Tag: Airports

Meet Carolyn Hopkins, aka the Airport Voice

CBS offers a fun look behind the travel curtain: an introduction to the woman whose voice we all know from airports, train stations and beyond. (Via Andrew Sullivan)

The ‘Airport’ Movies: The ‘Best Kind of Guilty Pleasure’

Gerardo Valero finds the cheesy disaster movies of the ‘70s had something important to say.

There’s nothing quite like the movies if you want to learn what people’s hopes and dreams were during the period in which they were made. Take for instance the recent “Up in the Air”. In the present when air travel has turned into something to be endured, George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham showed us how it can become an enticing way of life. The same subject was also portrayed extensively, under a very different light, some forty years as the “Airport” movies dealt with our fears of dying in new and horrible ways, while glamorizing our dreams of flying first-class, surrounded by a movie star in every seat. As the trailer for one of these features once put it: “on board, a collection of the rich and the beautiful!” They also marked the advent of a new genre (the Disaster Film) as well as the “Ark movie” which Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary defines as “mixed bag of characters trapped in a colorful mode of transportation”. How many films can claim to this kind of impact?

I made a similar point in my look back at the 25th anniversary of “Airplane!”

Meet Heathrow Airport’s New Writer in Residence

Novelist Tony Parsons is the latest writer to sign up for a week at Heathrow. According to the Evening Standard, Parsons will “roam around the airport, among passengers and staff, as inspiration for his 13th book which will be a collection of short stories based on his experiences there.”

“The Art of Travel” author Alain de Botton was the airport’s first writer-in-residence back in 2009. We interviewed him about the experience.

(Via @johnleewriter)

Book Lovers, You Have Three New Reasons to Spend More Time in Airports

Just tweeted a Wall Street Journal piece about authors promoting their books at airport bookstores. The appearances are known as “fly-bys” and, apparently, nobody does them like second-tier celebrity authors such as Ice-T, Rob Lowe and Joan Collins.

David Roth writes:

Airport book signings won’t supplant traditional book tours anytime soon, but maximizing publicity opportunities, even during an author’s travel layover, makes sense for publishing houses as marketing budgets shrink and traditional bookstores vanish. Hudson News’s transit locations make up 10% or more of total sales for some books that the retailer keeps in heavy stock, said Sara Hinckley, a company vice president.

The story brought to mind a couple literature-goes-to-the-airport pieces I liked in recent months. Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport recently opened the first airport library for ebooks. And The World profiled the real-world library that opened last summer at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Here’s the video that accompanied The World’s report:

76-Second Travel Show: The Great Airport Shoe-Removal Debate

Forget the scanners. Robert Reid wonders: Is airport shoe removal "the single greatest energy-wasting resource-sapping project of all time"?

Watch the Video »

Slate Goes to 30 Airports in 30 Days

Slate’s latest Well-Traveled series follows Chadwick Matlin, newly unemployed and newly single, on a quest to visit 30 airports in 30 days. Here’s Matlin’s explanation of his “unnecessarily idiotic” mission:

Airports are universally reviled. They’re full of bad food, arbitrary security rules, and stale air. The planes are little better—uncomfortable seats, no personal space, and yet more stale air. No person has felt better getting off a plane than they did getting on.

But if unemployment is supposed to be good for anything, it’s for chasing dreams we otherwise couldn’t. And for reasons far too masochistic for even me to understand, going to 30 airports in 30 days had become my dream.

The series continues all week. So far it’s a solid mix of insight and humor, with some fun graphic treatments of the trip’s numbers thrown in.

New TSA Pat-Down Techniques: ‘You’re Not Going to Like It’

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg writes about an illuminating encounter he had with TSA agents last week. Goldberg had refused to enter the full-body imaging device at the security checkpoint at Baltimore-Washington International, opting instead for the manual pat-down. Here’s how the agents responded:

When I made this request, a number of TSA officers, to my surprise, began laughing. I asked why. One of them—the one who would eventually conduct my pat-down—said that the rules were changing shortly, and that I would soon understand why the back-scatter was preferable to the manual search. I asked him if the new guidelines included a cavity search. “No way. You think Congress would allow that?”

I answered, “If you’re a terrorist, you’re going to hide your weapons in your anus or your vagina.” He blushed when I said “vagina.”

“Yes, but starting tomorrow, we’re going to start searching your crotchal area”—this is the word he used, “crotchal”—and you’re not going to like it.”

“What am I not going to like?” I asked.

“We have to search up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance,” he explained.

