San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Guide

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Top 5 Airports in the USA to Layover In

Jun 19, 2016

Top 5 Airports to Layover In the USA

 

Stuck at the airport between flights for a few hours? Bored? Tired? Don’t worry because these airports are there for you whether you have a short or extremely long layover. Be sure to plan your next trip through these airports to enjoy their amenities!

  1. San Francisco International Airport- SFO

San Francisco International Airport at dusk

This Golden Gate-City airport has plenty to offer when you have a long layover and need to kill time at the airport. If you want to learn more about this lovely city, the Aviation Museum and SFO Museum are interactive and great ways to learn more about the culture of California. Don’t worry about spending too much money on Internet because this airport also has free Wi-Fi and a free Yoga room to stretch out your legs after a long day of traveling.

 

Insider Tip: Those who have longer layovers can take the BART into the heart of San Francisco in just 11 minutes.

 

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport- DFW

dallas-fort-worth-airport-marcel-kaiser

The heart of Texas is a great destination for any layover. Many of the lounges are ranked among the best in the world and all passengers can enjoy the free Wi-Fi. If you are more active, make sure to try walking on the airport trail or check out one of the yoga rooms. The food in Dallas is worth trying, especially at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen so don’t forget to fill your stomach before boarding your next flight.

 

Insider Tip: If you need to catch up on your sleep, check out a Minute Suite to get your very own room within the airport.

 

3. Chicago O’Hare International Airport- ORD

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Despite being one of the busiest airports in the world, Chicago O’Hare has plenty of amenities for passengers of all ages. The Chicago Public Art Program decorates each terminal with artwork from local artists. Be sure to see the famous “The Sky’s The Limit” – an ever-changing neon light illuminator between Concourses B and C. Remember to try Tortas Frontera created by celebrity chef Rick Bayless or enjoy an authentic Chicago style deep-dish pizza at a variety of restaurants.

 

Insider Tip: If you have a few hours, head across to the Hilton O’Hare Hotel and go to the newly renovated gym or for a refreshing swim.

 

4. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport- MSP

5991138189_ce2ddea520_b

 

Minnesota’s largest city airport will not disappoint whether you have a long or short layover. There are various attractions within the airport, which are necessary due to the frequent delays that Minneapolis Airport has. Don’t miss the 1.5 mile walking path around the perimeter of the airport and be sure to check out one of the three XPresSpa locations if you need a soothing massage before your next flight.

 

Insider Tip: The world famous Mall of America is just a 12-minute ride on the LRT. Be sure to take your kids for the thrill of the theme park within the mall.

 

5. John F. Kennedy International Airport- JFK

NYCS_IND_Rockaway_HowardBeach_night

 

Located only a few minutes outside the heart of New York City, John F. Kennedy International Airport has plenty to do both inside and out. The expansive cuisine ranges from Italian food at Aeronuova to crab empanadas at Piquillo; both of which can satisfy your taste buds before your upcoming flight. Additionally, be sure to visit the dozens of shopping malls within the airport to find gifts for your loved ones and yourself.

 

Insider Tip: If you have a long layover, take the AirTrain to Manhattan to experience the vibrancy of New York City.


Relax in the airport in these new American Express Centurion Lounges

Jun 15, 2016

Tired of the hustle, bustle and noise at the airport during your layover or pre-flight waiting period? You already know that airport lounges offered by the airlines provide a well-needed respite from the maddening crowd wandering through the airport. Some are better than others – especially if they are FREE!

If you’re not lucky enough to be a top-tier elite airline frequent flyer or carry a premium ticket, American Express Centurion Lounges at the airport may be your answer! American Express is offering free access to these exceptional lounges exclusively for their Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members.

Right now, these new (all under three years old!) and upscale airport lounges from AmEx are only open in a few airports, but if you are lucky enough to be in Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth, New York-LaGuardia, San Francisco, Miami, and Seattle (an extension of The Centurion Lounge in a smaller setting), then visit you must! A new lounge is planned for the Houston (IAH) airport later in 2016.

From the moment you walk in, you know something’s different – in a good way. While all locations include standard amenities like showers and complimentary Wi-Fi and food & drinks, and a variety of seating, each has its own unique characteristics that provide a comfortable pre-flight or layover experience at the select airports. On the menu at each location – locally-inspired food and locally produced wines, beers and artisanal beverages. The cuisine at each Centurion airport lounge is prepared by world-renowned chefs known for showcasing the local flavors of the area. This is the way to kill the dead time you have to spend at the airport!

Let’s check it out!

