I’m currently planning a trip to Las Vegas for in 2 weeks. Since there are no direct flights from Melbourne to Nevada’s Sin City, I’m flying through the US’s third busiest airport, Los Angeles or simply called LAX after it’s IATA code. I have only been once to Los Angeles and its airport and I was 12 years old at the time. Therefore I can’t really remember it any more (probably because Disneyland was far more interesting than airports in those days). Besides, even if I could remember it vividly, I doubt it would still look the same today (let’s hope it doesn’t!). That’s why I want to provide you with an interesting little experiment: I’m going to show you how to research LAX for its facilities and then compare my analysis with the real results when I’m there. So here’s part 1 of the research.
I must admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Google, but even I have to acknowledge that every now and then they provide some really great services. The latest one is their “free holiday Wi-Fi at 30,000 feet”. Google teamed up with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America to offer free Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi on every US domestic flight from 20 November 2010 through 2 January 2011.
Continue reading Free “holiday Wi-Fi” on US domestic flights
It seems as marketers are increasingly often utilising airports to promote their products and services in a “hands on way”. Remember that “Hello Kitty” gate at Taipei International? This time it’s the hotel chain Courtyard by Marriott showcasing their redesigned hotel lobbies in three US airports:
Travelers looking for a better place to sit than the terminal chairs, and whose laptops (and bodies) could use a little recharge are in luck when making a stop at Chicago, Atlanta and Denver airports. To promote their new lobbies, Courtyard has built full sized lobby replicas complete with comfy couches, booths, electrical outlets, HD TV’s and GoBoards (touch screen televisions with local news and attractions) that travelers are invited to experience firsthand. They will be up until mid-November and will be staffed 24 hours a day by a brand ambassador who can help with any questions people may have.
So make sure to head to one of these areas and relax for a few minutes while your laptop gets that long awaited recharge. Currently you find the first of the 3 lobbies at Chicago’s O’Hare airport (IATA: ORD) and later in the week they will also come to Atlanta (IATA: ATL) and Denver (IATA: DEN).
Here is the original press release:
Courtyard Brings New Hotel Lobby to Frequent Flyers
Weary travelers now have place to relax and recharge in three of the nation’s busiest airports
Chicago, Illinois – September 15, 2010 – Courtyard by Marriott is creating an airport oasis for stressed out air travelers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. For the next two months, the deep exhales and soothing sighs of relief you’ll hear at O’Hare will be frequent flyers relaxing and recharging in Courtyard’s new lobby. In addition to O’Hare, the lobbies have been recreated at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and Denver International airports.
At O’Hare, the popular lodging brand has brought the new Refreshing Business lobby to the main corridor of the ticketed area at Terminal Two. The lobby provides travelers with the perfect place to sit and relax or catch up on work while powering up their laptops before the next flight.
Courtyard by Marriott wants air travelers to experience the new design and sample amenities that can be found at 190 Courtyard hotels across the U.S., which has received rave reviews from business and leisure travelers.
The program brings the lobby zones to places where travelers congregate. It was launched on September 7th at an event in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal featuring a special performance by six-time Grammy Award winner John Legend.
The design is contemporary and stylish, and gives travelers options and flexibility to make the most of their time on the road. Courtyard by Marriott designed the lobby to be an environment for guests to work, relax or socialize, whether traveling alone or in groups.
Some of the Courtyard by Marriott Refreshing Business lobby amenities featured in the airport lobby zones include:
- flexible seating options including a communal table and more private media booths with high-definition televisions
- ample electrical outlets so guests can plug-in and charge their mobile devices and laptops
- the brand’s exclusive, interactive GoBoard® technology – a 55-inch LCD touch screen packed with local news, business and sports headlines from USA Today. Guests can also navigate the touch screen mapping feature to find restaurants, local attractions and print directions.
“Guests who have stayed in Courtyard hotels with the Refreshing Business lobby have raved about the new concept,” said Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager, Courtyard by Marriott. “Our goal with this lobby zone program is to make travelers who have yet to experience it aware of our new product, and what better way to reach these travelers than at major airports.”
By the end of this year, our owners will have spent nearly $190 million to put the new lobby into nearly 260 Courtyard hotels. The brand expects to have 500 hotels with the new lobby by the end of 2011.
