As I am sitting here in Schiphol waiting for my connection to Paris, this occurred to me. I HATE Schiphol! It is true that the people are nice, there are lots of shops and the airport is one piece and clean. But you need to allow a few hours to safely get through customs and passport control then to your gate -- and that is as a priority lane flyer. I have flown through AMS about 10 times in the past few years, and it rarely goes smoothly and I usually end up running. Each passport control agent typically takes 5-10 minutes scrutinizing each passport (even in the priority lane), then rescreening is ridiculous. After taking everything out, both the two women in front of me and I had our suitcases taken aside and they went through them at great length. It took over twenty minutes. It's almost -- almost -- enough to make me like the TSA, or at least not hate it so much.
So what are your favorite and least favorite airports?
In the US, my favorite airport by far is Detroit (though I only go through the Delta terminal and have been told the other ones are not like that). But I believe it did win some award last year for best airport. Although I have successfully avoided JFK for about two years, it is my most hated US airport. I have to go through it next month en route to Greece.
In Europe and the Middle East, I find CDG in Paris very easy as long as you don't have to change to another flight. (I know many have had other experiences). By far the easiest time was of all places at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. I had been told by friends to allow hours, but as it turned out, I got out of the cab, went through first screening, got my boarding past, went through second screening, and got my tax refund -- in less than fiveairports minutes. At no point did I have to take off articles of clothing, I didn't have to remove my computer, and they didn't even look in any of my luggage. They simply asked if I had a book in the outer zipper compartment of my suitcase and I said yes, a tour guide, and that was that. Let's hear it for 'smart' profiling.
I hope now that you have moved past the AMS portion of your travel that you are enjoying your trip!
This is a terrific topic, and I'm glad you posted it. In pondering my airport as well as airline experiences, I can recall some unpleasant experiences, yet find it difficult to actually fault an airport or a given airline for travesties committed, largely because I am not a frequent flyer and therefore can't in good conscience sentence an airport/airline based upon any isolated incident.
I was once stuck in a 747 on the tarmac at JFK for 2 hours. Just used the time to call grandma for an overdue chat. In hind sight, that might have been rude and inconsiderate of me where other passengers were concerned, but I don't recall any dirty looks. The same trip, I had to go through security for which the agents were a little abrupt. I just wrote it off to New York City culture, and didn't take it personal. Does that make JFK bad? I don't know. What I learned most was non-stop from LAX and SFO to Europe is the way to go. Fastest and easiest.
Have never flown through O'Hare, because the on-time rates for flights there are very low, so it's a no brainer.
Sat in a sweltering United aircraft for about an hour on the tarmac at Denver once. I was in a middle seat, sandwiched in between two towering Mark McGwire types who were bumping elbows with one another over my lap as they worked their laptops. I politely asked the flight attendant if I could move. She said, 'No.' Then I asked for some water. She gave me a plastic cup with about 6 oz. of water (mind you the temperature inside the aircraft was easily 90F). When I asked if I might have the bottle, she got cranky and rude with me. Should I hate United for that? I did for a while, but if I was a stewardess stuck in that work environment, especially after my corporation just pulled my pension rug out from under me, perhaps I'd be a crank pot too.
Heathrow. Uugh. Here's why. 1) It's huge! Enter the terminal, and the sign says something to the effect of ‘International flights this way,’ ‘American Airlines that way.’ Okay, I’m flying American Airlines on an international flight. So which is it? No one within miles who can answer. 2) Long lines. 3) Strictest security I’ve ever been through (I imagine that only perhaps ‘we-don’t-mess-around’ Israel could be worse). One carry on item means just that – one item. Not a neck pillow and a purse, ONE ITEM! And they stand by it. 4) Thirsty? It’ll cost you in British pounds (someone, please tell me why they didn’t go on the euro?) No pounds? No problem. We’ll take your USD’s or euros, rip you off in the exchange rate, and give you change back in pounds. (Thanks, guys. I thought we were friends.) 5) Now we wait 3 hours in a hot terminal. Tired. Hot. Where’s our flight information? Not on the board. And not on the board. And still not on the board. Then suddenly, final call for boarding. Doors close in 15 minutes, gang! Again, thanks guys.
