At Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the famous LAX pylons are glowing red in anticipation of the landing.
Many other sites and landmarks around the world, including Cleveland’s historic Terminal Tower, are also glowing red in anticipation of the landing.
Krispy Kreme is celebrating the landing too with a special Mars doughnut. This chocolate cream-filled doughnut is dipped in caramel icing with a red planet swirl and sprinkled with chocolate cookie crumbs. The limited-edition doughnut is available in shops and online for one day only – Thursday, February 18.
And of course, you’ll want to tune in to watch NASA’s live coverage of the Perseverance Rover Landing, starting at 11:15 am PST and 2:15 EST.
Whether or not you’re flying during the holidays, it pays to keep up to date with what airports are doing to serve passengers during what is sure to be another unusual season.
Here are some tidbits we’ve already spotted this week.
PIT has its holiday tree up
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) won’t be having its annual Holiday Open House this year. And local choirs and bands won’t be offering holiday performances.
But PIT is setting up a holiday-themed selfie station in the Airside Center Core and hosting distanced (instrument-only) performances by local musicians. And there will be terminal visits from the PIT PAWS airport therapy dog team.
The holiday tree is already there. Here’s a fun time-lapse video of it going up. PIT reports that 20 people worked to raise the 26-foot-tall tree over a span of eight hours and that this year’s tree has 538 ornaments, 42 yards of fabric, and 166 strands of lights.
This is the same airfield tour that used to be offered to students, community groups, and others curious about LAX operations before COVID-19 arrived. Now anyone can access the immersive, high-resolution 360-degree video experience online using a smartphone, tablet, computer, or VR headset.
Coat check reopens at MKE
If you’re flying from Milwaukee to Hawaii, Florida, or some other warm spot, you probably won’t need your winter coat when you arrive.
The Coat check program operates in partnership with retail partner Paradies Lagardère and is offered inside the Summerfest Marketplace store, which is located pre-security. Each coat is wrapped in protective plastic and the charge is a very reasonable $2 per day, or $10 per trip.
As far as we know, this is still the only U.S. airport offering this service.
Fresh art at PHX
Fun and games from BWI
New experiences from SAN’s artist-in-residence
And, thanks, LAX for reminding us that it is December. Already.
We’re declaring the virtual information booth an official trend at airports.
Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) rolled out its Virtual Information Booth back in May 2020. The super social distanced system lets travelers connect with a volunteer Airport Ambassador in a remote location via a live video feed.
In July 2020 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) introduced a pilot virtual assistant program in Terminal 2. That system lets passengers have real-time conversations with customer service agents over a touch-free tablet at the real-world information booth.
Two more U.S. airports now have virtual information booths as well.
The Virtual Information Desk at Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) is near the Southwest Airlines baggage claim belts 1-5. Passengers can get help from a Pathfinder staff member stationed in a safe, remote location.
During this holiday season, Denver International Airport (DEN) is testing a new Live Agent program. DEN’s program will let passengers interact with a live customer service agent via video, text messaging, and live chat.
At two information (one in the center of the terminal, near arrivals; one in the center of Concourse C) passengers can use iPads to contact a customer service agent for a virtual face-to-face interaction.
The pilot program, in partnership with Recursive Labs, also allows a traveler to use the camera on their smartphone to show the Live Agent where they are in the airport so the agent can help with directions.
We like the no-nonsense social distancing signage and floor decals.
And we are impressed that instead of waiting months for out-of-stock hand-sanitizing stations and plexiglass barriers, the Facilities and Engineering team at SJC is making its own.
At Your Gate + Grab = Service
Grab, the time-saving app that lets you order from an airport restaurant and then go straight to the pick-up line to get your meal is partnering with AtYourGate, the service that lets you order airport food via an app and have it delivered to you wherever you are in the terminal.
The partnership makes sense on many levels but is perfectly timed for these ‘no-touch’ times.
Grab already operates in over 50 airports in 4 countries. AtYourGate serves 10 airports now, with 40 more to be served in short order.