As the COVID-19 crisis continues, airlines are grounding aircraft and cutting flight schedules. And fewer and fewer travelers are passing through airports.
But in most cities airports are considered essential facilities. So they remain open.
One example: Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), which must stay open not only for the remaining commercial flights currently flying, but because it is home to two military bases: U.S. Air Force and Pennsylvania National Guard.
Anyone passing through PIT airport right now will find it quieter than usual.
But they might notice something different in the art installation known as “Fraley’s Robot Repair.”
Atticus Fraley created this storefront robot repair shop and sometimes makes changes to the items inside.
His most recent addition was to give a robot a hand-lettered sign with an inspirational message for this stressful time:
We take a short break from coronavirus coverage and anxiety today to give a cheer for Pittsburgh International Airport, which is celebrating Women’s History Month by putting a statue of legendary traveler and early investigative journalist Nellie Bly in the terminal.
Bly, the pen name for Elizabeth Seaman Cochran, grew up in Western Pennsylvania and in 1885 went to work for the Pittsburgh Dispatch, which is now the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She moved to New York City in 1887 to work for the New York World and wrote a groundbreaking expose of the terrible conditions at a mental institution by posing as a patient.
In 1889 she set off
for a trip about the world, determined to break the fictional record of Phileas
Fogg, whose journey was described by Jules Verne in his 1873 novel, “Around the
World in Eighty Days.”
Bly left Hoboken, New Jersey by ship and completed the trip in 72 days, 6 hours 11 minutes and 14 seconds, traveling by horse, rickshaw, sampan, burro and other vehicles along the way.
Her 1890 book chronicling the adventure is “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.”
Pittsburgh International Airport already
has two statues in the terminal: George Washington and Franco Harris, a legendary
Pittsburgh Steelers player.
Those statues are stationed in the PIT terminal as promotions for the city’s Heinz History Center and are popular spots for selfies.
At the end of March, to mark Women’s History Month and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the Heinz History Center will add Nellie Bly’s statue to the PIT terminal.
The pilot DTW Destination Pass program
at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) which allows non-ticketed
passengers past the security checkpoint began in October and was supposed to
end this week.
But so many non-ticketed visitors are
interested in visiting DTW airport to shop, dine, check out airplanes and spend
more time with friends and family starting or ending their travels that airport
officials have decided to keep the program going indefinitely.
“We understand that our facility is more than
just an airport—it is a place where memories are made,” said WCAA CEO Chad
Newton, “One participant of the program shared with us that she was able to
bring her 3-year-old nephew to the airport to greet his parents and see
airplanes for the first time.”
The DTW Destination Pass program is limited to 75 visitor passes per day. Passes can be used from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Check the DTW website for details about applying for a pass.
Where else can you get an airport gate pass?
DTW is just the latest airport to welcome non-ticketed passengers past the security checkpoint.
In December, Seattle-Tacoma International
Airport (SEA) brought back and made permanent the SEA Visitor Pass program, which
gives non-ticketed guests access to the secure side of the airport.
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) started
the trend by introducing the myPITPass program in
August 2017. That program operates Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tampa International Airport (TPA) began
offering its All Access pass in April, 2019, welcoming guests on
And Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) began welcoming non-ticketed guests into the new terminal on December 4.
The MSY Guest Pass is offered seven days a week, with a limit of 50 visitors Monday through Friday and 100 visitors on Saturdays and Sundays.
Gate pass program at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International
the Louis Armstrong New Orleans
International Airport (MSY) is joining the list of airports that invite and
allow non-ticketed guests airside, past security to shop, dine, listen to live
music and spend more time with friends and family leaving for trips or coming
The free MSY Guest Pass program kicks off December
4 and will be available seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. MSY officials say the airport will issue no more
than 50 passes on weekdays and no more than 100 passes each Saturday and Sunday.
an MSY Guest Pass will need to sign up 24 hours in advance and provide their
full name, date of birth and contact information. Visitors under 18 will need
to be accompanied by an adult.
Pass holders must
still pass through the security checkpoint and all pass holders will be limited
to one visit per month.
MSY is justifiably proud of its shiny new terminal, which has branches of local shops such as Dirty Coast and Fleurty Girl and restaurants from award-winning chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, John Folse, Michael Gullotta, Susan Spicer, and the late Leah Chase and her family.
Located on the outdoor DEN plaza, between the main terminal and the Westin Hotel, the rink will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through January 20.
There’s no fee to skate. And there are free skate rentals as
the on-side “Skate Shop” Airstream trailer near the ice rink.
The ice rink will feature music daily and host special
activities and performances on the ice throughout the skating season including
Colorado Avalanche Ice Patrol, Denver Figure Skating Club, E-Gals Ice Crew,
curling lessons, little tykes’ hockey and more.
Holiday Open House at Pittsburgh Airport
Pittsburgh International Airport will its annual open house this year on Saturday, December 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open to all who register, the in-terminal event features shopping and dining specials, live music, kids’ entertainment and visits with Santa. Registration closes December 4.
Here’s a rundown of the entertainment:
Juggler: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Balloon Artist: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Touch-A-Truck: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Face Painting: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Children’s Museum Activity: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Lovebettie: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Photos with Santa: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Caricature Artist: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Airbrush Tattoo Artist: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Pierogies: 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
SFO Airport pilots premium Uber pick-up
To reduce congestion at curbsides, in June
2019 San Francisco International Airport
(SFO) moved domestic terminal pickups for ride-hailing services Uber, Lyft and
Wingz away from the terminal curbside to the 5th floor of the Domestic Hourly
Parking Garage, with pickups in the International Terminal at the center island
of the Departures level roadway.
Passengers who choose a premium Uber product, including Uber
Comfort, Uber Select, and Uber XL, Uber Black and Uber Black SUV will be picked
up curbside at designated locations in each Domestic Terminal: Terminal 1 at
Door 9; Terminal 2 at Doors 5 and 6; Terminal 3 at Doors 12 and 13.
at the International Terminal will continue in the current location, which is at
the center island of the Departure level roadway.
choosing (basic) UberX and Uber Pool in the Domestic Terminals must still go to
the domestic hourly parking garage for pickup.