holidays at airports

Heartwarming stories from airports & airlines

We’ve been reading some charming and heartwarming stories from airports and airlines this holiday week.

Sweet Virgin Atlantic seat-swap

First, there is a viral post on Facebook by a Virgin Atlantic flight attendant relating the story of a passenger named Jack swapping his business class seat on a flight from New York to London for the economy seat booked by 88-year-old Violet.

“Of the hundreds of flights I’ve operated, I’ve had the pleasure of looking after footballers, supermodels and some Hollywood movie stars but let me tell you about my two favourite passengers EVER!,” wrote Leah Amy, “Jack and Violet 💜 (I wish she was called Vera or Rose 🤣)”

She went on to explain that Jack’s entire family was booked in business class. But Jack decided to swap seats with Violet. He then “sat on the row of seats directly next to the economy toilets and never made a peep or asked for anything the rest of the flight. No fuss, no attention, literally did it out of the kindness of his own heart, no one asked him to.”

A great story, right?

Well, the story gets a bit better. In response to the story of Jack and Violet, Virgin Atlantic announced it will be offering complimentary upgrades to “the most seasoned person” on board all its flights through January 1, 2020.

Nice!

Birthday treat at Schiphol Airport

Here’s another heartwarming holiday-season travel story. This one from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS) documenting a great birthday treat they were able to arrange for 94-year-old Granny Miep.

Canadian hospitality

And one more.

Community helps stranded passengers on Christmas Day. (courtesy Karen KayCee/Facebook)

According to the CBC, when 75 passengers got stranded in Deer Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada on Dec. 25, the community came together in “Come from Away” style.

The town welcomed the passengerw, put together a Christmas dinner and made sure they got on their way.

The CBC notes that what happened in Deer Lake is reminiscent of what happened in 2001, when townspeople rallied to welcome thousands of passengers on planes diverted to Gander – which is also in Newfoundland and Labrador – due to the attacks on September 11.

That real-life story is the inspiration for the Tony Award-winning musical “Come From Away.”

In Deer Lake’s case, a plane full of WestJet passengers left Toronto for St. John’s late Christmas Eve but got diverted by bad weather.

Deer Lake isn’t a regular stop for WestJet flights, so there was little in the way support for the passengers once they were on the ground and sent over to the local Holiday Inn Express.

But this was Christmas Day. So local townspeople responded to a call-out on Facebook and rustled up a Christmas Dinner that included everything from sandwiches and cookies to turkey dinner and gravy and homemade rabbit stew.

All great stories, right?

Here’s to great travel and more heartwarming travel stories in 2020.

Airport or the North Pole?

Airports and airlines are certainly getting into the holiday spirit.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) has a giant walk-through ornament and a mailbox where anyone who has been nice this year can mail their letter to Santa. There’s also indoor snow.

Portland International Airport (PDX) is all decked out with giant snowflakes and cool-looking gifts.

And, looking ahead a bit, if you’re flying on Alaska Airlines on December 20 and own a holiday sweater, this is your chance to wear it.

Courtesy Alaska Airlines

December 20 is National Ugly Sweater Day and, for the third year in a row, Alaska Airlines will be offering flyers wearing any kind of holiday sweater (because “ugly sweater” is in the eye of the beholder) priority boarding on Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air flights.

And, ugly sweater-fan or not, keep an eye out for the Alaska Airlines “Snowplane” with a fun, winter livery.

See something festive in an airport? Or have something planned?

Let us know.

3 airports where you can go ice-skating this winter

What’s better than an airport with an ice-skating rink?

Three airports with ice-skating rinks, of course!

Denver International Airport (DEN) is bringing back its free outdoor skating rink for the fourth season.

Starting November 22, DEN’s ice-skating rink will be in the pre-security area on the DEN Plaza, which is between the airport terminal and the Westin hotel.

Time on the ice is free. And, recognizing that not everyone has their own ice skates, or travels with them, there is free skate rental as well.

DEN’s skating rink hours will be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily from November 22 through January 20, 2020. As a bonus, on Friday afternoons there will be hot chocolate, hot cider and a variety of extra winter activities, including live entertainment.

Skating at the TWA Hotel at JFK

This year there will an ice-skating rink created at the TWA Hotel across from JetBlue Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) as well.

The custom 56-by-44-foot Runway Rink will be created near the hotel’s 1958 Lockheed Constellation Connie airplane-turned-cocktail lounge and operate seven days a week starting November 30 and running through February 2020.

While skating shows are planned, time on the ice at the TWA Hotel’s Runway Rink won’t be free. Admission will be $15 for adults and $10 for kids under 12. Skate rentals will $10 ($8 for kids under 12).

Hours:

  • Monday through Thursday from 4 PM to 9 PM
  • Friday from 4 PM to 10 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 10 PM

The TWA Hotel will also be selling retro knit hats and scarves as well as beers, Sno-Caps candy and other snacks.

Skate in a Winter Wonderland

If you’re traveling to or through Germany’s Munich Airport (MUC) this holiday season, you’ll find an ice-skating rink already up and running.

For the 21st year, the large roofed open space between Terminals 1 and 2 and Munich Airport is transformed into a winter wonderland, with a winter market, more than 45 Christmas trees, live music, activities for kids and adults, a pine forest and a free ice-skating rink. Skates can be rented for a small fee and there’s a bonus rink for curling set up next to the skating rink as well.

Hours: 11 am to 9 pm. Daily.

Happy Halloween. Fly Safe

Flying today? Steer clear of Halloween witches.

Drive Safe.

witch on motorcycle - Halloween

And don’t eat too much Halloween cake and candy.

And if you happen to be at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) today, you’re in for a real treat.

For Halloween, the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPs) Program will hold its 5th Annual Howling Halloween Parade with the pups (and some handlers) dressed in costumes.

The Halloween parade is scheduled to start today (Oct 31) at 11 a.m. inside Tom Bradley International Terminal and then continue into Terminals 4 and 5.

Other airports are going all out to celebrate Halloween as well.

Lilou the Pig visited San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in her Halloween costume.

And check out these images of “Red Skeleton” making his way around Witchita Airport (ICT) in the days leading up to Halloween.

Santa’s flight plan

British Airways has shared a preview of the flight plan the Jeppesen charting company has prepared for Santa for the evening of December 24th. 

For those who aren’t well versed in reading flight plan charts,
BA says that the chart shows the approach for landing Santa’s sleigh back at the North Pole, having completed deliveries around the world.

The chart shows that on approach, the sleigh will descend to 2,500ft on a track of true North between SANTA and CLAUS. The sleigh will further descend on the final stages of its approach from COMNG to TOWNN, but in the event that the weather conditions are not good enough to land then Santa will climb back to an altitude of 2,500ft before turning right at MSLTO. That will lead to KSSNG where he will hold until the weather improves.”

Here’s some more detailed information about the plan: 

“With Rudolph’s nose lighting system, the sleigh has a ‘decision height’ of just 250ft which will help Santa manage any bad weather, resulting in a safe landing. Safety is obviously a priority for Santa and his team, so the plan warns that reindeer and elves will be on the runway and that reindeer games could slow down ground operations. Other aircraft are advised to look out for the blinding red nose.”

“We’ll be cheering on Santa and his reindeer on December 24 as he flies around the world,” said Simon Brooks, British Airways’ senior vice president sales, North America, ” He has priority over the skies that night so customers traveling should look for the sleigh and wave to Santa.”

My favorite parts of the flight plan are the ‘Hot Cider Deice Pad” and “Letters to Santa Drop Zone,” and that little elf, but the whole darn thing is charming.