Now that we’re into year two of “how things happen in a pandemic,” we’re coming up on some ‘2nd annual’ events that may stick around even after things return to normal.
The “Flight of Lights” program that Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) in Madison, WI is bringing back for a second year may be one of those keepers.
The free, drive-through light display along International Lane in Madison opens Saturday, March 20, and will run daily each evening from 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm through April 4th.
The light-show will feature six different light displays along the route and will include tributes to first responders; the medical community; Wisconsin sports; animals and nature; tropical and nautical; and destinations people can fly to from MSN.
Organized last year at the onset of the state’s Safer at Home order, Flight of Light follows social distancing rules as a drive-through event with only members of the same household in each vehicle.
Here’s what the Flight of Lights event at Dane County Regional Airport looked like last year:
Lights displays are being installed now and MSN airport officials will share snaps from the test run when available.
In the meantime, we’ll put this on the nomination list for “Airport Amenity of the Week.”
Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) Pets Unstressing Passengers Program (PUP) and Southwest Airlines will team up for the annual “Flying Kisses” event on Friday, February 14 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Terminal 1, post-security.
To accommodate all the lovebirds that fly to Las Vegas to get married around Valentine’s Day, Nevada’s Clark County clerk’s office has a pop-up marriage license office in the Terminal 1 bag claim at McCarran International Airport (LAS) open through the end of the month. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
And Amtrak is having a buy-one-get-one-free sale in honor of Valentine’s Day from Thursday, February 13 through Monday, February 17. Customers can buy one coach ticket and get the second free for nationwide travel between March 9 and August 30, 2020, with no blackout dates. Use the code V214 at the Amtrak site.
The rink opens will be open through January 20 and is in the pre-security area on the DEN Plaza between the airport terminal and the Westin hotel. Skate rentals will also be free.
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through January 20, 2020. As a bonus, on Friday
afternoons there will be hot chocolate, hot cider and a variety of winter
activities, including live entertainment.
The TWA Hotel, across the road from the
JetBlue terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport will also be setting
up an ice-skating rink.
This rink opens November 30 adjacent to the hotel’s 1958 Lockheed Constellation Connie airplane-turned-cocktail lounge and will stay open through February.
Free skating shows are planned, but if you want to get out on the ice admission will be $15 for adults and $10 for kids under 12. Skate rentals will be $10; $8 for kids under 12. Hours: Monday to Thursday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For the 21st year, the large roofed open space between Terminals 1 and 2 at Munich Airport has been transformed into a winter wonderland, with a winter market, more than 45 Christmas trees, live music, activities for kids and adults, a pine forest and a free ice-skating rink. Skates can be rented for a small fee.
Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport has ice-skating too.
“Airport on Ice“ offers passengers and visitors free ice-skating from November 30 until January 5. Skate rental is also free. Hours: Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays: 11 am to 7 pm.
Free short stories
The list of airports where hurried passengers can pick up a free short story is growing.
The dispensers, by French Company Short Edition, are slim kiosks that invite curious readers to push a button to request a short story that will take an estimated one minute, 3-minutes or 5-minutes to read. Stories print out on eco-friendly paper and there’s an option to request kid-friendly stories.
Colorado has a robust craft brewing scene and there are
plenty of places to order a local or regionally brewed beer at Denver
International Airport (DEN).
The airport even has a Beer Passport you can use to score a
Here’s how it works:
Pick up a beer passport at an airport information booth or at
one of the four participating airport brewpubs, which include: the Tivoli
Brewery (pre-security inside Tom’s Urban); Breckenridge Brewery (Concourse A,
by Gate A71); New Belgium Brewery (Concourse B, by Gate B30); Great Divide
Brewing Co. (Concourse C; by Gate C32).
Order a beer at each of the four brewpubs and be sure to get
your passport stamped when you order.
Once you have all four stamps, swap the passport for a free pint at any of the participating breweries.
No need to drink all four beers in one airport visit: the free Beer Passport program runs through April 1, 2020.
At Nashville International Airport (BNA) your beer crawl can score you a free beer koozie.
Cuddle a cat before your flight
More than 70 airports around the country now have
programs that invite certified therapy animals and their owners into the
terminals to hang out with and help de-stress travelers.
Dogs make up the bulk of the animal team members but
there are a few exceptions, including Stiches, an 11-year-old, 13-pound
mixed-breed cat that recently joined the Animal Ambassador program at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
Boston Logan International (BOS) is serious about its
commitment to reduce congestion and encourage passengers not to drive to the
Their latest incentive is as creative as it is unusual and fun.
Passengers who take a ferry operated by the Massachusetts
Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) or commercial water taxi service to the
Logan Airport Boat dock are given an orange “Ticket
to Skip” pass when they board the free Logan Airport shuttle from the dock
to the terminals. Passengers can then
give that orange pass to a security checkpoint officer to get preferred lane
access and move ahead of the line.
The MBTA ferry and the water taxis run year-round and serve
the Boston waterfront as well as the nearby Hingham and Hull communities.
More airports add gate pass programs
At first it sounds counter-intuitive: why
would someone who is not flying want to go through the security checkpoint
hassles just to hang out inside an airport?
Especially during the holidays.
But it can be a real bonus if you want to have
a send-off meal or drink with a friend or family member, accompany them to
their gate or be there to greet them when they step off their flight.
Through the holiday season (until January 5,
2020) Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) is
testing the DTW Destination Pass program. The program invites non-flying guests
to apply for day passes to visit the airport. Passes are issued for both DTW terminals,
Tuesday through Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Two other airports, Pittsburg International Airport (PIT) and Tampa International airport (TPA) have permanent gate pass programs in place.
The number of passes issued each day is limited at each airport, but on December 7, Pittsburgh International is inviting the community to come by for a Holiday Open House, which will include dining and shopping specials, live music and other entertainment and, of course, visits with Santa.
And officials at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) promise that a 7-day a week gate pass program will be rolled out “in the coming weeks” for the brand new MSY terminal.
Today, November 1, the airport is marking Dia de los Muertos (the “Day of the Dead”) by inviting the San Diego Guild of Puppetry and their larger-than-life, 10-foot-tall puppets back for a giant puppet parade.
The parade takes place today from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. in the pre-security baggage claim area of Terminal 2.
The San Diego Guild of Puppetry has been creating large-scale puppet parades in the community since 2004 and its Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) figurines are the creations of Felix Diaz, his family, and his students.
Puppets in the Day of the Dead parade at SAN will include versions of skulls, skeletons and butterflies, which represent the spirits of the departed returning to join their families for the celebration.
Located right in front of Terminal 1, on space formerly occupied by a parking lot, the Jewel is a large dome-shaped structure with a lush “Forest Valley,” a Rain Vortex that’s now the tallest indoor waterfall in the world, a 130-cabin YotelAIR hotel and 280 shops and restaurants.
I was on-site today for the opening-day preview events. Here are some snaps from the day.