Starting with the “mini” version at the Seattle (SEA) airport, at the Centurion Studio, you’re treated with unexpected touches like premium healthy snacks and comfortable seating with high-speed Wi-Fi and outlets near every seat. The Studio is located in Concourse B, opposite Gate B3. The Studio is accessible from any security checkpoint and open 5 AM – 10 PM. (Photo Credit: Travel Codex)

AmEx opened its first Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) in 2013. Freshen up in well-appointed shower suite, and dine in decadence with cuisine by chef Scott Conant. Savor succulent dishes like Lamb and Beef Börek and Orecchiette with Eggplant. You can even enjoy a cocktail developed by one of the nation’s top mixologists, Jim Meehan. The Lounge is located in Concourse D, opposite Gate D1. The concourse is accessible from Terminal 1 or Terminal 3 via the transit system. Once you pass security, follow signs to D gates. Hours are 5 AM – 11 PM. Photo courtesy of American Express.

Next, let’s travel to the Centurion Lounge at the Miami (MIA) airport. This airport lounge provides a bright environment and even offers spa therapies! Once again, the locally-inspired food is incredible, with cuisine designed by James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein. The Latin-inspired Braised Chicken Thighs and Corn Soup with Roast Poblanos will have you shouting “Ole!” The Lounge is located in Concourse D, near Gate D12, on the 4th floor. The Lounge is accessible via the Skytrain in North Terminal- Station. Open 5 AM – 11 PM.   Photo courtesy of Miami Airport.

Stuck in LaGuardia Airport (LGA)? Then this Centurion Lounge is the place to hang out – and it’s even located pre-security, perfect for a pre-flight visit with a friend. Sip on wines handpicked by renowned wine authority Anthony Giglio, and savor the diverse New York City culinary offerings like Green Chili Udon Noodles and Italian Burrata on Crostini, designed by one of Zagat’s top 30 under 30 chefs, Cédric Vongerichten. The Lounge is located pre-security, on the 3rd floor between Concourses B and C. If your flight departs from another terminal, you can take the Route A or B airport shuttle on the arrivals level. Hours are 5:30 AM – 8 PM (Sunday – Friday) and 5:30 AM – 6:30 PM on Saturday. Photo courtesy of The Points Guy.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is the third busiest airport in the country, so the Centurion Lounge here is just what the doctor ordered to escape the craziness – unexpected touches like spa therapies from exhale® and even a family room! Dining is also a pleasure, with cuisine designed by James Beard Award-winning chef Dean Fearing, including Tex-Mex dishes like Texas Migas with Chorizo and Sweet Onions. The Lounge is located in Terminal D, opposite Gate D17, on the mezzanine. The Lounge can be reached from any other terminal via the Skylink train and is open 5:30 AM – 10 PM. Photo courtesy American Express.

Last, but not least, is the Centurion Lounge at the San Francisco Airport (SFO.) Here, a Napa Valley wine tasting area and a well-appointed shower suite can wash away any of your airport travel stresses. Succulent dishes from Zagat chef Cédric Vongerichten await – like Fried Chicken with a Honey Lemongrass Glaze and Chocolate Mousse with Mint Cream. Yum! The Lounge can be accessed post-security from Terminal 3 or from International Terminal G. If your flight is not in Terminals 3 or G, visiting the lounge could be a bit cumbersome. Since all terminals are not connected post-security at SFO, if you are flying out of another terminal, you may be able to use your boarding pass to enter through T3 security – subject to approval by the TSA agent. After visiting the Lounge, you will need to exit through security, take the AirTrain or walk to your terminal and re-enter through security. Open 5 AM – 11 PM. Photo credit: www.alldonemonkey.com )

 

Who knows – on your next layover or pre-flight airport travels, these American Express Centurion Lounges can stand guard to protect you from travel insanity!

 

Access to The Centurion Lounge at these airports is complimentary for global Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members. To access The Centurion Lounge, the Card Member must present The Centurion Lounge agent with the following upon each visit: his or her valid Card, a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel on any carrier and a government-issued I.D. The Centurion Lounge is a Day of Departure lounge requiring confirmed travel plans. Passengers holding standby tickets and non-revenue standby passengers, including airline or industry employees traveling on discounted tickets, are not eligible to utilize the lounge unless they have received a boarding pass showing a confirmed seat or zone assignment for the flight for which they are on standby. All other Card Members with a valid American Express® Credit or Charge Card are eligible to purchase access to the Lounge for $50 per day, subject to capacity. PLATINUM CARDS ELIGIBLE FOR COMPLIMENTARY ACCESS


Chocolate: The Cure For Airport Stress

Jul 14, 2015

Travel delays got you feeling down at the airport? Indulge in some tasty chocolate! The delicious snack will not only satisfy your sweet tooth cravings but also releases feel-good endorphins. Stress be gone!

