Travelling through an airport can be both one of the most enjoyable things to do, or more likely, the most enduring experience you will have to undertake. In this post, I will aim to detail some of my opinions about certain airports around the world. These will include the very worst, and most hellish experiences to the industry leaders. Let’s get straight on-board!
I personally love travelling, more specifically aviation. And the airport is just one of the many interesting experiences that I look forward to. No singular one is alike, you could even travel through the very same airport every week for a year, and each experience will be different in some way or another. Be that an ever extending delay or a relaxing and chilled breeze.
BHX: Birmingham is my local airport, and that’s not the only reason as to why I love it! I generally find it easy to traverse through. I’ve never had any bad queues in terms of departures, and I love the fact that there is such a wide destination range from such a small airport. There are plenty of restaurants and shops, not all upmarket, which I appreciate, as many other leisure travellers do. The international pier offers great views, and it’s a modern airport which I enjoy travelling through. Arrivals are not great however, Immigration queues are often long, and baggage waiting times often extend to up to an hour, which is frankly unacceptable. There are also many new airlines which are choosing to expand at BHX, Including Norwegian, Wizz! and Vueling, along with many former ones opening new routes. I fully recommend BHX for accessibility too, with a convenient station (Birmingham International) offering a wide range of train connections across the country from as far as Scotland in 4 hours, or London in 1 hour and 10 minutes. It’s worth a try, and flight prices are generally lower, so check it out!
MAN: Manchester is a nice major gateway to the North of England. It has very good public transport connections with Train, Tram and Bus connections. A three terminal airport which is somewhat outdated still handles millions of passengers each year, from scheduled services to exotic charter flights. I wouldn’t go out my way to fly from Manchester, but if the price is right and I want to avoid London, it’s a viable alternative.
LPL: This airport succeeds in one goal. Transport the masses to bucket and spade holidays. It’s basically a polished shed in my opinion (Not Literally!). It feeds through thousands of passengers each day, mainly onto low cost flights such as easyJet, Ryanair or Blue Air. Avoid if possible, not great connections.
If you’d like some info about London airports, see my previous post here:
DUB: Dublin is quite possibly, my favourite airport. I’ve never had an issue with queues, there is plenty of choice for eating and dining before your flight, with plenty of areas to sit. And that’s just Terminal 1 alone, never mind the architecturally magnificent Terminal 2, housing the great National carrier, Aer Lingus. Check-in, security, immigration and boarding all easy. I would also recommend DUB as a transfer hub for easy connections (Use DUBHub App) and US Pre-Clearance too. The only other thing I can think of is friendly staff! 😀
SNN: A nice wee airport out in rural Ireland, nearest major city being Galway. Not a bad entry point for exploring the West of Ireland. There is not a lot that goes on at Shannon Airport, but the few experiences I have had of it are quite fine. Be aware that public transport is quite poor to this airport, so I would recommend hiring a car.
BFS: This is Belfast International Airport (Not the city one – BHD!). It’s a fair way out the city, but LCC, easyJet, offers some very good fares here and it may be worth the journey. If you are renting a car to explore NI, then I would definitely recommend Belfast International. The airport experience on the other hand is reasonable, however it withholds some of the rudest security staff I have ever encountered! Be prepared for interrogation!
BHD: George Best City Airport. Actually very close to Belfast City Centre, and recommended by me for city tourism. It’s got easy access via the Airport Express bus, which is very reasonably priced. I would recommend purchasing the Belfast Visitor Pass if using this airport. Furthermore, it’s basically on top of the Titanic Quarter! (Well, not really, but close!). It’s a nice little convenient airport and I have enjoyed flying out of here.
PMI: A large holiday airport. Sun, Sea and Shockingly average. In fact, no, it’s not large, it’s massive. Leave time to get to your gate! Loads of holiday flights depart from here, the only major gateway to the island of Majorca. I’ve only experienced this airport at 2am, so it’s not representative of how busy it truly gets (Damn those cheap flights!). Not really an airport that’s special in any way at all. Just pick up your bucket and spade, and get outta there!
