Two cool things at airports

Thanks for visting Stuck at The Airport today.

Here are two cool things we’ve spotted at airports around the world.

This cute little autonomous shuttle van is being tested at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).

Passengers can hop on the airport’s Easy Mile EZ10 driverless shuttle for a ride between the airport’s main Barbara Jordan Terminal and the Rental Car/ground transportation facility.

The vehicle is electric, driverless and ADA-compliant. And it is running on the upper level of Garage 1 as a part of a test to offer another way to get travelers and meeters and greeters around the airport campus.

The shuttle has seats six and additional room for standing passengers. It also has a built-in automated electric access ramp for wheelchair accessibility.

Nervous about riding in an driverless vehicle? Don’t worry: while the vehicle itself operates autonomously, an attendant is riding along to assist travelers and for safety purposes during this pilot program.

Meet the Beatles

Johh Lennon Statue liverpool Airport

And how fun is this? We’ve visited several airports with arcades and game rooms, but at the Liverpool John Lennon Airport The Beatles get their own pinball machine.

Get ready to start getting to the airport even earlier

Late Thursday afternoon  (January 14, 2010) Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano released a(nother) new statement about additional aviation security precautions being rolled out at the nation’s airports.

What will those new precautions entail?

According to Napolitano’s statement, “…Some of these measures include enhanced random screening, additional federal air marshals on certain routes and adding individuals of concern to our terrorist watch list system.”

None of that sounds all that new. But on the ground, says a TSA spokesperson, that means that, depending on what airport you’re in, you might notice “an increase in measures such as…behavioral detection officers and a wider use of tools like explosive trace detection.  Not just at the checkpoint but throughout the airport environment.”

The bottom line, says Napolitano: “…travelers should allot extra time when flying…”

Allotting extra time, of course, means getting to the airport even earlier than you do now.

But even with all these new procedures, it’s a fair bet that your trip through the security checkpoint will go smoothly and you’ll end up just hanging around the airport waiting for your flight.

If you’re at Miami International Airport (MIA) this Saturday, January 16th, you can spend that extra time watching a fashion show in the Central Terminal (On Departure Level, Terminal G by the $10 Boutique).

The show will last for an hour, from 1:30 to 2:30, and feature women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories from a variety of airport vendors. There will also be sampling of Toblerone chocolate, and a performance by Venezuelan composer, producer and singer Claudio Corsi, who now lives in the Miami area.

Not planning on being at Miami International Airport this Saturday?  If you’re across country at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), you can fritter away a few extra hours playing pinball – for free.

The free pinball machines are part of SFO’s exhibit about the history of pinball that will be on view through April 2010.

Love the layover: slots at SFO

Most people try to avoid connecting flights when they’re flying from one part of the country to another. But if I can book a trip that offers the chance to spend an hour or two at San Francisco International Airport, I take it.

That’s because, with an airport museum program that organizes a few dozen exhibits a year, it’s a good bet there will be something fun and educational to see. And earlier this week I finally had an unhurried hour at SFO to tour the exhibit of more than 90 vintage gambling devices on display in Terminal 3.

For Amusement Only: Slot Machines and Other Gambling Devices of the Mechanical Age includes slot machines, guessing banks, coin drops, poker machines and punchboards dating from the late 19th through mid-20th centuries.  The machines are on loan from Joe Welch’s San Bruno American Antique Museum and will be on exhibit through May, 2010.

Once you’ve toured the gambling machine exhibit, head on over to the International Terminal, where there’s an exhibit of 36 vintage pinball machines, including a few you can play for free.