Uncategorized

At the Airport: Summer camp at PHL Airport

It may seem as if Philadelphia International Airport has a summer camp.

The Just Plane Fun program at PHL is the airport’s summer-long entertainment program that includes live performances, beauty care demonstrations, educational and informational displays, artist demonstrations, interactive arts and crafts activities for kids and adult, historical impersonators, caricaturists, food sampling and more.

Here’s some of what’s on the menu this week:

Today, July 23, there will be free tastings at Legal Sea Foods in the B/C connector from 11 am to noon.

Tomorow, July 24, you can pick up a free food samples at Noobar in Concourse B from noon to 2 p.m.

On July 25, there will be a story-time and coloring at the airport library in the D/E Connector from noon to 1 p.m. The library is also home to a fun, free short dispenser as well.

PHL short story dispenser
Courtesy PHL Airport

Later that afternoon, from 1 to 3 p.m. there will be complimentary summer drink samples at Chickie’s & Pete’s on Concourse E and Gatorade Zero sampling at the B/C connector stage from 4 to 6 p.m.

Not heading through PHL this week? Don’t worry. There are fresh ‘summer camp’ activities popping up each week. Many are listed ahead of time in the “Happenings” section of the PHL SHOP DINE page but many activities just pop up.

Atlanta stubbing out smoking lounges at its airport

Flying to or through Atlanta? Now is a good time to quit smoking or to get some nicotine gum

My column this week for CNBC is about the last remaining smoking lounges at U.S. airports. Here’s that story.

Salt Lake City International Airport did it in 2016. Denver International Airport did it in 2018. 

And, thanks to a new, enhanced ordinance in Atlanta banning smoking and vaping in bars, restaurants and other enclosed public spaces, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which has held the title of world’s busiest airport for many years, will snuff out its smoking lounges on January 2, 2020.

In ATL, which has held the title of “World’s Busiest Airport” for many years, there are currently about a dozen post-security spaces where smokers can light up. The lounges were initially paid for by Phillip Morris in advance of the 1996 summer Olympics.

Although the U.S. Surgeon General has determined that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, ATL officials have long claimed the lounges benefited non-smokers as well as smokers by keeping secondhand smoke away from non-smoking guests and by discouraging smokers from lighting up in restrooms and other spaces.

But since ATL is part of the city of Atlanta, airport officials say the airport will comply with the new ordinance and convert the lounge to other purposes. Passengers will be directed to smoking areas outside of both terminals.

“We plan to work with our airline partners to make sure they communicate with their customers that smoking is no longer permitted at ATL,” said Jennifer Ogunsola, spokeswoman for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), “We also will have PSA [public service announcements] messaging throughout the airport as well as permanent and digital signage with like messaging.”

ATL’s shift to smoke free is “huge,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) and the ANR Foundation, “As the airport with the largest passenger volume and a huge workforce, both flight crews and airport staff, going smoke free means that millions of people will be fully protected from exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Now, says Hallett, it’s time for the handful of other U.S. airports that still have smoking lounges to follow Atlanta’s lead. “Many airports have repurposed smoking lounges for much desired spaces to sit, including electronic device charging stations or more food options,” she said.

U.S. airports where smoking is still allowed

In addition to ATL, a handful of the country’s busiest airports still offer smoking lounges for passengers, despite a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that designated indoor smoking areas at airports are not effective in eliminating secondhand smoke exposure.

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) has smoking lounges in each concourse. “There is enough customer demand to maintain their presence in the airport and there are currently not any discussions to close them,” said Christina Saull, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

All the restaurants and retail shops at Nashville International Airport Thursday, July 7, 2016 in Nashville, TN.

At Nashville International Airport (BNA), there are in-store smoking lounges at the Graycliff Cigar Company stores located on Concourse B, near Gate B-10, and on Concourse C, near Gate C-10. Passes to the lounge are $5 for 120 minutes. 

For $10, passengers can gain access to the Graycliff smoking lounge by Gate B11 at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

At Miami International Airport (MIA), passengers are permitted to smoke in the open-air patio at TGI Friday’s at Gate D36. “Since it is already in an outside area, there has not been discussion about closing it,” said MIA spokesman Greg Chin.

And there are still spaces for passengers to smoke at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

McCarran, which has slot machines in many parts of airport, has enclosed, specially ventilated casino gaming areas on each concourse where passengers may smoke.

“In the past, when there were no such areas, we experienced repeated issues in which travelers would smoke in restrooms, companion care rooms or other public spaces,” said Chris Jones, spokesman for the Clark County Department of Aviation, “ We’d get complaints from parents who would enter such a room to change their baby’s diaper and find it filled with second-hand smoke from someone who’d lit up there minutes earlier, for example.”

Passengers would also open alarmed doors in attempts to smoke on emergency exit stairways, Jones said.

Clearing the air in airports

According to the CDC exposure to secondhand smoke has been steadily decreasing in the United States, due primarily to the adoption of smoke-free policies prohibiting indoor smoking at worksites, restaurants and bars.

“However, an estimated 58 million, or 1 in 4, Americans remain exposed to secondhand smoke in areas not covered by these policies, including certain airports,” said Brian King, deputy director for research translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

“The good news is that we know what works to protect people from this completely preventable health risk,” King added, “Implementing smoke-free policies in indoor public areas is the best way to fully protect everyone, including airport travelers and employees, from the deadly risks of secondhand smoke exposure.”

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…