Airports mark holidays with sales, Santas and song

It may seem unnatural to blend a holiday shopping excursion with a trip to the airport, but this season many airports are working overtime to court you and your gift-buying dollars with prizes, promotions, festive d├ęcor and lots of top-notch entertainment.

There are plenty of other reasons to shop for holiday gifts at an airport. Over the past few years, airports have been steadily upgrading the quality and variety of their concessions. Stores generally open early and close late to accommodate travelers' wacky schedules. And many airports impose a "street pricing" policy, which means that the prices charged inside the airport must closely match the prices at local malls. Besides, if you travel by air, you're already spending a lot of time hanging out in airports. So you may as well be merry while you multi-task.

Here, then, are holiday offerings you'll find at some airports:

In addition to a wide range of holiday music and entertainment, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is handing out free Holiday Traveler coupon books stuffed with discounts and special offers from more than 60 restaurants and shops inside the airport. Deals range from free appetizers (with purchase) at Houlihan's restaurant to discounts on merchandise at Brookstone and Hugo Boss. The coupon books are available at the airport Traveler's Assistance desks and downloadable from the airport website, with offers good from Nov. 26 through Dec. 31.

A holiday version of the merchant coupon book distributed at Sacramento International Airport includes special offers from many shops, services and restaurants throughout the airport.

At Oregon's Portland International Airport the annual "Holidays Take Flight" celebration kicks off Nov. 16 and runs through Jan. 3. In addition to a long slate of live entertainment, there will be special promotions, demonstrations, food and wine samplings, celebrity appearances and drawings for two pairs of roundtrip tickets on JetBlue Airlines. Travelers who can't make it to the airport in person can enter online.

Beginning in mid-December, Santa will start roving the concourses at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and many shops will be offering buy-one-get-one-free promotions and discounts on products. In addition, a zany pair of performers will wander through the airport organizing trivia games and awarding discount coupons and prizes. There will also be free coloring books and stickers for kids as well as a free gift wrap station for travelers.

At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the Paradise Bakery will be selling red-and-white striped holiday cookie boxes, while El Bravo will once again be honoring Southwest tradition and offering boxes of its signature red and green tamales, frozen and gift-wrapped. In addition to a variety of gift-with-purchase offerings at the airport's Duty Free Americas store, customers will receive a free pashmina wrap with any purchase of $95 or more. And on Christmas Day, 10% of all sales at several airport shops, including Indigenous, Talking Hands, Earth Spirit, Travelstyle and Accents, will be donated to United Way.

Travelers passing through Terminal 4 at Los Angeles International Airport will find a wide variety of holiday promotions at the Destination LA/LA Edge shops, including a variety of fragrance gift-with-purchase offers and a chance to win a gift bag filled with $250 of Oakley lifestyle items.

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