When someone asks me to describe my personality, I have a Swiss Army Knife-style response. I’ve got the peach vs. coconut analogy, the “engineer who hates math” analogy…but I usually mention something about how I typically stare at the airplanes, not the people, while traversing through an airport. As a retired aircraft engine designer, I know the true purpose for the little swirly thing they paint on the engine: it’s to distract people with ADD, thereby giving other travelers entertainment as they watch multiple suits trip at the end of the moving walkway.
I’ve frequented a heap of aeropuertos, and I even sometimes try to arrange my travel to another land around layover-ing at a super one (read: Vancouver on the outbound, Seoul on the return!), so I thought I’d give you my top/bottom three:
The Tip-Top Toppy: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
Lookit!! A model of efficiency!! Receives high marks for its super-duper cool customs, interfaith chapel, and lounge chairs overlooking the tarmac. Oh, and the underground train station can connect you to the entire country, not just the ‘Dam. IK SPRAYKE HAYN NEDERLANDS!
Toppy Too: Vancouver International Airport
This puppy gets high marks for being close to the city. And the mountains, the MOUNTAINS…fantastic sculptures, great layout. Yay Canadia!
Still Toppy, but Not Too Toppy: Denver International Airport
Meh, so I was stuck here once and didn’t get home to my friend’s wedding. That wasn’t the airport’s fault!! I confess to riding the tram here back and forth, back and forth, baaaaaaaaaaaack and <kaff> er, yeah, just so I get to walk across the super sweet bridge and watch planes pass under. Downside: middle of nowhere.
Now, we move on to the nastygram section. These putrid ‘ports deserve my ire simply for making mountains out of molehills. Or, ya know, non-lost baggage into lost baggage. Or threatening to make me miss my connection for reasons entirely explained by your ineptitude.
Big Boo: Detroit Metro Airport (The Old Terminal)
Ugh, despite my aversion to Northwest, it’s probably the only acceptable way to fly into Detroit these days. I was berated months ago for having an “excessively-sized clear plastic bag” in which to tote my intimates (er, toothpaste). This is the only airport to have done so, probably because everyone else has cared to look into the bag and notice no contraband. I’m not going to put it over someone’s head or anything…and even if I tried I’d get punched in the kidneys far before that would ever, ever happen.
Bigger Boo: Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris
I know, it’s a super retro kinda thing. But I get a bit unnerved when I don’t see my airplane before I board it. You take the bus from one end of the terminal to the next and…surprise! You’re flying an airplane with one engine missing today! Woot. Uncomfortable seating and spotty barriers between smoking sections, as well as strategically placing connecting flights three miles apart (especially in the winter when you’ve got a longcoat on) equals a boo from me.
Ninth Circle of Hell: Heathrow Airport, London
Not only do they violate the “See My Airplane” rule (see Paris), but they basically corral you into these little waiting areas until they announce your departure gate. For some of us who like to, ya know, stare at engines, forcing us into Commerce Mania Jr. is about as beneficial as trying to get a three year-old to sleep on Christmas Eve. It’s likely that you’ll end up waiting in your shiny tube an average of 4.2 hours on the tarmac prior to departure. My advice? Fly thru Berlin. No bias or anything. 🙂
Anyway, I’m off. More b-skool blogging, and hopefully some HK/China photos, at some point next week. But don’t pine or anything.