San Francisco International Airport

Airports are being challenged, but there are bright spots

Despite this recent NYT article documenting how truly awful conditions are right now for airports and the operators of airport concessions, there are some bits of hopeful news.

New shops at MKE Airport

At Milwaukee Mitchell Airport (MKE), which will be getting new daily nonstop flights to both Tampa and Fort Meyers on United Airlines in December, there’s a Leinie Lodge pop-up on Concourse D.

In addition to snacks and beverages, passengers can build their own souvenir variety 12-pack of Wisconsin-made Leinenkugel’s beer.

MKE also recently celebrated the opening the Bronzeville Crossing retail shop on Concourse C. The shop carries locally crafted goods from the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

SFO Airport reopening a concourse

During this pandemic, airlines have cut back schedules and parked airplanes. As a result, airports around the country have closed concourses due to flight inactivity.

But here’s some good news.

Enough flights have come back on the schedule at San Francisco International that the airport will be reopening a concourse in the International Terminal which has been closed since April 1st.

Boarding Area A, which houses Gates A1 – A15, will reopen on September 1, 2020. The Airport has been operating all international flights on a single concourse since the closure.

13 airports: 1 big virtual music festival

13 airports around the country have put their hearts and efforts together to host a free online music festival Wednesday evening, August 19, starting at 5 p.m. CST.

The show starts at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and then work its way around the country with short sets by stellar local musicians chosen by the participating airports.

Each airport will be running the event on their respective Facebook Live page.

The rundown is below. Note that Kenny Loggins (remember him from Loggins and Messina?) will be capping off the event for the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA)

Airports deploying ‘mask nannies’

Right now face coverings and masks are required in every airport and on most airlines due to continued concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

There are signs, stickers, and announcements everywhere a traveler turns, but still, not everyone is covering up.

Some people don’t want to mask up and it is reassuring to know that some airlines won’t let those folks fly.

Other travelers may have forgotten their masks or are neglecting to put them on in areas of the airport.

So, to help passengers get with the program, “ambassadors” who are serving as mask nannies are being sent out into airport terminals to help.

Yes, it’s come to that.

At San Francisco International Airport (SFO) “TravelWell Ambassadors” are roving the terminals to make sure passengers wear face coverings and maintain proper physical distancing.

At Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the mask nannies are called “Travel Safety Ambassadors. They’re on duty in Terminal 1 and in the Tom Bradey International Terminal (TBIT).

Don’t have a mask? No problem. The mask nannies have a supply of them. So there should be no excuses.

We expect other airports are or will be deploying mask nannies as well.

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.

Art we’re missing at SFO Airport

We are missing the adventures that start at airports. And we’re missing all the great art and history exhibits that airports around the country offer.

For example, if we could go to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) right now we would take our time exploring some of the ongoing and new exhibitions offered by the SFO Museum.

Extra ‘O’ – African Barbershop and Hairdressing Signs (Terminal 2 Departures through November 1, 2020) features colorful hand-painted barbershop signs. The exhibit also displays items relating to hair in traditional African culture, including headrests, hair combs, and helmet masks.

And a just-opened exhibition features photographs from the early days of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park and SFO is hosting an exhibition of historical photographs by photographer R.J. Waters, who documented life in the park between 1896 and 1902.

The exhibition is on view through November 19, 2020, near Gate F5 in Terminal 3 and is part of the citywide celebration of the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park.

All photos courtesy of SFO Museum.

5 Things We Love About: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

5 Things We Love About San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Today Stuck at the Airport kicks off a new feature of short airport profiles celebrating some of the services, amenities and features we love about airports around the world.  

We could go on and on (as we often do) about some our favorites, of course.

But to keep things moving along, we are keeping the list for this series to just five things we love about each airport.

Our goal is to add at least one “Five things we love about…” feature each week. But, honestly, we’re just hanging around waiting for the time we can once again step foot into some of these airports, so during the next few weeks we’ll likely be posting a few of these features each week.

If you want to add a note about a feature or amenity you love about an airport that we don’t mention, we encourage you to add it in the comments section below.

Keep in mind: some amenities may be temporarily unavailable due to COVID-19 concerns.

And if you want to sponsor one of the “5 Things We Love About…” entries, get in touch.

5 Things We Love About: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Courtesy SFO Airport

1. Museums at SFO Airport

Back in 1999, the SFO Museum was the first airport museum to be accredited by the Americal Alliance of Museums (AAM).

Today, the SFO Museum presents charming and educational exhibitions in more than twenty galleries through the airport terminals.

Courtesy SFO Museum

But that’s not all. SFO is also home to the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Museum and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, which is home to a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation.

2. SFO’s “Kids Spot” play areas

Kids will definitely enjoy many of the museum exhibitions at SFO Airport, but they’ll also enjoy the interactive Kids Spot areas around the airport, located in Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

3. The SkyTerrace outdoor observation deck

Outdoor observation decks at airports are rare amenities these days. SFO has two.

The Outdoor Terrace in International Terminal 5 is located post-security (near Gate G14) and wooden chairs, tables, chaise lounges, drought-tolerant landscaping, bronze sculptures and 180-degree views of the airfield.

 The SkyTerrace is an outdoor observation deck located pre-security in Terminal 2 that also offers great views of the airfield.

4. The Wag Brigade therapy animals

Like many airports, San Francisco International has a team of certified therapy animals that mingles with travelers to provide diversion and reduce stress.

SFO’s team is called the Wag Brigade and includes a charming assortment of dogs and a pig named Lilou.

5. Yoga Rooms

SFO created the first airport yoga room back in 2012. Now there are yoga rooms in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. And a handful of other airports, include Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, have yoga rooms as well.

This “Things We Love About Airports” segment is made possible by Reel Women Productions, creator of books, radio documentaries, news and feature articles, and the StuckatTheAirport.com blog.

If you’d like to sponsor an upcoming “Things we love about airports” installment, get in touch.