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Thread: Best and Worst Airports

  1. #1
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    Best and Worst Airports

    Well, it's official: Skytrax, a British consulting group, ranked Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, as the number one airport in the world.

    Having been there numerous times, as well as to many others, I disagree with their selection!

    Here's the list:

    Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea
    Hong Kong International Airport
    Singapore Changi Airport
    Zurich Airport in Switzerland
    Munich Airport in Germany
    Kansai International Airport in Japan
    Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia
    Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands
    Central Japan International Airport Centrair
    Auckland Airport in New Zealand

    Of these, I've only been to Incheon and Munich. Thus, I cannot say the others aren't well-suited for top dog. But I've also been to Heathrow, DeGaulle, Narita, O'Hare, LAX, SFO, DEN, FRA, JFK, ATL, and many others, and can say that while Incheon is superior in some ways (baggage handling, primarily), there are many aspects of an airport which must be considered before awarding top-dog status.

    Food quality, price, and availability of its restaurants, for one, which was apparently not on the list of questions asked!

    Ok, folks - what's your favorite airport of all time, and why? What's your least favorite, and why?

  2. #2
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    Frankfurt's not on the list?

    My faves: Frankfurt, HK, Zurich. Can't choose between them.

    My worst, among the biggies: Heathrow, no question.

  3. #3
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    The comparisons are a bit unfair.

    It's pretty difficult to compare old battle horse airports that have been servicing millions of passengers for decades (JFK, Heathrow) with sparkling new ones like Munich.

    It also depends what's important for you.

    The security at Amsterdam (Schiphol) is incredible. On a *normal* flight to Boston a few years ago, I went through the following: metal detector gate to get to the check-in area. That area was surrounded by an upper gallery patroled by armed guards (machine guns). Before checking in, all passengers were subject to a 1/4 hour interview/interrogation about when and where they purchased their tickets, how they got to the aitport, who packed their bags etc.

    Following that, there were multiple security layers, each with its own passport check and baggage search: at the entrance to "passengers only duty free area" (the normal security check), at the entrance to the real boarding area (no shops or food places), and again at the entrance to the single boarding lounge for the flight. Yes, every flight had its *own* closed off boarding area.

    I felt safe, to say the least.

    The flight back from Logan was, errr, different. The security was a total joke.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by PraedSt View Post
    Frankfurt's not on the list?

    My faves: Frankfurt, HK, Zurich. Can't choose between them.

    My worst, among the biggies: Heathrow, no question.
    Eww, Frankfurt? Granted my international travel experience is limited to flying through Frankfurt en route to Hyderabad--but I can name about 30 US airports I'd rather go through! From the stainless steel industrial decor, to being yelled at in German for accidentally going the wrong way once (poor signage), to very long lines with no end in sight (literally no way to know how long the wait would be until you turn the last corner), to being basically stuck in the (crowded) gate seating area with no bathroom and no way out without standing in another 1hr line to get back in--it was a horrible airport.

  5. #5
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    I loathe Paris Charles DeGaulle.

    If you're not flying Air France you're bussed from the plane to the terminal and bussed from the terminal to the plane and there's actually 6 terminals, with horribly bad signage to not show you how to get to the one you're changing to, and right in the spot where any sane person would make plenty of open space because of the massive flow of people trying to get to the other terminal in time for their flight, the architect apparently decided that it would be cool to cut a big hole in the floor so the people, who don't have time for sightseeing anyway because they're rushing to another security check and have to jam themselves through narrow lanes because some idiot put a hole in the floor, can look down on the scurrying people on the floor below.

    Did I mention I think the architect is an idiot and I hate the DeGaulle airport?
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Demigrog View Post
    Eww, Frankfurt? Granted my international travel experience is limited to flying through Frankfurt en route to Hyderabad--but I can name about 30 US airports I'd rather go through!
    Sounds like you had a terrible time! I can see why you'd hate it. I been through it a few times (~10), and it's always been top notch for me.

    Surely can't have been as bad as Hyderabad though?

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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrikOlsen View Post
    you're bussed from the plane to the terminal and bussed from the terminal to the plane
    I also dislike CDG, but I have to say I LOVE being bussed around the tarmac. The planes! The noise! The walkways are way too sterile.

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    LAX is the worst airport I've ever been to by far (not that I've been to that many)

    I tell people to fly out of Vancouver if they are heading west instead.

    Pete

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    Quote Originally Posted by PraedSt View Post
    Sounds like you had a terrible time! I can see why you'd hate it. I been through it a few times (~10), and it's always been top notch for me.

    Surely can't have been as bad as Hyderabad though?
    Depends on how you define bad; it was not particularly busy when I was there (1AM in, 3AM out), and not particularly crowded. It was an old building (they have opened a new airport since I was there), but not too bad. Lines were minimal, and that is what matters to me.

    Now arrival was entertaining, but I chalk it up to my lack of experience. I always assumed that my stuff would be carefully examined at customs--or at least the old "do you have anything to declare?" Nope, I basically exited the plane, followed the crowd out and realized I was on the curb surrounded by taxis and auto-rickshaws. I panicked a bit, and tried to go back in to find customs... looking like a total idiot, especially when I realized there was none. Fortunately my driver found me before I could make too big a joke of myself (I stood out a bit as maybe the only blonde in the city).

