Annita Stokes Thomas, on-air host for syndicated Travel Bags with Annita & Friends Radio Show, is a jetsetter in every sense of the word. She stays on the go visiting exotic locales and popular destinations such as Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Hawaii, St. Croix, Canada and beyond. When it comes to airports, she’s seen the best of them. As a resident of Flowery Branch, Georgia, she departs from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for each of her trips.
“I travel for my radio show to various destinations around the world. What I like about this airport is the various options of shopping, restaurants and the separate sides of north and south. It cuts down on congestion,” says Thomas. “What I find appealing in the areas of shopping, dining, art, etc. is variety. I love the Shona art work that is between the courses. It’s always such a treat to walk between the courses and experience the art close up.”
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport. In 2015, it became the first airport on the globe to hit 100 million passengers in one year. The City of Atlanta and the airport’s staff work tirelessly to ensure that travelers like Thomas have the best experience possible in the state known for its downhome hospitality. While the airport joins others throughout the world in exceptional dining and shopping experiences, we chose to unearth some of their unique amenities and spectacular events you may want to enjoy as you pass through.
Welcome to “Hotlanta”………. Visitor Information Center at ATL
Upon their arrival at the airport, travelers can head over to the Visitor Information Center at ATL. They have the convenience of immediately accessing travel brochures for attractions in the city, state travel guides for Georgia and get valuable travel tips that will prove useful during their stay. Featuring the latest technology, flat screen televisions provide up-to-the-minute information feeds and images of the city’s most charming scenes. The first edifice of this type in Georgia, the center provides a great deal of information on dining, sightseeing and shopping.
Mommy and Me…… Innovative Lactation Stations
Traveling just got simpler and more tranquil for nursing mothers passing through the airport. Four lactation pods, specifically designed for an intimate, private experience by Mamava, are situated beyond the security checkpoints found near gates T-7, B-5, D-34 and F-5. Having the capacity to lock from the inside, the pods offer electric outlets for pumps, bench seating and a small diaper changing table.
Celebrate Good Times…… Special Events Year Round
Throughout the year, spectacular events and presentations mesmerize the guests. Winter Wonderland featuring tree lighting, Toyland, carolers and mascots of Atlanta-based sports teams are featured during the December holidays. For Valentine’s Day Customer Appreciation, passengers enjoy sweet treats, music and a dance ensemble. Specially themed celebrations such as “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Flying” can be seen for Independence Day.
Enjoyable Collectibles…….. The Permanent and Rotating Art Collections
Beginning in 1979, during the legendary Mayor Maynard Jackson’s tenure, this collection grew from nine commissioned pieces to over 250. There are striking pieces on the interior and exterior. You can view sculptural abstractions, giant ants, Leo Sewell’s “Samsonite” and “Rolling Suitcases”, Robert Delgado’s mural entitled “Past and Present in Moving Color” and Ancestral by Curtis Patterson. A very important and intriguing display is “A Walk Through Atlanta History” featuring the Civil Rights Movements and other notable milestones. Rotating exhibits include museums, private collectors and galleries such as the Freedom Riders Civil Rights display.
“The art between the concourses is Shona Art from Zimbabwe. I love this art carved from stone, because the sculptures depict traditions, symbols and the culture of the Zimbabwean people. The pieces are various sizes – large to very large and they are hand carved. The artist works shows the skill of the Shona people, who have been carvers for generations. They have used other materials, but the serpentine stone, which is found in Zimbabwe is what they are known for today. The stone ranges in color, but many of the pieces are in grays, greens and browns,” says Thomas.
Just Like Music…….. Soulful Sounds at the Airport
The ATL Entertainment Series is presented at least four times annually featuring top musicians and other local artists. You can relax and enjoy the harmony of diverse songs in the Atrium or on International Concourse E.
“I have heard very talented pianists playing in concourse E. That is a very relaxing way to experience the airport. I enjoy stopping for a moment to listen or purchasing a snack and sitting for a few minutes to experience the music and forget the part of travel that can be stressful and rushing,” says Thomas.
A Time of Praise……. Worship at the Interfaith Chapel
Passengers wanting or needing to pray, worship or mediate can do so in the Atrium Chapel or Concourse F Chapel. Additionally, there are structured services on various days and times. This includes Christian Services, Catholic Services and Sacrament of Penance, Episcopal Communion Services and Muslim Jumuah Prayer.
Rest and Recharge……… Get a Nap in the Minute Suites
This ground-breaking enterprise is the first of its kind in a United States airport. Minute Suites features five private suites for passengers to retreat – even if for an hour or two before flights. Each room has a daybed, high definition TV with Internet and DIRECTV access and work stations. Just relax, kick back, watch TV, read, work in a noise-free environment or just rest and slip off to sleep. You don’t have to worry about missing your flight. The suites feature a special in-flight tracking system.
Get Reinvigorated and Rejuvenated ……. Luxuriate in Services at XpresSpa
If you have an hour or two between flights, drop into XpresSpa at Terminal A, opposite Center Food Court and Terminal C, across from Gate C37. Go on. Indulge yourself. Delight in a full body massage, reflexology massage, the signature massage lounger, a deluxe mani pedi, moisturizing paraffin treatment or aroma pure deep cleansing.
Fit and Fab………. Get Your Exercise in on The Walking Path
Health and wellness is a vital part of one’s everyday life. It can prove challenging to get in your Fitbit steps or Weight Watchers fitness points daily. “The Walking Path” can assist you. The underground walkway is between courses.
“The walking paths through the concourses is a great way to get exercise. I also like the walk instead of crowding on the train. If I have time, after a flight it is a great way to get the blood flowing again and stretch my legs. There is other art work long some of the concourses too. I love to walk through the concourses and slow down to actually look closely at each piece; thinking of the ideas or vision of the artist and thinking of how I perceive it. I have several pieces in my home and seeing it in the airport reminds me of my trips to Africa. Plus, I have found souvenirs and retail shops the perfect place to pick up something I forgot or maybe a magazine for the flight,” says Thomas.
Etcetera ……… A Range of Amenities and Offerings
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has many comforts and niceties. Interactive charging stations with cameras for sharing your Atlanta presence on social media is both practical and fun. The airport also features automated passport control kiosks, MARTA access, Plane Train people mover, a cell phone lot, water bottle filling stations, play areas and free wi-fi. Additionally, it has first class retail shops and dining.
“I like the variety. There is a lot to choose from and there are restaurants which are very high-end. Not just fast food,” says Thomas. “The retail shops at times will have great sales. I purchased a favorite dress that I love to take with me when traveling to the Caribbean. It was 50% off. I have also purchased purses and things like travel pillows from the shops too. Once I forgot my charger and was able to pick-up one right at the airport – no problem. And, I certainly would need it on a week-long trip.”