Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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This Thanksgiving, find story ideas at the airport

November 26, 2014

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A drop-off spot at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

With the Thanksgiving holiday season underway, airports are a great place to look for stories.  Most medium to large airports post their rules for the media on their websites. Their public affairs officials are usually more than happy to help with stories. But there are some things to keep in mind.

First, you can’t just wander into an airport, go through security and take photos and film passengers. You’ll most likely need an escort from the airport staff. And, if you show up without letting them know in advance, you might risk getting kicked out by airport police.

Second, you also risk getting towed if you leave your car or your station’s truck parked at the curb. Again, be sure to let someone know you’re coming. Police are harried at this time of year. And while, you might get cut slack on a slow day, the holidays are when everyone is expected to “move it!”

Third, be a little more patient with airport staff than usual, since others are looking for stories, and stories are actually happening. A snow or ice storm in your area is sure to send journalists descending on bored passengers.

Below are some places you may want to look for stories during the holiday season:

  • Parking. This is one of the biggest moneymakers for an airport, so take a look at the revenue numbers during the holiday season. This information may or may not be on the airport’s web site. Some airports are run by city governments, and you’ll want to dig into their budgets to find it.
  • Concessions. We tend to spend more time in airports, whether we want to or not, during the holidays. Check out the numbers for food and beverage. On the retail side, see if any stores are offering discounts, free items or special holiday sales.
  • Baggage fees. With the onset of these fees being charged by airlines, the holiday season can be a bonanza, as travelers tend to check more bags. Take a look at the numbers regularly compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
  • Wi-Fi. In a post I did here on Oct. 15, I wrote about the true cost of airport Wi-Fi. With more people packed into facilities during the holidays, check with airports on what they’re doing — and spending — to make sure their Wi-Fi can handle the crush.

STORY IDEAS

Airlines for America

Airports Council International-North America

Ricondo & Associates Nonaeronautical Revenue Development

Baggage Fees by Airline 2014, U.S. DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics

SITA Baggage Report, 2014

Forbes: Who’s paying for your free airport WiFi?

Benét J. Wilson is co-editor of AirwaysNews.com and blogs at AviationQueen.com. She has been an aviation/travel journalists for more than 20 years. Follow her on Twitter @AvQueenBenet

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