Free food

Free coffee, snacks, massages at LAX TBIT

I had the great fortune to visit the newly expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) this week for the opening of the swanky Star Alliance lounge.

The lounge is lovely – with lots of Southern California touches and a wonderful outdoor terrace, complete with fire pits, a water wall and views of airfield and the hills beyond.

LAX TBIT STAR ALLIANCE LOUNGE OUTDOOR TERRACE - BASKAS.

The terminal is mighty impressive as well, especially the giant electronic clock tower and story screens, which offer an ever-changing array of images and short films, and the interactive columns, which offer colorful vignettes of the destinations airplanes currently loading are jetting off to.

LAX TBIT CLOCK TOWER

While the Duty Free shops and several other retail outlets are open, many are still under construction and not scheduled to open until sometime in October. So for now, travelers will find tables set up at various spots throughout the new terminal offering complimentary snacks, soft drinks, coffee and chair massages.

LAX TBIT Complimentary beverages

At SFO: virtual check-in at T2 nets freebies

Here’s a lovely short video that celebrates the San Francisco International Airport’s newly renovated Terminal 2 – and a way for your to get free samples, free food and some worthwhile travel discounts next time you pass through.

Here’s how to get your discounts:

Travelers who check-in at SFO’s T2 on the geo-social network Loopt, can watch the video and get “digital deals” such a complimentary product samples at Kiehl’s, discounts at Natalie’s Candy Jar and 10-20 percent off last minute travel discounts on Virgin America, which is a partner in the promotion.

The airline says it will also throw in some random two-for-one and free flight offers.

More Route 66 highlights

Sometimes you need to leave the airport and get on the highway.

Here are a few more photos from the Route 66 slide show I put together for Bing Travel.

Legendary and large, the Big Texan Steak Ranch is a restaurant and motel complex (for people and horses) best known for its steak dinner challenge. Finish off a 72-ounce steak and a baked potato, salad, dinner roll and shrimp cocktail in an hour – and it’s free. Formerly on Route 66, The Big Texan is now on Interstate 40, just east of Amarillo, Texas.

Of course you wear a seat belt and never text while driving. But no matter your faith – or your driving skills –extra protection on the road can’t hurt. That’s the idea behind the Shrine of Our Lady of the Highways, which has been watching over travelers since 1959.

The shrine is in Raymond, IL. Litchfield, 16 miles south, is home to the Ariston Café, which may be the oldest Route 66 restaurant.

Tidbits for travelers: free buffets at JFK; free flights to nowhere

Volcano-delayed flights to and from Europe and beyond are resuming, but airport closures and flight cancellations may continue on-and-off for weeks. So this NYT tracking map may be handy for a while longer.

NYT volcano cancellation map

In the meantime, people have been opening their homes to stranded passengers and theaters, museums and restaurants have been offering discounted and free entertainment and meals to folks who found themselves stuck at the airport.  At JFK, the company that operates all the restaurants and fast-food outlets in Terminal 4 – SSP America – organized a free buffet meal for about 300 on Monday night. Breakfast for 300 was served Tuesday morning as well.

And no doubt because I spent so much time learning about the ins and outs of some very tiny and unusual airports for a Bing story titled: Easy Flier: 10 airports that reduce the hassle, I was extremely interested in this story on CNN, which discusses some other small airports around the country that end up having to offer free flights in order to maintain federal funding.

For National Clam Chowder Day: free chowder at SEA

Today, Thursday, February 25th, 2010, Ivar’s Seafood outlets in Washington and California are celebrating National Clam Chowder Day by offering a 2-for-1 deal on cups of chowder.   Happily, the deal extends to the Ivar’s Seafood Bar at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).  “The airport Ivar’s is open way longer than the Ivar’s in town,” an enthusiastic employee at the airport Ivar’s told me on the telephone on Wednesday, “So you can get that deal starting at 4:30 in the morning.”

You’d think they’d also be celebrating National Clam Chowder Day over in Boston, where the Legal Sea Foods chain is well represented at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).  But no.  Via Twitter, the folks at Logan Airport told me,that there was “nothing planned. But we can tell you clam chowder is an airport favorite…and available in every terminal at BOS!”