Thursday, June 14, 2007

Airports from Hell

I just read a great article by the "Ask the Pilot" section of where he invited readers to submit their favorite and least favorite airports in. I wish I had known about it before. It made me think about my own fine experiences hopping around airports throughout the world.

The worst: IAD, Dulles in DC - my former home airport for foreign travel. No internet connection unless you sit on the filthy floor outside the airline clubs, unhealthy, disgusting food (unless you get to the very new terminal which must be situated in Maryland because it takes hours to walk there) and god help you if you take the USAIR regional jet terminal - you walk forever to find the gate, get on a bus, drive around across runways for 40 minutes, arrive in a prefab building attached to nothing with a million people packed in, not enough seats for them all, no signs, and a truly expensive 'deli'. It was more like a bus station than an airport.

Charles De Gaulle, Paris France - spent all their space on long walkways to the plane and then put customs, transit, baggage claim, info and all those long runways emptying into a 6 foot area. Rude employees who smoke in front of you.

But the best has to be my third world experiences:

Monrovia, Liberia - Chaos, bullet holes, outrageous humidity, go through customs and the door doesn't fit into the frame, its leaning next to it. Sells Massengil douche in the 'gift shop'

Lungi in Freetown Sierra Leone - located on an island - you can take the drunken Bulgarian piloted helicopter to the mainland or the decrepit Greek 1940s era ferry that dodges wrecks of ferries that didn't make it before.

Conakry in Guinea- crowds of touts, threatening, heavily armed guards pushing past you and yelling at you, if you don't know your weight in kilos, they make you sit on a scale used to weigh luggage.

Cairo, Egypt - I was herded into a room filled with angry Yemeni youth about to be deported from Egypt and being kept under armed guard. Everytime they rose up as one to demand better treatment, the Egyptian police laughed and slapped a few of them. Frightened US tourists huddled by the metal detector. People take your passports for hours on end. The shuttle bus driver tries to shake you down for money. the gift shops sell the most appalling gaudy faux Egyptian crap I've ever seen.

Let me think - I'll send some more. Add some comments with your faves and least faves!

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