If you spend time any time traveling, developing
strong opinions about airports is inevitable. Here
are some of the airports I like and dislike.
Is airport 10 minutes or 2 hours from city. Is there a nice train to the airport. How many damn shuttle buses
2. Architecture & Atmosphere
Inspiring architecture or dump. Blaring televisions or peace and quiet.
Are you welcomed by dancers or totem poles. Dinosaurs in the lobby. Wild dogs.
Mountain views can redeem any airport.
Either so convenient or beautifully located that they
are an attraction in and of themselves.
World's best airport. Beautiful terminal and approach. Free telephones in arrivals. Train ride to city features Mr. Bean. Only downside: landing isn't as dramatic as old airport.
Zurich & Geneva
Swiss Alps on approach very moving. Ten minute train ride to city center even more so. Quiet. Orderly.
Himalayas while flying in (pictured above): occasional Everest sightings. Carved wood and cold drinks in "Very-VIP" waiting room. Nepali staff mellow.
Mountains & ocean on approach. Giant totem poles greet you in immigrations. Canadians everywhere.
Best U.S. airport. Close to DC, beautiful design; metro and rentals easy walking distance; good shoe shines; views of Capitol over the Potomac. Taxi drivers sometimes cheat you, but only mildly.
These airports have only mild problems and are redeemed in some way.
Kansai & Narita Japan
Quiet and great things to buy (especially gadgets). Baggage staff wear purple suits. However, way too far away--especially Narita. Also, immigration officials too serious.
Well run airport. $1.75 from city. Dinosaur greets you. Midwesterners pleasant.
Views of the Sierra Nevada and sometimes Mt. Shasta redeem bad airport. Public transportation recently improved.
Attractive airport. Many amenities. Like small town. Can buy durian.
The line between memorable and horrible is fuzzy. However these
airports balance hassle and disrepair with something extra.
Singers and dancers welcome you. Atmosphere of wild abandon on minibuses out of airport. However, aggressive ganga vendors wearying.
Freetown, Sierra Leone
In disrepair. However, helicopter ride to city unbeatable. Populated by mercenaries.
Run down yet wild airport. Free samples of booze, great English breakfast. Families from every part of the world. Can buy Harry Potter originals & Beano comics. However, crowded, dirty, walks to gates too long, and duty-free vendors get aggressive.
Not a modern airport. Beware wild dogs (see picture). However, rare opportunity to ride in the Hindustan motors Ambassador automobile.
Attractive airports with some fatal flaw -- usually, being too far away --
that makes them better avoided. The #1 flaw in airport design is usually distance from city.
Attractive airport. However, Taxi drivers are thieves and immigrations officials have attitude.
Attractive design, but 100 miles too far from city. Getting to gate also takes forever. Result: many missed flights.
Hard to reach from Washington D.C. But beautiful design (see photo).
Scary airport. Buses between terminals take forever. Brutalist design intimidating. Roof prone to collapse. Far from Paris. Avoid.
Ugly and hard to get to for one or more reasons.
Too far away and no train. However, Taiwanese people extremely nice, unless you overstay your visa.
Traffic makes travel time to/from airport impossible to predict. However, close to famous neighborhoods like Compton, Long Beach, Inglewood etc.
Good views, but a scary airport.
Six different ways to get to city center. With exception of Helicopter, all take forever (see photo).
Istanbul & Saigon
Taxis often refuse to go to desired destination.
Cause nightmares. Only redeeming feature
is that these airports can be stressful instead of boring.
Bad attitude. Unspeakable food. Remote. Intimidating. Don't get stuck here.
New York Kennedy
Unreachable from New York city. Run down. Indifferent to plight of passengers.
Full of amateur travelers--sweating, anxious & dragging too much luggage. Lines. Screaming children and families.
Con-men in arrivals area pose as airport employees.
Taxi drivers are felons. Shouting and pushing may be required. Hot. Ugly. Most international flights arrive at 4am.
However, good training for other airports.
Ugly, loud, unfriendly. Also, almost everyone who works here is incompetent.
Airport is infested by insects. Taxi drivers are thieves. Leave appropriate money and run away.
Redeemed only by views of desert and pyramids on approach.