for the airport alone.

(All photos courtesy Reno-Tahoe International Airport)

Fresh art at LAX Airport

Your Body Is A Space That Sees” by Lia Halloran. Photo by SKA Studios LLC

Passengers traveling to or from Terminals 2 and 3 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) will see some new art in the terminals, courtesy of the airport’s partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

You Body is a Space That Sees

Your Body is a Space That Sees” is by Los Angeles artist Lia Halloran and includes cyanotype images inspired by women’s contributions to science. Cyanotype is an early photographic printing process, invented in 1842, that creates blue “echoes” of the original image.

These pieces are part of a 40-part series that recalls telescopic views of the night sky first captured in photographic emulsion on glass plates in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The images honor the discoveries of the Harvard Computers, who were a women who worked to process data collected by the Harvard College Observatory. The team developed a way to measure distance in space and created the star-classification system on which our current system is based.

Look for this work in the Terminal 2, Level 3 Hallway through Fall 2024.

Just What is Your Position

“Just What Is Your Position” by Renée Petropoulos. Photo by SKA Studios LLC.

“Just What Is Your Position” by Renée Petropoulos is now a permanent feature in the new Terminal 2/3 ticket lobby. The large-scale abstract painting was originally commissioned for the Fox Studio Lot and is made of acrylic on plywood panels. At 20-feet high by 38-feet long it will be hard to miss.

Little Wing

“Little Wing”by Krysten Cunningham is a site-specific, three-dimensional wall drawing made with white rope against a sky-blue painted wall. Look for this work in the Terminal 2, Level 3 lobby.

“Little Wing” by Krysten Cunningham. Photo by SKA Studios LLC

A Universal Shudder

A Universal Shudder” by Eve Fowler. Photo by SKA Studios LLC

And you’ll find “A Universal Shudder” by Eve Fowler, in the baggage claim level of Terminal 2.

This set of four site-specific murals uses phrases from author Gertrude Stein’s book of poetry “Tender Buttons.”

All images courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs

Visiting the Brighton seaside with Gary Gatwick

Stuck at The Airport is in England this week, touring with Gary Gatwick, the charming mascot of Gatwick Airport.

Gary has been taking us places that are surprisingly easy to get to from Gatwick Airport via the Gatwick Express and the Thameslink trains.

After a couple of days in London, we’ve got a day in Brighton, an iconic seaside town with a pebble beach, an amusement-filled pier, plenty of eclectic shops and restaurants, and some unusual museums.

And it turns out that this town that most Americans only know from movies such as Quadrophenia and The End of the Affair is just a half hour from Gatwick Airport by train.

We raced around town trying to see and experience everything on our list but, clearly, we’ll need to schedule a full week to come back to do it all.

Here’s a sampling of our adventures.

Brighton Palace Pier

Stretching out 1,722 feet, the Victorian-era Brighton Palace Pier has it all: ice cream and fish & chips; bars, arcade games galore, a fortune-teller, carousels, and other classic amusement park rides, including spinning teacups & the Helter Skelter slide ride.

Brighton Fishing Museum

Brighton was a “bustling little fishing village on [England’s] south coast which was transformed into a fashionable seaside resort,” Brighton’s Seafront Heritage Trust will tell you when you visit the Brighton Fishing Museum. Inside this free attraction are photographs, fishing community artifacts, marine memorabilia, art, and more.

The Royal Pavilion

A core, over-the-top attraction in Brighton, the Royal Pavilion was once a royal residence. Construction began in 1787 on this seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who became the Prince Regent in 1811, and King George IV in 1820. Over the years it has served other purposes, including a stint as a hospital during World War I, but now it has been restored to its original opulent glory.


Booth Museum of Natural History

It was a real treat to be able to visit the Booth Museum of Natural History, an eclectic Victorian-era museum filled with birds, butterflies, fossils, bones, and taxidermy animals.

The museum was founded in 1874 by naturalist and collector Edward Thomas Booth, who was keen on collecting British birds and displaying them in natural habitat settings. He ended up collecting everything from birds to bears and at his death had created more than 300 ‘dioramas’ for displays that reached from floor to ceiling.

The museum is still set up in that style and now is a repository for a collection of more than 525,000 insects, 50,000 minerals and rocks, 30,000 plants, and thousands of microscopic slides.

We read that the museum also has a ‘merman’ in its collection, but on arrival, we were told that the odd artifact is on a year-long loan to another museum. So we’ll have to come back!

MSP Airport’s Mock Airplane Cabin

(This is a story we first wrote for NBC News)

Long delays, rampant cancellations, and packed planes have turned air travel into an endurance sport for even the most seasoned travelers. And the challenges can be even greater for the more than 25 million Americans with disabilities that make travel difficult even in ordinary times.

 A handful of airports, airlines, and community groups have made an effort to provide certain flyers the opportunity to navigate security, crowded airport terminals, and the boarding process beforehand.

But such programs are limited, and the industry continues to have a poor track record in transporting wheelchairs and scooters and providing reliable and consistent service to passengers with additional needs such as mobility and physical issues as well as sensory and cognitive disabilities. 

 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is out to change that. 

 In an industry first in May, the airport  — in partnership with Delta Air Lines  —  installed a mock airplane cabin on-site to give flyers with a wide range of special needs an opportunity to become familiar with a realistic aircraft cabin. 

