The votes are in. And Dina, a three-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) explosives detection canine at Harry Reid International Airport (LAS), is the winner of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) 2023 Cutest Canine Contest.
The contestants came from a field of 92 dogs nominated by TSA handlers from airports across the country. TSA employees weighed in and narrowed the field to four finalists. The public then voted on social media (X, Instagram and Facebook) for the cutest TSA canine of them all.
You’ll next see Dina on the front cover of TSA’s 2024 canine calendar, which will be released later this year.
Where to find fresh air at an airport
The Stuck at the Airport team is pleased to share some thoughts about the past and present of outdoor observation decks at airports for this Wall Street Journal article (subscription may be required to access).
Once a feature of almost every airport, outdoor spaces – especially free to access open spaces – are hard to find at airport terminals nationwide.
But you can find them. And, we’re happy to report, some new ones are on the horizon.
We love the outdoor decks (one pre-security, one post-security) at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the patios at Denver International Airport (DEN), the ‘wooftop’ at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK International Airport (JFK), and the outdoor gardens at Honolulu International Airport (HNL).
And we’re looking forward to the outdoor spaces that will part of the new terminal being built for Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT).
(SFO Airport post-security outdoor deck)
(Denver International Airport outdoor patio)
(Gardens at HNL, Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport)
Do you know of outdoor decks and public spaces at other airports? Share your favorites in the comments section below.
Here are some other new amenities airports introduced in 2020. Keep in mind that some may be temporarily unavailable due to health concerns.
New art, attractions, and a new terminal
As part of the much acclaimed rebuild of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, in November a 25-foot-tall water feature turned on in Terminal B, In addition to displaying various patterns and shapes, the water falling from the towers’ nozzles serves as a backdrop for projected laser shows.
During November, Denver International Airport (DEN) celebrated the arrival of the 27-foot-tall ‘Luminous Wind’ sculpture at the light rail station stop right before the airport.
And in September and October, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) debuted its new Terminal B. This is the first phase of the first new hub airport built in the U.S. in the 21st century.
New Observation Decks and a record-breaking sky bridge
In February San Francisco International Airport (SFO) opened the SkyTerrace. The pre-security deck in Terminal 2 is open to the public and offers 180-degree views of the busiest section of SFO, where all four runways intersect.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) claimed a spot in the record books in February with the installation of a 780-foot long pedestrian bridge that is now the world’s longest structure over an active taxiway.
And as part of its Gate Expansion Program, in November, Denver International Airport (DEN) unveiled an outdoor deck on the west side of Concourse B. In addition to outdoor seating, the deck has a pet relief area and fire pits.
While most airports had to put their in-terminal music and performance programs on hold, airports continued to offer entertainment.
Almost two dozen airports banded together in August and again in May for JetStream music festivals. The free, multi-hour livestream events featured musicians from the entertainment line-up offered by the participating airports.
Of course, in response to the COVID-19 health pandemic, airports have been focusing time, energy, creativity and, of course, money on making sure the terminals are clean and safe for travelers.
Since March, airports throughout the country have sprouted hand-sanitizing stations, PPE vending machines, and temperature-check programs. They have developed contactless systems for bag check, check-in, security screening, and boarding. And both Grab and At Your Gate have expanded their offerings for in-airport food ordering and delivery.
Cleaning and sanitizing robots have joined the permanent staff at airports in Pittsburgh, San Antonio and many other cities.
In May, Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) introduced a virtual information booth. Los Angeles International Airport, Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI), and Denver International Airport (DEN) now offer similar services. And as the holiday season kicks off, COVID-19 testing stations, many in partnership with airlines, are quickly proliferating at airports across the nation.
Did we miss a new airport amenity you spotted in 2020? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Many frequent travelers buy memberships or occasional day passes for access to airline lounges in order to tap amenities such as complimentary snacks and drinks, reliable Wi-Fi and quiet, comfortable places to escape the hubbub of the airport.
These lounges are typically either tucked into windowless spaces at airports or offer views of the airfield through sealed windows.
To develop the look and feel of the Sky Decks, Delta partnered with Architectural Digest, which brought in interior designer Thom Filicia, familiar to some as one of the experts featured on the popular TV show, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
In additional to living room style seating, power outlets and greenery, “the decks will have red stretched canvas awnings to provide shade,” said Delta Air Lines spokesperson Leslie Scott. The Atlanta club deck will be an extension of the current Sky Club and offer close -up views of aircraft and runway activity. “The JFK Deck will be on the roof level and offer amazing views of Jamaica Bay and of the runways,” Scott said. “Plane spotters will be able to see liveries from around the world.”
“This is a great move from Delta,” said Dan Gellert, CEO and co-founder of the airport travel application Gate Guru. “Delta’s Sky Clubs at JFK and ATL specifically are rated average at best in GateGuru, so it is great to see them getting a bit more aggressive in these airports to lure business travelers.”
Gellert says airline lounges in the U.S. “have not done much over the recent years to really push the envelope regarding new features or functionality to their lounges,” but he’s hopeful more airlines will expand upon this innovation, “especially in warm weather cities such as Orlando, Los Angeles and Houston.”
Over the past two years, Delta has opened or renovated airline clubs in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Seattle and other cities. At JFK, the rooftop terrace will be part of the Delta Sky Club in the expanded Terminal 4 and is scheduled to open in May. At the Atlanta airport, the Sky Deck will be next to the existing club room on Concourse F and is scheduled to open this summer.
Delta is not the first airline to recognize that frequent travelers — who spend a lot of time indoors, in artificial light — might like to spend some time outside before boarding a plane. “Virgin Australia’s recently opened lounge at Gold Coast, a popular sun destination on Australia’s east coast, features an outdoor area called The Deck,” Raymond Kollau, founder of Airlinetrends.com, told NBC News.
And airports in Amsterdam, Honolulu and Long Beach, Calif., have landscaped outdoor areas open to all passengers.
“The Delta Sky Deck differentiates the airline’s lounge experience by offering a bit of a boutique feel,” Kollau said. “And aviation enthusiasts will love the backdrop of the busy airport tarmac and even the occasional smell of airline kerosene.”
The Observation Deck at the top of the Theme Building, which has been closed since 9/11, will finally re-open to the public this Saturday.
(A view of the old version of the observation deck; courtesy LAX. New version: under wraps!)
There will be a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday morning (June 21, 2010) but the official public hours of the deck will be Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Go take a look through the new telescopes and enjoy the view!
Orlando Airport getting Google-ized?
According to this story in the Orlando Sentinel, the Orlando International Airport (MCO) is in discussion with Google for a two-year deal in which Google would pay the airport more than $100,000 a year to sponsor the existing (free) airport Wi-Fi and provide a variety of other amenities, including free Internet kiosks for passengers traveling without laptops and phone booths at the international gates offering free long distance calling.
Sounds like Google is talking to other airports about this same sort of ‘experiment,’ but no word yet on where.
And this sounds like fun:
(courtesy Hot Rod)
This Saturday (June 19th, 2010) Kansas City International Airport will be hosting its fourth KCI Cruise. Not a sailing ship cruise, but the sort of cruise where hundreds – in this case up to 500 – owners of classic, muscle and special-interest automobiles gather in a parking lot to show off their cool cars.
The event runs from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. (weather permitting; wouldn’t want anything to happen to those cars!) and money raised from the sales of donated food and prizes will go to area charities. The prizes are nothing to sneeze at. They’ll be giving away Frontier Airlines tickets, Chiefs and Royals tickets, Justin Bieber concert tickets (!), hotel stays and more. For more details and for directions to the event, see the KCI Cruise page on the Kansas City International Airport website.