In Finland, though, anyone can have Helsinkin Airport named for them. At least for a few moments.
Finavia Corporation, which manages Finland’s airport network has created a way for anyone to have their name put on the front of the Helsinki Airport terminal buildl long enough to snap a selfie or two.
Your entry will be reviewed to make sure it’s not off-color or inappropriate. And then, depending on how many requests are in ahead of you, your name will appear over the Helsinki Airport sign on the front of the terminal.
We tested it out and filled out the form early morning Finland time from Seattle. Then we watched on the website as our name popped up on the airport sign within seconds.
Unfortunately, of course, we couldn’t get a selfie with our sign because were weren’t standing out in front of the airport in person. But we’re determined to get there so we can get that snap.
In the meatime, we’re declaring this Airport Amenity of the Week. Agree?
Holidays at Airports and in the Air
We’re gathering up news of holiday events and amenities being rolled out by airports and airlines.
City or celebrity? Branding goals fuel airport name changes
Louisville, Kentucky is well known for bourbon,
the Kentucky Derby and Louisville Slugger baseball bats.
It’s also the city the late, legendary boxer
Muhammad Ali called home.
In his honor, Louisville International
Airport (SDF) was recently renamed Louisville Muhammad Ali International
Airport and a new logo honoring The Champ and his famous praise, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a
In addition to honoring a native son, the
airport name change is expected bring economic benefits to Louisville and both
built on and boost Ali-related tourism to the city.
“Even three years after our city’s most famous son’s
passing, Louisville continues to see people coming from across the globe to
discover and trace Ali’s legacy,” Karen Williams, President and CEO of
Louisville Tourism said in
a statement, “The airport rebranding supports current marketing efforts to
engage in Ali’s ‘Footsteps of
Greatness’ as a reason to inspire visitation to Louisville.”
Location, Location, Location
While Louisville added the name of a local
icon to its airport’s name, other airports are moving away from celebrity names
in favor of stronger geographic branding.
petition seeking to honor the late star of the locally produced “Mister Rogers’
Neighborhood” PBS TV program was signed by more than 15,000 supporters. But
airport representatives said vacation planners were more likely to search
online for “Pittsburgh Airport” than for “Fred Rogers.”
In southern California, regional Bob Hope Airport (BUR) is now Hollywood Burbank Airport.
The switch came in 2017 after airport
officials realized that while the general public knew that the late Bob Hope was
a comedian, few outside the region knew the airport was so located so close to
Hollywood and many top Los Angeles-area attractions.
“Some thought the airport was in Palm Springs,” said
airport spokeswoman Lucy Burghdorf, “Others thought it was in Vietnam,” because
Hope had hosted annual USO Christmas tours to entertain troops during much of the
To help solve BUR’s identity problem, “We studied
what other airports had done and why,” said Michael Fiore, cofounder and
chief brand officer of the Anyone
for the most part we found the same answers: those with a geographic
identifiers attached to them were performing better than others.”
The name-change, coupled with branding and
marketing efforts that include everything from new signage at the airport and
on highways to online advertising, has garnered the airport national awards
and, more importantly, more passengers, said Fiore.
Some other airports have gently tweaked their
names in the interest of better branding.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL) was renamed St. Louis Lambert International Airport in February 2017. The move was made “to
improve marketing positions locally and globally while also expanding
connections with the St. Louis region,” according to the airport’s strategic
“This decision was made to better identify our
geographical location to travelers who are not from this region,” said MKE spokesman
Harold Mester, “Our new brand adds the name of our anchor city while still
honoring our namesake, Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell, who is considered to be the
father of the U.S. Air Force.”
“As we continue to market the airport in
international and west coast markets, we have found that these populations are
challenged to locate us,” said Kevin A. Dillon, Executive Director of the
Connecticut Airport Authority, “Accordingly, we are undergoing a review to be
completed by the end of the year to determine if it is feasible to change the
airport name, and, if so, how we can continue to preserve the memory of Eugene
Bradley at the airport.”
Bucking the Trend
While the benefits of geographic branding are
convincing some airports to change or tweak names, at least one airport is bucking
In 2017, the Hawaii Department of
Transportation (HDOT) changed the name of Honolulu International
Airport (HNL) to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
The much-beloved Inouye served as Hawaii’s
first representative in Congress in 1959 and went on to represent the Aloha
State in both the House and Senate for a combined 53 years.
This is the
fourth name change in the airport’s history, notes HDOT.
opened in 1927, HNL was named the John Rodgers Airport. After surviving the
attack on Pearl Harbor, in 1947 the airport was renamed Honolulu Airport. “International”
was added to the name in 1951.
It is too soon to tell if the name change will boost the local economy or increase tourism to Honolulu. But HDOT pegs the cost of new signage, parts, materials, labor and other tasks associated with this latest name change at one million dollars.
What do you think? Should an airport be named for a city or a celebrity?
