Spokane International Airport

In Spokane, WA: Celebrating a World’s Fair + a Hotel Amenity Fee to enjoy

The Stuck at the Airport team is a longtime fan of Spokane, WA.

The city is home to, among other treasures, a giant red Radio Flyer wagon.

Its airport, Spokane International (GEG), offers a free car wash to anyone who uses the parking garage.

In 1974, this eastern Washington city became the smallest city to host a World’s Fair and a citywide 50th-anniversary celebration of Expo ’74 is running through July 4, 2024.

We stopped at the Expo ’74 exhibit at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and got a kick out of the list of bands and other performers who visited the fair. Marcel Marceau, Gordon Lightfoot, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, The Modern Jazz Quartet and Chicago, were all there.

As was Liberace.

The exhibit displays the poster advertising Mr. Showmanship’s appearance (prices starting at $3) and the lovely beaded blue costume and boots he was wearing in the poster and in his show.

While in town, we stayed at the Davenport Grand, which sits right across the street from Riverfront Park and is one of the five unique hotels in the city’s The Davenport Hotel Collection.

Four of the hotels – The Davenport Grand, the 110-year-old Historic Davenport, the Davenport Tower, and the Davenport Lusso – are part of the Marriott Autograph Collection.

And each hotel adds a $20 amenity fee to the room rate.

Usually, hotel amenity fees irk us. But this one feels like a good deal.

The fee covers high-speed internet; a standard offering of amenity fees these days.

But guests also receive a coupon for a Washington wine tasting that includes two small glasses of wine, plus another coupon for $20 food & beverage credit which can be used anytime at any of the brand’s 11 restaurants & bars in town.

We got great value from this by using our coupons during Happy Hour at the Safari Room at the Davenport Tower and were pleased that the wines offered in the tasting, which we loved, were included in the discounted Happy Hour wines.

If we weren’t so busy enjoying the festivities at Riverfront Park and visiting the Expo ’74 exhibit, our amenity fee would have also covered our use of the hotel’s bicycles – and helmets – for two hours; any number of fitness classes at the local branch of The Union; and unlimited rides on the hotel’s shuttle van to any attraction or location within a half mile of the hotel. If the weather hadn’t been so nice, we would have used that shuttle quite a bit.

The Davenport Collection team values this amenity package at $125.

And while not every guest will take advantage of all the items covered by the amenity fee, as amenity fees go, this $20 is easy, and fun, to recoup.

Free WiFi – and more – at Spokane Int’l Airport

Well, here’s an airport moving in the right direction.

Washington’s Spokane International Airport, which serves about 3 million passengers a year, is now offering travelers free Wi-Fi (well, for 20 minutes..) inside the Terminal Building and, starting in September, will be providing baggage carts at no charge.

“In today’s climate, people are unhappy with the pricing models of air travel companies and are suffering from declines in customer service,” said airport director Lawrence Krauter.
“This is just the beginning of our commitment to explore new ways to provide greater customer satisfaction at Spokane International Airport.”

Just the beginning? Wonder what will come next? Maybe a circus, like the one offered each year at Dusseldorf International Airport. Or a miniature golf course, like they have at Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport.

After all, this is the airport that serves as the gateway for the Spokane Fantasy Flight to the North Pole each December for 60 kids and their elf escorts – so you know they know how to have a good time.

Fresh – flying – art at Spokane International Airport

There’s a fresh piece of art at Spokane International Airport in eastern Washington.

But you’ll have to look up to see it.

Spokane International Airport Art

Fresh art at Spokane International Airport

Louise Kodis’ new textile sculpture “Conversations Between Clouds” in now installed in the rotunda of the airport. The sculpture is a flock of three dimensional floating shapes suspended under the ceiling and is made out of bamboo rod, curved acrylic rod, colored and textured silks and synthetic fabrics.

Spokane Int'l Airport - detail of Louise Kodis art

(Photos of Conversations Between Clouds courtesy Gay Waldman)

There’s another great piece of art at Spokane International Airport that you’ll need to look up to see:

Aerotoaster at Spokane International Airport

Ken Yuhasz’s Aer-O-Toaster

Ken Yuhasz’s Aer•O•Toaster was installed in 2009.

Yuhasz says his toaster is based on the classic Sunbeam toaster from the 1930s and the ‘Flying Toaster’ used as a screen saver on countless computer screens during the 1980’s and is a re-creation at one-half scale of a Gee Bee racing plane from the early 30′s.

