JetBlue

Off to Gatwick. But first, bumper car rides at JFK

Stuck at the Airport is heading to London today for a week-long adventure organized by airport mascot Gary Gatwick and his friends at Gatwick Airport (LGW), who suspect that not that many Americans don’t know the airport is just half an hour from downtown London by express train. Or that gin is distilled at the airport. (Stay tuned for that…)

Our journey to London starts in Seattle with a direct flight to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on JetBlue and an overnight at the very hip, super retro, landmark TWA Hotel.

We’re looking forward to hanging out in the Sunken Lounge, taking a dip in the rooftop infinity pool with runway views, visiting the Twister Room, and touring the onsite museum about TWA’s history and the Jet Age.

And, of course, we’ll have a cocktail or two in the Lockheed Constellation “Connie” that has been transformed into a cocktail lounge.

We missed out on the roller skating rink the hotel had on its tarmac, but we are pleased to see that bumper car rides are now offered instead on a race course near the Connie cocktail lounge.

Cars have names like Hammer Time, The Bumpty Dance, Nervous Wrecker, and One Hit Wonder. And operate Fridays from 4 to 8 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to 8 pm. Which is perfect for our day-long layover.

Ride sessions are $20 for adults and $16 for kids under age 12. No reservations are available; it’s first come, first served until November 2022.

Maybe we’ll bump into you there.

JetBlue inks deal to buy Spirit Airlines

Big news in the airline world. JetBlue is buying Spirit Airlines. Price tag: $3.8 billion.

Read these stories to learn more.

More robots to help keep travelers safe and sanitized

We adore the rolling little “Ask me!” robots some airports have hired to answer questions and help passengers find their way around.

But they seem more entertainment than essential.

But thanks to the pandemic, robots are getting a promotion at many airports – as super cleaners.

Robots clean up before we fly

Airports and airlines are scrambling to get the latest technology in place to keep terminal spaces and airline cabins disinfected and sanitized.

And robots are doing their part.

In May, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Robotics put a pair of self-driving, robot floor scrubbers on duty.

In July, JetBlue kicked off a 90-day pilot program at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to evaluate Honeywell’s UV Cabin System.

These robots use ultraviolet light to clean an aircraft cabin in about 10 minutes.

Other airports and airlines have deployed robot-like tools as well.

And now San Antonio International Airport (SAT) enters the picture with its shiny new purchase: the Xenex LightStrike robot.

This robot is billed as “the only ultraviolet (UV) room disinfection technology proven to deactivate SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19.”

SAT says the LightStrike uses environmentally-friendly pulsed xenon and can disinfect an area in less than 10-15 minutes without warm-up or cool-down time. They plan to use it pretty much everywhere in the airport, including jet bridges, gate areas, ticketing counters, baggage claim, concessions, elevators, and restrooms.

And it looks like the LightStrike robot is here to stay. SAT airport plans to have a contest to give the robot a name.

Travel Tidbits from JetBlue, BWI and Dane County airports

JetBlue goes all-in on carbon offsets

Feeling guilty about flying?

Here’s something that may help.

JetBlue will start offsetting carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from jet fuel for all of its domestic flights beginning in July 2020.

The airline has been covering carbon offsets for flyers during specific promotions.

But with this new announcement JetBlue says it will become the first major U.S. airline to move towards covering carbon offsets fulltime.

JetBlue currently works with Carbonfund.org, a U.S. based nonprofit carbon reduction and climate solutions organization, on offsets. And with this expansion, JetBlue expects to offset an additional 15-17 billion pounds (7 to 8 million metric tons) of emissions per year.

That, says JetBlue, is the annual equivalent of removing more than 1.5 million passenger vehicles from the road.

There’s more.

JetBlue also announced plans to start flying with sustainable aviation fuel in mid-2020 on flights from San Francisco International Airport.

BWI shows its support for the Baltimore Ravens playoff run

Great airport amenity: loaner books!

