Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

Atlanta International Airport shows off lighted canopy

Hatsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport recently tested the lighting on the first three sections of its North Terminal canopy.

ATL Airport - green canopy

This canopy is one of a half dozen major construction projects under way at ATL as part of a major 20-year long development program, dubbed ATL Next, that the airport says is designed to boost capacity, renew and replace existing facilities and “enhance ATL’s aesthetic appeal.”

There will be canopies in front of the North and South passenger terminals and the full length of each canopy will be covered in a plastic material that will be able to be illuminated in different colors and patterns by thousands of embedded LED lights.

Work on the ATL’s North Canopy should be done by the fall. The South canopy is expected to be completed in Fall 2019.

The airport did a test run on the lights on part of the North Canopy last week. Neutral white light is expected to be the default color but on special occasions the canopies will be illuminated to mark specific events such as red, white and blue to honor Independence Day.

Other options already under consideration: red and black to celebrate a Falcons Super Bowl victory, or green to mark Earth Day.

Of course, ATL isn’t the first to get a cool lighted architectural feature.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has the “Sky’s the Limit” underground neon walkway.

OHARE NEON TUNNEL courtesy ORD

Detroit Metropolitan Airport has a lighted tunnel.

 

And Los Angeles International Airport has lighted pylons at it entrance that are often lit up in different color patterns to honor a holiday or special event.

What other cool lighted architectural features at airports should we add to this list?

Name that airport; win free travel

Convention centers, sports fields, museum wings and all sorts of public spaces bear the name of rich people and/or companies. So in 2008, when Detroit Metropolitan Airport opened up the new North Terminal, selling naming rights for the shiny new structure seemed like a good – and lucrative – idea.

But, the economy being what it was – and is – there have been no takers. So according to this article in Crain’s Detroit Business, the airport authority has decided to nix the naming rights project for now.

Times are tough for everyone. But doesn’t mean you can’t travel. Win one of these travel contests and someone else will foot most or all of the bill.

Airplane wing - Courtesy Daniel Incandela

As I learned from a cross-Canada bike/train trip heading east-to- west a long time ago and a more recent plane/train trip in the other direction, there are plenty of unusual and incredibly lovely places to visit up north. Want to see for yourself? The Canadian Tourism Commission is sponsoring a Canada Now sweepstakes for US residents that has a prize a CN $5,000  travel voucher.  Deadline to enter: July 31,2010. So hurry!

Know any good jokes?

The national airline of Isreal, El Al Airlines, is jumping into the social media world with a two contests, one on Facebook, the other on Twitter. From now through August 13,2010, El Al Airlines is asking its Facebook Fans to post jokes on its wall. The person who posts the funniest, non-offensive joke will win two round trip tickets from Los Angeles or New York to Israel. Deadline: August 13, 2010. Winner announced on or around August 16, 2010.

The airline will also be giving away one round ticket to Israel from Los Angeles or New York to one Twitter follower. Follow and contact @ELALUSA for details. Deadline: August 4.

And Shell Vacations Hospitality is having a Share a Pic, Win a Trip contest. Top prize includes photo supplies and accessories and a 3-night stay at any of their resorts. Deadline: August 11, 2010.

Good luck! And if you win, no need take me with you. Just bring home a souvenir.

Fun free stuff you’ll find at airports

Google’s “Free WiFi for the Holidays” program – the one that made wireless Internet access free at a boatload of airports – ends on January 15th.

But don’t fret. Too much.

Plenty of airports had free Wi-Fi before the promotion and continue to offer it.  And once the Google airport promotion ends, you’ll find a few airports that once offered fee-based Wi-Fi continuing to offer it for free.  Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is one of them.

I’m working on a list of others.

I’m all for free Wi-Fi at all airports. It will happen. In the meantime, I’m keeping tabs on some of the other airport freebies that are out there. I’ve included some of them – including free cookies at Fort Wayne International Airport(FWA) and free toothbrushes at Wisconsin’s Outagamie County Regional Airport (ATW)  – in a column that will post on USAToday.com tomorrow.

But here are few others I didn’t have room for.

For the past year, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL) has been giving away luggage tags. Thousands of ‘em.

At Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) they (still) hand out plastic wings (pins); mostly to kids.

Just about every terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) offers complimentary shoe shines (tips are encouraged).

And in at least one small airport in Minnesota, early risers get coffee for free.

“We fire up the coffee pots on our cafe counter in the terminal and give away free coffee to passengers for the first flight out (07:10) each day,” says Shaun Germolus, the Executive Director of the Range Regional Airport (HIB)in Hibbing, MN.  “We try to do the same thing whenever we are aware of flight delays as well.”

Have you found a great freebie at an airport? Let us know!

Christmas karaoke at Detroit Metro Airport was a big hit

Right now, when most of us think of Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) we think about that failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day.

But a few days before that awful event, the Detroit Airport hosted a four-day karaoke fundraiser.  Performers were asked to contribute at least $5 for each song and, thanks to fact that many people paid more than $5 a song and the fact that many passersby also contributed, “Sing Because You Care” raised more than $2600 for the  Salvation Army.

Here’s an example of what people sang:

More airport freebies – for people & pets – for Thanksgiving travel

turkey

It may be stressful traveling this week through the nation’s airports, but there are some freebies and special events being rolled out that you may find useful and entertaining.

In addition to the events we listed yesterday at Boston’s Logan International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport, you’ll find:

valet parking icon

Two days of free valet parking at Kansas City International Airport (MCI). To get a coupon for the free parking, fill out this form.

MSP Spoonfuls of Stories

Through Wednesday, November 25, 2009, you can stop by any Travelers Assistance Info Booth at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and pick up a free children’s book, courtesy of Cheerios and The Spoonful of Stories program. The books include: “Junkyard Fort”, by Jon Scieszka, “Tea for Ruby”, by The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, “Sleepyhead”, by Karma Wilson, “Ballyhoo Bay”, by Judy Sierra, and “What’s Under the Bed?”, by Joe Fenton.

ATL DOG PARK

And don’t forget that many airports around the country have opened on-site dog relief parks.  The latest to open is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which now has a dog park with two sculptures by Doug Makemson of Commerce, GA, who says:

“The model for “Abby” was my beloved yellow lab, Abby, who was always willing to strike a pose. She had a full life and a mercifully rapid demise a few weeks after the sculpture was completed. She was the world’s best dog; I miss her. The sculpture is made mostly from parts of a backhoe and a bulldozer, and the stone is Gneiss, a type of granite, from an old quarry near Glade, Georgia. For me, “Abby” the sculpture will always make me remember Abby the dog, the most loyal friend I ever had.

You can see the sculptures – and a happy dog in the park – in this cute one minute video ATL airport posted to celebrate the opening of the dog park.

Happy Thanksgiving – more airport freebies tomorrow!

TURKEY big