Last week I wrote in Portfolio.com about the unusual ways some airports have found to earn income – such as growing and selling hay planted on airport acreage to signing contracts to allow outside companies to drill for oil and gas underneath airport ground.
That article also noted that, for some time now, Reno-Tahoe International Airport and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas have been raking in the bucks from slot machines scattered about inside the airport terminals.
According to a report in the Arizona Republic, the mayor in Phoenix, Arizona thinks putting slot machines at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a great idea. But Phoenix isn’t Nevada, where gambling is legal pretty much everywhere. So to make this idea work, the city would have to create a profit-sharing agreement with a Native American tribe.
It’s do-able, but not yet a done-deal. The paper reports that the slot-machine scheme is just one of the ideas a revenue-enhancement team is exploring to help solve budget shortfalls for the entire city of Phoenix.
Got some other ideas? Casey Newton at the Arizona Republic (email@example.com) has offered to gather them up and forward them on to the mayor who, he says, “will give you – at his own expense – a weekend at the downtown Sheraton, complete with tickets to a sporting event or other cultural experience” if the city uses your idea.
In an effort to replace the revenue they used to get from airlines, some airports have found they can earn cash from slot machines, t-shirts, oil rigs and acres of hay.
In my article about this for Portfolio.com, I also found two airports where the naming rights are up for sale.
Starting on July 4th, waiting on line at a security checkpoint at San Diego International Airport (SAN) will be a bit more entertaining.
The airport is rolling out a series of “info-tainment” videos featuring popular San Diego mascots offering tips to travelers about what can and cannot be taken through the checkpoints.
Look for the San Diego Zoo’s Bamboo Bear, Legoland’s Johnny Thunder, the San Diego Padres’ Friar, and Shamu from SeaWorld.
SAN isn’t the only airport to feature celebrity videos at the security checkpoints. In Las Vegas, McCarran International Airport partnered with the local Convention and Visitors Authority to create almost a dozen short videos featuring Las Vegas “luminaries” such as Wayne Newton, Rita Rudner, Carrot Top, magicians, aliens, and acrobats demonstrating the proper way to go through the security checkpoints. You don’t even need to be on line at the airport to see the videos: they’re on the airport’s website under Traveler Tips.
To mark the 21st birthday of its OnePass(R) frequent flyer program,Continental Airlines is holding a four-day Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament in Las Vegas.
The event begins August 6, 2008 and will take place the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.
The entry fee is 50,000 OnePass miles and the grand prize is 21 million OnePass miles. Here’s more information about registration.
Not a Texas Hold’em fan? Don’t forget that McCarran International Airport has 1,300 slot machines.
Starting today, May 5th, non-exempt travelers flying on Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways must pay $25 to check a second piece of luggage. American Airlines will begin charging that same $25 on May 12. Air Tran jumps in with a $10 second-bag fee on May 15th. And, just in time for summer travel, passengers on Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will start paying that $25 fee on July 1st.
One bit of good news: As of today, United Airlines will waive that second bag fee for passengers who pay to check luggage at remote baggage check-in sites such as hotel lobbies, convention centers and cruise ships.
No word yet on how long the airline will be doing that, but so far it is the only airline to do so.
If you get stuck at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, don’t fret. There’s plenty to keep you entertained: a great aviation museum, slot machines, oxygen bars, and candy shops that hand out free samples of fudge. There’s also a 24-hour gym.
On a very long layover at McCarran recently, I played the slots, ate the fudge, and visited the museum. And I produced a radio story about the gym for National Public Radio.