Orlando International Airport

Fresh airport art in Portland, Orlando & San Francisco

Courtesy Port of Portland

We may be staying home but airports are open. And so are their art programs.

Here is some of the fresh art on view now at Portland International Airport (PDX), Orlando International Airport (MCO) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

New concourse; new art at Portland International Airport

On July 15 Southwest Airlines is moving from Concourse C to the new Concourse E extension at Portland International Airport. 

In addition to offering the airport’s best view of Mt. Hood, the new concourse has more concessions and a major new piece of art by Jacob Hashimoto.

Poetry exhibit at Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is displaying it first-every poetry exhibition.

The show features poetry by 13 local writers, including Billy Collins, who is the former two-term Poet Laureate of the United States and the current Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute.

Words in Flight – A Celebration of Orlando Area Poets includes poems inspired by the theme of flight, travel, and transformation paired with photographs from the airport’s archives.

Look for the exhibit through September 30, 2030 in the MCO Main Terminal, near the Checkpoint for Gates 70-129.

At SFO Airport: Eclectic Taste: Victorian Silver Plate

Courtesy SFO Museum

At San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the SFO Museum is hosting an exhibit of silver-plated housewares that show off the ornate Victorian style.

Courtesy SFO Museum

From the SFO Museum’s exhibit notes:

Produced in large quantities in England and the United States, silver plate was a hallmark of eclectic décor during the Victorian era (1837-1901).

By the late 1800s, many homes featured extensive collections of silver plate. The most elaborate items were found in the dining room and main parlor, where they served a variety of entertainment functions.

Ownership of silver plate became an indicator of social and economic status, and manufacturers created highly specialized and imaginative designs to meet consumer demand.

Courtesy SFO Museum

Eclectic Taste: Victorian Silver Plate is located post-security in SFO’s Harvey Milk Terminal 1 through December 13, 2020.

MCO: 5 Things We Love About Orlando Int’l Airport

5 Things We Love About Orlando International Airport (MCO)

It’s another installment of the “5 Things We Love About…” series on Stuck at The Airport, celebrating some of the services, amenities, and features we love about airports around the world.

We’ll (try to) keep these lists to just five items. But if you want to add a note about a bonus feature you love, please add it in the comment section below.

And if you want to nominate an airport for the series, or sponsor one of the “5 Things We Love About ..” entry in the series, get in touch.

Today: 5 Things We Love About Orlando International Airport (MCO)

The Traveler – by Duane Hanson

1. The art collection at MCO

In addition to “The Traveler” (above) by Duane Hanson, MCO’s art collection includes some real treasures, including “Space, Time and Energy” by Jacob Lawrence and a series of four terrazzo “Welcoming Gardens” by Scott Parsons (below) that serve as welcome mats at the airport.

Space, Time and Energy, by Jacob Lawrence

2. MCO’s airport tower

The air traffic control tower at MCO is not only pretty and quite recognizable for its design, at 345 feet it’s one of the tallest ATC towers in the United States.

3. The atrium at Orlando International Airport

The main terminal atrium at Orlando International Airport serves as part of the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport. The atrium also features a water fountain, palm trees, high ceilings, and plenty of natural light. All rare amenities at an airport.

4. MCO’s carpet – and matching socks

MCO’s airside carpet is quite photogenic and so popular that the airport has socks to celebrate the carpet. The airport has several other MCO-themed socks as well. You can’t buy them: the airport saves them to use as prizes for online contests and for surprise giveaway events in the terminal.

We don’t even have any of theses socks in our our sock drawer.

5. An aquarium, a giant screen + photo op spots

MCO has a 3,000-gallon food court fish tank containing eels and 40-50 fish. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a fun show when the tank is cleaned.

Other cool attractions we love at Orlando International Airport include the 36-foot-long hi-res video screen outside the Magic of Disney store in the atrium (across from security checkpoint for gates 70-129).

For visitors who didn’t get enough photos at area theme parks, there are photo ops spots outside of several stores, including an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center shop store and minions and a velociraptor at the Universal Store.

And don’t even get us started on the airport souvenirs.

Stay tuned for more in our “5 Things We Love About ….” series.

Want to nominate an airport or sponsor one of the entries? Leave a note in the comment section and we’ll be in touch.

Airports ready for the return of travelers

Airports are empty. And hurting.

Airports Council International now estimates a drop of more than 4.6 billion passengers globally for all of 2020.

The airport trade group also estimates that total airport revenues worldwide will drop by more than $97 billion for 2020.

Still, airports are making plans for welcoming back travelers.

Orlando International Airport (MCO) says passengers will see new social distancing signs and markers through the airport terminal. Acrylic protective screens are being installed at ticket counters and at retail food and outlets as well. Cleaning crews are also out in force. And passengers are being urged to wear face masks in the airport.

Tampa International Airport (TPA) is also getting ready.

TPA rolled out a plan that includes, among other things, wider security lanes and recompose areas, and plastic shields in high traffic areas.

The airport is also blocking some seats in gate areas and only allowing ticketed passengers in the terminal.

And at Pittsburgh International Airport, robots are moving in.

Courtesy PIT Airport


Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) has joined other airports around the world in adding robotic cleaners to its maintenance crew.

The airport’s new germ-killing robot uses UV light to eliminate microbes in high-traffic areas, increasing the cleanliness of the airport.

Here’s the robotic scrubber in action.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Orlando Int’l Airport

It’s only Monday, but we may already have a nomination for Airport Amenity of the Week.

