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A bit of the beach: Airline imports sand to promote flights to Fort Lauderdale

They may not have been able to swim in its waters, but thousands of miles away from Fort Lauderdale Beach, Capital District residents could wiggle their toes in its white sand.

Of course, instead of sitting in lounge chairs, drinking Pina Coladas, these residents sat in airport chairs waiting for their planes.

Nonetheless, airport-goers at the Albany International Airport got to experience what Fort Lauderdale Beach has to offer as part of a campaign by Southwest Airlines promoting a new flight from the Colonie airport to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The flight was launched Sunday, Nov. 2, according to Albany International Airport Authority Director of Public Affairs Doug Myers. It is the first time Southwest will be offering the non-stop flight from the airport, he said.

Southwest's Fort Lauderdale-Albany service will provide upstate New York, Vermont and western Massachusetts travelers with convenient non-stop connections to southern Florida and the major cruise lines that operate year-round from the Port Everglades cruise terminals, said David Langdon, chairman of the Albany County Airport Authority.

The nearly three-hour flight will take passengers to another destination in Florida, along with the currently operating flights to Orlando, Tampa and Miami. According to Myers, flights to Florida are in high demand at the airport.

"One third of all the people who get on a plane in Albany every year end up in Florida," said Myers. "So it's in the area of over 400,000 people a year travel to Florida."

The airport wanted to come up with a creative way to promote its new flight.

So, Myers informed airport authority board members that the airport would be importing actual sand from Fort Lauderdale Beach to be used in a display in the airport that would be 1 inch thick and about 30 square feet.

However, Myers said, he ran into a bit of trouble getting the sand from Fort Lauderdale.

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