Today we are thrilled to announce brand new service on Allegiant from Asheville Regional Airport to the Tampa Bay area — St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport, to be exact. The new flights will begin in June and will operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays, giving Western North Carolina travelers the perfect opportunity to take a short flight (about an hour and a half) to a long weekend (Thursday to Tuesday, anyone?) in the beautiful gulf coast of Florida (yes, please). (more…)
With 40 days of winter remaining, we decided it was time to share part two of our staff’s favorite winter destination choices.
Winter Park, Colorado
From skiing and camping to elk and ram viewing, Winter Park is a beautiful, especially during the season whose name it bears, and it comes recommended highly by David, one of our staff members. Winter Park, dubbed “Colorado’s favorite playground,” is situated between Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapahoe National Forest, and is about an hour and fifteen minutes from downtown Denver.
Learn more: Check out the Winter Park visitor site to plan your trip.
When making a travel bucket list, this destination is often top-of-mind — and for good reason, according to Rita: “Famous sites to see like the Big Island Volcano, warm weather to sunbathe or to snorkel in the crystal blue ocean, and unique events to attend like a traditional Hawaiian Luau — what better way to enjoy the winter than in the warm sunshine!” We all know about the tropical climate and the laid back atmosphere, but here are a few things you might not know about Hawaii:
- Hawaii isn’t the smallest state – it’s the 4th smallest, after Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island
- Billboards are not allowed in the state of Hawaii
- Hawaii boasts 750 miles of coastline, giving the 4th most (only Alaska, California, and Florida have more)
Ready to book your trip yet? We can help:
Learn more: Everything you could want to know about the 50th state can be found at the official tourism website.
Charleston, South Carolina
An excellent weekend getaway, Charleston offers beaches, history, nightlife, dining, shopping and a whole lot of charm. AVL staffer Ethel says “It is another world… I just relax when I arrive there. I have been there in spring, summer and fall. I wish that I could go there in the winter because I have heard that they have neat Christmas events like the parade of boats.” The average temperatures in February reach nearly 63 degrees, which means a stroll on the beach or through the streets of downtown can be very enjoyable. Many people drive to Charleston from the Asheville area, but flying is an option too with a quick stop in Charlotte (on US Airways).
Learn more: Need some ideas for your trip? Try starting here.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Jeff’s favorite winter destination is Playa Del Carmen, Mexico — just south of Cancun in the Mayan Riviera. “The hotel property we stay at is steeped in Mayan culture and located at Xcaret, so we’ll spend one full day at the park.” The great thing about this destination is that it can be as relaxed or action-packed as you want to make it — it’s your vacation, after all!
Learn more: Get all the details for your trip south of the border: http://www.visitmexico.com/en/mayan-riviera
That’s a wrap for our Top Winter Destinations series. Enjoy your travels, and remember to check AVL first!
Now that winter is officially upon us — and the world hasn’t ended yet! — we thought we’d kick off the season by sharing some of airport staff’s favorite winter travel destinations. From Operations to Guest Services, from Custodial to Information Technology, everyone here at AVL has a favorite place to visit when winter rolls around. In fact, we have so many favorites, we’re making this a three-part series. So sit back, relax, and unleash your imagination as you explore round one of our favorite destinations.
Kellie is a fan of the warm, tropical environment of Cancun, Mexico. “It warms these old bones!” she said. In fact, Mexico is the 10th most visited country in the world for tourism and Cancun sees 3 million visitors a year. From beaches and water sports to Mayan cultural attractions and nightlife, Cancun is a great place to kick back and relax in the sun.
Learn more: Check out the official Cancun travel site to plan your trip.
“Wonderful winter community and skiing” make Banff a top choice for Lew. It certainly takes a fearless leader to choose such a cool climate for winter travel, but he’s not alone. The small town of 7,500 residents is nestled in Banff National Park, which welcomes 4 million visitors each year. Notably the highest town in Canada in terms of elevation, Banff boasts a subarctic climate and, conveniently, hot springs — ideal for warming up after a day on the slopes.
Learn more: The town of Banff website offers a nice list of winter activities for the whole family, including ice diving and horse-drawn sleigh rides.
How to get there: The nearest airport to Banff is Calgary (YYC), and you can get there with one stop from Asheville on United. After that, your best bet is to rent a car to drive the scenic 75 miles to Banff.
This is one of the top destinations for Asheville travelers, including AVL employee Ellen. Her favorite spots are Sea World and Busch Gardens (in Tampa), which she visited last January. “It’s nice to visit the parks in January when they’re not quite as crowded, since it’s after the holidays and before school vacation time,” she said. “The temperature was also perfect to walk around.” In addition to the major theme parks, you might also enjoy a trip to the beach, Cape Canaveral, or even Ocala National Forest, all of which are within an hour’s drive.