Especially if you’re a fan of Star Wars and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Passengers traveling through Orlando International Airport (MCO) will find that some of the tram shuttle stations are now decorated to evoke Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the new 14-acre land inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Arriving passengers getting ready to board the shuttles for the airport’s Main Terminal will see life-size depictions of characters and scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

One scene creates a dimensional landscape that feels as if visitors are standing inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. They’ll see the iconic Millennium Falcon and other landmarks from the new amusement park land.

In another scene, it will appear to passengers as if First Order Stormtroopers are waiting to step off the shuttle as the train arrives in the station.

Make way…

There’s more.

At the Magic of Disney store located inside the main terminal in the pre-security West Hall, there’s now a fun new photo op location featuring droids from the Star Wars galaxy.

And when the airport’s second Magic of Disney store reopens on November 22 in the Main Terminal East Hall, an exterior wall will feature a 36-foot-long video screen showing scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Should we just go ahead and make this the Airport Amenity of the Week?

(Photos courtesy Orlando International Airport)

Will more airports ban religious services?

A wing and an organized prayer: OK at some airports, but no longer in Orlando

Chapel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

My story this week for CNBC is about airport chapels. Here’s a very slightly different version of that piece.

They’re not as ubiquitous as cocktail bars and souvenir shops, but chapels and inter-faith prayer spaces, many with full or part-time chaplains and regularly-scheduled services, are among the amenities offered by more than three dozen airports around the country.

Some prayer rooms occupy what has, over time, become prime real estate in pre or post-security areas of airport terminals. Others are tucked away and may be hard to find on mezzanines, down back corridors or in bag claim areas. 

But a recent rise in violence at churches, mosques and synagogues prompted Orlando International Airport to rethink holding religious services at its interfaith chapel and reflection space, prompting some concern about whether other airports will make similar changes. 

Interfaith chapel at Orlando International Airport

Earliest airport chapel

In 1951, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) was the first U.S. airport to set aside dedicated space for prayer. “It was explicitly meant for people working at the airport. A neon light pointed to the chapel,” notes Wendy Cadge, an expert in contemporary American religion, in “A Brief History of Airport Chapels.”

Today Logan’s appropriately named Our Lady of the Airways is located in the airport’s public area. It seats 250, is open around-the-clock and offers mass daily for passengers, airport and airline employees and the general public. 

Orlando International Airport makes a change

At Orlando International Airport (MCO), an interfaith chapel with a Tree of Life stained glass window dates to the airport’s 1981 opening. A second reflection space for prayer, with accommodations for Muslim travelers, was added in 2015, as part of a customer service enhancement project.

Both spaces are located post-security and for many years Catholic mass has been offered in MCO’s chapel each Sunday morning and during holidays. But, citing increased passenger volume, space allocation and safety, the airport board recently revised it policies.

Now, while ticketed passengers and employees are welcome to visit the prayer spaces anytime, organized religious services of any kind are not permitted.

“Every airport authority has to make the decisions that they think are the best for their environment and location,” said Susan Schneider of the Interfaith Airport Chapels of Chicago, which offers religious services and passenger support services at both O’Hare and Midway Airports. “If Orlando feels this is something they must do at this time, you have to trust the decision. You just hope it’s the right decision.”

Reverend Rodrick Burton, a pastor is St. Louis, is certain the authorities at Orlando International Airport have made the wrong decision.

“I believe Orlando’s actions are stunning in their shortsightedness and in an effort to be politically correct or to misinterpret the constitutional right of freedom of religion,” said Burton, who serves as president of the St. Louis Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, an organization that has offered “prayer, religious services, spiritual guidance, empathetic listening” and other assistance at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) for more than 33 years.  

“There’s nothing sacred about those spaces if Chaplain’s don’t attend to them. Those chapels will become quiet rooms,” he added.

Status of other airport chapels

I polled about two dozen other airports around the country on the status of their interfaith spaces and organized religious services.

Reflection room at San Diego International Airport

Airports in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and many other cities have chapels, quiet rooms, meditation spaces and/or reflection rooms that welcome travelers at all hours, but do not offer religious services. “No regular services are held here. It is strictly self-service,” said Greg Willis, Marketing Program Manager at Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport, “We provide a book where customers can write down their thoughts and prayers.”

Interfaith chapel at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Some airport chapels have been ensconced in airport terminals for a long time. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the ATL Interfaith Airport Chapel was established in 1979. Pittsburgh International Airport opened its post-security interfaith chapel in 1992, along with the current terminal. And the quiet room at Philadelphia International Airport was created just last August.

T1 chapel entry at St. Louis Lamber International Airport

In addition to the scheduled religious services offered at Boston Logan and St. Louis Lambert International Airport, airport chapels in Atlanta, Cleveland, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, New York (JFK) and a handful of other airports offer organized religious services. All airports that responded to my query say they currently have no plans to follow Orlando’s lead in banning these services.

A solution that works

Meanwhile, back in Orlando, after some scrambling and, no doubt some prayers, there’s now an alternative arrangement for those seeking to attend Sunday mass at the airport.

Instead of being offered in the post-security airport chapel, starting this Sunday, mass will be held in the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport hotel, which is attached to the main terminal of the airport.

The solution is being hailed as a godsend for the both travelers and the airport.

“Security and Safety will always be a top priority at Orlando International,” said Tom Draper, Senior Director of Airport Operations for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, “By moving these activities to a larger and more private location, we are minimizing activity in secure areas while enhancing the guest experience for those traveling through the airport.”