Tag: Airports

Airport Security: ‘Where Are All the White Guys?’

Over at Homeland Security Watch, a retired police officer ponders the randomness (or lack thereof?) of secondary screening procedures at airport security. As someone who gets flagged for the extra search nearly half the time, I’ve asked some of the same questions myself. (Via @frugaltraveler)

Video You Must See: ‘Frequent Flyer’

London’s Heathrow: The Worst Airport in the World?

Poor Heathrow. It’s taken the title in a passenger poll for the second year in a row. Charles de Gaulle, LAX, Frankfurt and Miami rounded out the bottom five.

Post-9/11 Airport Security: Do You Know Where Your Dignity Is?

On the intersection of place, politics and culture

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Heathrow Gets its First Writer in Residence

Heathrow Gets its First Writer in Residence Photo by James Cridland via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by James Cridland via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Literally. All this week, Alain de Botton—the author of “The Art of Travel”—will be sitting at a desk in the middle of Heathrow’s new Terminal Five, typing away. The end result of the stint? “A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary,” a short book that will hit shelves in September.

The project has taken some heat because de Botton is being sponsored by the airport authority, but he maintains he’s been given complete editorial freedom to explore the airport in its best and worst moments. “There are not many industries where you find 20 people camped on your doorstep, like plane and trainspotters, to find out how it works,” he told the Guardian. “You will not find people doing that outside Tesco, saying ‘look at that chicken tikka arriving.’ People are fascinated by this and I share that fascination.”

As do we. Rob Verger recently spent 24 hours at JFK and blogged about the experience for World Hum.

Welcome to Seoul’s ‘Air City’

Welcome to Seoul’s ‘Air City’ Photo by hyku via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by hyku via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Plans are in the works to build an “air city” on the grounds at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, USA Today reports. The complex, aimed at grabbing a bigger share of in-transit passengers in the region, could apparently include apartments, studios and runways for in-house fashion designers, a theme park, a marina and a clinic designed for medical tourists. Anyone else smell a sequel to The Terminal?

U.S. Airports Antsy for Cuba Access

Several U.S. airports—Tampa’s, Key West’s and Houston’s among them—are angling to be added to the list of locations from which flights to Cuba are permitted. Currently, only L.A., New York and Miami are allowed to handle the charter flights that carry Americans with the appropriate permits to and from the island, but with an easing of travel restrictions seemingly on the horizon, nobody wants to be left out. Said Key West International’s airport director, Peter Horton: “[T]he last thing that we want is to get lost in the shuffle as people scramble to try to fly there.”

Pink’s Hot Dogs Headed for LAX

Pink’s Hot Dogs Headed for LAX Photo by sciman111 via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by sciman111 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The iconic Los Angeles hot dog shop, which draws famously long lines and celebs to its historic La Brea location, plans to open an outlet in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX later this year. “Various accounts have it opening anywhere from late fall to late December,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

It’s always good to see less generic, more local fare in airports. The trend continues.

Miami International: Off to the Races?

One corner of Airworld could get a lot weirder. There’s a proposal in the works to build a horse racing track in the parking lot at Miami International—apparently, a working track is a prerequisite for the real objective, slot machines at the airport.

Hey, I can see the slogan now: Win back your checked baggage fees!

‘The History and Future of Airport Design’

Tokyo International Airport Photo by Hyougushi via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Hyougushi via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Slate has a great slideshow essay on the history of airport architecture. It shows how the evolution has come full circle, from the early days when all you needed was a grassy field, through innovative and artful designs that reflected the bygone days when air travel was still glamorous, to the glorified bus stations we’ve come to expect today.

YVR: A Traveler’s Plea for Noodles

YVR: A Traveler’s Plea for Noodles Photo by stu_spivack via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by stu_spivack via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I flew into Vancouver International Airport last week with a craving: I wanted pad Thai, or some vaguely similar, spicy, wok-fried noodle dish, and I wanted it bad. On the five-hour flight from Toronto, as images of tofu bits and crushed peanuts danced in my head, I didn’t fret—I was confident I’d be able to satisfy the urge during my one-hour layover. After all, I thought, where better to find some airport noodles than in a foodie city that’s home to one of the most vital Asian immigrant communities in North America?

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Is This What the Next Generation Airport Will Look Like?

This blurb from the New York Times Infrastructure! issue suggests it’ll be “a superhub constructed offshore on a man-made island,” with undersea high-speed train access and gardens on top of the buildings.

It’ll allegedly be efficient and green. Here’s a graphic.