And check out this great amenity from Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) in Madison, WI.

The airport not only has short story dispensers in the terminal, it has loaner books for kids.

Have you seen a great amenity at an airport? If you do, snap a photo and send it along to StuckatTheAirport.com.

Singapore Airlines joins farm-to-flight trend

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Where is the food and produce you eat on a plane grown?

Starting in September, the answer for passengers on Singapore Airlines’ passengers leaving Newark for Singapore will be “indoors, nearby.”

Singapore Airlines is working with indoor vertical farming company AeroFarms, which has reclaimed an abandoned steel mill in an industrial area near Newark International Airport and transformed it into a 1-acre, indoor vertical farm.

The farm, which grows produce ‘aeroponically’ without soil, pesticides or sunlight, can produce the equivalent of 390 acres of locally grown produce with up to 30 harvests each year and will grow a customized blend of fresh produce for SIA’s Newark-to-Singapore flights starting in September 2019.

“Imagine boarding a plane and enjoying a salad harvested only a few hours before takeoff — literally the world’s freshest airline food,” said Antony McNeil, director of food and beverage for Singapore Airlines.  “The only way to get fresher greens inflight is to pick them from your own garden.”

Singapore Airlines shared examples of farm-to-flight dished business class and premium economy class passengers might be able to choose from on Newark to Singapore flights:  

Soy Poached Chicken:Pickled Ginger Vinaigrette, Zucchini Ribbons, with Sweet Potato Roesti, Soy Beans and AeroFarms Baby Pac Choi

The Garden Green: Poached Asparagus, Broccolini, Avocado with Shaved Fennel & Flaked Hot Smoked Salmon, with AeroFarms medley of Baby Ruby Streaks, Watercress and Arugula, with Lemon Vinaigrette

As I reported last year in a farm-to-flight feature for USA TODAY, Singapore Airlines’ joins several other airlines in being super creative and eco about the food served on its flights.

Korean Air has its own company farm.

Jedong Ranch sits on 3,700 acres of South Korea’s lush Jeju Island and has been operating since 1972, when it was purchased by the former chairman of the airline’s parent company, the Hanjin Group.

Back then, South Korea had a beef shortage, so breeding livestock was the first order of business. Early on, the herd was made up exclusively of imported Angus cattle. Today the ranch is home to more than 2,200 head of prized, grass-fed Korean native cattle known as Hanwoo.

The organic, antibiotic-free meat from these animals, and from the farm’s flock of approximately 6000 free-range chickens, is sent to Korean Air’s flight catering kitchens in Seoul for use in meals served to first and business-class passengers. Some of the meat and eggs from the farm are also available, at premium prices, for purchase locally.

In addition to raising cows and chickens, the ranch’s hydroponic greenhouse also produces more than 210 tons of fruit and vegetables, including red peppers, cherry tomatoes and blueberries for   first and business class in-flight meals.

JetBlue’s garden at JFK

In 2015 JetBlue created a 24,000 square-foot milk-crate garden outside Terminal 5 at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. Designed to both create a welcoming green space and promote local agriculture, the garden generates more than 2,000 pounds of blue potatoes, kale, carrots, leeks, arugula, garlic, mint, basic and other herbs for local food banks. 

Japan Air Lines agritourism attraction

In 2010, Japan Air Lines is scheduled to open an agritourism attraction on land near Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. The ‘JAL Agriport’ will offer visitors a chance to pick strawberries, harvest sweet potatoes, picnic, or purchase fresh produce grown in the region. JAL says it also plans to use some agriport produce in lounge menus and in-flight meals.

And Emirates announced last year that it was joining with Crop One to build the world’s largest vertical farming facility near the airport in Dubai to help create a supply chain of “high quality and locally-sourced fresh vegetables, while significantly reducing our environmental footprint,”the airline said in a statement.  

A tasty trend for sure.