Friday, April 24, 2009

Life at Airports

Now, after finally getting out of France, but having spent a considerable time now the latest week in Airports I think that I should give a brief review of my favorite airports across the world. The rating is from 1-5 Salaryman with 5 being the best. One cup of Ozeki can also be added as a special award.

Stockholm Arlanda
A decent small airport in a small and insignificant country, but still has a decent selection of shops, restaurants and bars. Gates are within relatively close distance from the hub of restaurants and shops.
Score: 3 Salarymen; a decent small size international airport

Copenhagen Kastrup
My favorite airport among them all with the only drawback being that the people working there speaks Danish which is a twisted cross between German and Swedish and to add insult to injury they usually insist on speaking Danish to Swedes assuming that they will be understood, I usually pretend to be any nationality other than Swede so they will address me in English. But the hub section is great with many shops, restaurants and bars and a pretty large selection of English books and magazines.
Score: 5 Salarymen and One Cup of Ozeki for being the best in the world

London, Heathrow
Without any severe competition the worst airport in the world. Moving from one terminal to another usually takes at least a few hours of traversing through strange tunnels and moving up and down stairs in dimly lit corridors. They might have a wonderful selections of shops and such, but I haven’t found them yet and accessing them is sure to require hours of tunnels and dimly lit corridors.
Score: 0 Salarymen and One half drunk foul Cup of Ozeki found at a bench at the Ogukibo station in Tokyo

Paris, Charles du Gauelle
Ok, without letting my dislike and hate for the country of Paris spill over too much here, the airport is actually not that bad. A decent accessible section with shops and restaurants, one drawback is that the French engineering involved in building the place might result in you getting a section of the roof in your head when you least expect it.
Score: 2 Salarymen (one Salaryman deducted due to it being located in France)

Hong Kong
My second favorite airport in the world, also built along the same hub principle as Copenhagen airport with a large selection of nice shops, restaurants and pubs with easy access to the gates from the hub part.
Score: 4 Salarymen and One Cup of Ozeki for using the hub principle

Tokyo Narita

A strong competitor to Heathrow in being the worst airport in the world. Not only is it located so far outside central Tokyo that you feel it would be best to take a flight to get there from central Tokyo, but inside it is a sad mess of corridors and shops spread out all over the place carrying only a sad selection of English books and magazines but for some reason the restaurants in the airport only utilizes microwave when “cooking” the food and giving you plastic utensils to eat it with.
Score: One Salaryman

I should add that my experience with US airports is a bit limited and the ones I have visited do not stand out particularly in my mind as either really good or really bad.


ThePenguin said...

Heathrow: at the top of my "no-fly list". Fascinating fact: the primary design document was Dante's Inferno.

CdG: glad to know I'm not the only one to think it's not as bad as its reputation, or as bad as one would automatically assume just because it's in the country it's in.

Heathrow: I have a special Heathrow Airport Song which starts "I hate Heathrow Airport".

Narita: Yes, it's a PITA to get to, but it must be the world's serenest major airport and the little stores by the gates haven't yet caught on to the idea of doubling or tripling the normal retail prices for useful stuff like water, beer etc.

Heathrow: whoever decided to locate it in an area vulnerable to fog needs their head looking at (preferably after a bullet has passed through it).

Copenhagen: small (not a bad thing per se) but confusingly signposted, and someone put a shopping mall between security and the gates which is not fun to navigate if you are running late due to aforesaid confusion of signpostedness.

Heathrow: Did I mention this place sucks?

jlpt2kyu said...

I want to add some of my own...

Kansai KIX: Score 5! Great facilities, usually quiet, good choice of destinations. Nagoya is similarly good.

Amsterdam (KLM hub): score 3. Too big for its won good. They always seem to make me land at one end and fly out of the other and it takes literally 30 mins to walk from end to end despite the star design.

Singapore Changi: score 5! Is there anything they don't have?

London City Airport: score 4. Tiny, but it is already in the middle of london (although someone how transport links are quite poor). The best thing about it is that when you fly in you can practially touch Big Ben, St Pauls etc as you fly along the thames river west to east.

Frankfurt (Lufthansa): score 0. Nearly as bad as Heathrow. Crowded and old and security is too strict.

Nor-Cal Nikkei said...

I'd have to vote for du Gauelle and if ever visiting the states avoid Chicago with all your might, Denver and Houston, chances of bad weather but whatta ya gonna do?

Take photos of some of these airports if you can, I heard Korea or China has some pretty nice ones as far as design goes.

Welcome back to your home!

Mr. Salaryman said...

The Penguin - Well, the two things I value the most at an airport is the availability of English literature and decent restaurants where you can get ok food and a few beers. Granted the kiosks don't overcharge, but the restaurants overcharges terribly for microwaved food at Narita...

The larger question with heathrow is why they decided to locate it in a country that is vulnerable to fog...?

jlpt2kyu - I've flown through Amsterdam several times but can't really remember much so it must be decent at least, I also actually flew through Frankfurt this time and I think it's an acceptable airport. They met my top criteria as above decently although it's hardly a huge winner...

Singapore I don'T really remember much more than that it's very conveniently located close to the city, but they usually build stuff pretty smartly there so I believe you.

North Cal Nikkei - Now that you mention it, the airport I did transfer through was Chicago and if I remember right it was pretty annoying and flights changing gates with little notice to the other side of the airport...

Nor-Cal Nikkei said...

Chicago is just all around B A D. BAD weather, lots of delays while Denver is beautiful, the snow is bad there too.

I remember returning home from my first trip abroad alone, glad to be home and at the Houston International terminal I noticed there were a bunch of finger prints on a sign that hung kinda high up that said "Welcome to the United States of America".

I just wanted my bed. And my own pillow. And lots of Sleep.

Nor-Cal Nikkei said...

Taking my 15-year old to San Francisco International in July for her first trip abroad TO JAPAN!

I'd be happy to report on it to you : )

I think they have those sourdough bread bowls of clam chowder......mmmm tasty!

Anonymous said...


Incheon International Airport has been getting some acclaim. They have special events, mini performances, lots of duty-free shops with brand name stuff (if you're into that), and special workshops for foreigners (arts&crafts).
Don't you sometimes work in Korea? Or is it always telecons?

Have you used Haneda? It's closer to Tokyo, I hear. I went from Gimpo Int'l Airport to Haneda and considering that those airports can only call themselves international because they provide flights back and forth between Japan and Korea, they have pretty good service. In Gimpo airport there's a movie theater, mall, and wedding hall.

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