Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Trend? Another airport invites non-travelers past security

They do it at Pittsburgh International Airport. Now Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has a program to allow non-travelers past the security checkpoint to say goodbye to loved ones at the gate, have a meal or shop.

The new SEA Visitor Pass is a pilot program will run through December 14. But it if works out, non-ticketed airport visitors will be allowed to enter the post-security side of the terminal year-round.

Here’s how the program works:

  •  Entrance to the post-security side of the terminal is allowed from Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m and will be limited to 50 visitors each day.
  • Applications will be taken Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Non-ticketed visitors will need to  apply online before 1:30 p.m. the day before they want to enter.
  • TSA will review your application and notify you by midnight the day before if you are approved for entry.
  • Approved visitors will go through the standard security checkpoints, so all security requirements for any traveler will be in place for visitors as well.
  • Meeting travelers at their gate will be restricted to domestic arrivals.

“It’s been 17 years since anyone without a ticket has been able to enjoy areas of the airport beyond security,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins, “Yet some of the airport’s best features are there. Great restaurants, local musicians performing in the concourses, and some of the best views of the planes coming and going against the backdrop of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics.”

SEA is my home base airport and I can confirm that there are plenty of great reasons to want to hang out at this airport even if you’re not flying.  In addition to the art collection that includes work by Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson and others, SEA has a robust live music program and some great shops and restaurants. There’s also the newly-launched series of holiday celebrations planned throughout the year, including events to honor Native Heritage Month (November) and of course the upcoming December Season of Light.

Fresh art and music at SFO, STL and SEA airports

Increasingly, airports are great places to see cool art and listen to great music.

Here are the latest offerings from San Francisco International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Murmur No. 23 2006 Richard Barnes (b. 1953)

Murmur No. 23, by Richard Barnes. Courtey SFO Museum

The SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport is hosting an exhibition of photographs by Richard Barnes of starlings over Rome.

Barnes photographs the starlings during their winter migration from northern Europe to the Rome countryside. He waits till dusk, when the birds form dense cloud-like formations known as murmurations, and in his “Murmur” series Barnes has captured the starlings forming impressive aerial shapes.

Look for the Murmur exhibit pre-security on the Departures Level in Terminal 3 of the San Francisco International Airport.

 

Murmur No. 21 , by Richard Barnes. Courtesy SFO Museum

 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has kicked off a new program, Celebrations at Sea-Tac, to honor holidays, traditions and cultures from the United Stations and global community.

The celebrations begin November with 1 for Dia de los Muertos, or the “Day of the Dead,” a Mexican holiday honoring and remembering loved ones.

Activities will include art installations, candy skull face painting and arts and crafts for children, food and beverage sampling and live performances.

And at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, the Art & Culture Program is hosting an exhibition by St. Louis artist Jeremy Rabus.

Titled “Livery,” the exhibition includes paintings inspired by the livery and components of commercial airlines. Look for this exhibit near the A Concourse entrance in Terminal 1.

Loran Naviagation by Jeremy Rabus; courtesy STL Airport

That ‘unauthorized’ Horizon Air flight: now what?

That “unauthorized” Horizon Air flight at Seattle Tacoma International Airport: now what?

Courtesy Alaska AIrlines

You’ve no doubt heard about the Horizon Air grounds crew employee who took a turboprop airplane – a Q400 – for an unauthorized flight out of Seattle Tacoma International Airport on Friday night. The man, identified later as Richard Russell, flew the plane around the region for about an hour before crashing into a small island.

With military jets trailing, and local media and eyewitnesses reporting what was in process, Russell did some acrobatic stunts with the plane and talked with an incredibly calm-sounding air traffic controller at SEA  airport:

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and on Saturday officials from the airlines along with officials from agencies involved in the investigation held a press conference to discuss what they knew at that point -and what would happen next:

Human remains – presumably Russell’s – and the aircraft’s black box have been  located in the wreckage of the plane and now the discussions will focus on how this happened – and how to keep it from happening again.

On his site, security aviation expert Jeff Price writes that this incident – which he says will be filed as an ‘insider threat’ –  “Is not a failure of the airport security system. Airports are responsible for access to the ramp; airlines are responsible for access to the airplane.” He goes on to explore some of the solutions that will explored.

James Fallows has a good recap in The Atlantic – linking to many of the initial reporting that helped us figure out what was happening as the event unfolded.

On his “Ask the Pilot” blog, Patrick Smith, discusses the incident, saying that while an insider threat does exist, “This particular kind of threat, however — the idea of random employees getting hold of planes — shouldn’t be overplayed.” Some other “Now what?” thoughts can be found here. 

But the incident does raise serious question about airport and airline security and, as this story in the Seattle Times notes, “The answers to these questions could eventually alter security procedures not only at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport but at other airports around the country.”

What do you think might – and should – change at airports as a result of this incident?

Freebies + cool offers to take advantage of now

Like the free ice water that made South Dakota’s Wall Drug famous, free stuff is a great treat when you’re on the road or out and about in your own town.

Here are few free offers and cool deals to take advantage of this weekend and into next week:

Free Museum Admission

On the first full weekend of each month, anyone who has flashes a Bank of America, Merrill Lynch or U.S. Trust credit or debit card and a photo ID gets free admission to more than 200 museums, science centers, gardens and other attractions participating in the Museums on Us program around the country.

Free food 

PotBelly Sandwich Shop is offering a bunch of free food items to members of its free-to-join Potbelly Perks program August 6-12.

Air fare deal

Need to bring a few suitcases of cash to the Cayman Islands? Or just want a great deal on a flight to this vacation destination?

From August 3 to 11, Cayman Airways is celebrating its 50th anniversary with some great discounted fares, plus extra perks such as 3 checked bags and lounge access, for flight from Miami, Tampa and New York booked for travel September 7 through November 7.

Fun hotel package for Pearl Jam fans

Not free – but fun: In Seattle,  The Edgewater over-the-water hotel has put together a package with the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). The Rock the Suite package includes tickets to the museum’s Pearl Jam: Home and Away exhibition, overnight accommodations at the hotel’s Pearl Jam Suite, and signature Pearl Jam cocktails in the  Six Seven Restaurant & Lounge.

Pearl Jam fans should also note that there’s a free Pearl Jam exhibit put together by the Museum of Pop Culture in the-presecurity area of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Know of a great freebie for travelers? Please send it along.

Travel Tidbits from SEA, TPA and Changi airports

Happy Friday! Here are some travel tidbits and ‘coming atttractions’ from several airports.

Happy Birthday Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is marking its birthday month with a variety of local events. The airport first opened to the public on July 9, 1949,

Courtesy Port of Seattle

Looking forward, travelers will soon be able to drink beer brewed on-site at Tampa International Airport:

And for long-haul travel, Singapore’s Changi Airport has rolled out a new stopover program that includes a (one-way) hotel transfer, a SIM card and an overnight stay at one of 20 participating hotels.  Packages start at S$63 – about $46 US dollars.