Then there’s Frankfurt. Excuse me, Lufthansa at Frankfurt. Two bags up to 23kgs each, so total weight can be 46kgs, right? Makes sense. But whoa to ye who has 22 kgs in one bag, and 24 kgs in the second. You must repack (with guesswork) right there in the terminal to balance the two! Still not quite right? Try again. Love you too guys. Thanks for the memories. And for my special Army Apache Helicopter Unit souvenir coffee cup ending up broken in the process.
Used Frontier Airlines last year to grab a cheap flight for a family wedding in NW Arkansas. Flew into Branson, MO and hired a car, stayed at MVCI Willow Ridge. That was fine, had never seen Branson (now that I have, not my cup of tea...) Anyway, I’ll never fly in or out of Branson again. It’s only VFR rated. No IFR. Flight home scheduled three days prior to Thanksgiving cancelled due to fog. Frontier assumes no obligation to book me with another airline (Frontier is a one airline show at Branson anyway). Flights out of Branson’s one gate air terminal were booked for 3 days due to the holiday. Offered to fly me out of Springfield, the next closest airport that Frontier flies out of. Would have to rent a car to the tune of $300 one way and drive in the middle of the night. No thanks (already overspent on the wedding). Ended up spending Thanksgiving in Arkansas, which turned out lovely in the end. Would I fly Frontier again? Perhaps. Would I fly into Branson ever again? Nope.
Sat on the tarmac in Zurich one January for over an hour while my Swissair flight waited to get hosed off with de-icing juice. Was so tired I slept through the whole thing, and most of my flight to Nuremberg. All else about the Zurich connection was great. There’s another airport that is on a different currency (Swiss francs).
I always love CDG. Very efficient, but I hate it that their customs stamps (for my passport) are always out of ink. Think I’ll bring them a new ink pad as a gesture of friendship next trip! If traveling from CDG within Europe, need to allow a bit of extra time to find your way to the appropriate domestic terminal.
Rome, Fiumicino. Uneventful always equals good.
Have never had problems at LAX, but then it’s my home port. Know it like the back of my hand. I also love customs there. They always say, “Welcome home, ma’am,” which is music to my ears. San Francisco, good as LA.
Sea-Tac, always wonderful. Nuremberg, same, but then it’s rather small. Never had any issues at Mc Carran. Enjoyed the shops at AMS, but never had to go through customs there. Security was a snap.
My preferred airlines are Alaska, Qantas, Air France. In the old days, JAL was a real class act.
I have had a few minor snags with TSA, but here I find that knowledge is power. Here’s another tip. I always go expecting the worst and carry extra patience. Then when things go well, I feel rich!
I fly mainly on the U.S. East coast and Canada. I choose mid size airports when possible. Providence, RI and Manchester, NH are my preferred New England spots. I haven't been through Pittsburgh in a while but I enjoyed the modern amenities and ease with which to negotiate from one gate to the next as a connecting airport.
Not a fan of Philly, Logan, EWR, or Cincinnati.
My favorites are Tampa, CVG (when DL flew international flights through there), Detroit, Sacramento, and I actually like the Kansas City airport as a resident because of their quick security and baggage.
My least favorite: LGA, White Plains (third world airport), JFK, and Philadelphia (baggage take 1hr and security is unpredicable). I also avoid ATL and ORD for connection/delay problems.
Best: Minneapolis, I love it. Lots of shopping, good exercise (1.6 mile loop), friendly people. If you have about a 3 hour layover, take the light rail to the Mall of America for a decent dinner and more shopping.
Worst: O'Hare, I hate it. Only memorable moment was an independent taxi driver (owned their own car and shield) who made my trip downtown enjoyable. I've never had a flight on time.
Best airport south: Fort Walton Beach (VPS), a regional airport..... Worst South: Dallas or Atlanta...a pick 'em.
Best west: Ontario, CA (ONT) Worst west: Los Angeles
Best east: Manchester NH (MHT) Worst east: Newark
Worst overseas: London Gatwick because they lost my wife's luggage one year and I called them everyday to see if they found it. Never did. But, two and one half weeks later (after touring other countries and buying new clothes) when I go to their lost luggage department to tell them how bad they were with luggage handling they invited me in to see if I could do a better job finding it than them. Ha! I found it in less than two minutes and was told it showed up there later on the same day I reported it lost. They could care less about anybody flying through there....at least then.