“Resistance?” I asked.

“Your testicles,” he explained.

‘That’s funny,” I said, “because ‘The Resistance’ is the actual name I’ve given to my testicles.”

The agents go on to explain that the ramped-up pat-downs are actually intended to force embarrassed passengers into the scanners, rather than to up the chances of catching underwear contraband. Goldberg also has a follow-up post from his return flight.

A Call for Airport Outlet Etiquette

Jennifer Saranow Schultz, the New York Times’ Bucks blogger, thinks it’s about time for some ground rules:

At many airports, it seems as if there is an unspoken first-come, first-serve policy with no time restrictions. To me, this doesn’t seem right. With outlets in such short supply, I’d like to see use limits, say 15 to 20 minutes, become the accepted unspoken norm. Or, at the least, I’d like to see people only use the outlets for quick charging or for work they have to get done and not just to watch a movie.

I don’t see things changing anytime soon. Several NYT commenters on the post point out that packing a power strip is a good interim solution.

Paparazzi Fishing at the Baggage Claim

The Los Angeles Times covers the work habits of celebrity photographers who camp out at LAX:

If tips are scarce, photographers make their own luck by “fishing”—strolling the terminal baggage claims and entrances for shots. Airport paparazzi scour crowds less for actual famous people than for signs that actual famous people are about to appear. A shiny black Escalade with tinted windows. A muscle-bound man with an earpiece. And, above all, the “star greeter,” hired by movie studios and other companies to whisk VIPs through lines at the airport. Airport photographers tend to memorize the greeters’ faces, walks, wardrobes and client lists.

Pink’s Hot Dogs Arrives at LAX

The legendary dog vendor opened its first-ever airport location today in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Hungry travelers, rejoice!

‘Lots of People Buy Books in the Airport Every Day’

The Book Bench goes bookspotting at O’Hare, and comes back with a slideshow of travelers and their airport reads.

The LAX Theme Building: It’s (Almost) Back

LAX Theme Building Photo of the LAX Theme Building, circa 2006, by brewbooks, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo of the LAX Theme Building, circa 2006, by brewbooks, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Three long years after shedding a 1,000-pound piece of itself, the iconic futuristic building at Los Angeles International Airport is almost ready for its adoring public again. Jennifer Steinhauer has the update.

Trash Talking in Airworld

Harriet Baskas tallies which airports and airlines are brawling.

Libya’s Tripoli Airport: Airworld, It’s Not

Libya’s Tripoli Airport: Airworld, It’s Not REUTERS/Louafi Larbi
REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

We write a lot about Airworld and the notion that, beyond the security gates, the world’s airports are becoming more alike by the day. But a nice story in Reason about a press junket to Libya suggests that Tripoli’s airport retains its unique, uh, charm:

When the BBC reported that “at Tripoli’s ultra-modern airport…you could be almost anywhere in the world,” I expected at bare minimum a Starbucks, a fake Irish pub, and (this is the ultra bit) a bank of vending machines dispensing iPods and noise-canceling headphones.

Well, perhaps we came through Libya’s spillover airport, its Midway or Stansted, because this is “anywhere in the world” only in some mad, dystopian-novel sense. Available for purchase are Egyptian gum, cheap watches celebrating 40 years of the Libyan revolution, and glossy magazines with Hugo Chavez on the cover.

LAX ‘Can’t Hide the Wrinkles Anymore’

Photo by monkeytime via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Call me crazy, but I never tire of Thomas Friedman’s shots at the sad state of America’s airports. This week: LAX. Zing!

It’s worth noting (and Friedman doesn’t) that a major upgrade of the airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal is underway. That’s at least some good news.

Video: After-Hours at the Pittsburgh Airport

(Via Boing Boing)

New ‘World’s Highest Airport’ Planned for Tibet

The AFP reports that the new facility will be built in the Nagqu prefecture, at 4,436 meters (14,554 feet) above sea level—102 meters, or 335 feet, higher than the current record holder, also in Tibet. (Via @alisonbrick)

Happily Adrift in Airworld

On his love for the places so many hate, from Amsterdam's Schiphol to Doha International

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Interview with Alain de Botton: ‘A Week at the Airport’

Frank Bures asks Heathrow's first writer-in-residence about non-places, taking time to arrive and what airports tell us about ourselves

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The Minor Glories of Constant Motion

The Minor Glories of Constant Motion Photo by Matt Gross

What do all the hiccups and surprises and kindnesses and connections of travel add up to? On a trip to the airport in Taipei, Matt Gross finds out.

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