Runway 5k + Healthy Fun Day

A few months ago an airport staff member asked one simple question:

“Hey, why don’t we hold a runway run?”

What started as a spark in the mind of a genius airport staffer has become the event of the year here at AVL and we’re super excited to invite you to the first-ever Runway 5k and Healthy Fun Day. We don’t want to give away all the details yet, but here’s some of what you can expect:

  • A 5k race that takes place on a portion of the airport’s runway and the airport campus. Don’t worry—we’re making sure no planes are coming or going during the race!
  • Games and giveaways—including a scavenger hunt for the kids to help them earn their wings.
  • Live entertainment by some very talented musicians.
  • A drawing for free airfare from AVL.
  • Aircraft on display, including a State Highway Patrol Helicopter, private aircraft, MAMA (Mission Health’s medical transport helicopter), and more!
  • Food from local restaurants, including our very own Blue Ridge Trading + Tavern.
  • Plus lots more from our partners and Mission Health.

And the best part? Admission to the Healthy Fun Day is absolutely free! There is a small fee to participate in the Runway 5k, but you’ll get an awesome t-shirt and a unique experience to tell your friends about.

We’ll keep you posted as details unfold, but for now save the date—October 1st. The Runway 5k starts at 9am and the Healthy Fun Day kicks off at 10am.

You can learn more about the event and register for the race right here.

Tell us what you’re most excited about in the comments section!

Fifty Years and Still in Love

Today is the big day — we are celebrating fifty years!

When we realized 2011 was going to be the airport’s 50th year, a question emerged: Is this a birthday or an anniversary?

Birthdays, we concluded, honor the one who is celebrating. Anniversaries, on the other hand, commemorate a relationship. Go ahead and call us cheesy, but we believe this celebration isn’t just about the airport — it’s about the community’s loyalty to AVL, and vice versa. Relationships, as we all know, take a certain amount of work, dedication and mutual support. Through the years, we’ve done our best to give this community what it needs, and you, Western North Carolina, have supported us in return.

On that note, can we just say that we love how enthusiastic you are about Asheville Airport? If we continue with the analogy of a relationship, we can honestly say that it feels like our first months together, and we’re definitely feeling the love. You compliment us nearly every day on how good we look, how you like us better than other airports, and how you can’t wait to see us again. The feeling is mutual, and we’d just like to say that, without you, we wouldn’t be who we are today. We also hear your constructive feedback on the areas in which we could use improvement, and we appreciate that too.

So Western North Carolina, thanks for the love. Here’s to us, and to the next fifty years!

History Exhibit Sneak Peek

We’re working like mad to pull together the most unique exhibit the airport Art Gallery has ever seen, and you’re about to get a sneak peek.

Opening Tuesday, June 7th, the exhibit features the history of the Asheville Regional Airport and its place in culture through the decades since it first opened in 1961.

Here are some teasers to pique your curiosity. Enjoy, and be sure to stop by to explore the exhibit!

Our New Favorite Channel

Allow us to introduce you to our favorite new TV channel. Actually, it’s not a channel at all, but rather a unique collection of content designed to give you—the airline passenger—information specific to your travel destination (or layover location) while you wait to board your flight.

New TVs at AVL

Now featured in the gate areas of our terminal are three Prodigiq Airport TV Network televisions that feature programming directly related to the destination in which you’re about to land. For example, if you’re waiting for a flight to Orlando on AirTran, you might see information about dining or attractions, or the current weather conditions, in Orlando. You’ll also get real-time flight information, breaking news, business and sports news—even cooking demonstrations.

The three flat-screen monitors cover all seven gates—two near gates 1–3, and one near gates 4–7.

One of our favorite features is the ability to choose where you sit and how much audio you hear as a result. Pick a front-row, center spot and you’ll be treated to audio from multiple speakers. Select a seat a few rows away and you’ll have enough quiet to read a book and still glance up to catch headlines.

The audio has also been carefully set at a level that allows passengers to hear the all-important airline announcements.

It’s not just the programming we’re excited about, but also the power-saving schedule that turns the screens on for the first passengers arriving at the airport in the morning, and shuts them down between flights and for the night, after the last flight arrives.

As we develop more tech-centric services for passengers, this system can easily be integrated with airport messaging, ADA-compliant messaging and airline announcements, all in the name of helping you take the easy way out.

Passenger Rights

Last week’s announcement by the Department of Transportation regarding airline passenger rights was chock full of good news for travelers.

The new regulations—which take effect in August—not only make air travel easier, but also provide solutions for a few common-sense issues we’ve been hearing about here in “airport world” for a while.

Here’s a breakdown of the rules:

1)      Airlines will be required to disclose, in plain view on their websites, any possible additional fees. This means when you book your ticket online, there won’t be any surprises. Everything from bag fees and cancellation or change fees, to meals, upgrades—even government taxes and fees—must be presented clearly.

2)      If your bag is lost, the airline must refund your baggage fee. We can probably all agree this just makes sense.

3)      If you’ve ever been bumped from a flight involuntarily because of an overbooked plane, you’ll appreciate this one: Increased compensation for involuntary bumping. The new rule increases the payment passengers may receive for both short and long delays.

4)      International flights by U.S. airlines—as well as by foreign airlines at U.S. airports—are now required to limit tarmac delays to four hours (with a few sensible exceptions for security and air traffic reasons). Passengers must also be provided food and water after the two-hour mark, plus the obvious necessities of working restrooms and medical care, if and when it’s needed.

