The 512-room TWA Hotel across the street from the JetBlue terminal at JFK Airport tempts travelers with a retro lobby complete with clacking flight board and the Sunken Lounge lobby bar.
Through February, the hotel has an ice-skating rink set up out back, right next to the 1958 Lockheed Constellation Connie airport-turned-cocktail lounge. (Skating fee: $15/adults; $10 kids under 12; skate rental: $10 adults/$8/kids; two free ice-skating shows each evening).
Now there’s another reason to stop by the hotel before or
after a flight:
The Runway Chalet, a 1960s style ski lodged-themed bar, has
landed at the hotel’s rooftop pool.
The tented and heated ‘chalet’ is decorated with vintage skiing gear and a retro ski lodge style fireplace.
The menu includes chocolate or cheese fondue, burgers and other items while the cocktail list includes concoctions such as the Idlewild Hot Toddy (Sailor Jerry rum and hot cider, with a cinnamon stick) and The Weather Delay (Belvedere vodka, hot chocolate and marshmallows).
Both the chalet and the rooftop infinity pool (heated to 95 degrees and referred to as a ‘pool-cuzzi’) offer views of JFK’s Runway 4 Left/22 right.
No need to be a checked-in guest to visit the Runway Chalet
at the TWA Hotel’s Pool Bar, which is open from 11 am to 11 pm daily.
Doesn’t this sound more fun than waiting for an extra hour or two at the gate?
Located on the outdoor DEN plaza, between the main terminal and the Westin Hotel, the rink will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through January 20.
There’s no fee to skate. And there are free skate rentals as
the on-side “Skate Shop” Airstream trailer near the ice rink.
The ice rink will feature music daily and host special
activities and performances on the ice throughout the skating season including
Colorado Avalanche Ice Patrol, Denver Figure Skating Club, E-Gals Ice Crew,
curling lessons, little tykes’ hockey and more.
Holiday Open House at Pittsburgh Airport
Pittsburgh International Airport will its annual open house this year on Saturday, December 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open to all who register, the in-terminal event features shopping and dining specials, live music, kids’ entertainment and visits with Santa. Registration closes December 4.
Here’s a rundown of the entertainment:
Juggler: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Balloon Artist: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Touch-A-Truck: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Face Painting: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Children’s Museum Activity: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Lovebettie: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Photos with Santa: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Caricature Artist: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Airbrush Tattoo Artist: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Pierogies: 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
SFO Airport pilots premium Uber pick-up
To reduce congestion at curbsides, in June
2019 San Francisco International Airport
(SFO) moved domestic terminal pickups for ride-hailing services Uber, Lyft and
Wingz away from the terminal curbside to the 5th floor of the Domestic Hourly
Parking Garage, with pickups in the International Terminal at the center island
of the Departures level roadway.
Passengers who choose a premium Uber product, including Uber
Comfort, Uber Select, and Uber XL, Uber Black and Uber Black SUV will be picked
up curbside at designated locations in each Domestic Terminal: Terminal 1 at
Door 9; Terminal 2 at Doors 5 and 6; Terminal 3 at Doors 12 and 13.
at the International Terminal will continue in the current location, which is at
the center island of the Departure level roadway.
choosing (basic) UberX and Uber Pool in the Domestic Terminals must still go to
the domestic hourly parking garage for pickup.
My “At the Airport” column for USA TODAY this month was a round-up of some of the best new amenities introduced at airports this year. Take a look a let me know if I missed one of your favorites.
Scratch and sniff
In 2017, passengers were able to visit with specially-trained therapy dogs and their trainers at a longer list of airports, with the newly re-branded Hollywood Burbank Airport joining the pack just last week with the introduction of its Traveler’s Tails program.
The type of animals visiting airports expanded this year as well. In 2016, a pig joined the canines on the Wag Brigade at San Francisco International Airport and miniature therapy horses became regular visitors at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. In 2017, Denver International Airport welcomed the first feline – a 12-pound domestic shorthair named Xeli – to the Canine Airport Therapy Squad, known as CATS.
Back in 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport opened the “See 18” screening room near Gate C18 to showcase short films. This year, at least other airports joined the in-airport movie fan club as well.
In March of 2017, a 17-seat Hollywood Theatre ‘microcinema’ opened at Portland International Airport, showing a round-the-clock program of short features made by Oregon filmmakers.
And in October, San Francisco International Airport unveiled a pre-security Video Arts Center in the International Terminal which features a rotating showcase of short films.
Many travelers are familiar with OTG’s iPad-enhanced airport seating areas that allow passengers in many gate hold areas to order food, drinks and products from nearby restaurants and shops to be delivered to them at their seats.
This summer two app-powered services, Airport Sherpa and At Your Gate, announced they’d be offering a new perk: airport-wide delivery of pretty much anything sold on-site, for a small delivery fee.
