cookies

Fresh baked cookies – in space?

If you are going to travel in space, wouldn’t it be great to have fresh baked cookies ?

Fresh baked cookies – in space

You know that chocolate chip cookie the desk clerk hands you when you check in at a DoubleTree by Hilton property?

It’s a nice reward for making it through a long day of traveling. And soon – perhaps by October – astronauts heading to the International Space Station (ISS) will be rewarded with fresh baked cookies as well.

Plans are in place to launch Doubletree cookie dough into space as part of a payload heading for the International Space Station. The dough will then baked on route inside a special prototype oven created by Zero G Kitchen, a company determined to create kitchen appliances for use in space.

Why cookies? Well, it seems scientists were looking for way to make space more welcoming and realized Doubletree’s cookies are something that already connotes ‘welcome’ to millions of travelers here on the ground.

Zero G Kitchen and NanoRacks, a company that provides commercial access to space, have worked up a cooking technology that adheres to NASA safety standards. The test oven is fully built, it has passed all three phases of the rigorous NASA safety review and has been handed over to NASA for launch.

Transportation for the cookies and the test oven will be aboard one of cargo flights that regularly supply the International Space Station, either on a SpaceX Dragon or a Northrop Grumman Cygnus.

Zero G Kitchen chefs aren’t completely sure what temperature the dough will need to be heated to, and for how long, once it’s in space. But the chefs say they’ll be in contact with the astronauts throughout the process for feedback on baking time and temperature,

No official launch date has been set yet, but the team is working with NASA to confirm the exact ISS payload it will be a part of – possibly in October.

Sounds right that chocolate chip cookies should be the first things baked space. Once they have the technology down, though, what should they cook next?

Greetings from: Singapore Changi Airport

Changi candy

It’s always a delight to spend a day touring Singapore Changi Airport, which offers a wide array of truly useful amenities and a smorgasbord of entertaining treats.

Here are some snaps taken this week during a 5-mile airport hike that included a stop at Hobbiton, an encounter with a giant Oreo cookie and a view of the airfield from one of the world’s best airport powder rooms.

Air New Zealand has set up a Hobbit hole  in the departure hall of Terminal 3.

Air New Zealand has set up a Hobbit hole in the departure hall of Terminal 3.

The Easter Bunny is still on duty at Changi Airport

The Easter Bunny is still on duty at Changi Airport

Changi cookie_edited

This giant Oreo cookie had a helper handing out samples of tiny Oreo cookies.

 

Changi restroom

This Changi Airport powder room has picture windows offering great views out to the airfield. I’ve been assured those outside cannot see in… Photo courtesy Yvette Cardozo.

 

Tidbits for travelers: crumbling cookies & carry-on charges

Frontier Airlines, which adopted Midwest Airline’s sweet-smelling tradition of serving complimentary warm chocolate chip cookies to all passengers, has decided to nix that amenity at the end of April. The reason: “offering a free perishable snack did not align with our low-cost business model,” said an airline spokesperson.

What will be served instead? Elite frequent fliers – and anyone who has paid a fare above economy class – will get complimentary packaged goldfish crackers or animal crackers. Hungry economy class passengers can snack on those items as well – if they’re willing to pay $1 a package.

Another change in the pipeline: Allegiant Air – which already charges a per-segment website booking fee and adds charges for seat assignments, beverages, priority boarding, and other services – plans to begin charging $35 for each carry-on bag as of Wednesday. The new fee hadn’t been added to this long list of fees as of early Tuesday morning, but airline spokespeople have confirmed the new fee to various news outlets.

More fun freebies at airports

Free is good. And these days many small and mid-size airports are trying to build loyalty by offering travelers free amenities.

In my At the Airport column this month on USAToday.com, I write (again) about the free cookies they hand out at Indiana’s Fort Wayne International Airport as well as some of the fun freebies offered at other airports.

Florida’s  Jacksonville International Airport distributes free flowers to passengers each year on Valentine’s Day and on Mother’s Day.

The Reno-Tahoe International Airport offers free local phone calls year-round.

In Milwaukee, home of Harley-Davidson Motor Company and the Harley-Davidson Museum, the General Mitchell International Airport offers free parking for any traveler who arrives on a motorcycle.

At Ohio’s Port Columbus International Airport, children are given free crayons and blank post-paid postcards and asked to please mail back a picture from their travels for display in an airport gallery. The airport has also purchased its own popcorn machine and hands out free bags of popcorn during quarterly customer appreciation days. “It’s a great way for us to say thanks,” says CMH communications manager Angie Tabor, “Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of popcorn?”

And in Wisconsin, the Outagamie County Regional Airport gives out free toothbrushes.

Airport marketing manager Kim Sippola says: “We noticed that many business travelers would get off the plane, go into the bathroom, and search through their bags for a toothbrush because they were going right from the airport to a meeting. So we thought we’d reduce some stress for our customers by providing them with toothbrushes.”

The airport partnered with a local dentist and now stocks post-security bathrooms with travel-sized oral hygiene kits that contain mouthwash, dental floss and a toothbrush with a single-serving of toothpaste.

Have you found a great airport freebie? Please let us know so we can tell other travelers about it.

Souvenir Sunday at Indiana’s Fort Wayne International Airport

It’s Souvenir Sunday.  The day we unpack our bags and look at some of the fun, local , inexpensive stuff you can pick up when you’re stuck at the airport.

Today we’ve got a few items from Indiana’s Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA), which this past week handed one lucky arriving passenger the millionth complimentary “Welcome to Fort Wayne” cookie – along with 25,000 airline miles and some other prizes.

FWA - millionth cookie served

Even though FWA is a small airport, it’s surprisingly easy to find locally-made items that fit our under $10 category.

DeBrand Chocolates has a an airport shop where these shiny chocolate bars sell for $2.50 each

FWA - DeBrand Chocolate holiday bars

And for $10, you can get these cute Vera Bradley coin purses.

FWA - purse

I know – the company’s colorful handbags and luggage items are in a lot of airports. But since they’re headquartered in Fort Wayne, they definitely qualify as a Souvenir Sunday item.

Have you found a great souvenir while you were stuck at the airport? If it’s under $10, “of” the city or region and, ideally a bit offbeat, please take a photo and send it along. It may end up featured on a future edition of Souvenir Sunday.

Souvenir Sunday two

(Today’s Souvenir Sunday photos from the Fort Wayne Airport courtesy of  Dave Young)