Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

Move over therapy dogs, New Orleans Int’l Airport has ‘gators


You’ve likely seen or heard about the therapy animals that visit airports around the country to help de-stress travelers.

Most airports have dogs, but San Franciso International Airport’s team includes a pig, Denver International Airport’s team boasts a cat and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport regularly hosts minature horses.

What’s next?

How about alligators?

On Fridays at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport the Audubon Nature Institute brings live alligators to the baggage claim area and encourages passengers to pose for an “MSY Gator Selfie.”

Brave travelers can also touch the baby gators, which are one to three years old and up to three feet long, according to an airport spokeswoman.

MSY airport does have a dog therapy team – the MSY K-9 Krewe (a nod to the krewes, or groups, that organize parades and balls in New Orleans) – but alligator visits and gator selfies are another way the airport is working to enhance the passenger experience.

Pittsburgh International or (Mister) Fred Rogers Int’l Airport?

There’s a petition out there to change the name of Pittsburgh International Airport to Fred Rogers International Airport.

Where would you weigh in?

Fred Rogers grew up near Pittsburgh and for 33 years episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the beloved children’s television show he and his red sweater starred in, were produced at Pittsburgh’s public TV station, WQED.

A special gallery at Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center displays artifacts from the show, including Rogers’ iconic sweater, necktie, khakis, sneakers and the living room set he entered at the beginning of each show.  There’s also a recently refreshed exhibit dedicated to Rogers on Concourse C at Pittsburgh International Airport.

But that isn’t enough for Ian Miller, a Pittsburgh citizen who last week started a change.org petition asking that the name of Pittsburgh International Airport be changed to Fred Rogers International Airport.

“Fred Rogers, a television pioneer and children’s entertainer, shared Pittsburgh’s sense of community with the world through his PBS show,” Miller writes in his petition, “Pittsburgh is still an active transit hub and, for many people, our airport will be their first experience in Pittsburgh. We wish to welcome everybody to our neighborhood.”

The petition has over 11,000 signatures so far.

And while Allegheny County Airport Authority, which manages Pittsburgh International, appreciates Miller’s enthusiasm and agrees “Fred Rogers occupies a special place in the hearts of Pittsburghers and people around the world,” said airport spokesman Bob Kerlik, it seems unlikely the airport’s name will be changed.

“In 2016, we completed a rebranding of the airport to better match the ongoing renaissance of the Pittsburgh region,” said Kerlik, “And at this time our focus is on continuing to advance ‘Pittsburgh International Airport’ as a global aviation leader.”

Naming – or renaming – an airport after a celebrity with a local connection isn’t unheard of in the United States.

In Santa Rosa, CA, for example, passengers land and take-off from the Charles M. Schulz -Sonoma County Airport. In Louisiana, the major airport is the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. John Wayne Airport serves Orange County, CA and the Will Rogers World Airport provides air service to Oklahoma City, OK.


Oklahoma City Airport

And while it has recently been rebranded as Hollywood Burbank Airport, the official name of the airfield about 12 miles north of downtown Los Angeles is still legally Bob Hope Airport.


Flying with King Cakes and Rubber-tipped spears?

It’s Mardi Gras season and the folks at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) have some intriguing travel advice posted on the Web site:


What to do when traveling with a King Cake:

King cakes, filled and plain, can be brought through the security checkpoint.  But, please be advised that king cakes are subject to additional screening.

Other Mardi Gras Items:

Rubber tipped spears and Zulu coconuts will be allowed through security and may be subject to additional screening

What’s a King Cake?  According to the city’s official tourism Web Site, NewOrleansonline.com:

It’s a traditional confection “made of braided Danish pastry, laced with cinnamon. It is always iced in the Mardi Gras colors of purple (justice), green (faith) and gold (power). Hidden in each king cake is a tiny plastic baby. The person who finds the baby must buy the next king cake or host the next party.”

Zulu coconuts? They’re the most most coveted Mardi Gras souvenir.


(Photo courtesy: Jean-Paul Gisclair and NewOrleansOnline.com)

New Orleans airport and Southwest Airlines celebrate with prizes and karaoke

Southwest Airlines is celebrating 30 years of service at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) today with a 1979-infused party that includes a  DJ spinning “records” from ’79,  decorations and costumes from the 70s, a karaoke machine, and games and prizes throughout the day, including a “Money Cube” where customers can grab prizes.

There should also be folks dressed like 1970’s-era Southwest Airlines flight attendants.


(1970’s era uniforms courtesy Southwest Airlines)

Walking path at Louis Armstrong New Orleans Int’l Airport

Next time you find yourself with a little extra time to spare at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, don’t just sit there – take a walk on the airport’s new walking path.

Officially “opened” today, the walking path is less than a half mile long and follows a marked area that’s inside the airport terminal, but not within any secured areas. A brochure that outlines the route is available at the Audubon Information Booth.

As I mentioned here earlier, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport also have walking paths inside the terminals. And, as I wrote in an “At the Airport” column for USAToday.com a while back, there are also a fair number of airports that have walking paths right outside the terminals.

So if you find yourself stuck at any of these airports, you can at least keep moving.