Pro Tip: If there’s a Duty Free store in your airport, check for travel retail confectionary exclusives. You can score some great deals on delicious chocolates! We love Godiva.

Image credit: By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons


Cead Mile Failte from the Flight Deck! It’s St. Patrick’s Day!

Mar 16, 2015

With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching and many festivals and parades already over the weekend, I thought I would spread some Irish luck your way and some tips to help you celebrate in style. First some Gaelic 101: “Cead Mile Failte,” pronounced “Kay-da May-la Fall-cha,” means a hundred thousand welcomes. “Slainte!” is what you say to toast before drinking, and it is pronounced “Slahn-cha.” You are now armed with a greeting and a toast to make this the most festive St Patty’s Day ever. I was hoping to share a list of Irish pubs in airports in case you are celebrating in transit, but I never set foot in airport bars (the uniform gets funny looks), and I’ve only seen one Irish pub that looked about as Irish as a taco. So instead, I countdown for you:

 

The Aviator’s Top 5 Irish Pubs (from my travels)

 

  1. The Irish Oak MG_6165-e1352754296879

Chicago, Illinois

Nestled a block from Wrigley Field sits a place I always hit up when in the Windy City. Chicago has one of the most famous St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world with a river dyed green to show you they mean business! The Irish Oak hits all the main points for a fun pub any day of the year though if you can’t make it there for the biggest green party of the year, with solid food, properly poured Guinness, and friendly staff. With a city full of pubs and Irish heritage it’s hard to stand out and yet they succeed-I can’t resist popping in on an overnight.

 

  1. James’s Gate

Boston, Massachusetts

A few minutes out of the downtown bustle in the Jamaica Plain district of Boston sits my favorite neighborhood pub and an Irish treat. Come here hungry! The food is really tasty and I recommend sitting at the bar to get to know the crowd. Every time I enjoy a pint here, I make a new friend and hear some great (and sometimes crazy stories). “This one time at Fenway…” has started more than one tale that left me needing another pint of the dark stuff with a smile on my face.

 

  1. The Chieftain

San Francisco, California

There’s something magical about a slightly grungy pub that screams ‘locals only’ before you even walk through the front door. A post-Giants baseball game stroll led me to this gem. Unless it is March 17th, don’t expect 375px-McSorley's_Old_Ale_House_001_cropa rowdy scene. Come for a cold one and top-notch people watching. In my experience visiting this bar was more memorable than the baseball game that night and has been each time since.

 

  1. McSorley’s Old Ale House

New York City, New York

Oh man! When I first heard a pilot friend of mine describe McSorley’s almost a decade ago I knew I had to go. Hop on the subway to the village, walk the few blocks through crisscrossing streets and find yourself stepping back in time. Here are the basics: It was established in 1854 and there are 2 types of beer (dark and lite,). It’s often crowded so don’t be deterred by the ambiance. There’s a funk of dish soap and the floor is covered in sawdust. But once you anchor a spot at the bar or share a table with some soon-to-be-new-friends this place has marked its spot in your heart. This place is old school: cash only, and women were only allowed in as of 1970. It’s a pub; it looks almost exactly like what my great grandfather saw a hundred years ago when he first visited New York after emigrating from Ireland to Philadelphia. It’s as real as it gets without the 7-hour ride across the pond to the homeland.

 

  1. Ha’penny Bridge Inn image-hapenny-bridge-2

Dublin, Ireland

You didn’t think I was going to give you a list of favorite Irish pubs without naming one in Ireland, did you?! Ha’penny Bridge Inn sits on the River Liffey in Dublin next to the Temple Bar district. Do yourself a favor and see Temple Bar. See all the famous names and pretty facades. Then go here and get your drink. I was fortunate to have a local recommend that to me. I now buy that local a pint of Magners any time I’m in Dublin. He isn’t just a friend, but my patron saint of great pubs with low tourism and a high local vibe. Thanks Finn! I won’t describe this place at all.

Just go. Enjoy the real Ireland. Don’t be a loud American with a million questions. The Irish hate questions. They love stories and having a good crack. That’s slang for jokes and teasing your friends.

 

Slainte from the flight deck!