If you’ve been to Las Vegas, I’m sure you’re longing to go back! I know l was! Ever since I visited “Sin City” for the first time in my adult life last summer (and posted a video review in this post) it was clear to me that I was destined to return to this forbidden place. So when the opportunity presented itself over an adjacent long weekend to a business trip to close-by California, I grabbed the chance, booked a ticket on Virgin America and two nights at the Mirage.
But enough praise for this wonderful crazy city, after all, this is an airport blog and not a boring destination guide. Nor is it my personal diary, so let’s get down to business:
I trust it already came through in my video review last year, McCarran airport (IATA: LAS) is not your usual airport. But who would expect this in Las Vegas anyway? Surely you expect the airport to have slot machines everywhere, and it does, but did you know that it even features a language course vending machine? It’s true: in the A and B gates departure lounge, you can purchase Rosetta Stone language courses in every language from Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew to even, yes, you guessed it, English. For little more than your winnings at the Blackjack table on the Strip ($299.99) one of these courses can be yours!
But if study is not your thing and perhaps you’re dealing with the legacy of a huge night before, you can cure even the worst hangover with something perfectly greasy from the guys at the “Great Steak” outlet before the gates B17-25.
Maybe you’re still thinking about the scantily clad ladies dancing on the speakers of the XS nightclub at the Encore? Then probably a sweet, dice lollypop is what you are looking for: You will find it at “The Candy Shoppe” in the middle of the A and B gates lounge.
Finally, if you’re trying to be good to make up for some recent, umm, “indulgences” why not go crazy with a fine selection of fruit and nuts from the “Las Vegas Fruit and Nuts” store.
Hey, who said airports are boring?
Viva Las Vegas Airport!
|Airport Name||Las Vegas McCarran International – Terminal 2|
[Image from Flickr – some rights reserved]
Today, the WHO classified the swine influenza A (H1N1) outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern.” And while more cases of swine flu were confirmed on Monday in the United States, Canada and Europe (Update: Britain is now also directly affected with one case), country organizations began to take actions, particularly by preventing and monitoring travellers to and from their countries.
Furthermore, financial markets have already “penalized” Mexican airports whose shares traded substiantially lower today: The airport owners are among the “most vulnerable” stocks amid the flu outbreak, UBS AG analysts wrote in a note today in which they cut Mexican equities to “underweight” writes Bloomberg.
It’s pretty clear that this latest threat of an influenza pandemic is going to have further implications on the economy. But how does it affect travellers? Various countries have already tightened their airport checks. Australia, for example, has trained airport staff to spot people with flu like symptoms. According to an article any passengers with flu-like symptoms would be met by quarantine officers. In addition, all incoming international flights would have to make an onboard announcement telling passengers to seek immediate medical advice if they felt unwell with flu symptoms.
Hong Kong, the epicenter of a SARS outbreak six years ago, announced some of the toughest measures anywhere on Sunday in response to a swine flu outbreak in Mexico and the United States, reports The New York Times.
So, what should you do if you are travelling to or from North America in the near future? Here is some advice:
- Travelling to Mexico: in general it’s probably safe to say that if you can postpone your trip, then do so, otherwise check your countries latest travel advice (the UK foreign office’s one can be found here, Germany’s here, Ireland’s here, the USA’s here and Canada’s here). If you decide to go, then do make sure you check with your airline if the flight is still leaving as today several charter airlines (e.g. TUI in Germany) have cancelled their flights to Mexico.
- Travelling from Mexico: be aware of extra precautions at Mexican and foreign airports. Prepare for additional screenings and questioning. Check your destinations country latest immigration advice. Your airline or travel agency should be able to help you.
- Travelling to/from other North American destinations: expect delays at the airports due to tightened security and passenger screenings. Check with your local airline for the latest uptodate travel information.
[Picture from Flickr – some rights reserved]
You know the feeling, it’s evening, you rushed to the airport after a long day at work and haven’t had time to eat. You then find out your plane is delayed, so that you won’t get your free business economy class dinner anytime soon. What do you do? Well, there is always the crappy sandwich shop close to the gate, right? Wrong!
Luckily today many airports realised people actually value quality food and offer descent alternatives to the ubiquitous fast food chains. Following are three options from three different airports around the globe that cater for the foodie in you:
London Heathrow – Terminal 5: Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food
The unsurprising favourite is “Plane Food“, a fine dining outlet by London’s only 3-Star-Michelin chef, Gordon Ramsay. Lulu from Planet Eye recently wrote
…this is probably the only airport restaurant with which I’ve actually made a reservation. Once you tuck into the foie gras and chicken liver parfait, followed by the Casterbridge rib eye steak, it’s really hard to be satisfied by the chicken or the beef options offered by your flight attendant.
