Fort Wayne International Airport

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 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!

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)

Fort Wayne International: World’s Sweetest Airport?

Sometime in 1998 Larry Thompson flew into Fort Wayne International Airport, walked out the front doors of the terminal and took a deep breath. “Instead of smelling jet fuel, I smelled the cookies from the bakery across the street. It was like being welcomed home.”


Thompson mentioned that “Welcome Home” smell a year later, when the airport marketing team was looking for inexpensive ways to promote the facility. Soon a team of volunteers were drafted to welcome arriving passengers with individually-wrapped, locally-baked cookies.

cookie 2

The program has been a big success.

The airport has been giving away about 100,000 cookies a year for the past ten years.

And today, TV crews and well-wishers were on hand to help celebrate when it came time to give away the millionth cookie.

cookie 3

To her great surprise, when Lorraine Leach walked off the plane and into the Fort Wayne International terminal, she was greeted not with just a welcome home cookie, but with hearty congratulations and a bunch of prizes.

As the millionth-cookie recipient, Leach was given a box of DeBrand Chocolates and a bag made by Vera Bradley; both companies are based in Fort Wayne.  Leach, who was returning to Fort Wayne from Florida, also received 25,000 airline miles.

“I’m also getting a big box of cookies,” says Leach, “So at least I won’t have to bake this Christmas.”

Cookie Contest at Fort Wayne International Airport


Since 1999, arriving passengers at Indiana’s Fort Wayne International Airport have been welcomed to town by local volunteers handing out free cookies made by a local bakery. It’s a charming tradition and sometime next week airport officials figure they’ll be giving some lucky passenger the airport’s millionth cookie – along with a heap-o-prizes.

Cookie monster

To commemorate the event, the airport is also having a cookie contest. If you live within an hour’s drive of Fort Wayne International Airport, you’re invited to register a cookie recipe, bake two dozen cookies using your registered recipe, and then bring those cookies over to the airport for judging on December 16th.   Judges will then rate those cookies on taste, appearance, simplicity and appeal and award prizes that include airline miles for airlines serving the airport (25,000 miles for 1st place) and free airport parking for a week.

Think you’ve got a winning recipe?  Here’s a link for registering your recipe for the Fort Wayne International Airport’s One in a Million Cookie Contest.

Good luck!