The Aviator


From A to X…that’s ATL to LAX; the Airports Business Travelers Know All Too Well

Mar 16, 2015

My flight is touching down for landing. It has been a smooth flight; thankfully I was able to catch some Z’s since I have been sick as of late and run down. I don’t have much time when I land at MSP; I have a two and a half hour drive to lovely La Crosse, Wisconsin-my final destination. The good news is that when I return to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP) tomorrow, I will have an hour or so to relax and visit some of my favorite places in the airport. Think: Minnesota Wild Sports Bar for some amazing Bavarian Pretzel Sticks.  Or Brookstone-who doesn’t love the latest gadget and a free massage by chair?Drink in airport that offers international airport wifi in Dallas Fort Worth

While the fact that I have favorite places at airports is more of a statement about my work/life balance these days, it is imperative to know these places to keep me sane on the road (and tarmac). Any business traveler can tell you that they have a list of their favorite airports, a list of airports that they frequent (which hopefully match the previously mentioned list) and a list of airports they aim to avoid if at all possible. When you fly a lotyou spend an inordinate amount of time in the terminal, waiting. And although staying glued to the mobile phone is and/or laptop is always an option, sometimes I want need to disconnect. If you are like me, this parlays itself into keeping a running tab on where to go during your layover for eating, drinking and shopping. That’s why one of the ten commandments of the business traveler is: Know Thy Airport.

Here is a roster of airports that I transit through most frequently (you will probably start seeing tips from me about these airports, so stay tuned!):

I bet many other frequent business travelers in the United States have a similar list.  It isn’t any surprise that most of these are major airline hubs, consequentlyI am usually connecting through them to my final destination to visit my customers. I know them well given the time I spend in them. The good news is that this frequency creates time for me to be the consumer I always strive to be-trying new foods, seeking out new items to surprise my family with as an offering for my time away.

What is it inside of us that makes us want to know these places so well? There is a story that I always tell that lends itself to the comfortability of business travel. I once had a hiatus from traveling due to company budget cuts. As any business traveler knows, nearing the end of the fiscal year you probably won’t see many airports, as companies aim to improve the bottom line. After this break from the travel lifestyle, on my first trip back throughSt. Louis airport (STL) . I sent my brother a text message, Starbucks in hand, telling him how oddly comfortable I felt sitting at the airport and that I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or just plain sad.

A man waiting at Atlanta International Airport.

Waiting at the Airport

All joking aside, there is some validity to that feeling – the same reason I stay at Marriott properties almost exclusively when I travel for business – I want to be comfortable somewhere that feels familiar and that I know well, if I can’t be home with my wife and kids.  I remember I used to hear frequent traveling friends referring to airports by code and thinking, “Wow, that is so confusing… can’t they just call it San Fransisco instead of SFO?” Nowadays, I find myself talking of my travels and sounding like I am helping my kids learn the alphabet. I just hope that I don’t teach them the wrong order when I actually do help them with their homework:

Addison: “Daddy, what comes after A?”

Daddy: “T-L honey…”

Like I said, it is human nature to want to be comfortable. Whether it is flying to the same airports and knowing the terminals well, or it is trying your darndest to fly with your favorite airline. OK, so maybe it is the sense of comfortability and the acquisition of frequent flier miles. Hey, a guy has to pay the family back for all of that time away with fun vacations. Am I right? Spring break at MCO(Orlando), here we come!!! Oh wait… we’re driving. No problem, I will use my airline miles for the hotel!

The Flying Salesman


SF’s Answer to the Coffee Giant

Aug 5, 2014

Founded just around the corner in Berkeley in 1966 (two decades ahead of that other coffee company), Peets Coffee is one of the premier java providers in the US. Its coffee stand at the end of Boarding Area B keeps Southwest passengers caffeinated — and offers the typical coffee shop selection of pastries and other quick snacks.

Terminal 1, Boarding Area B (close to gate 25)

 


DFS Duty Free Galleria Satellite (International Terminal)

Aug 13, 2014

The satellite locations of SFO’s duty free offer selections of liquor, tobacco, cosmetics and fragrances.

International Terminal, Boarding Area A (near Gate A9), Boarding Area G ( near Gate G93).


DFS Duty Free Galleria (Terminal 1 & International Terminal)

Aug 5, 2014

SFO’s duty free offers a wide selection of alcohol, tobacco and fragrance products. International Terminal locations also feature expanded, designer boutique offerings.

Terminal 1, Boarding Area B (close to Gate 21) 

International Terminal, Boarding Area A (near Gate A2); Boarding Area G (near Gate G92)


David Rumsey Map Collection (Terminal 2)

Aug 13, 2014

Old maps are simply interesting. This vivid collection showcases historic maps of San Francisco, giving insight into the charming city’s growth over the centuries. These maps are part of the David Rumsey Map Collection, which features more than 51,000 maps.

