Free music & e-books at Toronto Pearson Int’l Airport

American Express - Entertainment on Cloud 10

There are some fresh new perks for travelers who touch down at Toronto Pearson International Airport:

In addition to a “re-vesting” area (Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport calls theirs a ‘recombobulation area’) just past the security checkpoint for domestic departures in Terminal 1, passengers at Toronto Pearson Airport now have access to a selection of complimentary ebooks from HarperCollins Canada and music from Sony Music Canada.

The books and music will be refreshed monthly and are available on the Cloud 10 website, which is accessible via the airport’s free Wi-Fi network – all courtesy of American Express Canada.

The perks at Pearson get better if you have certain American Express cards (Platinum, Gold Rewards, etc.)

Everyone gets free Wi-Fi and access to that re-vesting area, but other benefits include access to priority security lanes, Plaza Premium Lounge access, access to a priority lane for taxis and limos, complimentary valet service and discounts on parking and car care services.

(This chart shows which cards get you which benefits.)

This airport also offers some other worthwhile services and amenities:

The Samsonite shop not only sells luggage and travel accessories, but will store luggage and other things, including coats – which you can leave behind for $2 a day (or $9 a week).

And this past year the airport replaced 3,600 pay-per-use baggage carts with 5,000 free ones.

Happy Birthday Austin-Bergstrom International Airport


I admit it.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Maybe it’s because our birthdays are just one day apart.

Or maybe it’s because this was the first airport I visited right after my first book about airports – called what else but Stuck at the Airport – came out in the pre-9/11 summer and AUS was the first airport where I spotted the book on a store shelf.

Or maybe it’s just because, with almost two dozen live music performances a week and some great permanent and temporary art exhibits, including the ‘big hair’ etchings in the women’s bathrooms, the airport is so much fun to visit.

And, oh yeah, it’s in Austin. One hip, somewhat weird, city.

So, I’m sending Happy Birthday wishes to the airport, which is celebrating its 15th birthday on May 23 with cookies for passengers, a drawing for 15,000 airline miles and a special performance by Ray Benson, of Aleep at the Wheel, on Friday at 2:30 pm at the airport’s Asleep at the Wheel stage.

You don’t need to be there to be entered in the drawing for 15,000 airline miles (there will be two winners.) But you do need to enroll in the Thanks Again, customer rewards program by Thursday, May 22, 2014. Do it now.

Austin_Keep Austin Weird

Sub Pop music store opens at Sea-Tac Airport

SubPOP Mega Mart ad courtesy EMP

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s “Experience the City of Music” program includes live performances, overhead music and announcements by Northwest artists, videos, a web radio player and music–themed art exhibits.

Now there’s even more music: the first retail store for Sub Pop Records – the Seattle record label founded in 1988 that helped promote Nirvana and grunge music – has opened at Sea-Tac Airport.

The shop is located in the Central Terminal and features vinyl albums, CDs, sweatshirts, t-shirts, books, hats, art and more.

sub pop

Airplane-shaped piano at Pittsburgh Int’l Airport

Chicago’s O’Hare and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International are among the airports with piano bars on-site. But through the first week in January 2014, travelers passing through Pittsburgh International Airport will hear tunes played on this airplane-shaped piano:

PIT Airplane Piano

The airplane piano is 13 feet 6 inches long and is valued at $160,000. It was created by Story & Clark/QRS Music Technologies in Seneca, Pa. and an Italian design firm and is controlled via an iPhone or iPad app and plays from a catalog of more than 6,000 songs.

The piano can also be played the old-fashioned way: by people. And it will used during live performances and during the airport’s holiday choral and concert series featuring local schools.

Look and listen for the piano on the Ticketing Level, Landside Terminal, near the US Airways ticket counter through the first week of January.

Holiday events at airports

Many airports are rolling out their holiday entertainment schedules this week, so beware of elves when you head out for your next trip.

Here’s a sampling of what’s in store.

Music of all sorts – from student choirs to professional carolers and combos will be on duty in airports in Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin, Reno, Washington, D.C. and many other airports.

At the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the food class from a local school is once again displaying gingerbread houses in the main lobby and asking passengers to “vote” for their favorite creation by dropping money in the appropriate slot. Funds raised go to a local charity and this year the funds will go to the Nevada Humane Society.

In Oregon, the annual Holidays Take Flight celebration is underway at Portland International Airport, with live entertainment, food and beverage sampling in many shops, and the opportunity to enter a contest to win a $1,000 Alaska Airlines travel certificate for travel from PDX.

From December 15th through the 24th, travelers passing through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) will find carolers, elves, Frosty the Snowman, a comedy stilt walker, jugglers, a one-man band and other musicians roving the terminals and the concourses.

At Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) the fourth-annual Sing Because You Care karaoke event to benefit the local Salvation Army is scheduled for December 19 to the 22nd near the Water Feature in the Center of Concourse A. Passengers can cut their own Motown single (and entertain other passengers) with a $5 donation.

And from Friday December 7 through Monday December 10th, Miami International Airport (MIA) is hosting a wide variety of free holiday activities ranging from pictures with Santa and a chance to mingle with elves, to a craft table for kids, a North Pole mailbox, giveaways and music.

More holiday events at airports tomorrow…