    Quote Originally Posted by peter eldergill View Post
    LAX is the worst airport I've ever been to by far (not that I've been to that many)
    I was happy with LAX, surprised at how "small" it felt once you reached a particular terminal. Of course, I wasn't changing planes, so many small terminals wasn't a bad thing.

  10. #10
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    Pulkovo (St Petersburg) certainly has its charms. Not good, not bad, but charming. Biggest disadvantage is the food. I know airports can be expensive, but seriously: 11€ for a HAMBURGER!!! Just the hamburger, no fries or anything. CD's were cheap though.
    With sufficient thrust, water towers fly just fine.

  11. #11
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    In the United States, I rate Chicago O'Hare to be the worst airport. I missed a connecting flight there once because the concourses are way too long, and my arrival gate was on the end of one concourse and I had to go all the way to the hub and out another concourse. Absolutely the worst design I have ever seen.

    The best in the USA? Dallas Fort Worth. Designed with small terminals interconnected with people movers. Very efficient for the passenger.
    Last edited by matthewota; 2009-Jun-12 at 01:12 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by PraedSt View Post
    Sounds like you had a terrible time! I can see why you'd hate it. I been through it a few times (~10), and it's always been top notch for me.

    Surely can't have been as bad as Hyderabad though?
    Not a big fan of Frankfurt airport here either. I think its because of the long line for security check I had to go through even though I was just transferring from one international flight to another. And the ~10 minute wait to use the mens room.

    Not sure how recently you have been to Hyderabad, but the new airport, which has been operations for over a year now, is pretty good and much better than the old one.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Demigrog View Post
    Now arrival was entertaining, but I chalk it up to my lack of experience. I always assumed that my stuff would be carefully examined at customs--or at least the old "do you have anything to declare?" Nope, I basically exited the plane, followed the crowd out and realized I was on the curb surrounded by taxis and auto-rickshaws. I panicked a bit, and tried to go back in to find customs... looking like a total idiot, especially when I realized there was none. Fortunately my driver found me before I could make too big a joke of myself (I stood out a bit as maybe the only blonde in the city)
    At the Hyderabad airport, your bags will be marked before they come to the baggage carousel if the screeners think it needs a check. After you collect your bags you will only go through an explicit customs check if your bags are marked or you specify that you have something to declare.

  14. #14
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    I have a different take depending on whether I am piloting the aircraft in or out of an airport, riding as a passenger. As I dont fly heavy iron I avoid the major airports whenever possible. As a passenger I judge an airport by the cleanliness and ease of getting between gates, and food is a definite consideration. From a piloting perspective I prefer the scenic airports, like Jackson Hole Wyoming, Eagle Colorado, or perhaps Moab Ut. But honestly from a pilots perspective it fuel, food and a dependable crew car that makes things easy. For my passenger experiences I would have to say I like Orlando Fl and Cinicinnati Oh. Easy in -Easy out, nice airports. Albuquerque actually is a very nice small airport. I find all larger airports to be a bit of a pain in the keester.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bolasanibk View Post
    Not sure how recently you have been to Hyderabad, but the new airport, which has been operations for over a year now, is pretty good and much better than the old one.
    3 years ago. The only problem with Indian airports is the fact that they're run by government officials. Even the newer private/public partnership airports have a large proportion of them. They are most annoying.
    In contrast, I've found the airline staff to be universally wonderful- this makes up for a lot!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Demigrog View Post
    Eww, Frankfurt?
    Terminal 1 was pretty dismal, but terminal 2 is fanstastic - some new areas are still under construction.

    They've been remodeling Terminal 1, as well.

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    I have had the most experience with JFK, and I really do think it's very impressive.
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  18. #18
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    Odessa airport in Ukraine is wonderful if you're into Soviet retro chic.

    Ben Gurion airport in between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is an experience if you've got a five-day beard and you want to get on an El Al flight.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugaliens View Post
    Terminal 1 was pretty dismal, but terminal 2 is fanstastic - some new areas are still under construction.
    I've figured out the reason behind my Frankfurt discrepancy. German women must like me.

  20. #20
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    I've been through Frankfurt a few times, and Munich once, most recently two months ago. I can only say that my experience in Munich seemed calm and peaceful compared to Frankfurt. Oh, and the price of food at a concession in Frankfurt was unverschämt teuer.

  21. #21
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    Its been two years since I've traveled extensively, but I recall Munich as particularly difficult since it was a long straight-line between gates and many of the gate areas were boring and poorly marked as to where to find amenities. In the US, Cincy was a nice stop but flights never leave on time. Delta had a terrible on-time record. The Pittsburgh airport is always nice and the air-mall prices are very consumer friendly - by law. Nevermind they make up for it by heavy taxes on the surrounding communities. I had a horrible experience in Minneapolis when my luggage was lost on a Northwest flight and I couldn't find a single person to speak to. I had to leave a message on a phone line and hoped that someone would eventually listen to it. My luggage finally caught up with me on the return flight.

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