BCN: Barcelona has a mass range of destinations and airlines, and overall it’s not that bad of an airport. It has very good city connections, and it never seems to over-crowded in the terminals, although I don’t state this for the aircraft apron! I do frown on this place though, every time we have checked in a bag here, it gets broken into, or shall I say cut into. Nothing worth stealing in there anyway, but it’s just the principle. Don’t pack valuables, and use a robust case. Or just have travel insurance that covers this kind of thing…
MAD: Another massive airport, which I still can’t quite comprehend the scale of. Yet, again the terminals are never that overcrowded, and the transport links are fast and reasonable, although be wary, there is lots of pickpockets on the metro from the airport! Terminal 4, for Iberia and a few other airlines looks amazing for architecture. Nothing bad to say here at all, Well done Madrid.
LIS: Lisbon is a quirky airport in the sense that it has a perfect metro link directly into the city, with no visible pickpockets or trouble. Yet, the airport is built in different sections that contradict each other, you would think you were passing through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory! No problems here that are too bad, but it’s a bit of a confusing one!
CDG: Charles de Gaulle Airport is somewhat a beast. And not a nice one, I shall affirm. 3 terminals, all in very different layouts with sub terminals and satellites it soon becomes very confusing and difficult for first time visitors. There are times where queues are unbearable, but that’s life. The transport links aren’t great, yet I digress.
ORY: Orly. Or affectionately known as that dump planes arrive at now and again. Its one of my least favourite airports. Transport links are limited and expensive, not to mention the hassle of the RER B, which CDG is also resigned to. Departure halls are cramped, and the people that hang around the airport are almost certainly trying to scam or thieve from you, so be wary. Only credit I can give to this place is the friendly Air France staff that work there!
NCE: The gateway to the South of France is quite a nice one. Palm Trees and a spree of luxury private jets is what composes Nice Airport. I have very few grievances with this airport, apart from the fact that the Car Rental is very disorganised. If you unfortunately arrive into Terminal 1 (Most airlines other than AF and easyJet), then you must take a shuttle bus to the other terminal to pick up your car rental, which adds around 20 minutes to your pick up and drop off time. Other than that, it’s a nice airport, with a beautiful sea approach.
LYS: Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport is one of my most hated airports! The transport links are horrendous. Your choice is an overpriced Airport Tram, or an equally expensive taxi. There are no proper bus services or anything along the lines of reasonable. The Terminal layout is very disorganised too. I’d recommend not using this airport if visiting the city of Lyon. The TGV links are perfectly fine, or for a lowcost option try OuiGo!
SXB: A small tiny ‘International’, (That always makes me laugh) Airport. It’s often so quiet here that you’d be fooled into thinking you’d missed your flight. In fact it’s so quiet that when they’re calling for a flight, someone individually comes round and asks you if you are on it, that’s if you’d mistake yours for the only other one in the airport! The train link to the city is quick, modern and convenient and I have no complaints to mention. I’ll be surprised if this airport remains open if I am honest, the route numbers are dwindling all the time.
TLS: Home of Airbus. Any airline dares not fly a Boeing here or they’ll risk the consequences. All jokes aside, it’s a good airport for spotting new builds across the apron, and the facilities are immense. I really do like this airport, it’s got a lot of seating, spread across the terminals, even during the most crowded periods. Only issue here, too many self entitled business travellers pushing for priority boarding! 😦 What happened to those needing special assistance getting priority?
BOD: Bordeaux Airport is a medium-sized gateway to the Aquitaine region and it serves it’s purpose well. It’s got very fast baggage delivery times, and a good amount of connections to the city, which is not too far, you can take the cheap local bus, or the slightly more expensive express bus. Bordeaux is a good alternative to start exploring France, as flight costs are quite often lower than other gateways.
CFU: Corfu Airport is a small, shabby tourist entry point, where our passports were not even checked properly, and we were all shoved into a small box of a building to check in and depart. You must get a bus which takes longer to board than the journey to the aircraft, which could quite possibly be walked. It’s a terrible airport, and is typical of the charter flights that serve it. Not recommend.