Gate-huggers rejoiced, but roll-out has been a bit slower than planned. Airport Sherpa currently provides this service only at Baltimore/Washington International Airport (use the code “Stuck” and you’ll get your first delivery for free), but says new airport partners will be announced soon. At Your Gate, which won approval of the Innovation Lab at San Diego International Airport, had planned an August launch, but that is now slated for January.
Biometrics and beyond
Biometrics is beginning to take hold at U.S. airports.
In June, JetBlue partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and global IT company SITA, to test a program using biometrics and facial recognition technology to verify customers at the gate during boarding. Travelers flying from Boston’s Logan International Airport to Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport and from Boston to Santiago, Dominican Republic can choose to opt-in to the program.
Delta Air Lines also added biometric options for some travelers. One of four self-service bag drop machines the carrier installed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is testing facial recognition technology to match customers with their passport photos through identification verification, a step the airline says is a first for U.S. carriers and has the potential to process twice as many customers per hour.
At Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) Delta Sky Miles members enrolled in CLEAR can now use their fingerprint scans to gain entry to the Delta Sky Club and to board flights. The fingerprint test is also underway at the Delta Sky Club on Concourse B at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Getting to the gate – even if you’re not flying
Remember the ‘good old day’s’ of flying, when friends and family could go with you to the gate to send you off, and when your loved ones could greet you at the gate with hugs and kisses when you got home?
9/11 changed all that, but this summer Pittsburgh International Airport worked out a unique deal with the Transportation Security Administration to bring that perk back.
Now members of the non-flying public who check in at a special MyPITPass ticket counter can get a pass that gives them access to the gates, shops, restaurants and art offered by PIT airport beyond the security checkpoint. No other airports have yet been given permission by TSA to replicate this perk, but at PIT the service is quite popular and is being used by between 75 and 150 people a day, according to PIT spokesman Bob Kerlik.
Furthering Fitness, health and universal access
Marked walking paths and yoga rooms (at SFO, DFW, Chicago O’Hare and Midway, MIA and others) offer passengers a healthy alternative to just sitting by the gate – or in a bar. But travelers who want a more robust pre-flight workout got a new option this year at Baltimore/Washington International Airport when Roam Fitness opened what is currently the only post-security fitness facility offering a gym, workout gear and shower facilities. The company hopes to announce new airport locations this year.
This year the number of airports hosting Hand-Only CPR training kiosks expanded this year to 11 (see the full list here) which means travelers now have more opportunities to use their dwell time to learn how save a life. And Memphis International Airport became the first airport to offer blind and low-vision users of Aira assistive technology access to the airport. The program provides real-time visual interpreters to service subscribers through smart glasses or the camera on a traveler’s phone.
Fun stuff and great ideas
This year there’s a long ‘bonus’ list of fun offerings and great ideas.
Denver International Airport brought back free summer movies and winter ice-skating on its outdoor plaza.
Portland International Airport handed out special glasses and hosted a rooftop party for visitors wanting a glimpse of the August solar eclipse.
In the United Airlines Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport, this year OTG called on master pastry chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres (aka “Mr. Chocolate”) to help it create and open a 24-hour bakery and chocolate shop. In addition to the Mélange Bakery Café, that terminal now also boasts an invite-only “secret” restaurant (called Classified) and a sushi restaurant, Tsukiji Fishroom, which now receives super-fresh fish flown in directly from Tokyo’s iconic Tsjukiji Fish Market.
This year Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport created a special catalog to help and encourage passengers do all their holiday shopping on site;
And, in honor of its 70th anniversary, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) created #ProjectGratitude and surprised passengers throughout the year with complimentary gift cards from airport concessionaires, surprise performances and free treats, including snazzy CVG-branded socks.
JetBlue’s first attempt at selling 200 copies of its limited edition “Get Packing” board game – which includes a real flight certificate in each box – was a big bust.
After a big promotional push, when it came time for the games to go on sale on Amazon, it appeared a shopping bot immediately grabbed up all available copies and complaints flooded in.
Now Jetblue is trying again.
This time they’re running a sweepstatakes: enter here by the end of 12/19/17 for a chance to win one of 195 games. 5 additional copies of the game are being auctioned off on Charitybuzz to benefit Make-A-Wish.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has added extra performances to its holiday music line-up:
On December 20, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the airport’s Asleep on the Wheel stage (near Gate 10), Ray Benson will perform with The Barton Hills Choir backing him up.
The Choir will then go on to perform a mix of golden oldies, classic rock and modern favorites. December 22 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., The Austin Jazz Workshop will perform jazz infused instrumental versions of classic Christmas Carols.
See the full schedule of music offerings at AUS here.
Germany’s Dusseldorf Airport has brought back ice-skating inside the terminal for the holiday season – this time with real ice.
Ice-skating and loaner ice-skates are free each weekend through the first weekend in January.