Sbarro: A Traveler’s Staple at Risk

Sbarro: A Traveler’s Staple at Risk Photo by The Pizza Review via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by The Pizza Review via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Huffington Post reports that the omni-present Italian chain is on a shortlist of fast food outlets that could be edging towards bankruptcy. Commenters on the story have been quick to applaud the (possible) demise of a few godless corporations, but I’ll admit to a little pang of sadness: For me, Sbarro is inseparable from the experience of being in transit.

Whether on a layover at Philadelphia International or stumbling off an overnight bus on the New York State Thruway, I’ve made a comforting bowl of baked ziti a part of my travel routine. If it goes, what’s next? Panda Express? Say it ain’t so.

24 Hours in Airworld: So Long, T5

24 Hours in Airworld: So Long, T5 Photo by Rob Verger
Photo by Rob Verger

I’ve seen the terminal go through nearly a 24-hour cycle now—from busy in the morning, afternoon, and evening, to the quiet of late night when the last flights are shipping out, back to the busy hum of the morning again.

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24 Hours in Airworld: Morning in the Terminal

Photo by Rob Verger

I slept, kind of, for a couple hours, my blue rain jacket pulled over my head. I had managed to get a good spot on one of the leather couches by Gate 14, and awoke early this morning as Flight 819 boarded for Santo Domingo in a loud rush of Spanish. (Did you know that, in keeping with airport superstition, there’s no Gate 13 here?)

Outside, the expanses of the Kennedy airfield I can see now are gray with fog. A tall cup of coffee (the Illy place has been open since 4:30 a.m.) is making this morning feel a little more manageable. But now I’ve been hanging out here for about 20 hours, and a lot of that time has been somewhat less-than-fun.

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24 Hours in Airworld: An Empty Terminal

24 Hours in Airworld: An Empty Terminal Photo by Rob Verger
Photo by Rob Verger

The terminal empties out for the night.

24 Hours in Airworld: Late Night Sports Fans

24 Hours in Airworld: Late Night Sports Fans Photo by Rob Verger
Photo by Rob Verger

A few basketball fans linger as the terminal gets quieter.

24 Hours in Airworld: Mall or Airport?

24 Hours in Airworld: Mall or Airport? Photo by Rob Verger
Photo by Rob Verger

The beat goes on here at T5. Last I checked—at around 10:20 pm—JetBlue still had about 15 more flights to get out tonight (delays were frequent today with the bad weather), and then the first flight out tomorrow morning is the 5:45 to Puerto Rico.

While delays may be bad for the traveler, they’re good for the restaurants in the terminal, including Deep Blue, where I ate a quick dinner of tasty but too-spicy Pad Thai followed by a big cup of green tea. (Anything to warm me up in this hostile, freezing environment.) I enjoyed sitting in the white and blue bar space there, looking out at the rest of the terminal as things began to wind down. From the shopping area here, as I mentioned before, it’s hard to tell you’re in an airport. (Although the people walking by pulling suitcases are something of a giveaway.)

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24 Hours in Airworld: The Airport Bar

24 Hours in Airworld: The Airport Bar Photo by Rob Verger
Photo by Rob Verger

Airport terminals are, by their nature, transitory places. Nearly 12 million people flew through Kennedy airport on JetBlue (the largest carrier here, measured by passenger volume) between March 2008 and March 2009, according to numbers from the Port Authority. And so I’ve often wondered: Do airport restaurants and bars have regular customers? Do they have a rhythm to them, the way other places might?

I ate lunch today at a tapas place called Pequillo here in T5, and afterwards, went and sat at the place’s bar, which is set in a cave-like space where it’s easy to forget you’re in an airport. (It advertises itself as the first tapas restaurant in an American airport.) I talked to the gracious bartender there, Kenia, regarding my question about airport bars and regulars. She was born in Honduras, and now lives in Brooklyn, and says that regulars—maybe 20 or 30 different people—come in about twice a week. “If you remember their name, and whatever they drink, it makes them feel good, I guess,” she said.

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24 Hours in Airworld: Terminal 5, Old and New

Photo by Rob Verger

It was raining this morning in New York City as I made my way to J.F.K. to spend 24 hours hanging out in JetBlue’s Terminal 5. Every time I come to this airport, I’m reminded how far away it is from Manhattan. I took the 1 Train to the 2 Train to the E Train to the AirTrain to get here—a trip longer than some short flights.

On the elevated walkway from the AirTrain to T5, I was able to look out on the old Eero Saarinen TWA terminal—JetBlue’s new terminal sits in front of the beautiful, soaring old building, which is currently closed for renovations and is under the management of the Port Authority. Once it opens, JetBlue will have two self-service kiosks in there, and there’s a rumor that the building could one day become a museum—or a pod hotel. Today the building sat there closed, under gray skies, a landmark from another era, connected to the new building through the old tubes.

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