Ken Yuhasz’s “Aer•O•Toaster,”

Souvenir Sunday at Spokane Int’l Airport

Toaster plane at Spokane Airport

Traffic was slow heading into Spokane International Airport on Friday because most drivers had their eyes on the sky.

I don’t blame them: the USAF Thunderbirds and other military flight demonstration teams were practicing for this weekend’s Skyfest 2010 at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Skyfest 2010 Fairchild Base air show

Inside the airport, flights were delayed while practice flights took place. So there was plenty of time to shop for souvenirs.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the concourse with the Simply Northwest store, which is filled with a wide variety of local and regionally made items such as wine, chocolates and Bumble Bars.

Bumblebars at Spokane International Airport Simply North shop

Nope, I was in the other concourse. The one with just a small souvenir section in the newsstand.

But, lucky for me, there was a shelf filled with one of our favorite Souvenir Sunday categories:  Candy “poop.”

I’m really not sure what makes this an appealing food or souvenir item, but we’ve seen Cardinal Poop (Indianapolis), Pelican Poop (Fort Myers, FL) and Armadillo Droppings (throughout Texas).  So it’s no surprise that at Spokane International Airport, there’s an entire shelf of Moose Poop and Bear Poop.

Souvenirs at Spokane Int'l Airport

Next time you’re stuck at the airport, check out the souvenirs. If you find something that’s about $10, is “of” the city or region and is a bit offbeat, please snap a photo and send it along. Your souvenir may end up featured on Souvenir Sunday at StuckatTheAirport.com. And if it is, you’ll get a fun souvenir from us.

Embedded with the elves: North Pole Fantasy Flights

The security checkpoint at Spokane International Airport is usually a quiet, orderly place. But earlier this month “It was a mad house,” says TSA screener Julee McCully.

Carolers were crooning Christmas classics in the terminal lobby. Eighty of Santa’s elves were trying to get sixty kids from this year’s “nice” list through security for secret Alaska Airline’s Flight #1225 (get it?) to the North Pole. And alarms kept going off at the metal detector.

“It was all those jingle bells,” says McCully. “The elves had metal bells sewn onto their clothes and stuffed into these little purses that said ‘Elf Stuff.’ It was like a puzzle finding all the bells on each elf. My hands were covered in elf glitter after just the first pat-down.”

Elves? A secret flight to the North Pole? What is this, a Hallmark/Homeland Security Christmas special?  Well, yes. Sort of.

Thanks to the efforts of airline and airport employees, the TSA, sponsors, donors, and an army of  secret Santas, planeloads of seriously ill and/or disadvantaged children have been taking off for the North Pole not just from Spokane, but from Chicago, San Antonio, Phoenix, and a sleigh-load of other cities around the country as well.

What happens at the North Pole?

Embedded as an elf (that’s me on the left, Tammikins on the right),  I was able to tag along this year on the North Pole flight organized by Spokane Fantasy Flight, a non-profit group that invites area shelters and community programs to pick a group of kids who could really use “an evening of wonderment and surprise” and a huge pile of presents.

60 kids and a troop of elves set off for a 40-minute flight to the North Pole, which is actually (spoiler alert!) a decorated hangar at the airport populated with Santa and Mrs. Claus, loads of extra elves and, of course, a few reindeer.

Some might call that cheating, but as one of the other elves explained, “If you’re a little kid on your first plane ride and your ticket says North Pole, and the shades are drawn, and everyone, including the flight attendants and all the elves are saying the magic words, then who’s to say you haven’t landed at the real North Pole?”

She has a point.

This is the 12th year a flight to the North Pole has taken off from Spokane International Airport.  But it still two took months of planning meetings with the TSA, the airport and airline representatives to make sure everything went smoothly.  Horizon/Alaska Airlines customer service manager Dave Burris explained: “This is only the second year our airline has been the official North Pole carrier. United Airlines used to host these flights, but in 2008, there was a mix-up and no plane was available. Alaska Airlines stepped in at the last minute and it was such a hit with the kids and our employees that now that we have our foot in the door, we’re not going to pull it out.”

More North Pole action

Don’t worry: Alaska Airlines hasn’t put United Airlines out of the North Pole business. Not by a long shot. To find out about the North Pole flights organized by employees from United and Continental Airlines, please see the full column  Now Boarding Flight 1225 to the North Pole on MSNBC.com.