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British Airways to Fly 747s on Austin-London Route

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British Airways Boeing 747-400 G-BNLU.
British Airways Boeing 747-400 G-BNLU. / photo credit: BriYYZ / Wikimedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Starting on April 8, 2018, British Airways will operate its nonstop route between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and London Heathrow (LHR) with Boeing 747 aircraft. This will mark the first regularly scheduled commercial passenger service using 747s at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The British Airways upgrade to 747 aircraft increases first class service by six seats, business class by 10 seats and 116 more economy seats.

Flights depart Austin at 6:40 PM and arrive at London Heathrow at 10 AM. Flights depart Heathrow at 12 NOON and arrive in Austin at 4:16 PM.

British Airways began flying daily between Austin-Bergstrom International and London Heathrow in March 2014, providing local businesses and families the first non-stop scheduled service to Europe.

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Airlines

Taos Air Begins New Nonstop Service From Austin

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Passengers board a Dornier 328 jet for the inaugural Taos Air flight
Passengers board a Dornier 328 jet for the inaugural Taos Air flight at the Signature Flight Support facility at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Dec. 20, 2018. Photo credit: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

The first flight from Taos Air, a new charter service offering nonstop flights between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and Taos Regional Airport (TSM), departed Austin the morning of December 20, 2018.

Operating out from the Signature Flight Support facility, on the south side of the airport campus, Taos Air’s seasonal service flies Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays – plus on holiday Mondays.

“Taos Air will now offer the closest, fastest and easiest route to the Rockies from Texas – a thrilling development for skiers, snowboarders and outdoor enthusiasts who like big mountains and big adventures,” said David Norden, CEO of Taos Ski Valley, Inc. “The new air service will allow Texans the flexibility to visit Taos more frequently, or for quick weekend trips.”

Taos Air offers flights starting at $96 one way, which travelers can book tickets now via www.skitaos.com/taos-air or by calling 833-359-8267 (FLYTAOS). Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights.

Flights are scheduled to depart Austin Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:20 AM, and on Sundays and holiday Mondays at 10 AM. Return flights from Taos are at 4:24 PM and 6:40 PM, respectively. Taos Air is a charter flight service of the Taos Regional Airport.

Signature Flight Support is located at 4321 Emma Browning Avenue. It may be accessed by taking U.S. 183 South to Burleson Road. From Burleson Road, take Emma Browning Avenue to Signature Flight Support.

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Airlines

Frontier Moves to South Terminal, Adds Nonstop Routes

Highlighting its relocation to the South Terminal, Nov. 15, 2018, Frontier Airlines announced two additional nonstop destinations.

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A Frontier Airlines A320 arrives at the South Terminal of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Nov. 15, 2018. Frontier relocated its operations to the South Terminal from where they will offer 21 nonstop destinations from Austin.
A Frontier Airlines A320 arrives at the South Terminal of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Nov. 15, 2018. Frontier relocated its operations to the South Terminal from where they will offer 21 nonstop destinations from Austin. Photo credit: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Highlighting its relocation to the South Terminal of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), Nov. 15, 2018, Frontier Airlines announced two additional nonstop destinations from Austin.

New Nonstop Service

Beginning on April 30, 2019, the airline will begin offer seasonal nonstop service to Chicago, followed by service to San Francisco beginning on May 10, 2019. These flights, along with the rest of Frontier’s flights from Austin-Bergstrom will operate from the South Terminal, a separate facility accessed off Burleson Road, east of US 183.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming customers to a new, easier, more relaxed experience,” said Daniel Shurz, Senior Vice President, Commercial for Frontier Airlines. “2018 has been a big year for Frontier in Austin, we’ve significantly expanded our route network, and we’ve got a great range of destinations from Austin.

The New South Terminal

Rendering of the entrance to the South Terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Rendering of the entrance to the South Terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Photo credit: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport / City of Austin

With more than 1,000 parking spaces available, the South Terminal has both an indoor concession area and an outdoor patio featuring gourmet tacos from the De Nada Tacos food truck. Shuttle service is available to transport passengers to the Barbara Jordan Terminal and operates approximately every 20 minutes. Travelers should be aware that off-airport parking does not serve the South Terminal.