It’s great to glimpse some positive changes for airline passengers. From the customer service perspective, these regulations are a much needed (and, frankly, much overdue) improvement to the air travel industry, and we’ll be happy to see them take effect later this summer.

Spring defines spring like this: “the season between winter and summer.”

Really? That’s it? Because it sure seems like it deserves a little more credit than simply an “in-between season.”

Spring, from what we understand, is the season 96% of the population just can’t wait for (based on absolutely no empirical data but on the comments routinely heard around the airport, i.e. “Ugh, is it SPRING yet?!”).

Spring carries with it not only warmer weather and the emergence of hibernating creatures and plant life, but also an energy all its own that motivates us humans to emerge from hibernation as well—to pry ourselves from our HDTVs and couch clothes and propel us into gardening gear, jogging suits and—we have to say it—airplanes!

Spring fever, defined by the same source as a “…restless feeling commonly associated with the beginning of spring,” is in full-swing. And much like the groundhogs and black bears we’ve begun to see here in Western North Carolina (a few groundhogs have already been spotted at the airport exit off I-26), new airlines and flights are springing to life as well.

Just yesterday we welcomed a new airline—Vision—with a ceremonial water arch (because watering things in the spring helps them grow?) which can fly you from Asheville to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, in just over an hour and just under $90 each way.

Bursting on the scene this spring is also the return of AirTran’s popular (and low cost!) non-stop flight to Tampa, Florida, PLUS new service to Philadelphia on US Airways. And in late spring, American Airlines is returning with service to Dallas/Ft. Worth.

So get outside, get your lawn chores done, and then book yourself a little vacation. Let’s give spring the credit it deserves and make the most of this beautiful season!

Photo Friday!

It’s photo Friday at AVL and we found some fun stuff in our new restaurant and gift shop, Blue Ridge Trading + Tavern. Check it out!

Grab and go newspapers
Grab and go newspapers…

Baked goods at Blue Ridge Trading + Tavern
Mmm… pastries!

Dozens of books. (Speaking of reading, check out the Read and Return program.)

Plus some fun souvenirs!

Blue Ridge Trading + Tavern

Stepping through the security checkpoint at Asheville Regional Airport now not only means you’re that much closer to boarding your flight, but you’re also about twenty five steps from an incredible new restaurant, bar, and gift shop that opened just today at AVL.

We knew this was going to be one of the most exciting airport enhancements in recent years, but as passengers and airport employees milled about the Blue Ridge Trading + Tavern in the post-security atrium this morning, the excitement was almost as tangible as the chocolate croissants in the bakery case. Or the Asheville apparel on the sale table. Or the 80+ magazine varieties spread out on the newsstand racks. You get the idea.

And while the lattes could give any coffee shop a run for their money, and the lightweight travel duffels on sale for six to fifteen bucks are irresistible (one person was seen buying three of them), it’s really the variety of choices that have us all abuzz.

Three paragraphs and we haven’t even touched on the bar and restaurant!

The menu for the Blue Ridge Tavern features the work of a local chef; you may know him—Anthony Cerrato of Fiore’s Ristorante Toscana in downtown Asheville. The food—everything from sandwiches and salads to burgers and fried green tomatoes—is already receiving rave reviews, and you can pair your meal with a locally brewed beer, including selections from Asheville Brewing Co., French Broad Brewing Co., Highland Brewing Co., and Green Man Ales. Domestic and imported beer, wine, and mixed drinks are also available at the bar (which, if you haven’t heard, has a great wide-angle-lens view of the runway).

Just as important as what’s on your plate is the atmosphere in which you’ll be enjoying your menu picks. A picture is worth a thousand words (see the snapshot below), but suffice it to say the combination of soothing earth tones, natural rock pillars, and overall upscale feel just might make you forget you’re in an airport at all.

Good thing those final boarding calls can be heard in the Blue Ridge Tavern.

Look Who’s Turning 50!

We’re probably going to talk about this quite a bit throughout 2011 because we just can’t believe we’re celebrating 50 years. When the airport opened back in 1961, it was small but effective, and was a welcome addition to our community. In the years that followed, our airport got a few facelifts—upgrades, enhancements, expansions—and today it looks better than ever, if we do say so ourselves.

But the best thing about turning 50 is the collection of memories compiled over the years. Famous visitors have graced us with their presence, from politicians to pop stars; hundreds of thousands of aircraft have come and gone, including the Concorde jet back in the 1980s, and Air Force One (and Two!) more than a few times; and, perhaps best of all, community support has grown as much as the airport has.

It’s really an honor to have served the residents of Western North Carolina for five decades, and we want you to know we are positively thrilled to jump right in to the next five.

We plan to celebrate this milestone all year long, and one of our favorite ways to celebrate is to give stuff away, so keep an eye on this blog, and our Facebook and Twitter accounts, so you don’t miss your chance to win AVL gear, free trips and more!

AVL Goes Mobile

Along with our new website launch, we’re thrilled to also unveil a mobile site for your Droid, iPhone, iPad or other mobile device!

With a slick user interface, our new mobile site (which loads automatically when you enter into your device’s browser) makes flying from your hometown airport even easier. With the touch of a (generously-sized) button, you can check flight status, get info on parking and rental cars—even book a trip! As a bonus, you’ll find quick links to the AVL Facebook and Twitter pages to keep you in the loop on the latest news.

We want to help you take the easy way out every time and we think this nifty little tool will help you do just that.

Have you used our mobile site? We want to know what you think. DM us on Twitter (@flyavlnow) or send us an e-mail at!

Mobile Site Screenshot

Screenshot of the new mobile site