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Pet Travel / SXSW / Grumpy Cat / Animals / Travel Cat / AUS / PHX / US Airways / → All Tags
We call bullsh*t on TMZ.
Earlier this week, attendees of Austin, Texas' SXSW festival and, by extension, the entire internet, got in a huge uproar over the VIP treatment and attention paid to one festival attendee in particular. That attendee was a catthe meme-famous "Grumpy Cat."
Grumpy Cat (whose real name is "Tardar Sauce," or "Tard" for short), headed to Austin for several days to do some promo work for Friskies and pose with legions of adoring fans, some of whom waited in line for hours just to get a Facebook-worthy photo with the naturally frowny kitty.
TMZ pounced on the story, blowing it up with an "exclusive" in their characteristic way, claiming "Grumpy flew first class ... and she's been living it up ... with her own, full-time assistant to brush her, an endless supply of Friskies as well as other treats, bottled water and her very own room at a four-diamond hotel ... king-sized bed included."
Airports / AUS / SXSW / Food Travel / Music Travel / Austin Travel / → All Tags
For those heading to or from SXSW down in Austin this week or next we’ve got one recommendation for you—save some time for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Sure it’s not quite the same as what the festival has to offer downtown, but definitely don’t dread heading back to the airport a little early. Thankfully the airport has plenty of local flair to make Austin proud, so even if your flight gets in before your hotel is ready—it might just be worth hanging around for a few as a brief introduction to Austin.
The very first sanctioned shows of the festival finish up today, as the annual SXSW Airport Showcase will do its thing on March 12 between 1pm and 3pm and then again between 3:30pm and 5:30pm. Everything takes place over by Gate 10 on the Asleep at the Wheel stage, and the artists and musicians will be back on March 18 to start closing things down.
Airport Security / TSA / Airports / BNA / RDU / MEM / AUS / CLE / TSA Pre-Check / → All Tags
We can all agree that airport security—at least in the United States—is kind of a pain in the rear. At this point we’ve pretty much become used to being patted down, scanned, zapped, and viewed through x-ray glasses. The TSA has made some improvements with expediting the whole process, and their pre-check program—or Pre✓ as they like to call it—is probably one of the best. It’s at a whole bunch of airports across the land, but their most recent update improves the options a little bit more.
In total there’s five new airports in which the program should be kicking off, and this will bring the country’s total to about 40 by the beginning of April. Austin-Bergstrom International, Cleveland Hopkins International, Memphis International, Nashville International, and Raleigh-Durham International are the ones on the schedule to get the airport security upgrade.
Airport Dining / Food Trucks / Food Travel / Airport Restaurants / MCO / TPA / AUS / Airports / Airport News / → All Tags
We’ve seen celebrity chefs, organic ingredients, and even technology—think iPads—show their influence on the airport dining scene, but now it looks like another trend is heading to the airport. Apparently the food truck craze has arrived at the airport, so the long-term parking lot is no longer just for parking.
Obviously food trucks aren’t exactly arriving inside the airport—at least not yet—but if you need to grab a bite before hitting the terminal or after touching down they’ve now got you covered. ABC News reports that the cell phone lot seems to be the new food court, as airports like Orlando International Airport have started slinging street fare right outside of security. In fact over at MCO it sounds like they’ve got at least six food trucks rotating in and out over a their commercial lot as well as their taxi staging area. Clearly the airport eats aren’t just for travelers anymore.
New Routes / Virgin America / Alaska Travel / Austin Travel / Anchorage Travel / Airline News / Airlines / SFO / AUS / ANC / → All Tags
Double A's, right this way! Virgin America today announced that they'll soon be flying to two new destinations starting with the letter "A," and that's about all they have in common.
First, we have Austin, Texas. This beautiful city is best known for keeping things weird, hosting SxSW, serving BBQ, and having live music every day of the week. “Austin and San Francisco share strong cultural and business links," says Virgin America CEO David Cush, and we couldn't agree more.
Between San Francisco Airport's free wifi at Terminal 2, the in-flight wifi on the plane, and the wifi at AUS it'll be like you never even left your office (so slipping away for a Texas stay is easy-peasy). Service to Austin from San Francisco is scheduled to begin May 21, 2013, with fares from $89 each way.
Airport Food / BBQ / AUS / MEM / RDU / Airports / Restaurants / Food Travel / → All Tags
We want to go to this sandwich...
No one wants to spend the long holiday weekend at the airport, but with these barbeque options it won’t be that bad. Ribs, brisket, and pulled pork will make it all better when you are forced to spend Memorial Day Weekend at the airport. Here’s three picks that are finger lickin’ good:
Salt Lick Bar-B-Que - AUS
It doesn’t take a true foodie expert to tell you that Texas has some pretty decent barbeque options, so it was no surprise to find Salt Lick Bar-B-Que within the West Food Court at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. We’ve been on a couple of occasions, and always make extra time before our flight to grab a brisket sandwich. Smoked sausage and plenty of house made sauce are always good options, and they even throw in a spongy hunk of bread to sop it all up. Best of all they sell the sauce to go, so you can bring a bottle to the family cookout and be a hero.