Learn more: Need some ideas for your trip? Try starting here.
“The Grand Teton Mountain Range, the beauty of the area, Yellowstone National Park, and the wildlife,” all work together to make this a favorite destination for Lana. Jackson Hole features plenty of opportunity for trail rides and outdoor adventure (including skiing in the winter), and it also offers arts and culture in the form of a playhouse, the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and even a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum, which are good options when the average winter highs reach just over 28 degrees.
Learn more: Buck up on your Wyoming knowledge by exploring the Chamber of Commerce site for visitors.
Well, that’s it for part one of our Top Winter Destinations series. Now we’d love to hear from you – where are your favorite places to visit when the mercury dips to its annual lows? Share your response in the comments below!
Back in October or November, when you booked your airline ticket for the holidays, you may have had visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in your head — or maybe it was just a vision of being with family or friends — but as seasoned travelers will attest, buying the ticket is only the first step to a successful trip. Between now and the moment the wheels leave the runway, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of a joyous holiday flight.
- Pack intelligently. This starts with knowing the TSA screening process at the airport, which requires removing the laptop computer and zip-top bag of liquids and gels from your carry-on bag at the screening checkpoint. You should also pack essential items (keys, prescription medication, and irreplaceable items) in your carry-on bag, in case your checked luggage doesn’t make it to your destination at the same time you do.
Tactical Tip: Pack for the screening process by leaving room in an easily-accessible compartment for your laptop and liquids. This will save precious time in the screening line, and will earn favor with fellow travelers in line behind you. Bonus Tip: If you’re tight on space in that liquids/gels bag, make sure it’s a true 1-quart sized zip-top bag, and not a sandwich sized baggie — it makes a world of difference.
- Don’t pre-wrap gifts. A common misconception is that one way to simplify your holiday travel is to wrap all those presents for nieces and nephews ahead of time. Unfortunately, this just means TSA crew members have to unwrap presents they don’t even get to keep.
Tactical Tip: Pack a small roll of wrapping paper and scotch tape in your bag. However, unless you’re checking that bag, plan to buy or borrow scissors when you reach your destination.
- Do your own flight check. There’s nothing like arriving at the airport with plenty of time to spare, only to find out your flight has been cancelled. You can easily avoid this pitfall by checking your flight status before you leave for the airport. However, if your flight has a delayed status, those delays can sometimes be fixed and you’ll want to be at your gate in time to board the flight.
Tactical Tip: Checking your flight status directly with your airline will give you the most up-to-date information. And, considering how many people are flying near the holidays, you’ll likely save yourself time and frustration checking your flight status online with your airline, as opposed to calling the 800 number.
- Leave a little extra time on the clock. What we mean is, don’t wait until the last possible minute to leave for the airport. While you don’t want to get there five hours early, you also want to have plenty of time to park, check in, check your bags if necessary, and get through security and to your gate.
Tactical Tip: Give yourself the gift of an extra thirty minutes — even an hour — when you plan what time you’ll leave for the airport. You’ll experience reduced stress levels, which means you’ll be better equipped to cope with any hiccups you might experience with traffic or other issues. Plus, you’ll have some quiet time to yourself once you’re at your gate — time you could use to plan your goals for next year, enjoy a cup of coffee, or catch up on e-mail.
- Prepare your documents. Have your boarding pass and ID (driver’s license or passport) ready before you enter the TSA screening checkpoint. TSA will always ask to see these documents, and you can speed your check in process by having them out before they ask.
Tactical Tip: Keep these items in the most accessible pocket of your carry-on, and tuck them right back into it after you receive them back from TSA to ensure they don’t get lost.
- Know your zone. Most airlines board flights by calling zone or row numbers. Take a moment to study your boarding pass and know your zone. Then, wait for your zone to be called to board the flight.
Tactical Tip: A lot of research has gone into determining the fastest way to fill a plane with passengers, so even though you’re itching to get on board as soon as possible so that flight can get off the ground, waiting for your section to be called is actually more efficient than rushing to sneak on with another zone.
- Know your resources. As 16th Century poet Miguel de Cervantes put it, “The man who is prepared has his battle half fought.” And while we like to think travel isn’t quite like a battle, there are ways in which you can prepare yourself for victory over potential challenges, including making a list of resources you might need.
