Portland International Airport

Travel Tidbits from Icelandair, PDXairport, Uber and Lyft

Icelandair has decided to extend the run of its Buddy Hotline Service through July 8.

The free program offers passengers a chance to get travel planning tips via phone or via online messenger from a member of the Icelandair team who’s an Iceland local.

According to Icelandair, each of the “Buddies” has a different expertise, such as local cuisine, outdoor adventures, wellness and Icelandic culture. And each buddy is eager to offer insider tips to help travelers make the most of their trip.  

The Hotline is open weekdays through July 8 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET and weekends from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET.

PDX testing new ways to leave airports via Lyft and Uber

Like many airports, Portland International often has a very long line of people waiting for their assigned driver from a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft.

Now, thanks to a pilot program being tested by both Uber and Lyft, the line should move much faster.

And, soon, so should the ride-hailing pick-up line at other airports.

First, the airport has separated the pick-up locations for the ride-hailing brands (Uber, Lyft and Winz) that serve the airport.

Uber and Lyft are also using a new system for pickups.

Uber is using PIN technology, a system it has used a high-volume events and festivals, to more quickly connect UberX riders and their drivers.  

Travelers request an UberX ride, receive a one-time code, and enter the line at the pick-up location. When they reach the front of the line, they show their code to the driver and upon validation, start the trip. (Separately, riders can also use Uber products for pick-ups at PDX, including UberPOOL, Uber XL etc. )

Lyft is also offering travelers a new code-based pick-up service.

With Lyft, travelers request their ride and are given a code. When the passenger arrives at the curb, they show the code to the next available driver and off they go. 

Both companies are testing their processes at PDX this week with full implementation expected by May 20. 

The pin-systems should get riders moving more quickly. S we expect the pilot program to become a permanent program at PDX and other airports shortly.

 

Nashville Airport’s carpet

The carpet at Nashville International Airport (BNA) is following in the steps of the celebrity carpet at Portland International Airport.

The BNA carpet dates back to 2010. It has its own Instgram account with about 7000 followers and lots of photos featuring feet, people, pets and babies on the carpet.

View this post on Instagram

Same. #mood #vibes #nashville

A post shared by BNA Carpet (@bnacarpet) on

Like the PDX carpet, travelers can even buy products featuring the pattern of the BNA carpet. 

In addition to shoes with the BNA carpet pattern, the list of carpet-themed goodies includes hoodies, leggings, socks, luggage covers and hoodies.

If you love the pattern and want a photo of your feet on carpet, though, start thinking about making a trip to Nasvhille International Airport.

According to a local news report, as part of renovations and upgrades at the airport the BNA carpet is scheduled to begin being replaced starting in summer 2020. The carpet will totally be replaced by terrazzo or by a carpet with a new pattern by 2023.

If you do go to Nasvhille International Airport to check out the carpet, be sure to look very closely: airport officials say there are guitar images hidden in the pattern.

Do you have a favorite airport carpet?

You can own artwork honoring the famed PDX carpet

Remember the ‘celebrity’ carpet at Portland International Airport?

Portlanders loved the PDX carpet. But it was old and worn and had to be replaced.

Now a large scale artwork celebrating that carpet is up for auction.

 

People loved taking pictures of their feet on that carpet.

The pattern showed up on caps, cups, neck pillows, jam, beer and all sorts of other items.

And, in 2015, not long after the Port of Portland announced it would be replacing all the carpeting in the airport, the carpet (yes the carpet) was named the Grand Marshal of Portland’s Rose Parade.

Now the large-scale carpet-centric artwork titled “Carpet Diem” by local artist Nancy Wilkins  that was commissioned by the airport and which has hung on Concourse ‘D’ at PDX since 2014 is being replaced as well.

The artwork is being surplused and is now up for auction.

Last we looked the highest bid was only $110!

Take a look and see if you’d like to own this homage to a quirky carpet,  and if you’ve got room for it in your home, office, bowling alley or airplane hangar.

 

 

 

 

Souvenir Sunday: Holiday shopping at airports

Getting ready to do some holiday shopping? Don’t forget airport shops, which often offer “street pricing.”  That means products purchased at airport shops cost no more than they do in town.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has once again put together a handy online Holiday Catalog to help travelers plan their airport shopping. Lots of Arizona-themed and locally-made items are listed in the catalog.  And, yes, cactus plants are regularly packed for travel.

In the Northwest, Oregon’s Portland International Airport (PDX) is a popular shopping destination for travelers and locals alike.

I head there from Seattle each year not only because Oregon have no sales tax, but PDX has a pre-security shopping area featuring branches of many popular local stores.

Here’s a selection of items that recently showed up in a PDX gift box I received. Included: shortbread cookies from Flying Elephants Delicatessen, a tote bag from Powell’s Books, a CD compilation of music by Portland-based artists, a whiskey sampling from House Spirits Distillery and a scarf, mug and socks from the Pendleton Woolen Mills. (Thank-you, PDX!)

 

During the holidays, not only do many airport shops have their most popular gifts wrapped and ready to go, many airports offer free gift wrapping for unwrapped items you may have tucked in your carry-on.

Heading to an airport during this holiday season? If you see something cool, unusual and locally-themed that you think would make a great gift, please snap a photo and send it along. If your item is featured on StuckatTheAirport.com, we’ll send you a travel-themed gift.

Top airports share their secrets to success

What ‘secret weapons’ do airports use to make passengers happy? For my most recent “At the Airport” column on USA TODAY, I asked some of the ‘winners’ in the most recent JD Power suvey to share what they think makes their airports stand out against others.

