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Observations from DIA Denver International Airport

Observations from Denver International Airport, September 11, 2006

"Sign up today and get a free trip!"

So there's this guy wandering around the airport on concourse A saying "Sign up today and get a free round trip on Frontier." Just when you thought you were safe from being marketed something, here's someone wandering around the airport, looking for people to sign up for credit cards. It is not that I mind being marketed to, or even that I mind being marketed to in the airport. But as much as I do like sitting for an hour and waiting while someone repeats the exact same message over and over (like they already do over the sound system about aerosols and toothpaste), now I'm listening to a guy selling a credit card over and over. This is not even to mention the tacit acceptance we all have that it's okay for a large company to encourage and even reward us for contributing to the huge problem of Americans drowning in debt. But I digress...

Wireless Internet

Denver International Airport = something fishy. DIA is the only airport I have ever been in where wireless Internet is offered and fully accessible, but where it costs you something. You can log in through any of the major providers on their main page, but there's a cost associated with getting on their wireless network (provided by AT&T). If you don't already have an account with one of these major providers, you can pay $7.95/day for unlimited access. Admittedly, that is not super expensive, but didn't I pay for DIA with tax money already? How about the landing fees that are tacked on to my ticket prices just because I happen to fly from here? Couldn't a small portion of that go to pay AT&T or someone else so that while wireless Internet access is available while I'm sitting here listening to how aerosols and toothpaste are prohibited (and how I can get a free round trip ticket if I'm willing to dig myself into a hole of debt)?

Hey DIA, how about this suggestion? A little innovation: The equipment for wireless Internet is already here, so all that has to be purchased is the access. DIA pays for the Internet connection, but when a traveler connects through the DIA travel network, it's accompanied by a small sidebar. This sidebar runs ads for the people and companies who rent space in the airport. They get a 15-30 second rotating banner impression, and it's just $10/month added on to their rent cost. There are potentially 100 or more vendors here in the airport, each paying $10/month. This could serve to let people know what shops are available (did you know you can get a massage at DIA while waiting for your flight?) while at the same time paying for the Internet connection of all travelers through the airport. 100 vendors*$10/month = some pretty nice bandwidth being carried into the airport for wireless connections.

The Internet situation here is kind of like Starbuck's versus the local neighborhood coffee shop. At both places, you've already bought overpriced coffee, but at the neighborhood coffee shop, you generally can sign in after agreeing to their terms and conditions, while at Starbuck's, you have to pay T-Mobile or another major provider in order to log on to the Internet. Could it be that DIA is getting some sort of kick-back from these companies?

Nah, it couldn't be that (catch the sarcasm). (Actually, if it isn't that, DIA should be making some money for allowing these guys to own the wireless space at the airport.)

It's just interesting that this is the only airport I've seen (and I've traveled to plenty), that charges for its wireless internet access. Denver International Airport's new slogan: *DIA: Starbuck's of airports*.

Parents with kids on leashes

Everyone has probably seen this more recent phenomenon of parents putting their kids on leashes. Aside from the huge moral fallacy presented in such a big way by the people who think that this is okay, what I notice most about parents who put their kids on leashes is that both hands of the parent are usually full. In addition to hanging on to the strap for their child(ren), they are carrying something in both hands: generally it's 3 or more of the following: coffee, candy bar, book, ice cream, hot dog, super-sized cola, backpack, doughnuts, etc. Generally, if you notice the parents who have their children on a leash, they are overweight. Could there be some sort of relationship here?

Don't get me wrong, because it must be difficult to be a parent, something which I will have the joy of experiencing someday. But parents, understand this: the only time that it's okay to put your child on a rope that is attached to them and you is when you are mountain climbing. If you're putting a leash on your kid to prevent them from running away, then you need to help your child learn boundaries, and you really should lose some weight, so that if absolutely necessary, and only as a last resort, you can chase after your child. Get rid of some of the stuff you're carrying, because even though you want it, you likely don't need it. This is especially true if what you're carrying is excess weight.

If you're putting a leash on your kid to prevent someone else walking away with your child, then you need to watch less TV. This is not to downplay the significance of child abductions, but if the best response you can come up with to keep your child safe from an abduction is to keep them tethered to you at all times, then you clearly have been brainwashed into paranoia by watching too much news. Instead of a leash, here's an idea: teach your child some lessons about people who are okay to be with and people who are not okay to be with, and then give your child some freedom to explore, while at the same time establishing some boundaries (GASP!) for them.

Get your poor child off of the leash.

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