New Orleans

Win a seat on a new Allegiant Air flight to New Orleans

king_cake

Allegiant Air is holding two fun contests to celebrate the launch of new services to New Orleans.

The first is a King Cake Eating Contest and Lucky Bead contest on Wednesday, February 4 at Cincinnati/Northern Kentury International Airport.

The winner of the King Cake eating contest will be the person who finds the plastic baby baked inside their cake. That person will get two round trip tickets on the first flight to New Orleans and a hotel stay at Saint James Hotel New Orleans from February 4 – February 7, 2015

A random drawing will decide the winner of the Lucky Bead Contest and that person will win two round trip tickets on a future flight to New Orleans.

Details on how to enter the contest are listed here.

Blackpool SuitcaseArrives

To celebrate Allegiant Air service between New Orleans and Indianapolis International Airport, there’s a “pack your bags” contest on February 5. The prize: 2 roundtrip tickets on the inaugural flights from IND to New Orleans and a three night hotel stay at the Holiday Inn Metairie New Orleans Airport Hotel.

Each contestant who shows up at the airport with bags packed will receive one entry into a random drawing for the prize, but contestants who arrive at the airport dressed in their Mardi Gras best get two entries into the giveaway.

There’s one more:

Allegiant is also starting nonstop seasonal service to New Orleans (MSY) from the Rickenbacker Charter Terminal (LCK) in Columbus, Ohio and to celebrate the airline is giving away two free round-trip tickets and hotel accommodations.

To enter: show up with a packed bag at that airport on Thursday, Feb. 5 no later than 10 a.m. and fill out an entry form for the two free round-trip seats on Allegiant’s inaugural flight to New Orleans.

One winner and their guest will be drawn at random. The giveaway includes one free checked bag for the winner and their guest and a free three-night hotel stay.

In New Orleans: vending machines in cabs

New Orleans_Taxi Vending Touch Screen

 

There’s no need to go thirsty in New Orleans.

Bars sell drinks in to-go cups so you can have your beer or a cocktail on the street. And now there are vending machines in some city cabs to ensure that parched passengers can sip soda in the back seats.

“You make a choice from a screen, swipe a credit or debit card and, for 99 cents, a cold soda pops out from a slot in the shelf behind the passenger seat,” said Simon Garber, the owner of New Orleans Carriage Cab and Yellow-Checker Cab. “It almost places the can in your hand.”

Garber told NBC News that it was his teenage son who first suggested the idea and, after several years of tinkering with the concept and the machinery, Garber figured out a way to install a vending unit in a cab trunk that can deliver cold soda to the back seat. About 40 of his city cabs have started testing the units.

We took a morning “ride-along” — by cellphone — with cab driver Kirk Lee and Kelly Robin, the first thirsty passenger of the day.

Robin, a server in a French Quarter restaurant, ordered a Dr. Pepper from the five choices on the screen during her short trip to work.

New orleans cab customer

 

“Cool, cold and convenient,” she said, popping the top on the can that she watched appear from a rectangular metal slot in the shelf behind the seat. “This is going to be a very nice customer service.”

Her driver agreed. “People come to New Orleans to have a good time and do something different than normal. Having this novelty in the cabs, especially on the ride in from the airport, is a great way to start,” said Lee.

He thinks cab drivers might come to appreciate the unusual amenity as much as the passengers.

“I can see building up the fact that we’re the only taxi company offering this service, and on a hot day buying my customer a soda,” said Lee. “Or let them use my swipe card and offer to just add the cost of a soda to their bill. It will be part of an enhanced cab experience and I think it will increase tips.”

New Orleans Dr. Pepper Pops Out of Dispenser

It will also help reinforce the city’s reputation as a hospitable place to visit, said Mark Romig, president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. “It really adds to the visitor experience, especially when you consider that 50 percent of our visitors arrive by plane,” and that most tourists take cabs into the city, a ride that typically takes between 20 and 30 minutes.

While the in-cab vending machines only sell sodas right now, “just think where this can go,” said Romig. “Other companies will likely embrace this technology. I think it’s an idea that will catch on.”

If it does, Garber is ready. He plans to install vending machines that will sell soda and, someday maybe cologne, small umbrellas and other items, in all 250 of his New Orleans cabs and, soon, in the hundreds of cabs he owns in New York City and Chicago, too.

“It’s something to improve our service, make the ride more enjoyable and our cab company more memorable,” said Garber. “And, of course, encourage people to choose our cabs over others.”

(My story about vending machines in New Orleans cabs first appeared on NBC News Travel)

 

New Orleans Int’l Airport restoring classic jazz mural

If you’ve been to New Orleans, perhaps you’ve seen this large mural in what’s called the Parabola Lobby at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).

Titled “Louis Armstrong and his Heavenly All-Star Band – What you Loose on Earth Shall Be Loosed in Heaven,” the mural is 28 feet by 41 feet and was created by noted New Orleans artist Richard C. Thomas on commission for this space in 1996. It’s a tribute to “New Orleans musicians and their legendary colleagues who created jazz, shaped it, made it a living art form and are still a part of its evolving development.”

You won’t be able to see the mural for a while, as it’s been removed for restoration as part of a lobby revamping project that’s scheduled to be completed before the Super Bowl rolls around in February.

If you’re curious about all those musicians featured in the mural, there’s a key to the characters in this art brochure that lists much of the artwork in the airport’s $1 million Armstrong Art Collection. Look for Al Hirt, Fats Domino, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Professor Longhair, Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong and many others.