Charlotte Douglas International Airport

CLT: 5 Things We Love About Charlotte Douglas International Airport

We are missing traveling around the country and the world.

So Stuck at the Airport has kicked off its long-planned series celebrating the features and amenities at airports.

Here’s a link to the airports we’ve profiled in the “5 Things We Love At …” series so far.

Want to nominate an airport to be featured in the series and/or sponsor one of the episodes? Get in touch.

Today join us in celebrating 5 Things We Love About Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

As always, if we missed your favorite thing at CLT, please add a note in the comments section below. And keep in mind that some amenities mentioned may be temporarily unavailable due to health concerns, but we are sure they will be back.

5 Things We Love about Charlotte Douglas International Airport

1. The Rocking Chairs at CLT

CLT oozes charm with its signature rocking chairs.

The welcoming amenity first debuted at CLT in 1997 and since then hundreds of airports around the country have added rocking chairs of their own.

CLT also has towering Ficus trees in the terminal and a piano just waiting for volunteers to sit down and serenade passengers.

2. Selfie Stations at CLT

To add a bit of fun to layovers, CLT has several #TakeMySelfie stations in the terminal.

You will find giant CLT letters on the wall at Checkpoint E; a colorful vintage postcard on the Concourses A/B Connector; and a Queen Charlotte mural in the Concourse A Expansion. 

3. Shopping at CLT

Take a look at some of the fun gifts and souvenirs you can pick up at CLT.

4. CLT’s Airport Overlook

CLT’s Airport Overlook is a large area near the airport (7300 Old Dowd Road) with parking, picnic tables, and benches. It is a perfect spot for watching aircraft take off and land.

Inside the airport, the best place to get great views of the Charlotte skyline is from Concourses D and E.

5. Art at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

The work of at least 14 artists, many of them local, is featured at CLT airport. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Charlotte is known as the Queen City and there’s a statue of Queen Charlotte by Raymond Kaskey in the garden area between the East and West Daily Parking Decks.

On the Concourse A Expansion near Gates A21 and A22 is Refik Anadol’s “Interconnected.” The piece is a series of three massive LED screens with ever-changing digital artwork modeled on real-time airport operations data.

It looks abstract, but the work is translating particles representing flight arrivals, departures, baggage movements and airport parking into millions of pixels.

And there’s there’s Journey 1 and Journey 2, by Ráed Al-Rawi. Charming!

Fresh airport eateries in Las Vegas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Seattle and Charlotte airports

More reasons to go the airport hungry.

Pret a Manager landing at U.S. Airports

Several U.S. airports will soon have branches of U.K.-based grab-n-go coffee and sandwich chain Pret a Manger. The cahin is known for its freshly prepared foods and organic coffee.

There are currently “Pret” shops in Chicago and a few other east coast cities, but at the end of May, a Pret opened in Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport in the Terminal 3, E Gates.

In June, a Pret will open at Los Angeles International Airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal. In July a Pret will pop up at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

New places to eat at Detroit Metro Airport

There are some new restaurants in Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport’s (DTW) North Terminal. 

The restaurants include: 

Cantoro Italian Market Trattoria, a local, family owned and operated Italian market crossed with a modern corner store; 

Air Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett’s airport restaurant with a local twist;

Detroit Street Café featuring Zingerman’s Coffee;

And Atwater Brewery, a Detroit favorite, that debuted downtown in 1997 with the mission to bring German brew-styles to the area.

DTW says these restaurants are the first of a phased dining redevelopment project to open. Cantoro Italian Market Trattoria opened on April 18 and is located pre-security in baggage claim. Atwater Brewery opened on June 1 and Air Margaritaville & Detroit Street Café featuring Zingerman’s Coffee opened on June 5.

Skillet sizzles at SEA-TAC Airport

Whether or not your flight is taking off from the North Satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, you might want to make your way out there to have a meal at Skillet.

Born in a food-truck and a favorite in several Seattle neighborhoods, Skillet has brought many of its menu favorites to SEA airport. The entrees include brunch favorites such as Fried Chicken & Waffle, homemade Doughnut Holes and the gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly Chilaquiles.

I guess I’ll have to forgive them for closing the Skillet in my neighborhood…

Kitten Cuddle coming to Charlotte Douglas Int’l Airport

August 8 is International Cat Day.

To mark the day, Charlotte Douglas International Airport has scheduled a Kitten Cuddle on Wednesday, August 8 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Atrium in front the 1897 Market.

The plan is to have at least 10 kittens on site and available for cuddling, so there should be plenty of cats to go around.

The kittens are coming to CLT courtesy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control, which currently has more then 250 cats and dogs available for adoption.

Animals in the airport are nothing new at CLT.

While the Kitten Cuddle is a first for the airport, the CLT Canine Crew is mde up of 31 four-legged volunteers who are often on duty to greet passengers. Look for the pups wearing “Pet Me” vests.

‘Lil Rocky Balboa the Griffon, courtesy CLT

Tasty tidbits for travelers: fresh eats at airports

What can you do when you’re stuck at the airport?  Eat!

Lucky for you there are some new dining options at several U.S. airports.

 

If you’re hungry at JFK’s Delta Terminal 3 and don’t want to give up that seat you finally found by the power outlet, starting Thursday, May 5th they’ll be an app for that.

HMSHost and Airside Mobile are launching the B4YouBoard iPhone App that will let you use your smartphone to order food, pay for it and have it delivered to you within 20 minutes (they promise) at six delivery zones inside the terminal.

