Within its 30 square miles are five terminals, two full-service hotels, a multi-million dollar collection of art and a golf course. There’s also Founders’ Plaza: DFW’s public observation park.
The park has the airport’s original beacon, along with shaded picnic tables, viewing stations and a live audio feed of the radio conversations from the air traffic control tower.
And now it has six, black-granite sidewalk medallions, each four-feet in diameter.
Laser-etched into the surface of each medallion is information about the history of the airport and of commercial aviation in north Texas. A different piece of the story is told on each medallion.
Want to see them for yourself? Founders’ Plaza is located at North Airfield Drive and Texan Trail, just south of State Highway 114 in Grapevine.
No time to leave the terminals? No problem. DFW has some nifty stuff inside as well. My favorites: the Cereality breakfast bar where you choose cereal and toppings and pajama-clad Cereologists fill up the bowl; the two La Bodega Winery locations and all the great artwork in Terminal D.
My column on USATODAY.com this month, Are airports ready for the 3-hour rule?, takes a look at how airports are gearing up for the April 29th roll-out of the new Department of Transportation (DOT) rule to upgrade protections for airline passengers.
We’ve been hearing a lot from airlines – they’re not happy – but I was curious about what the fall-out might be for airports if (when?) more planes end up turning around and coming back to the terminal and if (when?) more people end up stuck at the airport.
I was imagining I’d hear worry, maybe even hysteria, from airport officials. That’s not what I got. In fact, the responses I got down the line were more along the lines of “We’re ready. Bring it on.”
You can read the complete column – and the very intriguing comments readers have been posting – on USATODAY.com. Here’s some of what airport officials told me:
Airports at the ready
Long before the DOT announced enhanced protections for airline passengers, airports were holding meetings to work on creating tool kits and best practices that could be used during excessive flight delays. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, for example, executive vice president for operations Jim Crites says that in 2007 the airport began purchasing extra equipment to help deplane passengers quickly. DFW also started beefing up communications with airlines, with regional airports that might get diverted flights and with airport concessionaires that might need to stay open later than usual during irregular operations. “The customer expects everyone to be on the same page. So instead of doing business in isolation, you began to see more coordination, more teaming up and partnering across entities.”
It’s the same story at many small and medium-sized airports. “After that incident when people were stuck on a JetBlue plane in New York for nine hours we agreed as a management team that we would not let that happen here,” says Russell Widmar, the aviation director at California’s Fresno Yosemite International Airport, “So we’ve had our own passengers’ bill of rights in place for almost a year and a half now.”
The plan that the team worked out was successfully put to the test in January 2008, when severe weather on the California coast brought 14 diverted planes to Fresno Airport. “It really isn’t any problem dealing with extra flights,” says Widmar, “The only difficulty is that these passengers don’t want to be in Fresno. They want to be San Francisco or wherever they were headed. But if they end up here, no matter when they drop in, we have services available for them. No one needs to be stuck on the airplane.”
Widmar believes that by now pretty much every airport is ready to deal with this type of activity. That includes the many small airports not currently covered by the DOT contingency plan rule, such as Indiana’s Fort Wayne International Airport, which often get diverted flights from Chicago and Detroit. FWA executive director Tory Richardson says “The DOT rule is silent on how the coordination plans are to be handled at small airports, even though there are a few hundred of us. But we will step up … Nobody wants the black eye that happened in Rochester.”
There was plenty of Longhorn memorabilia to choose from –
And this chocolate bar – which doubled as lunch.
And while the store clerk assured me those were real scorpions inside these lollipops,
I went home instead with a pocketful of these snazzy keychains.
Did you find great souvenir last time you were stuck at the airport? If it’s under $10, “of” the city or region and, ideally, a bit offbeat, please snap a photo and send it along. Your souvenir may be featured on a future edition of Souvenir Sunday.
In addition to the airport freebies I wrote about yesterday here at StuckatTheAirport.com, we have a few more airport events and giveaways to seek out during your Thanksgiving trek through the airport:
If you’re traveling through Boston’s Logan International Airport or Seattle-Tacoma International Airport today (Wed. Nov 25, 2009) look around for the “Fareologists” from Bing Travel. They’ll be answering travel questions (try to stump them by asking where the best place is to buy an extra pair of underwear) and surprising some folks (1,000 in all) in the ticketing areas by giving them a $15 card redeemable for cash anywhere MasterCard is accepted. Nice!
If you’re at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) Wednesday between 10 and 11 am look around for the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, who will be performing -and no doubt posing for photos with travelers – in the Baggage Claim area and at the Security Checkpoint in the Landside Terminal.
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 MSN.com, I pulled together examples of some of the fun stuff you’ll find in 15 airports in North America.
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.
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.