Tactical Tip: Make a “cheat sheet” with phone numbers and website addresses for your airline, flight-tracking tools, ground transportation options, and the times and flight numbers of flights that are scheduled after yours (in case you need to find yourself a seat on another flight). In fact, you can find a lot of this information on our website. If you’re a Twitter user, follow your airline and airport — some airlines are able to respond to requests for help more quickly via Twitter than phone.
It’s no surprise that air travel is full of surprises. Often these are happy surprises — a flight departs early, an airport employee is handing out free cookies, or you get the last open seat on an earlier flight. But sometimes the surprises are not so lovely. In fact, some travel concerns haunt even the most seasoned passengers.
So, just in time for Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of five things that haunt air travelers, and what you can do to solve (or avoid!) these ghoulish, if not exactly “paranormal,” problems.
1. Losing your driver’s license or passport before a flight
Murphy’s Law dictates that anything that can go wrong most certainly will, and for some people, this law is most strictly enforced right before an upcoming flight. In this case the first thing you should do is panic relax. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), just because your ID is missing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be allowed to fly. In fact, if you’re able to provide some additional information to the TSA, they may be able to verify your identity in another way (like through publicly available databases). If this is your life right now, take a look at the TSA website for more info on acceptable identification.
2. Caught in traffic before a flight
“Hi, I’m calling because I’m on I-26 and I’m stuck in traffic. My plane leaves in 20 minutes, but I’ll be there in 15. Please tell them to hold the plane!”
Amazingly, we’ve heard this plea more times than we can count, and unfortunately the response must always be, “I’m sorry, but the airline won’t hold the plane. When you get here, you’ll need to try to get on the next available flight.”
While we don’t have any tips for extricating yourself from a traffic jam, this is a great time to emphasize the airlines’ rules for catching a plane, and the very first one is that you must be checked in no later than 30 minutes before the flight time (and for some airlines, it’s even earlier). Checking in online whenever possible is one way to help prevent a last minute hang-up. Additionally, airplane boarding usually closes about a quarter of an hour before the flight time, so it’s important to be at your gate and ready to board with ample time to spare.
A common misconception is that because Asheville Regional Airport is a small airport, and it generally doesn’t take long to get through the TSA screening checkpoint, it’s not necessary to arrive more than 20 or 30 minutes before the flight. The truth is, it is always a good idea to give yourself plenty (and we do mean plenty) of extra time. Plus, it makes travel a lot less stressful when you don’t have to rush to catch your flight.
3. Setting off the TSA metal detector
Believe us when we say we know the TSA screening checkpoint often feels like more of a trick than a treat, but did you know the TSA agents at AVL are rated more highly than at comparable airports across the U.S.? Yeah, we’re fortunate to have some of the best TSA folks around. But we digress.
The point is, one of the most frequently asked questions we hear is about getting through TSA when you’ve got various metal implants or internal medical devices, such as screws in your bones, plates in your head, or even a pacemaker. Not to worry — our TSA agents could make even Frankenstein a happy customer. If you’ve got any kind of metal in or on your person, all you need to do is have a chat with a TSA agent before you begin the screening process so they can take special precautions to make sure you’re screened appropriately.
As for all the other ways you could set off the metal detector, such as with a belt, earrings, necklace, or steel-toed boots, our recommendation is to leave the metal at home or in your bags. This will make the screening process a little easier for everyone!
4. Losing your liquids at TSA
The 3-1-1 rule for liquids and gels has been in effect since August of 2006, but we still see bottles of hairspray and jars of sauce being tossed out like it’s some kind of witch’s brew. The TSA agents aren’t trying to be jack-o-lanterns, they’re just trying to do their job and keep the skies safe, and sometimes that means it’s better to be safe than sorry. To recap, the 3-1-1 rule states that all liquids and gels in carry-on bags must be 3.4 ounces or less each, and they must all fit into a single (1) one-quart-sized plastic bag. So next time you travel, support your favorite household supplies manufacturer and buy a box of quart-size bags for your lotions, potions and toothpaste.
5. Lost luggage
Unfortunately, this is probably one of the most common evils of air travel, and can certainly cause a fright. The good news is that we have a couple tips to help battle this particular demon.
- When booking flights with a connection, be sure to leave a large window of time (no less than an hour if you can help it) between the connecting flights. Remember those movie scenes where the main character runs a record-setting pace from one terminal to another in a mad dash to catch their next flight and arrives at the gate just after the door closes? Well, that’s essentially what your bags do each time you have a connecting flight, and the more time you give them to reach the next plane, the better your chances of being able to pick them up on time at your final destination.
