stuck at the airport

PHL Airport has a short story dispenser

Here’s a great contender for Airport Amenity of the Week: Philadelphia International Airport has a short story dispenser.

PHL short story dispenser

Courtesy PHL Airport

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)’s newest amenity is a Short Story Dispenser.

The five-foot tall, screen-less, translucent glass kiosk is now in the airport’s ‘Virtual Library’ (in the D/E Connector) and prints a free fiction story that can be read in one, three or five minutes.

To get a story, users press one of three buttons indicating which length of story they prefer and then  the machine delivers a story printed on eco-friendly paper.

The stories are drawn from a catalog of stories submitted to and edited by Short Édition, a French community publisher that developed the dispenser. Some stories dispensed are short works by classic authors such as Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf, but Short Edition says it has work submitted by 9,000 authors in its database and pay royalities to authors every time their work is accessed in a Short Story Dispenser.

PHL is the first US airport to get a Short Edition Story Dispenser, although the machines debuted a year or so ago at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and are also installed at Canada’s Edmonton International Airport and about 150 other non-airport locations out in the world.

courtesy Short Edition
PHL has had a Virtual Library since 2014 that is designed to bring the city’s Free Library’s vast electronic resources to passengers. In addition to the short story dispener, travelers can log on to PHL’s free Wi-Fi to access the Library’s e-books, nearly 1,200 author podcasts, and other digital content.

A great airport amenity!

JAX airport handed out 1000 free Mother’s Day carnations. Again.

 

As they have since 2009, on Mother’s Day volunteers at Jacksonville International Airport handed out 1000 carnations to arriving passengers and greeters waiting for their loved ones – especially moms – to arrive.

Here are few more snaps shared by the airport.

 

Waiting for other airports to share snaps of the special treats they offered moms as well.

 

What to do if you’re stuck at the airport

Pittsburgh Airport clearing snow

After canceling thousands of flights over the weekend due to a giant blizzard, airlines will attempt to get passengers back in the air and to their destinations on Monday.

But more than 1,300 flights are canceled across the country today and a lot of people will likely find themselves without canceled flights, but still stuck at the airport.

Here are two things to do if you’re left at the gate with time on your hands.

1. Explore.

SFO MUSEUM FOOTBALL HELMET

Lots of airports have art exhibits displaying the work of national or local artists. Some have full-blown aviation museums (SFO & MKE), and many have an exhibit case or two filled with tidbits of local history. San Francisco International Airport has both an aviation museum and an exhibit program that mounts 20 exhibits around the airport at any one time.

Right now the SFO Museum has exhibits about football, vintage purses and Toy Story.

Aliens - Courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios

Aliens – Courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios

2. Eat

Wow Bao - a new Asian cuisine option in Terminal 5 at ORD_photo Harriet Baskas

While you weren’t paying attention, airports across the country have upped their game when it comes to food. Take a walk, inspect all the menus and take yourself out for a nice meal.

And if you’re lucky enough to be stuck in Chicago at O’Hare or Midway Airports, keep in mind that both airports are celebrating Airport Restaurant Week through February 2.

Blizzard = 1000s of canceled flights

 

Snowstorm

In advance of a projected historic winter blizzard, airlines have canceled more than 2,300 flights for today and shut down operations in many airports entirely.

The story will repeat tomorrow.

Here’s FlightAware’s Misery Map from this morning, showing Charlotte with most canceled flights – but it will just get worse – much worse – throughout the day.

Misery Map clip

Best advice: don’t even chance getting stuck at the airport today. Take your airline’s offer to change your flight. Stay home. Stay warm. And, if you’re in a place where the blizzard hits – check on your neighbors.

 

How to find day rates at airport hotels

sleeping on airplanes

In working on a story for NBCNEWS.com about hotel booking sites trying to stand out by offering a twist – including Winston Club, which plans to match people up to share top hotel rooms – I discovered a good resource for travelers who find themselves stuck at the airport.

HotelsbyDay.com is a site that helps travelers find good rates for short stays at hotels during the day.

These aren’t the, ahem, one-hour or less kind of stays. The service offers stays of at least four hours in three-, four- and five-star hotels, enabling a traveler to rest and refresh before or after a long flight, get some work done in a quiet and comfortable space between meetings or, perhaps, for a family to have a “daycation” at a hotel with a pool, waterpark and spa.

The site has a search option for airport hotels and on that list you’ll find the Miami International Airport Hotel (located inside the terminal) – offered during my search for $55 for a four hour stay between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. – and the post-security Minute Suites – DFW, offered at $100 for a four hour block between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., $110 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and $120 between 3 a.m. and 7 p.m.

I called to check and compare walk-in rates as was told there is not a posted rate at the DFW Minute Suites for a 4 hour stay, but that, with taxes, a 3.5 hour stay would cost about $134 and a 5 hour stay, $148. So the HotelsbyDay rate does indeed offer some savings.