I’ve always been a fan of Gordon’s food and this has to be a must-go for when you have some time on your side (and made a reservation…). In addition Plane Food now also offers a few take-away picnics (£14.95 for the lunch box). Enjoy!
Sydney International Terminal: Wagamama
It has sadly been a while since I have personally been at Sydney airport but one of the safe and tasteful choices is Hong Kong born Alan Yau‘s Australian subsidiary of Wagamama in the international terminal. You will be sitting on shared tables and have the choice of a variety of tasty Asian inspired dishes. Having tasted the Australian, the Dutch and the English Wagamama I must say I found the Aussie version the best – definitely worth a taste when you are in this magnificent city.
Miami International: Chili’s
Well, I’m going to follow a bit of a stereotype here by mentioning a chain restaurant as my choice for the USA’s most Latin airport. Sometimes you just want that uncomplicated, yet tasteful American comfort food. Go to Chili’s which you find in the G area and taste one of their wonderful Baby Back Ribs. They really are delicious!
[Picture from Flickr]
When you first arrive at Miami International Airport (IATA: MIA) you wouldn’t necessarily think you entered American soil as airport staff mostly speak Spanish and the general crowd looks different from what you would consider “typical” Americans. Of course this is no coincidence since Miami has long been a gateway to South America for the West and a first port of call for South and Central Americans visiting North America. Further more it is no surprise that throughout Miami and its airport you can easily get by without speaking English at all.
America’s third largest airport in terms of International passengers does feel fairly big with its nine different terminals or concourses as they are called here. These alphabetically named areas, A to J, are physically connected, however, once you go through security you can mostly not move between them. My Avianca flight to Bogotá (see related post about Bogotá airport) departed from the J concourse. This is Miami airport’s newest terminal which opened on August 29, 2007 under Miami International Airport’s South Terminal Renovation Project.
Check out these things to do when your flight departs from the H or J concourse (these two are connected):
- Get yourself (or treat your girlfriend) a 10 minute manicure for $15 between the H and J concourse
- Get another one of these delicious Coronas at “Corona Express” next to gate J4
- Change into something warmer at the fairly spacious toilets as the air conditioning is freezing throughout the terminal
- Recharge your iPhone at one of the many power stations
- Read the poetry written on the floor all along the J gates and accidentally pump into that beautiful, Colombian lady
|Airport Name||Miami International Airport – Concourse J|
Las Vegas, the adult playground capital of the world, Sin City, town in the desert where anything is possible, where weddings are held faster than you can lose $50 dollars at Blackjack. So, how would the airport of such a city rate? Watch my review video about McCarran International (IATA: LAS) and see for yourself!
|Airport Name||Las Vegas McCarran International – Terminal 2|
|no champagne was available (can you believe it??)|
Rochester, home of the Kodak corporation is a 200,000 people city in Monroe county, New York state, south of Lake Ontario. And despite the towns small size it actually has an international airport called “Greater Rochester International Airport” (IATA: ROC). Just don’t expect to fly there directly from anywhere far away, it’s not that international (in fact, I think the only international flight is across the lake to Toronto). But at least it features frequent flights to and from JFK. The only problem is that if JFK is disrupted for some reason, you’re stuck at Kodak’s home airport.
And that’s exactly what happened last time I went there for business: I was hoping to get back to JFK quickly in order to catch my flight back to London Heathrow. But unfortunately a major storm over New York caused my JetBlue flight to be delayed by several hours (and making me miss all possible flights back to London that day, but that’s another story…).
So, what was there to do at thrilling Rochester airport? Here’s my top 5:
- Feast on JetBlue’s generous food and drink offerings (mind the cookies, but indulge on the blue crisps)
- Make use of the free Wifi (while getting annoyed with yourself for leaving the charger in the checked bag)
- Search for the one coffee shop which actually does have soy milk coffee (the one between the two concourses has!)
- Calm down the lovely lady next to you who has tickets for the premiere of the Sex and the City movie at the Radio City Music Hall tonight
- Bond with fellow stranded travellers and complain in loud voices about the lack of information (and the distasteful cookies, see 1.)
What? You think that stained glass thing (see picture above) should have made it into the top 5? Common, stay focused! 😉
(Picture from Flickr)