This exhibit is on display through October 5, 2014.

Terminal 2, near gate D12

 


Boucle: Hand-crafted jewelry store doubles as a gallery (Terminal 3)

Aug 13, 2014

We aren’t always ready to go jewelry shopping during a layover, which is why Boulce is such a find. It’s designed like an art gallery, perfect for the window shopper or the traveler looking to bring home some unique, handcrafted pieces created by California artists and designers.

Terminal 3, Boarding Area F (near Gate 82)


DFS Duty Free Galleria Satellite (International Terminal)

Aug 13, 2014

The satellite locations of SFO’s duty free offer selections of liquor, tobacco, cosmetics and fragrances.

International Terminal, Boarding Area A (near Gate A9), Boarding Area G ( near Gate G93).


DFS Duty Free Galleria (Terminal 1 & International Terminal)

Aug 5, 2014

SFO’s duty free offers a wide selection of alcohol, tobacco and fragrance products. International Terminal locations also feature expanded, designer boutique offerings.

Terminal 1, Boarding Area B (close to Gate 21) 

International Terminal, Boarding Area A (near Gate A2); Boarding Area G (near Gate G92)


Top 5 Airports in the USA to Layover In

Jun 19, 2016

Top 5 Airports to Layover In the USA

 

Stuck at the airport between flights for a few hours? Bored? Tired? Don’t worry because these airports are there for you whether you have a short or extremely long layover. Be sure to plan your next trip through these airports to enjoy their amenities!

  1. San Francisco International Airport- SFO

San Francisco International Airport at dusk

This Golden Gate-City airport has plenty to offer when you have a long layover and need to kill time at the airport. If you want to learn more about this lovely city, the Aviation Museum and SFO Museum are interactive and great ways to learn more about the culture of California. Don’t worry about spending too much money on Internet because this airport also has free Wi-Fi and a free Yoga room to stretch out your legs after a long day of traveling.

 

Insider Tip: Those who have longer layovers can take the BART into the heart of San Francisco in just 11 minutes.

 

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport- DFW

dallas-fort-worth-airport-marcel-kaiser

The heart of Texas is a great destination for any layover. Many of the lounges are ranked among the best in the world and all passengers can enjoy the free Wi-Fi. If you are more active, make sure to try walking on the airport trail or check out one of the yoga rooms. The food in Dallas is worth trying, especially at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen so don’t forget to fill your stomach before boarding your next flight.

 

Insider Tip: If you need to catch up on your sleep, check out a Minute Suite to get your very own room within the airport.

 

3. Chicago O’Hare International Airport- ORD

4352152239_82e7d20095_b

 

Despite being one of the busiest airports in the world, Chicago O’Hare has plenty of amenities for passengers of all ages. The Chicago Public Art Program decorates each terminal with artwork from local artists. Be sure to see the famous “The Sky’s The Limit” – an ever-changing neon light illuminator between Concourses B and C. Remember to try Tortas Frontera created by celebrity chef Rick Bayless or enjoy an authentic Chicago style deep-dish pizza at a variety of restaurants.

 

Insider Tip: If you have a few hours, head across to the Hilton O’Hare Hotel and go to the newly renovated gym or for a refreshing swim.

 

4. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport- MSP

5991138189_ce2ddea520_b

 

Minnesota’s largest city airport will not disappoint whether you have a long or short layover. There are various attractions within the airport, which are necessary due to the frequent delays that Minneapolis Airport has. Don’t miss the 1.5 mile walking path around the perimeter of the airport and be sure to check out one of the three XPresSpa locations if you need a soothing massage before your next flight.

 

Insider Tip: The world famous Mall of America is just a 12-minute ride on the LRT. Be sure to take your kids for the thrill of the theme park within the mall.

 

5. John F. Kennedy International Airport- JFK

NYCS_IND_Rockaway_HowardBeach_night

 

Located only a few minutes outside the heart of New York City, John F. Kennedy International Airport has plenty to do both inside and out. The expansive cuisine ranges from Italian food at Aeronuova to crab empanadas at Piquillo; both of which can satisfy your taste buds before your upcoming flight. Additionally, be sure to visit the dozens of shopping malls within the airport to find gifts for your loved ones and yourself.

 

Insider Tip: If you have a long layover, take the AirTrain to Manhattan to experience the vibrancy of New York City.


Relax in the airport in these new American Express Centurion Lounges

Jun 15, 2016

Tired of the hustle, bustle and noise at the airport during your layover or pre-flight waiting period? You already know that airport lounges offered by the airlines provide a well-needed respite from the maddening crowd wandering through the airport. Some are better than others – especially if they are FREE!

