Posts Tagged ‘airport’

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Airports: Not a Bad Place to Kill a Few Hours

December 2, 2008

I’m in Jacksonville, Florida right now, visiting a friend and getting ready to see Jason Mraz tonight. (This is the final stop of my 2008 Friends & Family tour, where I have visited people I haven’t seen in years, and taken them to a Jason Mraz concert.)

I wasn’t supposed to get to Jacksonville until last Saturday evening, but a kind airline agent was able to eliminate a six-hour layover in Atlanta for me and get me in several hours earlier. It did mean that I have about five hours to kill in San Francisco though, and an hour in Chicago.

But you know what? It wasn’t that bad.

Airports have come a long way. Prices may still be ridiculously high for a bottle of water, but eating options are getting more varied, and so is the sightseeing.

sfo_spaceAt SFO I took in a large sci-fi display. It was spread among a couple dozen cases in the United terminal and included old rocket ship toys and robots from the 1950s and 60s, plus games, books, records and bunches of other fun things to look at. It reminded me of Seattle’s sci-fi museum, which I just visited a few weeks ago, and while it wasn’t nearly as big, it was just one of the free things airports are putting out there to amuse you.

In Chicago they have more room to work with, so of course there’s a four-story tall model of a Brachiosaurus, donated by the local Field Museum, among the food stands and shops. There’s also a real WWII fighter plane included in an exhibit about Butch O’Hare, the guy O’Hare Airport was named for. Look up in the hallway on your way to the E and F gates to enjoy some dazzling glass art, or have a seat on one of the colorful benches, painted by local students.

The Jacksonville airport didn’t have quite as many sights, although they do have a Cinnabon, which is all I really want to see after a night of flying.

What’s your favorite airport to waste time in?

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Stop Circling the Airport – Park for Free!

October 13, 2008

My dear student travelers, it’s almost that time of year where you’ll have to pack up and head home for the turkey and presents and endless questions about your majors, your love lives, and your finances. Or maybe you’re already home but have relatives coming from far away to pry into your personal life. Either way, trips to the airport will be involved.

The worst part of going to the airport to pick someone up is the endless circling and shifting of the car as policemen whistle and shout at you to keep moving. Wouldn’t it be great to avoid all that? Wouldn’t you or your parents rather sit calmly until the pick-upee is ready to be swooped up at the curb? Well now you can.

Some of the more forward-thinking airports around the country now offer cell phone lots, also called “Park & Call Zones”, “Phone & Go”, “Stage & Go” or some variation of that theme. You can park for free in these lots, usually up to 20 or 30 minutes, while you wait for your auntie to gather her luggage. Of course you must stay in the car and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, otherwise you could get a ticket for not using the short-term parking.

Airports that offer these lots include:

So save those parking dollars and put them toward something you really want, like Spring Break in Brazil.

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Get a Lift at the Airport

March 13, 2008

London Heathrow airportYou’ve spent months, or at least days, planning a trip to England. You’ve picked out just the right hostels and the perfect tour. You’ve already decided which museums to visit, which pubs to crawl, and which nightclubs to get down at. You have new luggage, your clothes are sorted, your money and documents are stashed securely, and your iPod is packed with enough music to keep you entertained on even the longest flight. Excellent.

Now. What to do about being stranded at the airport?

It’s a simple thing, probably the shortest part of your journey, but if you land in a foreign country without figuring out how to get to the city center or wherever you’re headed, you might find yourself in a bind. Yes, you can always get a cab, but it might cost more than you had expected to spend on food for a week. Most airports offer public transportation, but depending on how long you’ve been traveling, you might just be too completely exhausted to figure it all out.

What you need is a pre-arranged airport transfer, a train ticket priced within a student’s travel budget that you can have all ready in your jet-lagged little hand to get where you need to go. Airport transfers are available for Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted airports around London and trains leave frequently throughout the day.

Be ready to get off the plane and get your holiday moving!