Planes, Trains and Automobiles!

Everything you need to know to get around in Rhode Island.




You arrive at T.F. Green two hours before your flight, per TSA recommendations. A half-hour later, you’re through the checkpoint and in the terminal. (Curse you, small, efficient airport!) But before you park it by the gate or splurge on a meal, check out these weird, wonderful amenities.
✈ Browse hostess gifts at Explore! Rhode Island in the south concourse. You’ll find Del’s lemonade packets, Autocrat coffee milk, PawSox merch and an Instagram-worthy tower of Narragansett Beer.
✈ Get a chair massage from Healing Hands Massage Therapy. Loosen up for $1 a minute before your flight; your neck will thank you for it.
✈ Hang with PVD Pups, therapy dogs in green vests that help ease flight anxiety with wet snouts and head scratch solicitations.
✈ Take your own dog to the Pet Relief Area, located in the north concourse. Per a new law, all airports are required to provide an area for service animals to pop a squat. T.F. Green’s is unusually cute, with synthetic turf and a tiny fire hydrant.
✈ Browse the quirky advertisements. North Kingstown’s Nunnery Orthotic and Prosthetic nailed it with true-to-scale prosthetics — including a child’s hand and a stray finger. Creepy, yet admirable.
And if you’re picking someone up….
✈ Check out Green Space, a two-level art gallery where the skywalk meets the terminal. This year’s nine exhibiting artists were selected by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
✈ Snag a book from the Little Free Library, which is adjacent to Starbucks by the arrivals entrance. On a recent visit, we spied juicy paperbacks a la Brian Jacques and Christy Reece.
✈ Chill in the Military Lounge, on the second floor of the airport. Active and retired members of the military and their families can hang out in this comfy, volunteer-run space, which boasts leather sofas, televisions, snacks and reading material.

Here to There

We have high hopes for Norwegian Airlines’ cheap seats from T.F. Green to Ireland. (And we mean cheap: According to USA Today, tickets could start at $69 one way.) Reportedly, the low-cost carrier will launch a direct flight service between Cork, Ireland, and Warwick in 2017. In the meantime, seasonal, direct flights from T.F. Green to the Azores return this May. If Ponta Delgada isn’t your dream destination — what, the Furnas hot springs don’t do it for you? — you can access other vacation hotspots in Europe in one connection. Barcelona, here we come. But first, hot springs.

Rhode Island’s Little Airports

The big guy gets all the press, but these five small airports, operated by the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, have their own unusual histories.

Westerly State Airport
2015 Enplanements: 11,970
Runway lengths: 4,010 feet and 3,960 feet
Fun fact: Westerly’s New England Airlines, which transports passengers from the mainland to Block Island, also delivers Chinese food and sushi to the island during regularly scheduled flights.

Block Island State Airport
2015 Enplanements: 12,145
Runway length: 2,502 feet
Fun fact: The airport hosts a rotating gallery of work by local artists, selected by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

Newport State Airport
2015 Enplanements: 114
Runway lengths: 2,999 feet and 2,623 feet
Fun fact: The airport’s site was once home to Aquidneck Park, a turn-of-the-century horse-racing track frequented by the Vanderbilts and the Astors.

Quonset State Airport
2015 Enplanements: 19
Runway lengths: 7,504 feet and 4,000 feet
Fun fact: A 747 landed at the airport in June of 2016 and hasn’t left. The jet, which pays $2,000 a week to the state in parking fees, was retrofitted to look like Air Force One and will reportedly host an exhibit about presidential travel.

North Central State Airport, Smithfield
2015 Enplanements: 14
Runway lengths: 5,000 feet and 3,210 feet
Fun fact: North Central, which is designated as a reliever airport for T.F. Green, also hosts flight lessons for wannabe pilots.
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

Up in the Air

Working hundreds of miles from home requires a strategy.

Illustration by Shaw Nielsen

Jacob Hoffman, an Air Wisconsin pilot, lives in Lincoln and commutes to his crew base in Washington, D.C. From there he’s on the road, flying the eastern half of the country and into Canada on four-day trips, several times a month. Here’s how he does it.

The basic plan: “I park at T.F. Green and fly down, sometimes on Air Wisconsin, sometimes on Southwest or American. If the flight’s oversold or there’s bad weather, I’ll Uber to the Providence train station, take the T to South Station, then the Silver Line to Logan. It’s about three-and-a-half hours of travel time.”

The back-up plan: “Airline people trying to get to work use a website called It shows flight connections, and roundabout ways for you to get where you need to go. There’s also an app called FlightTrack that shows direct flights. Sometimes I have to get creative and take a flight to Buffalo or Charlotte, to wind up in D.C.”

The long way home: “I’ve never been stranded, but on the day of the Quonset Air Show two years ago, the flight home was diverted to Buffalo because of weather. The airline bused us back. It took eight hours.”

Timing is everything: “I try to do commutable trips that start mid-morning, but I don’t have a crash pad. If I have to be at work early in the morning, I go down to D.C. the night before and stay in a hotel. I use Priceline and can get a three star-hotel for $70. I don’t have a crash pad; they can cost $250 to $300 a month.”

Rhode Island rules: “Why don’t I move closer to work? I’m a native of North Providence. I like Rhode Island, my friends and my family are here. There are things here you can’t do anywhere else.” –S.F.

Categories: Environment, Magazine
Leave a reply