 “Being able to test out an airplane cabin could help people who have never flown, who use wheelchairs, older adults, people with autism, and anyone who has any reservations about flying,” said Eric Lipp, executive director of the Open Doors Organization, which works with businesses on accessibility issues, “It will recognize that everyone’s needs are different and encourage more people to fly.”

In the two years preceding the pandemic, nearly 15 million people with disabilities traveled by air, generating $11 billion in revenue for airlines. That was up from $9 billion in 2015, according to a report from the organization. And, Lipp said, “The true economic impact is potentially double since people with disabilities typically travel with one or more other adults.” 

 The 33-foot-long cabin had been used to train Delta’s in-flight teams in Atlanta and includes a (nonworking) lavatory and 42 standard coach seats from a retired Boeing 737. Delta shipped it in pieces to the Minneapolis airport, where it was reassembled in an unused retail space. Airport carpenters added cutouts so that every row has a window, and local youth artists painted the cabin and the surrounding walls with blue skies and landscape to make it sensory-friendly. 

 “My 5-year-old son, Remi, has autism and I felt it was important for him to experience the airport before the day we actually had to travel,” said Cassandra Welch, who brought him to the mock cabin recently. “Remi did well and sat nicely in his seat and was able to see what the cabin looked like, and what the airplane bathroom looked like.” 

 Welch also brought along her family and some relatives. “We will be traveling together in August, so it was great that we could all be there for this experience.”

Tiffany Owen, a first responder, also wanted to give her traveling companion a chance to get acquainted with flying before she booked a trip. Hazy, a rescue pit bull, is Owen’s service dog and helps her manage stress and anxiety. The visit was arranged through Soldiers 6, a local nonprofit group that provides service dogs to military veterans and first responders in Minnesota.

“I’ve flown before, but Hazy has never been on an airplane,” she said. But Hazy quickly got the hang of it.  ”When we walked in, Hazy wanted to have her own seat next to me,” she said. “I had to train her to realize she’s on an airplane and would be sitting on the floor between my legs.”

Owen said it means a lot to her that the airport “has gone to great lengths to make sure that both me and my service animal feel comfortable, and that we can go back to the airport again for more training if we need to.”

The mock cabin, which is free and available by appointment,  isn’t just for flyers.  

Airline personnel, flight crews, and companies that provide service to passengers who need help getting to or from their airplane seats have access to the cabin for training, too. 

 The Minneapolis-St. Paul branch of Prospect Airport Services, which provides wheelchair attendants and other services for airlines at airports across the country, now runs weekly staff training sessions in the mock cabin. There is a big focus on transferring passengers in wheelchairs to their seats, which can be a complicated and delicate process. 

Loretta Halligan, the company’s general manager at the Minneapolis airport, said that before the mock cabin arrived, orientation for new passenger service assistants mainly took place in a classroom, with a wheelchair, an airline seat, and a video. The actual training in how to transfer passengers didn’t begin until new hires could shadow someone with experience.

 “Now, new employees can start practicing lifting a person on and off an aisle chair on a ‘real’ plane right away,” she said, adding that watching a video “is nothing compared to having that hands-on experience during your first day of training.”

That training could have been invaluable during the earlier days of the pandemic, “when social distancing made it difficult for people to be lifted and transferred to vehicles or planes,”  Lipp said. “Guiding people who are blind also became more difficult with social distancing.” 

Although the mock cabin has been open for just about two months, Phil Burke, assistant director of customer service at the airport, says sessions are getting booked up far in advance. He also said airports in Houston, Denver, and Kansas City, Missouri, have been in touch with him and are planning to install mock airplane cabins in their terminals, too.

Airport or gin joint? 2 Airports distill gin onsite

As far as we know, there are just two in-airport distilleries in the world.

The first one opened in 2016 at London’s Gatwick Airport and is located pre-security/landside in the airport’s North Terminal.

We’re planning a July visit and will report back on what we find – and drink.

But in the meantime, here’s what we know.

The Nicholas Culpeper Pub & Dining is named for a 17th-century botanist, herbalist, and physician who lived nearby. The pub’s onsite still produces a London Dry Gin using a recipe initially created by master distiller Matt Servini and his team at the Craft Distilling Business (CDB), which also designed and built a special still for the airport site. 

Victoria Int’l Airport’s gin distillery

Victoria Distillers, which has its headquarters in Sydney, British Columbia, opened a small distillery at Victoria International Airport (YYJ) during the pandemic.

The company makes a variety of highly regarded hand-made spirits but is best known for an indigo-colored gin inspired by the legendary Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. The grand hotel opened in 1908 and serves a signature blend of black tea during its popular afternoon high tea service.

That tea is one of the ingredients in Victoria Distillers’ Empress 1908 Gin, which also contains traditional botanicals as well as butterfly pea blossom, the trendy exotic herb that gives the gin its purple hue.

As a nice touch, the gin’s color ‘magically’ changes to bright lavender, soft pink, or fuchsia depending on what mixer is added.

At Victoria International Airport, Victoria Distillers has a still and a shop in the recently expanded departures lounge. Passengers may sip complimentary tastes and watch their bottles be blended, bottled, and labeled onsite.

Those that want to further explore the gin in a full cocktail can order from the menu at the Spinnakers Lounge across from the airport distillery.