LCA: Many tourist airlines serve this airport. Yet, it doesn’t feel anything like Corfu, or what you’d typically assume of this type. It’s a modern, cool and chic airport with great facilities, plenty of seating and space to relax. Plus, you’re very likely to board via Jetway which is sometimes a haven in the hot summers. This is always my gateway to Cyrpus, and with the wide range of destinations, I don’t think you can go wrong.
PFO: The ‘smaller’ and ‘second’ airport of Cyprus. It’s got an older terminal, and now serves holidaymakers primarily for the region of Paphos. If you’re staying in West Cyprus then this is a good option and will save you time, but if you don’t mind the drive then Larnaca Airport is always the better option, just my two pence.
BSL: Basel is a nice small airport. Like Geneva, it’s spread across two countries and serves three (France, Germany and Switzerland). Baggage delivery is always quick and generally under 10 minutes, the terminal is large, efficient and modern. This airport does suffer adversely from fog very often though, which could cause delays and cancellations.
GVA: Geneva airport is a bit of a confusing layout, but the access is very good, using the train network. You can attain a free ticket to the city on the train in the baggage claim area. It’s being modernised and the Swiss Business lounge here is small but very nice, with adequate food services. However, the rest of the airport is very, and I don’t mean this lightly. Very expensive, so be warned.
United States of America
LAX: Los Angeles airport is incredibly congested. Both outside and within. Taxiing times are astronomical, flight delays are rife, and that’s if you can actually get to the terminal with the hectic road delays. It is being modernised however, the new TBIT terminal is word-class with plenty of shopping and eating outlets, along with plenty of spare seating. Other terminals are somewhat cramped but serve their purpose. I wouldn’t go out my way to avoid it, as some things are being improved, and there aren’t many other options around with the vast range of connections across the world.
SFO: San Francisco is one of my favourite airports. There is plenty of art within the terminals, and the designs are innovative and easy. I’ve never experienced any hassle related to SFO. Terminal 2 is my personal favourite, withholding the lively Virgin America and the branding quirks that are associated with them. Be warned that SFO is also affected by fog frequently, so diversions could be made to Oakland, which is a cheap alternative for flights to the bay area.
JFK: I’m going to say this now, and I don’t mean this as any insult to your city. But, New York has no good airports. All of them have bad public transport connections, be that La Guardia, Newark or JFK, and extortionate taxi fares too, even if they are capped… JFK is trying to modernise itself and Terminal 4, for Delta and other international airlines does a pretty good job, but the others are quite miserable. I don’t enjoy flying to New York, neither does anyone else, and I dread the lives of crews based there too… There are some positively idiotic CBP officers working there too, but that’s a whole other story.
AMS: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is an airport plagued by constant construction, low ceilings and a lot, and I mean A LOT of walking. It’s on an incomprehensible scale, with runways that take 20 minutes to taxi to. Home to one of my unloved airlines, KLM, I struggle to find affection for it. There are some reasonably priced outlets however, and Schiphol Plaza is good too for shopping. Transport connections are quick and generally on-time too which is good. There’s a nice spotting area, but I can’t shake off the overall feeling this is just a shopping mall, not a transport hub. I’m somewhat indifferent to this airport.
LUX: Luxembourg, small and modern. But if travelling to the non-schengen area, don’t go through security early, there is one overpriced shop with one staff member. Seating is plentiful but it’s an incredibly boring airport with little to do. You’d never want to be delayed here, god forbid that ever occurring.
I apologise for the lack of my own images in this post, I’m having a bit of difficulty locating many of them due to a recent system change! If I can, I’ll upload where possible in the future. Credit to the original creators of these images. No profit is made off this post.
If you have any questions about any other airport in the world, or airline related questions, feel free to contact me via the form on the blog, I’m pretty informed about the latest developments in the industry along with many more airports outside this blog post. I have not added all airports that I’ve visited for the sole fact that it would take me too long, but feel free to contact me about others.