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Stopping off at Philadelphia International Airport
If you fly with US Airlines you are likely to stop off at one of two airports, Philadelphia or Charlotte. We recently had quite a long stay at Philadelphia on our way home from visiting our villa in Orlando. We had a 6 hour stop-over whilst waiting for our transatlantic flight, and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
Philadelphia International Airport first opened in 1940 as the Philadelphia Municipal Airport. It was built on land which was once known as Hog Island, the site of a huge shipbuilding yard built during World War I. It is now the gateway to the ‘City of Brotherly Love, ’ Philadelphia itself, and is reputed to be the 10th busiest airport in the world in terms of aircraft activity. In 2005 over 31, 000, 000 passengers flew through PHL. However, it is not without its problems as it remains the world’s largest airport without an in-ground fuelling system, so fuel has to be brought by truck to each aircraft, and this can lead to congestion and flight delays. If you find yourself here with time on your hands then you are in for a treat. It is a fabulous airport, bright, modern and spotlessly clean, and has a variety of things to occupy your time.
It is a growing airport, and for the newcomer its large number of terminals and concourses can be a little confusing. There are actually 5 terminals and 9 concourses, which serve a diverse array of airlines, including Air France, US Airways, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air Canada, Continental, United, American, Delta, Northwest, and Southwest. It is the primary international hub of US Airways who have flights to Europe, Mexico, Canada and all over America, and it is reported that they hope to start a service to Bejing in 2009. Whilst most adjacent terminals can be accessed in 5-10 minutes, the distance between Terminal A and F is so great that it will take anything up to 20 minutes to get there.
Of course, in line with most airports, smoking is not allowed anywhere within the building, and smokers must leave the terminal complex if they wish to light up. This includes all bars and restaurants, too. However, there is a huge choice of both shopping and eating, with the large Philadelphia Marketplace shops located in the Terminal B/C connecting corridor. If you feel a little tired, or just want to watch the world go by, then here is the place to grab one of their white painted rocking chairs so you can sit and chill out until your flight leaves. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food outlets, including Sbarros, T. G. I. Friday’s, Asian Chao, Philly Steak, Independence Brew Pub and Bassett’s Turkey and Salad Café.
We thoroughly enjoyed browsing the various shops and kiosks which are scattered throughout the airport. There are jewellery stores, book stores, Bath and Body Works, a PGA Tour Shop, Gap, and Wilson’s Leathers. My favourite was the Philadelphia Museum of Art Store which has a large collection of unusual and interesting gifts for sale. Another favourite is the Pennsylvania themed gift shop, which has a large selection of gifts associated with this famous city. Of course there are numerous items celebrating the Liberty Bell, which is located here, in Philadelphia. It is a great place to pick up some postcards, or the odd souvenir. You can even buy a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Should you crave the ultimate in gourmet food then pop into the Caviar Association shop and pick up some caviar, sushi or a takeaway sandwich. The colourful kiosks offer such things as jewellery, watches, handbags, children’s clothing, pens, and even magic tricks.
If you want a quiet area to sit and relax then head for the lobby of the Philadelphia Airport Marriott, which is connected to Terminal B via a skybridge. There is a seating area here, and more comfortable seats located in the lobby of the hotel itself.
Many airports now boast extensive art work on display and Philadelphia airport is no exception. It has an art programme with more than a dozen exhibition sites throughout the terminals. Items on loan from the Franklin Mint and other museums can be seen, as well as photography, sculptures, ceramics, photography and furniture. You can pick up a leaflet which describes the current exhibitions from the many information centers around the terminals. My personal favourite has to be the extraordinary display of tiny bird sculptures which form a huge mobile along the moving walkway in Terminal A-West.
So if you are traveling with US Airways and find yourself with time to spare then go shopping at the Philadelphia Market Place, grab a meal or a snack, look at the art exhibits, or simply sit and relax in the rocking chairs which have been so thoughtfully provided. The time will pass in a flash.
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