At Atlanta Airport: no reason to be bored or rumpled

Technology is our friend at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

In addition to videophones for the deaf and hard of hearing that are being installed on all concourses, near north and south baggage claims and in the rental car center, ATL airport has installed a MiMuzicBox kiosk (on Concourse T) that allows users to quickly download music, movies, audiobooks and other entertainment to their own electronic devices.

Far more intriguing is the new U*tique.

Described as an “automated luxury retail outlet,” this giant vending machine on Concourse A sells 50 kinds of make-up, hair and skin products and has a touch-screen offering video demonstrations and information about each product.

So no excuses for looking rumpled at the airport.

Fresh art at RDU; Fresh Music at ATL

 On Thurs. Feb. 10, Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s Terminal 2 will unveil Friendly Folks, a mural created by local artist Jane Filer and commissioned by the Triangle Area Sister Cities (TASC). 

Mural at RDU

Look for the colorful mural in the international arrivals bag claim area. The piece is 45 feet -long and depicts bright happy figures as well as birds and flowers representative of North Carolina.

In Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is recognizing Black History Month with a great line-up of jazz, blues and rhythm & blues performances in the Music in the Atrium series.   Concerts will be held in the Airport’s Atrium Friday evenings during February from 5 to 7 p.m.

February 11:    Frankie’s Blues Mission
February 18:    Joe Jennings
February 25:    Darren Winters Ensemble

Jazz in the Atrium series at Atlanta airport

(The Eldridge Simms Jazz Quintet during 2009 Jazz in the Atrium music series. Photo courtesy ATL)

The 33rd annual Atlanta Jazz Festival is taking place throughout the month of May, with a giant 2-day festival Memorial Day weekend in Piedmont Park and, for lucky travelers, two weeks of live jazz performances at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

ATL’s ninth annual Jazz in the Atrium music series, featuring mostly local artists, will take place in the airport Atrium from 5-7 pm each weekend from May 17th through the 28th.

Here’s the line-up:

May 17 Tony Waters
May 18 Charles Marshall
May 19 After Hours Quintet
May 20 Darren Winters
May 21 Gary Harris

May 24 Trey Wright
May 25 Takana Miyamoto
May 26 Mike Blackburn
May 27 Joe Jennings
May 28 Eldridge Simms Jazz Quintet

Bizarre airport finds – and 72 smart ones

If you stop and look around you should be able to find an exhibit case at many airports filled with some of the items the US Fish & Wildlife Service has confiscated from travelers.

(Confiscated wildlife products, JFK. Courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service)

Sadly, smuggling endangered species – and items made from the parts of endangered species – is big business.  Wildlife inspectors around the country are kept on their toes inspecting cargo shipments and suitcases for everything from bags of writhing snakes to dried sea horses and mounted sea turtles.  And, according to this AP article, Bizarre Finds Normal for Airport Inspectors, last year the inspectors at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska made more seizures than JFK airport in New York.

There’s the case of the women who tried to hide a bear gall in her bra cup; the sad tale of the live monkey shipped with snakes, and the chronic sea horse importer. Every time Chris Andrews opens a package or inspects a passenger in his job as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife inspection officer at Anchorage’s Ted Stevens International Airport, he chances an even more bizarre find…… He says that some of the saddest cases he’s seen involve live animals shipped as cargo, including a monkey in a cage shipped with taped-up snakes. The snakes got loose and killed the monkey.”

Sad, yes; but really sort of fascinating.  The article goes on to mention snake wine, elephant toenails, and jars of bear fat.  I’m not even sure I want to know what these items might be used for, but it’s intriguing to read about how crafty some of these smugglers get with their contraband.

And, speaking of crafty. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) now has those nifty Step ’n Wash units in 72 public restrooms at the airport.

These Step ‘n Wash units are self-retracting steps that are secured beneath restroom sink counters to make it easier for kids to reach the faucets and wash their hands.

Great idea!

Airports with great artwork

On the road but no time to visit the art museum? Don’t fret: along with fine dining, boutique shopping and full-service spas, top-notch art collections are now permanent amenities at many airport terminals.

For a slide-show on, I pulled together examples of some of the fun stuff you’ll find in 15 airports in North America.

You can see the full slide show by visiting the story on Travel: Airports with the Best Artwork,  but here’s a preview:


Artwork, some of it Texas-sized, by more than 30 local, national and internationally known artists dots DFW: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Terminal D and the Skylink train stations. Look down to see elaborate medallions in the terrazzo floors, look up to see giant murals and mobiles and look straight ahead to see unusual sculptures such as Anitra Blayton’s 16-foot tall “Standing Ovation,” (above) made from the casts of hundreds of pairs of hands.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) the flying corncob on Concourse E is Craig Nutt’s work: “Corncorde,”

ATL Corncorde

And at Sacramento International Airport (SMF) the big attraction is the supersized “Samson,” a sculpture in the Terminal A baggage-claim area made of two 23-foot tall towers of stacked luggage made of 1,400 pieces of cast-offs donated by area residents.

Sacramento - SamsonTo see more fun airport art, see the full-length slide show on travel: Airport with the Best Artwork.

If I missed some great airport that you especially like, please let me know!