- Always, always, always pack medication, car and house keys, and irreplaceable items in your carry-on bag. And, if certain items won’t fit, you might consider shipping them ahead of time to your destination.
- Label all your checked bags with your name, address, phone number, e-mail, CB radio handle, Twitter name, ESP wavelength — you get the idea. If your bag does get lost, you want the bag handlers to be able to easily identify which one is yours.
- If you find yourself bag-less at the end of a journey, don’t leave the airport before filing a lost bag claim with the airline. This claim ticket allows you to follow up on your bag if it still hasn’t arrived the next day or so.
- Finally, keep in mind that bags that are checked “planeside” — i.e. you slap a tag on your bag and hand it over right before you step onto the plane — need to be picked up planeside when you land.
Amazingly, nearly 30,000 flights operate each day in the United States alone. This amounts to about 1.76 million passengers every day, most of whom fly easily to their destinations without any problems. Of course, as with many things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and we hope these travel tips will help you avoid a haunting experience the next time you head to the airport!
This week brings a couple of special winged visitors to the Asheville Regional Airport, thanks to an organization called the Collings Foundation and its “Wings of Freedom Tour.” Arriving on the AVL runway today around lunch time will be a B-24 Liberation and a B-17 Flying Fortress, both fully-restored WWII aircraft that flew hundreds of missions in the 1940s. The Wings of Freedom Tour offers the public a chance to come and see the warbirds in person, and to purchase tickets to take a walk-through tour or even a flight on one these historic planes.
The Wings of Freedom Tour exists to honor the veterans who have served in the military and who have fought for our freedoms, and to educate the public about our national history. The tour has been operating for more than 20 years, making more than 2,600 visits to airports across the country.
To learn more about touring the aircraft or scheduling your own flight aboard them, visit http://www.collingsfoundation.org.
It’s no secret that U.S. presidents and vice presidents have spent their fair share of time in Western North Carolina, many of whom have arrived by air into our fair region. Over the years, Asheville Regional Airport has welcomed a number of White House occupants (not to mention White House hopefuls), including last autumn’s visit by President Obama. In fact, one of our favorite sights is the massive Air Force One 747 parked on the AVL ramp.
It was this sight that got us thinking about the history of Air Force One, and it just so happens that today is the 102nd anniversary of the first presidential flight. On October 11, 1910 the spectacle-clad Theodore Roosevelt boarded an early Wright Flyer at Kinloch Field (now Lambert-St. Louis International Airport) during a county fair and took a short flight in view of the crowds. Granted, he was no longer holding office as president (he’d been succeeded by William Howard Taft), but the occasion is in the history books as the first flight by a United States president.
It was the other Roosevelt (Franklin, that is) who first flew in an aircraft while holding down the top job in our nation’s capital. Ever since that time, U.S. presidents have taken to the skies as part of their duty to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,” as the oath of office puts it.
Many different types of aircraft have been used for presidential detail, but it wasn’t until the Reagan administration that the 747 took over the job. In the 1990s, during the George H.W. Bush administration, two VC-25A planes were added to the fleet. Presidents have also flown in Marine One (a Blackhawk or Sea King helicopter), Navy One (a Lockheed Viking), and various other airborne machines.
“An interesting bit of trivia is that if a president was onboard a Cessna 152, that plane — or any other plane occupied by the president — would be given the call sign ‘Air Force One,’” said Jeff Augram, Chief of Asheville Regional Airport Department of Public Safety. “And, it’s not designated as ‘Air Force One’ until the president is on board.” Jeff has worked with both the Air Force and the Secret Service on many of these high profile visits, and has even been on board a presidential 757 aircraft.
Air travel has changed (and improved!) a lot in the last 100 years, and presidential planes are no exception. To learn more about Air Force One, check out the History Channel’s Inside Air Force One fact sheet, or watch the National Geographic special.
The much-anticipated Runway 5k + Aviation Day is this Saturday, and we wanted to let you in on a few details about some of the exciting things happening at the event.
The Runway 5k portion of the day is expected to draw more than 750 runners (650 were signed up at the time of this post), and they’ll be running the whole length of the AVL runway this year – pretty exciting!
After the race, Aviation Day will begin, and we are super excited to tell you there will be a Coast Guard C-130 airplane on site that you’ll be able to see up close.
There will be lots of other aircraft to see, too, like a Blackhawk helicopter, Navy trainers, and a whole bunch of cool civilian aircraft. Mission Hospital’s MAMA helicopter will be there too, and the State Highway Patrol Helicopter! Plus, WNC Pilot’s Association will be offering low-cost flights over the Asheville area – a great way to get a new perspective on Western North Carolina! (Flights are $30 for adults, $15 for children, for a 15-minute flight.)