Former presidents George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton all have airports named for them. So do former cabinet secretaries John Foster Dulles and Norman Y. Mineta and celebrities as varied as John Wayne, Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, Will Rogers and Arnold Palmer.
Denver International Airport’s main terminal is named for Elray Jeppesen. Courtesy DIA.
There’s also a long-held tradition of naming airports, airfields and terminals for people with links to aviation history. Here are a dozen to explore.
In 1928, San Diego Municipal Airport was dedicated as Lindbergh Field in honor of Charles A. Lindbergh, who took off nearby on May 10, 1927 for St. Louis, New York and then Paris for would become the first, solo, non-stop transatlantic flight.
Today, passengers at San Diego International Airport can see a life-size replica of Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis airplane hanging above baggage claim in Terminal 2 and a 26-inch-tall bronze bust depicting the aviator in his leather flight jacket. (Unfortunately, a popular 30-foot tall mural of Lindbergh – above – with a model of his famous airplane that was applied to the east wall of the Commuter Terminal in 1997 was removed in June 2012 as part of a building maintenance project.)
Lucky Lindy is also remembered at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. MSP’s Charles A. Lindbergh Terminal opened in 1962 and was renamed Terminal 1- Lindbergh in 2010. A plaque and a bust honoring Lindbergh, who grew up on a farm in Little Falls, Minn., can be found near the information booth in the ticketing lobby.
Denver International Airport’s main terminal building is named in honor of Elrey Jeppesen, an early airmail pilot whose small black notebook filled with navigational notes about mountain elevations, radio towers, landmarks and possible obstructions gave way in the mid-1930s to a company that printed and sold manuals and charts giving pilots a better way to figure out where they were.
Jeppesen, whose Denver-area navigational aid company is now computerized and owned by Boeing, got his first pilot’s license in 1928 (it was signed by Orville Wright) and was the first passenger to deplane from the first flight that arrived at the Jeppesen Terminal in 1995. An exhibit about Jeppesen, who died in 1996, is on Level 6 North of the Jeppesen Terminal and includes a copy of his first pilot’s license as well as his original airmail pilot jumpsuit, leather helmet, and goggles; a larger-than-life-size bronze sculpture of Jeppesen is on Level 5 of the terminal.
In Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) honors Brigadier General William “Billy” Mitchell, an accomplished, outspoken and controversial pioneer in American military aviation. Mitchell’s medals, his portrait, photos and a model of his DH-4 Osprey aircraft are on display in the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, the airport’s free, on-site museum.
Chicago’s Orchard Field (the source of the ORD airport code) was renamed Chicago-O’Hare International Airport in 1949 to honor naval aviator Lt. Cmdr. Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, a Medal of Honor recipient from Chicago who died in World War II. An exhibit in the main hall of Terminal 2 includes a replica of O’Hare’s Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat plane and memorabilia from the era.
Dayton General Airport South, a general aviation facility in Ohio, was renamed Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (MGY) in 1995 to honor Wilbur and Orville Wright, who worked on aviation projects in town. The brothers’ accomplishments are celebrated at an on-site hangar museum that both displays and flies Wright Model B lookalike planes, along with other historically accurate aircraft.
In Charleston, West Virginia, the Kanawha Airport was renamed Yeager Airport (CRW) in 1985 to honor flying ace and retired Brigadier General Charles “Chuck” Yeager who, in 1947 became the first pilot to travel faster than the speed of sound. Travelers will see a bronze statue of General Yeager in the terminal, his portrait in the public area, and a metal art piece titled “Sound and Beyond” on the roadway near the terminal.
The cargo-dedicated Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK) in Columbus, Ohio honors Columbus-born Eddie Rickenbacker, who was a commercial-aviation executive, race-car driver, World War I flying ace and one-time owner and operator of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Courtesy the Boeing Company
In Seattle, the King County International Airport, also known as Boeing Field, is named for Boeing Company founder William E. Boeing, while Atchison, Kansas-born aviatrix Amelia Earhart is honored at that city’s Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport. And celebrated pilot and high altitude flight equipment innovator Wiley Post – the first pilot to fly solo around the world – has an airport named for him just outside of Oklahoma City.
Not all airports tagged with names from aviation history get to keep those titles.
In Louisiana, what is now Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) was originally named Moisant Field in 1946 (and, later, Moisant International Airport) in honor of John B. Moisant.
Moisant didn’t live in New Orleans, but died in an airplane crash there on the last day of December 1910 while competing in a contest that promised $4,000 in prize money to the pilot whose plane stayed in the air the longest.
Before his demise, Moisant gained fame in 1909 for building and flying the first metal airplane and, in 1910, for taking the first airplane passenger across the English Channel. Along for the ride that day was Moisant’s regular flying companion – his cat.
(My story about airports named for aviation pioneers first appeared in my ‘At the Airport’ column on USA TODAY in a slightly different format under the title: What’s in an airport name? Sometimes it’s aviation history.”