The detector dogs are specially trained by the Global Forensic and Justice Center (GFJC) at Florida International University (FIU) and will be on duty at an employee security checkpoint.
The two dogs in the pilot program at MIA – Cobra (a Belgian Malinois) and One Betta (a Dutch Shepherd) – have been trained to alert to the scent of COVID-19.
How do they do that? According to a statement from MIA, the virus causes metabolic changes in a person that result in the production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The VOCs are excreted by a person’s breath and sweat, producing a scent that trained dogs can detect.
During this test, which MIA says is the first at a US airport, if a dog indicates someone is carrying the odor of the virus, that person will be directed to get a rapid COVID test.
Robot Food Delivery at SEA Airport
More ways to get your food at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Here are some other new amenities airports introduced in 2020. Keep in mind that some may be temporarily unavailable due to health concerns.
New art, attractions, and a new terminal
As part of the much acclaimed rebuild of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, in November a 25-foot-tall water feature turned on in Terminal B, In addition to displaying various patterns and shapes, the water falling from the towers’ nozzles serves as a backdrop for projected laser shows.
During November, Denver International Airport (DEN) celebrated the arrival of the 27-foot-tall ‘Luminous Wind’ sculpture at the light rail station stop right before the airport.
And in September and October, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) debuted its new Terminal B. This is the first phase of the first new hub airport built in the U.S. in the 21st century.
New Observation Decks and a record-breaking sky bridge
In February San Francisco International Airport (SFO) opened the SkyTerrace. The pre-security deck in Terminal 2 is open to the public and offers 180-degree views of the busiest section of SFO, where all four runways intersect.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) claimed a spot in the record books in February with the installation of a 780-foot long pedestrian bridge that is now the world’s longest structure over an active taxiway.
And as part of its Gate Expansion Program, in November, Denver International Airport (DEN) unveiled an outdoor deck on the west side of Concourse B. In addition to outdoor seating, the deck has a pet relief area and fire pits.
While most airports had to put their in-terminal music and performance programs on hold, airports continued to offer entertainment.
Almost two dozen airports banded together in August and again in May for JetStream music festivals. The free, multi-hour livestream events featured musicians from the entertainment line-up offered by the participating airports.
Of course, in response to the COVID-19 health pandemic, airports have been focusing time, energy, creativity and, of course, money on making sure the terminals are clean and safe for travelers.
Since March, airports throughout the country have sprouted hand-sanitizing stations, PPE vending machines, and temperature-check programs. They have developed contactless systems for bag check, check-in, security screening, and boarding. And both Grab and At Your Gate have expanded their offerings for in-airport food ordering and delivery.
Cleaning and sanitizing robots have joined the permanent staff at airports in Pittsburgh, San Antonio and many other cities.
In May, Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) introduced a virtual information booth. Los Angeles International Airport, Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI), and Denver International Airport (DEN) now offer similar services. And as the holiday season kicks off, COVID-19 testing stations, many in partnership with airlines, are quickly proliferating at airports across the nation.
Did we miss a new airport amenity you spotted in 2020? Please let us know in the comments section below.
The airport’s main terminal is named for Barbara Jordan (pictured above on the airport’s trading card. Jordan was the first Black woman elected to the Texas state senate and the first Black Texan in Congress.
If we miss something you love at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), please leave a note in the comments section below. And keep in mind that some of the amenities we mention may currently be unavailable due to health concerns. We’re confident they’ll be back.
We love all the art we’ve seen at AUS airport. But we especially enjoy Jill Bedgood’s “big hair” etchings found in some women’s restrooms at AUS. In some men’s rooms, you’ll find etchings of a variety of big hats.
Feel free to try them on. Everyone does.
3. Coffee Robots at AUS Airport
There are lots of places to get really great coffee at AUS airport.
But even before social-distancing was a thing, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport understood that sometimes it’s just fine if a robot, not a live person, hands you your coffee. In fact, it can be more fun.
Austin-based Briggo specialty coffee company has two robotic Coffee Haus units at AUS Airport, by Gate 12 and Gate 17.
Order on the app or at the machine and pick up your drink after you get a text from the coffee-making robot. The robots are on duty 24/7.
4. Great stuff to eat at AUS airport
Last year travelers ate 1,603,602 tacos at AUS airport.
The airport does a brisk business in brisket sandwiches and ice-cream as well.
Where to eat?
Some options at AUS include Amy’s Ice-Creams, Hut’s Hamburgers, Berry Austin, ippies and Hops, Earl Campbell’s Taco Truck, Salt Lick Barbecue and Tacodeli.
5. Outdoor patios at AUS
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) has outdoor patios at both the Barbara Jordan and South Terminals.
The 5,770-square-foot patio in the Barbara Jordan Terminal is on the mezzanine level between Gates 1-2 and, as a nice bonus, there’s an air-conditioned area.
Did we miss one of your favorite amenities at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport?
If so, leave a note in the comments section below and we’ll try to add it.
And be sure to take a look at some of the airports we’ve already featured in our “5 Things We Love About...” series. We’re adding more all the time.
We like the no-nonsense social distancing signage and floor decals.
And we are impressed that instead of waiting months for out-of-stock hand-sanitizing stations and plexiglass barriers, the Facilities and Engineering team at SJC is making its own.
At Your Gate + Grab = Service
Grab, the time-saving app that lets you order from an airport restaurant and then go straight to the pick-up line to get your meal is partnering with AtYourGate, the service that lets you order airport food via an app and have it delivered to you wherever you are in the terminal.
The partnership makes sense on many levels but is perfectly timed for these ‘no-touch’ times.
Grab already operates in over 50 airports in 4 countries. AtYourGate serves 10 airports now, with 40 more to be served in short order.
The cookies are made fresh by the nearby Ellison Bakery. And when the volunteers are off-duty, cookies are still available from a self-serve cookie kiosk at the security exit.
Over the years, FWA Airport has given out a lot of those free cookies.
Millions, in fact.
And on Friday, June 26 the airport had a party for the 3-millionth free cookie.
The guests of honor? An unsuspecting family arriving on a flight from Tampa. In addition to the free milestone cookie, their prizes include a basket of gifts from the airport, a free roundtrip ticket for 2 on Allegiant Air, and lots more cookies from Ellison Bakery. Nice!
Despite a drop in air traffic that is no doubt taking a bite out of its budget, the free cookie program at Fort Wayne International Airport is not crumbling.
In fact, FWA and Ellison Bakery announced that arriving passengers will now get a free package of 7 small assorted cookies instead of just one.