“The South Terminal and Frontier are an excellent fit and creates a growth opportunity for both the South Terminal and Frontier,” said Jeff Pearse, CEO of Lonestar Airport Holdings, LLC, South Terminal Operator. “We look forward to hosting Frontier passengers and treating them to our Austin experience, South Terminal style.”

Frontier serves 21 nonstop destinations from Austin. Tickets and Frontier low fare sales, including new sales to celebrate the relocation, are available at FlyFrontier.com. Frontier has carried 744,890 passengers through Austin’s airport year-to-date January – August 2018, about seven percent of Austin airport travelers, making Frontier the fifth busiest airline in Austin.

Parking

Parking at the South Terminal is available for $10 per day in Long Term, and Short Term located directly in front of the terminal is $16 per day. Parking at the South Terminal is automated and payable by credit card only.

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Pride Journeys: Seattle

Pride Journey’s Joey Amato travels to Seattle in the Pacific Northwest to discover what the Emerald City has to offer for the LGBTQ+ traveler.

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Seattle skyline from Kerry Park
Seattle skyline from Kerry Park. Photo credit: CommunistSquared / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A journey to the Pacific Northwest is something I always look forward to. I love the natural beauty of Seattle and of course the abundance of fresh seafood the city has to offer. Its proximity to both Portland and Vancouver are also benefits and the three cities are connected via Amtrak, so visitors can easily turn a trip to the Emerald City into a multi-destination vacation.

Amtrak’s King Street Station is conveniently location just south of downtown in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood / photo credit: Amtrak / website

Whenever I travel to a city, I like to search for the local LGBT publications. In this case, pick up a copy of Unite Seattle and Seattle Gay News for an overview of local happenings. On many occasions, I discovered wonderful events taking place in a city that I would not have known about had I not read a local gay publication. Plus, it’s a great way to meet the community. You can easily find the publications at any one of the gay bars and restaurants in Capitol Hill or even at a new hotspot called Lumber Yard, a sports bar located in the White Center neighborhood, about 15 minutes from downtown.

The Lumber Yard in Seattle’s White Center neighborhood / photo credit: The Lumber Yard Bar / Facebook

I began my experience in Seattle with a VIP Food Tour of Pike Place Market organized through Savor Seattle Food Tours. I usually can’t function in the morning if I don’t have breakfast, but guests should come hungry to this tour. Our intimate group met at Indi Chocolate, a very nice shop that produces delicious chocolate in addition to cacao-based products including teas, spice rubs, and body care products all made from cocoa butter. Over the next two hours, we journeyed through the market tasting homemade biscuits, fresh Rainier cherries, maple bacon doughnuts and sipping on specialty teas. In total, we visited 8 different vendors including the famous flying fish stand…yes, those guys who throw the fish. You’ll be glad you woke up early to experience the market before the other 30,000 people who visit each day.

Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market / photo credit: Pike Place Market / Facebook

Directly across the street from Pike Place Market is the original Starbucks Coffee. I was misled by travel sites and was told to visit a different shop around the corner but was later informed that the location on 1st Avenue is truly the first. This was evident by the dozens of tourists posing for photos outside the store.

Starbucks original store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market / photo credit: Starbucks / website

The last visited Seattle, a little company called Amazon was just getting started. Fast forward a decade later, the tech behemoth has penetrated almost every part of the city. Some may say they have grown too much, but there are some advantages, most notably, Amazon Go. My friend Jared took me there and it was a fun experience. You need to download the Amazon Go app on your phone to enter. It’s linked to your bank account and you literally just pick up any items you’d like from sandwiches to wine – and walk out the door. Your account will be charged within an hour. It’s quite remarkable. In the same part of town are the Amazon Spheres, which took over 2 years to construct and are home to more than 40,000 plants from the cloud forest regions of over 30 countries.

Amazon’s Seattle Spheres bring a direct link to nature in an urban landscape / photo credit: Biodin / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Not too far from Amazon’s headquarters is the Mayflower Park Hotel. Built in 1927 the property earned the distinction of being a Historic Hotel of America. Both the lobby as well as the rooms are elegantly appointed with rich fabrics, dark woods and showcase the hotel’s history as one of the finest privately-owned hotels in the region.