The service will expand in the future, but for now the app will only work at JFK’s Delta Terminal 3, only on iPhones and only if you want to eat something from Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market or Chili’s Too between noon to 8 pm.

Still, if it’s a busy afternoon and you’ve finally found a seat and spread out your stuff, you can see how having in-airport food delivery – to eat there or take on the plane – might be very convenient.

Elsewhere…

Eat up!

America’s got talent -at the airport

Milwaukee Airport_ Daniel Meek

Daneil Meek: TSA officer AND bagpiper

An artist, a baker and a bagpiper walk into an airport.

Is that the first line of a bad joke?

It could be. But it’s also a sampling of the hidden talents pursued by people who work at some of the nation’s airports. In some cases, only their colleagues reap the benefits, but from impromptu concerts to employee art shows, fliers across the country may encounter some fun and diversion in the midst of a stressful travel day.

Here’s the story I wrote about these talented airport workers for my At the Airport column in USATODAY.com.

When he’s not training for swim meets, Daniel Meek (above), the TSA administrative officer at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport, plays the bagpipes (yes, in a traditional Scottish kilt) at events ranging from funerals to local, regional and national law enforcement ceremonies. “A group of TSOs [Transportation Security Officers] are going to ride motorcycles to the 9/11 ten-year anniversary ceremonies in Washington DC, and I’m going to join them with my bagpipes,” said Meek.

Special events at Los Angeles International Airport now often include a few tunes by a chorus of surprisingly sweet-voiced TSA employees. “Our goal is to put the human face of the TSA in the public. Not just the ‘Take off your shoes’ image,” LAX Terminal Screening Manager Raul Matute told me back in December as the group readied for holiday performances in several terminals.

LAX TSA CHOIR

LAX TSA CHOIR

At Denver International Airport, the contract manager can sing opera, the CFO plays trumpet, a member of the custodial staff leads an in-demand mariachi band and one of the customer service volunteers is a magician. “Maybe we should start a band or hold a variety show in the terminals each Friday,” said airport spokesperson Jenny Schiavone.

No joking around. Well, sometimes.

Don Steinmetz is a veteran Phoenix police sergeant assigned to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where he supervises explosive-detection dogs and their police partners. “At the airport, our job is to deter, detect and keep people safe,” says Steinmetz. Outside the airport, Steinmetz performs on the stand-up comedy circuit, where his job is to make people laugh. “At the airport there are thousands of people and so many diverse situations. So there are plenty of hilarious things I can talk about from a police officer’s point of view.”

Kelly McCarron, a JetBlue employee at San Francisco International Airport, also moonlights as a stand-up comic. She interacts with the public at ticket-counters and gates all day but, unlike Steinmetz, doesn’t put many work stories into her act. “People in the audience have usually been on the other side of the airport interaction and I’m usually in the role of the bad guy. So it’s hard to get them on my side.”

On the serious side, Debbie Ramirez, spends her days marketing and promoting Phoenix Sky Harbor. But in her spare time, she and her horses are on-call for the posse that helps with search and rescue efforts for the Maricopa County sheriff’s office. “People go out hiking in the mountains and get lost or in trouble,” says Ramirez. “We’ve rescued a lot of people, but sometimes we can only help families find closure.”

Aerobatics and other art

When he’s not on the job, Mark Leutwiler, the Security Operations Manager at Portland International Airport (PDX) can be found up in the air practicing aerobatic art. “When I was young I went flying with someone and we went upside down. That’s when I realized that’s what I want to do. Now I fly loops and rolls and spins as much as possible.”

One of Leutwiler’s co-workers, Pauline Nelson, oversees security access for much of the terminal building and de-stresses by cooking, baking and building decorated cakes. She’s taken first prize at the Oregon State Fair numerous times, but it may be her co-workers who reap the rewards. “Basically, there aren’t enough people in my household to eat all the things I cook,” said Nelson, “So I bring things to work all the time.”

Reno-Tahoe International Airport hosts an annual Employee Art Show and this year the exhibit featured about 100 paintings, works on paper, photos, sculptures, crafts and mixed media entries by 59 airport employees and their family members. Similar art shows, supported by the National Arts Program are held regularly at airports in Orlando, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Dallas-Fort Worth.

And while Boston Logan International Airport has an official photographer, airport spokesman Richard Walsh calls landside operations manager Rudy Chiarello “the airport’s official, unofficial photographer.” Chiarello has been a Massport employee for 35 years and has amassed thousands of photos, many of them of airplanes taken from out on the airfield. “I was one of those people who thought my pictures sucked,” said Chiarello, “But after 9/11, I wanted to promote aviation so I started uploading my pictures to airliners.net and got great responses. I never knew people would be so crazy about airline pictures.”

Then there’s Art Cozart, who has worked as a baggage handler for US Airways at Charlotte Douglas International Airport for the past 29 years. “About ten years ago I had coffee in the break room and drew a picture on the Styrofoam cup with a pen,” said Cozart, whose art training consists of a ‘filler’ class he took during his senior year of high school. Cozart kept doodling and now estimates he’s covered about 1000 Styrofoam cups with his artwork.

In October 2010, a selection of Cozart’s cups were displayed during the grand opening of Charlotte’s Mint Museum UPTOWN and now there’s a website featuring his creations. Mostly, though, Cozart says he just draws cups for friends and family and gives them away. “I’ve done animals, boats, airports, landscapes and people, including Marilyn Monroe, The Munsters, Dale Earnhardt, and Laurel and Hardy.” As for his choice of medium? Cozart explains, “I can draw on paper if I have to, but this helps keep cups out of the landfill.”