Domestic airports will be packed this holiday weekend. U.S. airlines expect 16.1 million passengers to take to the skies over Labor Day—a 5 percent increase over last year—at the same time as airlines work to reroute travelers impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The one upside: Fun, new amenities at airports across the country can make the journey more enjoyable once you're through security. If you’re traveling through one of these hubs this weekend, look for these new perks.
1. Visit the Food Trucks at MSP: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport jumped on the food-truck trend this summer and transformed a tired food court by Gate E in Terminal 1-Lindbergh into Food Truck Alley, complete with refurbished trucks and even an Airstream trailer. Concessions now serve up meals from three Twin Cities favorites: Red Cow (burgers, breakfast and a bar), Salty Tart (pastries), and the Holy Land Deli.
2. Take Selfies with Butch at ORD: Originally designed as a summer-only installation, the Fly with Butch O’Hare Lounge in Terminal 2 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has now been extended through October 2. In addition to providing comfortable seating and charging stations, travelers can take selfies with a life-size cut-out of ORD’s airport namesake, WWII fighter-pilot Edward ‘Butch’ O’Hare.
3. Get Your Pastry Fix at EWR: Passengers with time to spend at Newark International Airport will now find super-fresh chocolates, croissants, macarons, donuts, and other pastries at the new Mélange Bakery Café in United Airlines’ Terminal C. Developed by James Beard-award-winning master pastry chef and chocolatier Jacque Torres (also known as “Mr. Chocolate”), the café’s pastry chefs, bakers, and chocolate makers are on duty 24 hours a day, next to Gates 90-91.
4. Catch a Short Film at PDX: Portland International Airport’s microcinema was the first of its kind in an airport when it opened earlier this year. The 17-seat offshoot of Portland’s iconic Hollywood Theatre plays shorts by Oregon filmmakers on a loop 24/7, in a state-of-the-art venue in Concourse C. New movie selections come on every season and, best of all, they’re free.
5. Watch Archival Travel Footage at MIA: Flight monitors in Concourse F now show vintage film clips of Miami International Airport from the 1950s to 1980s, courtesy of the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives at Miami Dade College. The footage of traveling celebrities is especially captivating: Look for Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Liberace, The Beatles, Bob Hope, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Elizabeth Taylor among the arriving passengers.
6. Learn How to Save a Life at Airports Across the U.S.: Shopping, eating, sleeping and people-watching are all good ways to spend a layover, but you can now use that time to learn CPR in minutes at nine Midwestern and Southern airports. Interactive kiosks with training courses in Hands-Only CPR were installed at Cleveland Hopkins International, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, and Orlando International airports in July. Similar kiosks can also be found at Dallas/Fort Worth International, Chicago O’Hare, Indianapolis International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Baltimore-Washington International, and Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg International airports. After watching a short instructional video, you practice on a rubber torso.
7. When All Else Fails, De-Stress by Petting an Airport Dog: More than 40 airports in North America now invite therapy dogs to roam the terminals with their trainers. San Francisco International Airport, for example, has its Wag Brigade (which includes LiLou the pig) and Denver International Airport has CATS, the Canine Airport Therapy Squad. New to the herd is Vancouver International Airport’s LASI (Less Airport Stress Initiative), made up of seven specially trained bandana-wearing pooches.