Interstate Bar-B-Que and Corky's BBQ – MEM
There’s two awesome options from which to choose at Memphis International Airport, and we honestly cannot pick just one—so go ahead and try both. Up first is Corky’s near Gate A23. Pulled pork, ribs, and of course baked beans are all solid picks, but just make sure you save some room for option number two. Over in the Concourse B Rotunda is Interstate Bar-B-Que, and they’ve got whatever you didn’t get to try back at Corky’s. Ribs, brisket, and other pork parts are all available in all their smoky and saucy goodness. Just stock up on napkins—and antacid—before you complete your double dip of BBQ while killing your layover in MEM.
American Airlines / Airlines / Airline News / AUS / Checked Baggage / Luggage / Baggage / → All Tags
We knew airlines wanted you to start tagging your own checked baggage, and it now looks like testing will finally begin in the Lone Star State. If you’re flying out of Austin anytime soon—say to head back from SXSW—American Airlines is asking you to be their self-tagging guinea pig.
Tagging your own bags is nothing new overseas, but here at home, it’s always been up to airline employees. For whatever reason it’s like the law or something for airline agents to do all the tagging, but apparently American Airlines got the go-ahead to let us crazy passengers do things ourselves.
JetBlue / New Routes / AUS / Airlines / Airline News / Texas Travel / → All Tags
The head honcho at JetBlue—CEO David Barger—has been completing layovers at each and every of his airline’s destinations in celebration of the airline’s first decade in business. There’s probably a lot of hand shaking and airport tours taking place at most, but it looks like those at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport got a little extra information.
Last week during his visit to Texas, JetBlue’s CEO mentioned that the airline might be looking at new routes from Austin in the near future. Specifically Washington and Cancun were mentioned, so if you need still need to plan that winter vacation you might want to watch for an official announcement.
Airport Food / Ice Cream / Airports / AUS / Travel Tips / → All Tags
Sometimes we need a little more than a Frappuccino to satisfy our sweet tooth while waiting for a flight. With SXSW coming up in only a few weeks, we’ve got to nominate Amy’s Ice Cream as one of the best airport treats in the country. There’s plenty of locations in Austin as well, so you don’t have to wait until your flight out of Texas to make a stop for a little bit of ice cream.
Amy’s makes all their own ice cream, and with a butterfat content starting at 14 percent all flavors are creamy, delicious, and nutritious. The place always has seven standard options that are always available, and you’re welcome to add anything you’d like into flavors like sweet cream, white chocolate, Belgian chocolate, and Mexican vanilla. They mix the toppings right in front of you, and if you’ve got a skilled scooper, they might just do a trick or two while getting things ready. Think Tom Cruise in Cocktail, but with ice cream.
In-Flight WiFi / Alaska Airlines / Airlines / Airline News / SJC / AUS / PDX / → All Tags
Silicon Valley commuters were positively inconsolable earlier this summer when American Airlines put an end to their "nerd bird" flights, the route between San Jose and Austin. Happy times will soon be here again, though, because Alaska Airlines has committed to picking up the slack:
Alaska Airlines today will inaugurate nonstop service between San Jose, Calif., and Austin, Texas, officially resurrecting the popular "nerd bird" route. The flight will originate in Portland, Ore., and the airline will add another daily flight between the three cities starting March 14, 2010. "This route is a natural extension of our network and provides a vital link between these high-tech hubs," said Steve Jarvis, Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing, sales and customer experience.
It's the death of the mom-and-pop store, gone wireless: After its contract lapsed with local WiFi provider Wayport, Austin Bergstrom International Airport has signed up with near-ubiquitous Boingo for terminal service.
The move has been a few months in the making as Wayport, which formerly partnered with T-Mobile, was acquired by AT&T in November. Travelers have to go to downtown Austin to connect to the city's free public hotspots, although Boingo is looking into free access via kiosks in the terminal.
We still think WiFi should be free, but we'll say this for Boingo: We've never had trouble connecting to one of their hot spots, nor, once we've paid, have we been charged multiple times for closing and re-opening our browser on the same day. And a free hotspot one can't connect to for love or money is almost worse than having to fork over $7.95 for an hour of 'Net access. Almost.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported that wireless access used to be free in the terminals, which was not true. Thanks to Jim Halbrook of ABIA for the info.
[Photo of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport: kirkh]
New Routes / Virgin America / David Cush / AUS / ATL / → All Tags
While newly wireless Virgin America is holding off on acquiring new planes for now, that didn't stop CEO David Cush from talking up some new cities that his airline is eyeing. Where might we see VA in the next couple years? Austin-Bergstrom International and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.
Back in 2007, all the speculation was focused Miami and Boston, two cities that Virgin still says might be on the route map in the future. Then, of course, there's the Chicago situation, which VA says should be resolved soon.
Even more esoteric expansions we've heard mentioned in the past include Vancouver and Cabo; haven't seen flights to either of those cities yet, despite previous claims that Virgin would be in 10 cities by the second half of this year. Heh: This recession is killing everyone!