Airport amenities that might make summer travel fun. Or less of a hassle
Summer may be half over but many of the hassles of summer travel never end.
Which is why we’re always on the lookout for airport amenities that can take the hassle out of travel.
Here’s a list I put together for USA TODAY Travel.
Cruise to SEA airport luggage-free
More than a million cruise passengers pass through Seattle on their way to and from Alaska each summer and they bring a lot of luggage with them through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
To keep out all those bags out of the airport check-in halls, the Port of Seattle offers Port Valet. The complimentary service allows passengers to check in for their flights and check in their bags on board their cruise ships and then explore the city luggage-free before heading to their flights. The luggage transfer is free; but regular checked bag fees apply.
Learn how to save a life while waiting for a flight
Los Angeles International is the latest airport to get a Hands-Only CPR Training Kiosk from the American Heart Association.
More than a dozen other airports have these kiosks as well and just five minutes – the time it takes scroll through your Instagram feed again – you can watch a short instruction video (in English or Spanish), practice on a rubber manikin, get feedback on your technique and learn how to save a life.
Get coffee made by a robot
In two locations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and one brand new one in Terminal 3 at San Francisco International Airport, travelers can order coffee drinks prepared and delivered by a robotic barista in a Briggo automated Coffee Haus kiosk.
Orders can be sent ahead via the app, no pre-caffeine chit-chat is required, local coffee blends are features, and there’s a robot on duty 24 hours a day.
Food and sundries delivered to you at your gate
You found an empty seat by a working power plug near your gate and now you’re hungry.
Lucky for you gate delivery services are available in an increasing number of airports. The fast-expanding, app-powered airport order and delivery service At Your Gate rolled out this month in Terminal A at Boston Logan International Airport with plans to expand to Terminal C by the end of summer.
The service is also available in all or parts of Newark (EWR), JFK, LGA, MSP, PDX and San Diego International Airports (SAN) with more on the way.
Tour Tampa International Airport without a ticket
Go to the airport – and through the TSA checkpoint- if you don’t have to?
You might say yes if you wanted to greet or say goodbye to a friend or family member at the gate. Or if you wanted to check out the art, shopping, and the bars and restaurants inside the airport.
Since May, the All Access program at Tampa International Airport has been giving passes to 100 non-ticketed visitors each Saturday (25 per airside terminal). Pittsburgh International Airport’s MyPIT Pass program issues passes for post-security access on weekdays.
Free do-it-yourself piano concerts
Many airports provide live music in the terminals during busy holiday periods and year-round.
Some also provide pianos and invite passengers to make their own music before or after a flight.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) recently installed a “Play Me” piano in Terminal 1. And Los Angeles International Airport recently debuted to new Kawai G-40EP manual and self-playing baby grand pianos; one in the Terminal 4 connector and one on the Upper Level of Terminal 7.
Just Plane Fun at Philadelphia International Airport
It’s like a summer camp at the airport.
The summer-long Just Plane Fun program at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) offers travelers an eclectic schedule of free activities that includes live music, magic shows, artist demonstrations and workshops, beauty demos, local celebrity appearances, and, our favorite, free sips and food samples.
Check the PHL website for scheduled events or pick up a flyer at an airport information counter.
Airport trading cards – collect them all
They’re cool. They’re collectible. They’re free. And they can be a challenge to find.
Over the past few years, more than 70 airports have created trading cards as part of the North American Airport Collectors Series trading card program. The 2019 series is scheduled to debut in September.
There doesn’t seem to be a master list of participating airports, nor a formal way to acquire the cards. But to start your collection we suggest stopping by an information desk in any airport you happen to be traveling to or through this summer.
Let’s all go to the movies – at the airports
The 17-seat free Hollywood Theatre micro cinema at Portland International Airport (PDX) has a fresh reel of short films by Oregon filmmakers, including Rob Tyler’s “The Way We Melt,” starring brightly-colored, rapidly thawing frozen confections.
Summer travelers may also watch free films at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) courtesy of the SFO Museum’s Video Arts Program, at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) in the See 18 Film Screening Room on Concourse C, near Gate C18.
Sensory-friendly Space with real airplane seating
Going to the airport and getting on a plane can be stressful for anyone, but kids or adults with autism or other special needs may need extra help acclimating and adjusting.
To help out, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) just opened Presley’s Place, a 15,000 square-foot sensory-friendly space in Concourse A, by Gate 9. In addition to a calming transition foyer, family room, soundproof adult area, and restroom with adult changing table and adjustable sink, Presley’s Place is the first airport sensory room to also have the walls and floor of a real jet way and a seating section from a realistic airplane cabin, courtesy American Airlines.
Have a favorite airport amenity? Let us know; maybe it will be featured here on Stuck at The Airport.