If you’re not lucky enough to be a top-tier elite airline frequent flyer or carry a premium ticket, American Express Centurion Lounges at the airport may be your answer! American Express is offering free access to these exceptional lounges exclusively for their Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members.

Right now, these new (all under three years old!) and upscale airport lounges from AmEx are only open in a few airports, but if you are lucky enough to be in Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth, New York-LaGuardia, San Francisco, Miami, and Seattle (an extension of The Centurion Lounge in a smaller setting), then visit you must! A new lounge is planned for the Houston (IAH) airport later in 2016.

From the moment you walk in, you know something’s different – in a good way. While all locations include standard amenities like showers and complimentary Wi-Fi and food & drinks, and a variety of seating, each has its own unique characteristics that provide a comfortable pre-flight or layover experience at the select airports. On the menu at each location – locally-inspired food and locally produced wines, beers and artisanal beverages. The cuisine at each Centurion airport lounge is prepared by world-renowned chefs known for showcasing the local flavors of the area. This is the way to kill the dead time you have to spend at the airport!

Let’s check it out!

Starting with the “mini” version at the Seattle (SEA) airport, at the Centurion Studio, you’re treated with unexpected touches like premium healthy snacks and comfortable seating with high-speed Wi-Fi and outlets near every seat. The Studio is located in Concourse B, opposite Gate B3. The Studio is accessible from any security checkpoint and open 5 AM – 10 PM. (Photo Credit: Travel Codex)

AmEx opened its first Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) in 2013. Freshen up in well-appointed shower suite, and dine in decadence with cuisine by chef Scott Conant. Savor succulent dishes like Lamb and Beef Börek and Orecchiette with Eggplant. You can even enjoy a cocktail developed by one of the nation’s top mixologists, Jim Meehan. The Lounge is located in Concourse D, opposite Gate D1. The concourse is accessible from Terminal 1 or Terminal 3 via the transit system. Once you pass security, follow signs to D gates. Hours are 5 AM – 11 PM. Photo courtesy of American Express.

Next, let’s travel to the Centurion Lounge at the Miami (MIA) airport. This airport lounge provides a bright environment and even offers spa therapies! Once again, the locally-inspired food is incredible, with cuisine designed by James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein. The Latin-inspired Braised Chicken Thighs and Corn Soup with Roast Poblanos will have you shouting “Ole!” The Lounge is located in Concourse D, near Gate D12, on the 4th floor. The Lounge is accessible via the Skytrain in North Terminal- Station. Open 5 AM – 11 PM.   Photo courtesy of Miami Airport.

Stuck in LaGuardia Airport (LGA)? Then this Centurion Lounge is the place to hang out – and it’s even located pre-security, perfect for a pre-flight visit with a friend. Sip on wines handpicked by renowned wine authority Anthony Giglio, and savor the diverse New York City culinary offerings like Green Chili Udon Noodles and Italian Burrata on Crostini, designed by one of Zagat’s top 30 under 30 chefs, Cédric Vongerichten. The Lounge is located pre-security, on the 3rd floor between Concourses B and C. If your flight departs from another terminal, you can take the Route A or B airport shuttle on the arrivals level. Hours are 5:30 AM – 8 PM (Sunday – Friday) and 5:30 AM – 6:30 PM on Saturday. Photo courtesy of The Points Guy.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport is the third busiest airport in the country, so the Centurion Lounge here is just what the doctor ordered to escape the craziness – unexpected touches like spa therapies from exhale® and even a family room! Dining is also a pleasure, with cuisine designed by James Beard Award-winning chef Dean Fearing, including Tex-Mex dishes like Texas Migas with Chorizo and Sweet Onions. The Lounge is located in Terminal D, opposite Gate D17, on the mezzanine. The Lounge can be reached from any other terminal via the Skylink train and is open 5:30 AM – 10 PM. Photo courtesy American Express.

Last, but not least, is the Centurion Lounge at the San Francisco Airport (SFO.) Here, a Napa Valley wine tasting area and a well-appointed shower suite can wash away any of your airport travel stresses. Succulent dishes from Zagat chef Cédric Vongerichten await – like Fried Chicken with a Honey Lemongrass Glaze and Chocolate Mousse with Mint Cream. Yum! The Lounge can be accessed post-security from Terminal 3 or from International Terminal G. If your flight is not in Terminals 3 or G, visiting the lounge could be a bit cumbersome. Since all terminals are not connected post-security at SFO, if you are flying out of another terminal, you may be able to use your boarding pass to enter through T3 security – subject to approval by the TSA agent. After visiting the Lounge, you will need to exit through security, take the AirTrain or walk to your terminal and re-enter through security. Open 5 AM – 11 PM. Photo credit: www.alldonemonkey.com )

 

Who knows – on your next layover or pre-flight airport travels, these American Express Centurion Lounges can stand guard to protect you from travel insanity!

