This week: Heathrow angst, Schiphol innovation & the bikini girl

Unexpectedly no Thanksgiving horror stories hit us this week, but we did receive a long number of other stories coming all the way from Thailand and Amsterdam. Angst surrounding the United Kingdom’s largest airport also made it into our round-up this week. And finally we found a story that’s been waiting to be published from Los Angeles. Well, sort of.

First up finally some encouraging news received us from Thailand. This week we were informed that Bangkok’s second airport, Don Mueang (IATA: DMK) is set to partially reopen in January after it got affected during the country’s devastating floods in October. A Thai news site reported that a budget of Bt490 million (US$ 14.3 million) approved by the Cabinet, will be used for restore the eastern runway of Don Mueang Airport, expected to reopen at the end of January for military aircraft, said Flying Officer Anirut Thanomkulbutra, president of Airports of Thailand (AoT).

At this stage the elephant in this week’s news room should probably be addressed. I’m talking about the planned public sector strike in the United Kingdom. The for Wednesday, 30th November planned actions are understood to severely affect the country’s largest airport, Heathrow (IATA: LHR). One of the many news reports this week was the one from the BBC that read that [Heathrow’s] operator BAA warned of “gridlock” and said passengers could face 12-hour delays on Wednesday when immigration officers go on strike over pensions. The same source quoted a letter to chief operating officer Norman Boivin to all airlines operating into Heathrow saying “The delays at immigration are likely to be so long that passengers could not be safely accommodated within the terminals and would need to be held on arriving aircraft.” If you are planning to travel through the airport on Wednesday, make sure to follow the airport’s twitter announcements.

These days airports don’t just compete on the number of flights and basic terminal services they offer, they often (need to) go a step further and come up with some unique ways of differentiating themselves. Singapore Changi’s giant fun slide comes to mind here for example. Now, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport (IATA: AMS) has had it’s own brainy moment as Reuters reported on Thursday: [Schiphol] now has the world’s first vending machine capable of printing out personalised giant canvas banners in just a few minutes. According to the story, you can pick your message, whether that is “Missed you Mummy”, “I love you”, “Will you marry me?”, or anything else that makes you stand out from the crowd, choose the font and background design, pay between four and 15 euros ($19.98) depending on the length of the banner, and hit the button.

And finally to the United States where, other than expected, we didn’t receive any of those long delay reports from the increased passenger numbers over the Thanksgiving weekend, but instead heard of an “old friend” again: the Bikini Girl. The Daily Mail printed the following headline this week: Air passenger who famously stripped to her bikini in TSA protest returns to LA a year later… and guess what, peels off again. Well, we’ll leave you to judge for yourself or – if you must – have a look at the newspaper’s full story here.

Have a great week everyone – safe travels!

[Picture from Flickr – Some rights reserved by ilConte]