Monday, April 18, 2011

Here an Airport, There an Airport, Everywhere an Airport

One big part of having an international career is travel. And I believe that makes me a bit of an expert on airports. Generally I don't mind being in an airport. I know some people hate the crowds and the waiting, waiting, waiting... but I don't. I love watching people in airports (even better than WalMart sometimes). I also love that you can shop, have a snack and the occasional adult beverage. Sure, endless security checks aren't a thrill, but it's all part of traveling safely and that's okay with me. Here are some of my favourite and least favourite airports (or cities if I can't remember the name of the airport) and reasons why I like or dislike them:

LAX - this is one of my least favourite airports. It's extremely busy for one thing and poorly marked for another. I can get by in a busy airport but when I can't figure out where I am going because there are no signs, well... that's just another thing!

YVR - Vancouver is my hometown, so I am a little biased there but it's also such a pretty airport! I love arriving there. Leaving is usually fine unless you are connecting through the US. You have to go through US Customs in Canada when you transit through the US from this airport and it sucks! The US Customs often has security breeches or computer issues that cause lines to go out to the ticketing agents... it's crazy.

Seoul-Incheon - LOVE this airport. It's efficient, quick and easy to manoeuver. It's clearly marked, clean and just nice!

Charles De Gualle - I loved this airport for how quickly you can get out (there is no arrival customs... at all!!) but it was confusing and spread out over too many miles. It was huge and the duty free shopping when you leave is pretty much a joke. Boring!

Zurich - Um... perhaps it's the giant beer or the great shops or the clean bathrooms or the yummy sushi or the polite staff talking, but I loved this airport!! It was awesome!!! I loved my layover here.

Tokyo - I actually liked it here. It was so quiet when I got to my gate. Such a surprise. And there were good shops and things to do.

Manila - Oh my... this is one of my least favourites. You have to go through a million security checks and stand in ridiculous lines for nothing. And then once you've made it to the "secure" area there is a shop/restaurant that is about the size of a shoe box with the most limited selection possible. And then you have to go through at least one more security check before you get on the plane. And arrivals aren't much better. It's a gong show to get your luggage. I'm not positive but it seems like there are just 2 or 3 luggage belts for all the arriving flights. Chaos.

London-Heathrow - This airport is huge and clean and beautiful but also one of my least favourites. There is always some dramatic emergency or something happening here (once the air traffic controller caught fire so we couldn't land!!). And when you land for a transfer, you might think you are going to the gate next door (I landed at gate 25 and needed to go to gate 26) but in reality you need to do a giant loop through security that takes 45 minutes to get to the gate that you saw when you arrived. It's just a little too big...

Esenboga - I love this airport... it's easy! It's beautiful and clean and not busy at all. So simple, so easy to do what you need and good security.

Istanbul - Ataturk - This is huge but seems to function fairly well. I found leaving and arriving pretty easy. My only complaint is that when you arrive the lines to get a visa are ridiculously huge... but the duty free shopping is good, loads of things to look at and well marked out.

Okay... that's just a few that I've seen/experienced... I'm interested to hear/read what your airport experiences are.


Kristen said...

I had a fantastic airport at London Gatwick (cheaper to fly to than Heathrow). I was traveling on my own with 3 year old Elijah and infant Jeremy (Jonathan had already been in England for 2 weeks for work). As I made it to customs, one of the workers looked at me and said, "There is no way you are going to have to stand in that queue" and bumped me to the front. I'll never forget it. They also had an amazing baby change/toddler play area.

Kristen said...

I know, priorities change when you have kids, so what I really look for are kid friendly waiting areas - Calgary is good, so is Edmonton. Jonathan said that the one in St. Louis was good for that too (he and Elijah had a layover there).
I liked Minneapolis/St. Paul as they offered bus outings for those with long layovers - I was bussed to the Mall of America and back again without any hassle.
Amsterdam is fantastic, I have no idea how they handle that much volume in travel with such efficiency and cleanliness.