And if the airplanes aren’t enough, we’ll also have some of the massive machinery it takes to keep an airport up and running (think fire trucks, sweepers, and plows), plus activities for adults and kids alike, thanks to our friends at The Health Adventure, Hands On! – A Child’s Gallery, Asheville’s Fun Depot and the WNC Air Museum.
If you’re curious about local educational offerings that could propel you into a career in aviation (from piloting an airplane to maintenance at an airport), WNC Aviation (a regional flight school), Blue Ridge Community College and AB Tech will be on site, as well as the U.S. Air Force.
We are proud to partner with these organizations who are all contributing to a very exciting Aviation Day!
Finally, we’ll have great bluegrass music provided by The High Windy Band, food available for purchase from our very own Blue Ridge Tavern, and a chance to win free airfare just by dropping an entry form into a box!
The weather will be great on Saturday, so we hope you’ll join us for this fun celebration of aviation!
Event Time: While the 5k race starts at 9:30 (and runners are encouraged to arrive no later than 8:30), the Aviation Day activities take place from 10am until 2pm.
Parking: Parking will be at the Airport. Follow the signs marked “Event Parking.” A free shuttle will take you to the event site, which in on the north end of the airport.
Cost: Admission to the event is free. Food and drink purchases are cash only.
The word is out that our Runway 5k + Aviation Day is back by popular demand, and we’re more excited than ever because this year’s race on October 6 will cover the entire length of the runway at Asheville Regional Airport, giving you a chance to run more than a mile and a half of runway with your own two feet!
In fact, we’re so excited, we’re giving away FREE race registrations (along with very cool race shirts) to a few lucky winners. You have three chances to win, so give yourself the best shot at a free registration by entering all three giveaways.
First, you can visit the Asheville Regional Airport Facebook page and enter the sweepstakes there. As a bonus, you’ll receive an additional entry for each friend you refer using the special link provided to you after you register.
Second, you can go to a very cool local running blog called Carolina Runner and answer three simple trivia questions for another chance to win.
Finally, ChiRunning, an Asheville-Based running website dedicated to teaching safe and efficient running technique, is giving away yet another free race registration, and you can enter to win by visiting their Facebook page.
Early registration for the race opens July 1, and registering by September 1 guarantees you a race shirt. But that’s only half the excitement. The other half is our Aviation Day, which puts the focus on the thrill of aviation. Featuring aircraft on display, aviation experts on hand to answer your questions, food, live music, activities, prizes, and more, there is something for everyone at Aviation Day!
So mark your calendar for Saturday, October 6, and be sure to enter for your chance to win a free race registration for the flattest 5k in the mountains!
A huge part of Western North Carolina’s identity is tied to the incredible artistic talent that can be found here. From sculptors and painters to photographers and wood turners (not to mention all of the musicians!), there is a plethora of remarkable ability concentrated here in the mountains.
Five years ago in June, we launched a program called Art in the Airport for the sole purpose of supporting the arts — and showing off the work of these artists — right here in our airport terminal. What better way to welcome new visitors, we thought, than to give them a taste of the inspired culture that thrives here — before they even set foot on WNC soil.
And so we dedicated a humble 364-square-foot space to this goal and that first year we opened three exhibits (June, August, and November) and had some fantastic work on display. Year two brought four more exhibitions and 126 artistic treasures to our gallery.
All told, since 2007, we have featured 134 artists from 10 counties, and more than 500 pieces of artwork have been displayed. From artists with decades of experience, to teenagers just dipping their toes in the waters of creativity, our gallery has hosted some of the most exceptional work to be found in Western North Carolina.
Our first exhibit featured student artwork — primarily students from our own UNCA — and was a great way to kick off the program. There’s something about young talent that is truly inspirational.
After that first show, there was no turning back and the flood of artwork rolled in, with each piece taking its place in our gallery’s history, and some finding new homes in the residences of enamored buyers.
If these examples aren’t proof enough of the rich artistic culture, we welcome you to visit the airport to see for yourself the latest exhibit, which features photography and sculpture by five local artists.
It’s been an inspiring five years of Art in the Airport and we owe it to the imaginative and dedicated artists of Western North Carolina — thank you for sharing your talent with us and with the world!
Are you an artist, or do you know someone who is? We invite artists of all kinds – and all levels of experience – to apply for Art in the Airport. There’s no fee to apply or to display your work if you’re selected, and it’s a great way to gain exposure. For more information, visit flyavl.com and search “Art Gallery.”