 

Access to The Centurion Lounge at these airports is complimentary for global Platinum Card® and Centurion® Members. To access The Centurion Lounge, the Card Member must present The Centurion Lounge agent with the following upon each visit: his or her valid Card, a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel on any carrier and a government-issued I.D. The Centurion Lounge is a Day of Departure lounge requiring confirmed travel plans. Passengers holding standby tickets and non-revenue standby passengers, including airline or industry employees traveling on discounted tickets, are not eligible to utilize the lounge unless they have received a boarding pass showing a confirmed seat or zone assignment for the flight for which they are on standby. All other Card Members with a valid American Express® Credit or Charge Card are eligible to purchase access to the Lounge for $50 per day, subject to capacity. PLATINUM CARDS ELIGIBLE FOR COMPLIMENTARY ACCESS


Chocolate: The Cure For Airport Stress

Jul 14, 2015

Travel delays got you feeling down at the airport? Indulge in some tasty chocolate! The delicious snack will not only satisfy your sweet tooth cravings but also releases feel-good endorphins. Stress be gone!

Pro Tip: If there’s a Duty Free store in your airport, check for travel retail confectionary exclusives. You can score some great deals on delicious chocolates! We love Godiva.

Image credit: By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons


Cead Mile Failte from the Flight Deck! It’s St. Patrick’s Day!

Mar 16, 2015

With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching and many festivals and parades already over the weekend, I thought I would spread some Irish luck your way and some tips to help you celebrate in style. First some Gaelic 101: “Cead Mile Failte,” pronounced “Kay-da May-la Fall-cha,” means a hundred thousand welcomes. “Slainte!” is what you say to toast before drinking, and it is pronounced “Slahn-cha.” You are now armed with a greeting and a toast to make this the most festive St Patty’s Day ever. I was hoping to share a list of Irish pubs in airports in case you are celebrating in transit, but I never set foot in airport bars (the uniform gets funny looks), and I’ve only seen one Irish pub that looked about as Irish as a taco. So instead, I countdown for you:

 

The Aviator’s Top 5 Irish Pubs (from my travels)

 

  1. The Irish Oak MG_6165-e1352754296879

Chicago, Illinois

Nestled a block from Wrigley Field sits a place I always hit up when in the Windy City. Chicago has one of the most famous St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world with a river dyed green to show you they mean business! The Irish Oak hits all the main points for a fun pub any day of the year though if you can’t make it there for the biggest green party of the year, with solid food, properly poured Guinness, and friendly staff. With a city full of pubs and Irish heritage it’s hard to stand out and yet they succeed-I can’t resist popping in on an overnight.

 

  1. James’s Gate

Boston, Massachusetts

A few minutes out of the downtown bustle in the Jamaica Plain district of Boston sits my favorite neighborhood pub and an Irish treat. Come here hungry! The food is really tasty and I recommend sitting at the bar to get to know the crowd. Every time I enjoy a pint here, I make a new friend and hear some great (and sometimes crazy stories). “This one time at Fenway…” has started more than one tale that left me needing another pint of the dark stuff with a smile on my face.

 

  1. The Chieftain

San Francisco, California

There’s something magical about a slightly grungy pub that screams ‘locals only’ before you even walk through the front door. A post-Giants baseball game stroll led me to this gem. Unless it is March 17th, don’t expect 375px-McSorley's_Old_Ale_House_001_cropa rowdy scene. Come for a cold one and top-notch people watching. In my experience visiting this bar was more memorable than the baseball game that night and has been each time since.

 

  1. McSorley’s Old Ale House

New York City, New York

Oh man! When I first heard a pilot friend of mine describe McSorley’s almost a decade ago I knew I had to go. Hop on the subway to the village, walk the few blocks through crisscrossing streets and find yourself stepping back in time. Here are the basics: It was established in 1854 and there are 2 types of beer (dark and lite,). It’s often crowded so don’t be deterred by the ambiance. There’s a funk of dish soap and the floor is covered in sawdust. But once you anchor a spot at the bar or share a table with some soon-to-be-new-friends this place has marked its spot in your heart. This place is old school: cash only, and women were only allowed in as of 1970. It’s a pub; it looks almost exactly like what my great grandfather saw a hundred years ago when he first visited New York after emigrating from Ireland to Philadelphia. It’s as real as it gets without the 7-hour ride across the pond to the homeland.