The entrance to the historic Mayflower Park Hotel is conveniently located near Pike Place Market / photo credit: Mayflower Park Hotel / Facebook

After a quick wardrobe change, I was ready for a night out on the town. Capitol Hill is Seattle’s gayborhood, consisting of dozens of LGBT restaurants, bars, retail shops and professional businesses. Capitol Hill is a nice walk from the hotel, so if weather permits, I’d suggest taking a leisurely stroll.

Once there, head to Union, a brand-new gay hotspot with a full menu, outdoor patio and some of the hottest bartenders in town. While in Capitol Hill, check out Queer Bar, The Cuff, R Place, Madison Pub, and Pony. They are all within blocks of each other and each offer a different vibe and crowd.

Rainbow crosswalk in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, the city’s LGBTQ hub / photo credit: Michael Hinsch / Visit Seattle

Begin your next day with a trip to Seattle Center, home of the iconic Space Needle. I suggest fighting the hangover and arriving at opening, otherwise you’ll be waiting in line for at least an hour to journey to the top of the structure. Built in 1962, the Space Needle stands 605 feet tall and offers 360-degree views from its three main viewing areas. The observation level features the world’s first-ever revolving glass floor, known as The Loupe. It took me about 10 minutes to build up enough courage to even step foot onto The Loupe. Those afraid of heights will be hesitant to even come close to newest attraction.

The Loupe – the world’s first revolving glass floor – at the newly renovated Space Needle / photo credit: John Lok / Space Needle LLC

I’d head to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) immediately after the Space Needle as it seems to get crowded early on and is definitely loved among families, especially since their latest exhibition Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes opened. The collection features more than 300 original artifacts, including some of Marvel’s most iconic and sought-after pages, costumes and props, many of which have never-before been seen by the public. The exhibition tells the Marvel story through comics, film and other media, ahead of the 80th anniversary of the company in 2019.

The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, is dedicated to contemporary popular culture / photo credit: Museum of Pop Culture / Facebook

I found the Nirvana exhibit to be the most fascinating part of MoPOP. Growing up, I wasn’t really a huge fan of the band nor the Grunge scene, but after visiting, I really learned how that era of music shaped pop culture. It was one of the last genres of music to influence a fashion and lifestyle. I left the exhibition with a deeper understand and appreciation of not only the band’s music but the genre as a whole.

Complete your tour of Seattle Center with a visit to Chihuly Garden and Glass dedicated to the works of local glass artisan Dale Chihuly. The Exhibition Hall contains eight galleries offering a comprehensive look at Chihuly’s most significant works including: Glass Forest, Northwest Room, Sealife Room and Chandeliers. The gift shop also gives guests a chance to purchase a one-of-a-kind work of art by the legendary artist, if you have a few thousand dollars to spare.

Chihuly Garden and Glass, a must-see during your visit to Seattle, is located next to the Sky Needle / photo credit: Chihuly Garden and Glass / website

If you’re hungry, head to Mamnoon, a delicious gay-owned Middle Eastern restaurant. I highly recommend trying the Mamnoon Falafel consisting of Palouse farm’s chickpeas, cabbage, tomato, pickles, yogurt, tarator and herbs or their famous Za’atar, which is commonly known as the king of Lebanese street food. Since you did a lot of walking earlier in the morning, it’s ok to reward yourself with an order of the Harra Spiced Frites with cilantro and house made harra ketchup. You’ll thank me later!

Mamnoon Falafel with Harra Spiced Frites / photo credit: Mamnoon / Facebook

Seattle is definitely all it’s cracked up to be. I love the cultural diversity especially when it comes to the variety of cuisine. I did find 3 days a bit short to really appreciate the city and the surrounding regions, most notably Washington’s wine country located in the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley. I’ll have to visit again to focus on that region of the state to get my wine fix.

Pride Journeys is an LGBT travel website dedicated to sharing travel reviews and news of interest to the LGBT community. For more info, visit www.PrideJourneys.com.

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