Airports around the country are dealing wiht record high passenger volumes and a wave of major terminal construction projects. Yet, U.S. airports are doing a bang-up job of pleasing passengers.

That’s the major take-away from the 2018 North America Airport Satisfaction Study recently released by J.D. Power, which ranks everything from airlines and airports to electronics and cars.

The study says travelers’ overall satisfaction with airports is at a record high, based on factors such as terminal facilities; airport accessibility; security check; baggage claim; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.

Of course, some airports rank higher in the study than others. And when we quizzed ‘winners’ about the secrets to their success, “a commitment to customer service” emerged as a universal theme. But so too did did a keen, good-hearted sense of competition.

The ‘mega’ airports

 

Among ‘mega’ airports – those serving more than 32.5 million annual passengers – Orlando International Airport (the 2017 category winner) and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas tied for first place.

Orlando International (MCO), Florida’s busiest airport, credits its return win to “a seamless arrival and departure experience that exceeds the needs of the traveler and instills a memorable imprint of the culture and environment of the region.”

The airport is meeting milestones in its $4.27 billion Capital Improvement Plan and has completed a variety of ‘passenger-pleasing’ projects ranging from improved Wi-Fi and baggage systems to a people mover system that transports passengers over waterways and landscape that evoke the Florida sense of place.

When McCarran International Airport (LAS) landed in the number 3 slot in J.D. Power’s ‘mega’ category last year, Rosemary Vassiliadis, Director of Aviation for Clark County, Nevada,  gathered her team together to strategize how to move up to first place.

“It’s personal for us,” said Vassiliadis, “Las Vegas is a destination city and our airport offers the first and last look for almost 50% of the people who visit. We want to let them know how much their visit means to us.”

To gain its first-place tie this year, LAS teams focused on upgrading terminal spaces, smoothing out checkpoint experiences and perfecting the “You’re in Vegas” vibe that includes slot machines, a neon “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, and a curated “Voices of Vegas” taped music program highlighting iconic Vegas acts and songs that name check the city.

At Detroit Metropolitan Airport (ranked third in this category this year) logo welcome mats have replaced industrial black runners. DTW officials also credit high passenger satisfaction ratings to amenities such as new nursing rooms, water bottle refill stations and light fixtures that can be programmed with seasonal and sport-team colors.

At Denver International Airport, which placed fourth in the ‘mega’ category this year, the secret to success is always looking for ways to “surprise and delight passengers,” said airport spokeswoman Emily Williams.

DEN offers everything from a Canine Airport Therapy Squad (that includes a cat) to airport events in an outdoor plaza that have featured a beer garden and an ice-skating rink.

And during its current terminal renovation project, DEN is having success delighting passengers with a series of “Pardon our dust” messages that embrace the conspiracy theories and rumors of alien inhabitants that date back to 1995, when the airport opened.

The best ‘large’ airports

Among ‘large’ airports serving 10 million to 32.4 million passengers California’s John Wayne Airport, in Orange County, ranked highest this year; Dallas Love Field ranked second and Oregon’s Portland International Airport ranked third.

John Wayne Airport 2006

With a departure curfew, passenger and flights caps and just 505 acres, “We’re a postage stamp of an airport, but passengers like our airport’s convenience.” said Deanne Thompson, spokeswoman for John Wayne Airport (SNA), which is located about an hour from LAX.

At SNA, passengers also appreciate ‘extras’ such as water bottle refill stations, pet relief areas, the vibrant art program and the nursing mothers lounge with adjustable lighting, said Thompson, “All amenities that make travel easy.”

Dallas Love Field Airport, which must contend with a gate cap, credits its customer satisfaction success to “personal touch and high-quality customer service.”

The airport offers a live weekday lunchtime music performance program, permanent and changing art exhibitions, a public piano, a children’s play area and information booths that are staffed from 5 a.m. until the last flight.

And at Oregon’s Portland International Airport, passengers enjoy the wide selection of local and regional shops and restaurants, true street pricing and a suite of amenities that includes a free movie theater, said PDX spokeswoman Kama Simonds.

“The secret sauce? The folks who work at PDX, who have an awesome sense of pride in the work they do and the travelers they interact with,” said Simonds, “And as we all know from when we’re travelers, that makes the whole experience that much better.”

The best ‘Medium’ airports

Among medium sized airports – those serving between 3 million and 9.9 million passengers – this year Buffalo Niagara International Airport ranks the highest, followed by Indianapolis International Airport and Fort Myers/Southwest Florida International.

 

In addition to focusing on customer service, “We also do things that go above and beyond,” said Kimberley Minkel, executive director of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which operates the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The airport has a branch of the Anchor Bar where Buffalo chicken wings were invented and the second largest ‘Paws of Love’ therapy dog program in the country. Thanks in large part to BUF’s award winning snow removal team, the airport never closes.

Among its ‘secret weapons,’ Indianapolis International Airport cites its bright, wide-open spaces and amenities such as human-powered charging kiosks and an extensive permanent and rotating art exhibition program. Events at the airport often mirror what’s happening in town: i.e. during Indianapolis 500 season, IND hosts a panel with drivers sharing stories of their racing experiences.

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And a Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, “Our secret to success is the sense of place at our facilities,” said RSW spokeswoman Victoria Moreland, “In the terminal you can look out huge windows at the busy ramp and runway areas while sitting at a table under a palm tree.”

Do you agree with these rankings? And have you noticed these ‘secret weapons’ employed?