Of course there are lots of developing world horror stories, but it's airports in places which should be good which surprise me. Six examples, one of them an airport that regularly tops the 'world's favourite airport' lists:
• Madrid Barajas, Spain - utter confusion trying to find your way around. On one occasion I went from one terminal to another (a train ride apart) only to find I was in the right terminal in the first place. Fortunately I had lots of time to find my way back, but on another visit Iberia (who flew me from London Heathrow) and Madrid Airport got together to ensure that along with a bunch of other travellers bound for Santiago in Chile we all missed the connection.
• Los Angeles International, USA - I hate all those scattered terminals requiring you to go outside into the street and walk or take a bus to another terminal down the road (or round the corner). But even more I hate all the gates where aircraft cannot be taxied in, so just when you think you've finally arrived you have to stop, wait for a tug to come over and be towed in.
• Paris Charles de Gaulle, France - those crazy circular terminals where you end up walking almost a full circle only to discover you should have gone anti-clockwise rather than clockwise right at the start. It's a case of 5° in the right direction, 355° in the wrong. Then there's the train terminal into the city which you need to take a bus to get to.
• Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Thailand- where you walk a half km in one direction then go up or down an escalator and walk another half km in the opposite direction taking you right back to where you started. Except one floor higher or lower.
• Singapore Changi - everybody's favourite airport except - from my viewpoint - for the crazy idea to put you through security right at the departure gate. So you're either racing to get through security at the last minute, or you go through earlier which leaves you trapped at the gate. Plus that bottle of water you bought in the terminal five minutes ago is going to be confiscated. Along with any duty free liquids from other airports. This inconvenience alone is enough to drop Changi way down my list of favourite airports.
• Miami International, USA - nothing particularly wrong with Miami International, it's just that it's in the USA so you're going to face all the hassles of US customs and immigration even if you're not going to the USA. Which is why people put some trouble into avoiding Miami - and other US airports used for transits. Flying from Bogota, Colombia to London, for example, I had a choice of American Airlines via Miami or Iberia via Madrid. My later experiences with Iberia and Madrid might have put me off, but on this occasion both worked fine, so with similar fares it was a no brainer to skip the American Airlines/Miami alternative.
And half a dozen airports that do the job for me:
• London Heathrow, England - despite all the flak it gets Heathrow usually works for me. Although getting between the far flung terminals if you're in transit can be time consuming getting into London on the tube is a breeze and price-wise it's a bargain.
• Bogota El Dorado, Colombia - I don't know how they do it but every Colombian airport I've flown into, not just in Bogota - has got my bag to me at record speed.
• Marrakesh Menara, Morocco - now there's a nice, quiet, civilised little airport.
• Queenstown, New Zealand - a pleasantly friendly and shiny modern airport which also has a nice little glider strung from the terminal roof, but the real treat comes 10 minutes after you depart (or 10 minutes before you arrive): if the weather is clear the views are stunning.
• Frankfurt, Germany - an efficient big airport, you could hardly be any closer to the train station which whisks you into the city (or off to the rest of Germany) and there's a Zeppelin Museum just across the autobahn.
• Belfast City Airport, Northern Ireland - I like an airport named after a football star (Georgie Best) although perhaps it's beaten by Tirana Airport in Albania - named after a nun (Mother Teresa).
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