 

  1. Ha’penny Bridge Inn image-hapenny-bridge-2

Dublin, Ireland

You didn’t think I was going to give you a list of favorite Irish pubs without naming one in Ireland, did you?! Ha’penny Bridge Inn sits on the River Liffey in Dublin next to the Temple Bar district. Do yourself a favor and see Temple Bar. See all the famous names and pretty facades. Then go here and get your drink. I was fortunate to have a local recommend that to me. I now buy that local a pint of Magners any time I’m in Dublin. He isn’t just a friend, but my patron saint of great pubs with low tourism and a high local vibe. Thanks Finn! I won’t describe this place at all.

Just go. Enjoy the real Ireland. Don’t be a loud American with a million questions. The Irish hate questions. They love stories and having a good crack. That’s slang for jokes and teasing your friends.

 

Slainte from the flight deck!

The Aviator


From A to X…that’s ATL to LAX; the Airports Business Travelers Know All Too Well

Mar 16, 2015

My flight is touching down for landing. It has been a smooth flight; thankfully I was able to catch some Z’s since I have been sick as of late and run down. I don’t have much time when I land at MSP; I have a two and a half hour drive to lovely La Crosse, Wisconsin-my final destination. The good news is that when I return to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP) tomorrow, I will have an hour or so to relax and visit some of my favorite places in the airport. Think: Minnesota Wild Sports Bar for some amazing Bavarian Pretzel Sticks.  Or Brookstone-who doesn’t love the latest gadget and a free massage by chair?Drink in airport that offers international airport wifi in Dallas Fort Worth

While the fact that I have favorite places at airports is more of a statement about my work/life balance these days, it is imperative to know these places to keep me sane on the road (and tarmac). Any business traveler can tell you that they have a list of their favorite airports, a list of airports that they frequent (which hopefully match the previously mentioned list) and a list of airports they aim to avoid if at all possible. When you fly a lotyou spend an inordinate amount of time in the terminal, waiting. And although staying glued to the mobile phone is and/or laptop is always an option, sometimes I want need to disconnect. If you are like me, this parlays itself into keeping a running tab on where to go during your layover for eating, drinking and shopping. That’s why one of the ten commandments of the business traveler is: Know Thy Airport.

Here is a roster of airports that I transit through most frequently (you will probably start seeing tips from me about these airports, so stay tuned!):

I bet many other frequent business travelers in the United States have a similar list.  It isn’t any surprise that most of these are major airline hubs, consequentlyI am usually connecting through them to my final destination to visit my customers. I know them well given the time I spend in them. The good news is that this frequency creates time for me to be the consumer I always strive to be-trying new foods, seeking out new items to surprise my family with as an offering for my time away.

What is it inside of us that makes us want to know these places so well? There is a story that I always tell that lends itself to the comfortability of business travel. I once had a hiatus from traveling due to company budget cuts. As any business traveler knows, nearing the end of the fiscal year you probably won’t see many airports, as companies aim to improve the bottom line. After this break from the travel lifestyle, on my first trip back throughSt. Louis airport (STL) . I sent my brother a text message, Starbucks in hand, telling him how oddly comfortable I felt sitting at the airport and that I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or just plain sad.

A man waiting at Atlanta International Airport.

Waiting at the Airport

All joking aside, there is some validity to that feeling – the same reason I stay at Marriott properties almost exclusively when I travel for business – I want to be comfortable somewhere that feels familiar and that I know well, if I can’t be home with my wife and kids.  I remember I used to hear frequent traveling friends referring to airports by code and thinking, “Wow, that is so confusing… can’t they just call it San Fransisco instead of SFO?” Nowadays, I find myself talking of my travels and sounding like I am helping my kids learn the alphabet. I just hope that I don’t teach them the wrong order when I actually do help them with their homework:

Addison: “Daddy, what comes after A?”

Daddy: “T-L honey…”

Like I said, it is human nature to want to be comfortable. Whether it is flying to the same airports and knowing the terminals well, or it is trying your darndest to fly with your favorite airline. OK, so maybe it is the sense of comfortability and the acquisition of frequent flier miles. Hey, a guy has to pay the family back for all of that time away with fun vacations. Am I right? Spring break at MCO(Orlando), here we come!!! Oh wait… we’re driving. No problem, I will use my airline miles for the hotel!

The Flying Salesman


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