Airports As Art Galleries? London Says Yes

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]

Workers find grenade near Gatwick Airport

Workers 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]

Iraqi Airways shuts down after dispute with Kuwait over aircraft theft

State owned Iraqi airlines has been forced to declare bankruptcy. The airline had been around for decades, and when they tried to restart operations with regular Baghdad-London operations, they ran into a nasty reminder of their past.

Upon landing at London’s Gatwick airport, the airline was confronted by lawyers representing the state of Kuwait. Apparently, the Iraqi’s had helped themselves to aircraft and aircraft parts during the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

With a bill of over $1.2 billion, Iraqi airlines had no other option than to declare bankruptcy.

Because Iraqi airlines chartered its planes from other air carriers, the Kuwaiti authorities were not able to confiscate them. In the coming days, the airline will cease all flights. The Iraqi government calls the claims by Kuwait “harassment”, but they don’t seem to be denying the claims of theft from 20 years ago.

(Image: Getty Images/AFP)

Heinz opens London Gatwick airport relaxation lounge

Heinz (yes, the Heinz behind the famous Ketchup) just opened a “welcome home lounge” at London Gatwick Airport. According to Heinz, passengers returning home love settling in a relaxing homely atmosphere stocked with Heinz products.

In a way they are right – as a kid growing up in the UK, Heinz Baked Beans were to me what Mac and Cheese is to American kids. But to be honest, after a long vacation, sitting down for some baked beans at the airport probably isn’t too high on the list of “things to do”.

Still, you have to compliment them on their creativity. Amazingly, Heinz wants to take things to the next level by introducing an assortment of products to the arrivals shops at the airport – because obviously, nothing says “welcome home” more than shopping for beans and pork sausages at the airport.

(Image from thisiscow / / Creative Commons via Fox News)



Inside Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class clubhouse

Any traveler who has come within a stone’s throw of a major American airport has heard of the Virgin airlines. Among other brands, they’ve got Virgin America operating service between a handfull of fortunate, domestic cites, V Australia bouncing between Los Angeles and Australia and the granddaddy, Virgin Atlantic, serving the United Kingdom and beyond.

Throughout the years, the airline has cultivated a quality product, a hip, posh experience that bucks the trend of traditional airline travel, driving down prices, impressing passengers and ruffling a few feathers along the way.

Among the avenues that they use to excel this product is the Clubhouse, Virgin Atlantic’s signature lounge built for the pampering of upper (business) class passengers and Flying Club gold members before and after their flights. And these are no ordinary, anemic lounges, either. Each clubhouses embodies the Virgin brand with top quality services, appointments, food and drink.

The opening of their newest lounge at London Gatwick last month piqued our interest, so Gadling decided to take a first-hand peek inside of a similar clubouse for a closer look at the offerings. Passing through London Heathrow this past holiday, we had the chance to stop in for a visit to their flagship lounge.

%Gallery-80310%In case you’ve never been, international airline lounges are generally pretty formulaic. A series of front desks provide passenger screening and assistance – you can go here to check your flight, make changes and ask questions about your tickets. Inside of the lounges you’ll find a variety of food, beverage and pampering amenities, as well as the occasional shower and entertainment feature. It’s all fairly standard for an international lounge.

Where Virgin Atlantic excels is in the quality of these amenities. Heathrow’s Clubhouse is a sprawling, multi leveled complex, cleanly appointed in white and wooden tones throughout. The massive open space has been segmented into different themed regions, each area offering a different take on relaxation. There’s the poolside section, for example, where a dozen seats and tables sprawl around a waterfall and pond, or a runway-facing lounge where airline enthusiasts can watch jets and crew scamper around the tarmac. They’ve even got a rooftop deck for warm weather plane spotting.


In preparation for the upcoming flights, passengers can have a shower or book Cowshed treatments for a quick manicure, pedicure or shave. And naturally, a full deli backed up by a wide range of top shelf liquor, beer, juice and smoothies is available for grazing.

The entire setting is engineered to create the perfect, serene, pre-flight experience, the complete antithesis of the madness of Heathrow. And though Gatwick’s lounge will be slightly smaller, the same concepts and appointments will carry through, down to the same Cowshed treatments available in-house.

To visit the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, passengers must be booked in Upper Class or be a Flying Club Gold member with no single-use or day passes available. You can find branded clubhouses in London Heathrow, London Gatwick, New York’s JFK, Newark, Washington Dulles, San Francisco, Boston, Johannesburg, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Amenities will differ slightly by location.