Heathrow is Now the Most Family Friendly European Airport . . . After Being the Least

srv007, Flickr

Rethink your travel plans families: if you’re adventuring with children, the best airport you can travel to, from and through in Europe is London Heathrow.

That’s a big deal if you consider the fact that only last year it was ranked as the worst.

The rankings come via Skyscanner, which did a study focusing on families with children under 4 years old and looked at travel from June to September 2013.Thirty five European family travel experts and travel bloggers judged 20 different airports based upon their baby-changing facilities, security levels and food options, as well as the general check-in process. We all know how a long line can affect a tired child.

According to Skift, here are the top 10 family-friendly airports across Europe:

1. London Heathrow
2. Zurich and Vienna
3. Dusseldorf
4. Madrid-Barajas
5. Munich and Frankfurt
6. London Gatwick
7. Moscow Sheremetyevo
8. Paris Charles de Gaulle
9. Oslo
10. Copenhagen

But not everyone loves a child-friendly space. Some airlines are even offering kid-free zones on-board for those trying to avoid the younger crowd. Ultimately, it all goes to show that traveling with children is becoming more and more the norm, whether you like it or not.

Airports As Art Galleries? London Says Yes

airports

Airports around the world have a lot of wall space to fill. Cavernous spaces inside terminals often mimic outside parking spaces wide enough for jumbo jets. To fill that space, those who plan airports use huge sculptures, gigantic paintings and other works of art. Now, London’s Gatwick airport will be the home to several works by British pop artist Sir Peter Blake.

Best known for his design of the album cover for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Blake has had international appeal for decades. Unveiling his new London-inspired collection, Blake has created works for each terminal that celebrate all that is great about London, while welcoming visitors.

Being installed in Gatwick’s North and South terminals, the permanent installation shows London through the ages with more than just a photo here or a sculpture there. The collection promises to immerse passengers from the time they get off the plan until they claim their luggage.”This project instantly captured my imagination – a chance to showcase London to an international public and to remind Brits how great it is to be back on British soil,” Blake said in a Breaking Travel News report.

Separate from ongoing efforts to upgrade airport operations, the idea came from an airport passenger panel that wanted visitors or those returning from holidays to get a real sense of arrival in Britain.

Some other airports with great art?

Denver International Airport has permanent art exhibits, including a 32-foot-tall, bright blue, fiberglass horse sculpture with gleaming red eyes called “Mustang.” The 9000-pound work comes from New Mexico artist Luis Jiménez.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has a collection that depicts messages of world peace, community and friendship. Organized by The Colorful Art Society, Inc. and People to People International, the collection changes on a rotating basis.

Philadelphia International Airport also rotates its collection, established in 1998 as an exhibition program on display throughout its terminals. Called their Art In The Airport program, it provides visitors from around the world access to a wide variety of art from the Philadelphia area.

Here’s more on airport art, including the collection at Washington’s Reagan National Airport:



[Photo Credit: Flickr user scorzonera]

Airport Carbon Accreditation program grows in Europe

Airport Carbon AccreditationEurope’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program is now boasting fifty-five major European airports as members and making a significant dent in carbon emissions. The voluntary program has a four-level rating system that assesses and recognizes the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions to achieve carbon neutral operations for all emissions over which the airport has control.

“It is clearly helping to move European aviation onto a more sustainable footing,” European Union Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas told the Associated Press. “Genuine progress on greening transport … can only occur when the regulator’s work is complemented by citizens and businesses taking action of their own.”

Airports are changing airport vehicles to electric or hybrid power, installing solar panels to generate the airport’s own electricity, and involving the entire airport operation. Airlines, air traffic control, ground handlers, baggage handlers, catering companies, refueling trucks, passenger shuttle transport, airport maintenance services, emergency services, police, border control and retailers are all held accountable and encouraged to make a positive impact.

Aircraft engines are probably what we think of as major contributors to the carbon emission tally. At participating airports, specific taxiing techniques are used to reduce fuel burn. Apparently, common taxiing routes are not always the most fuel efficient, especially if the aircraft has to overcome steep taxiway elevations, sits still waiting for cross traffic to clear and/or many sharp turns.

Like some cruise ships, ground power is provided to parked aircraft. Instead of having them leave their engines running, aircraft plug in to land power, further reducing emissions and possibly making for more breathable cabin air quality too.

The 55 major European airports participating in the Airport Carbon Accreditation program account for over half of all passenger traffic from Europe’s 400 plus aviation facilities. That’s up from 43 accredited airports last year who achieved a reduction of 729,689 tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to removing around 180,000 cars from the roads.

Participating airports include London’s Gatwick and Heathrow; Frankfurt; Munich; Amsterdam; Brussels; Zurich; Geneva; and others.


How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home



Flickr photo by Christoph Mendt

Virgin Atlantic to open new clubhouse at JFK in March

Virgin atlanticA new, larger, better Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse for upper-class passengers is scheduled to open at New York’s Kennedy Airport in early March.

The new clubhouse “will create an unique experience for our passengers to complement our flagship Clubhouse and Revivals Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3,” Chris Rossi, Virgin Atlantic’s senior vice president for North America told TravelWeekly.

The current JFK clubhouse is located on the departure level in Terminal 4, prior to security. The new facility will be positioned near the gates Virgin Atlantic uses in Terminal 4.

The 10,000-square-foot facility will be larger than the flagship clubhouse at London’s Heathrow airport by about 2,000 square feet.Virgin’s Clubhouses are located at Heathrow, Gatwick, Newark, Washington, Boston, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Rated the best airline lounge in the world, TipsForTravelers says “Virgin Atlantic’s vision is to create an airline that people love to fly, and they add to that that they want to have some fun doing it.


Virgin America Name Plane After Steve Jobs



Flickr photo by Deanster1983

Workers find grenade near Gatwick Airport

grenade, GatwickWorkers digging near Gatwick Airport yesterday uncovered a grenade.

This wasn’t terrorism, though. The grenade is believed to date from the Second World War. Workers uncovered the grenade near the airport’s railway station. Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion to get rid of it.

While it didn’t pose any great risk except to the poor hardhat who dug it up, rail and flight services were briefly halted until the grenade was destroyed.

This odd event isn’t so rare. Europe is littered with unexploded ordnance from both world wars and other conflicts. In the Balkans, experts are still trying to remove the millions of landmines planted during the Yugoslav Civil War. Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, has 14,000 known minefields. In France, bomb disposal experts have to deal with huge amounts of unexploded ordnance, some even dating back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

[Photo courtesy J-L Dubois]