Know before you go: YQB

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Y QB you ask? Y, because we like it.  Jean Lesage International Airport, named after former premier of Quebec is the 11th busiest airport in Canada, serving Quebec City.  J’aime Quebec City, one of the most European cities in North America. J’aime the fact that all Canadian airports start with a Y, except that it can get a little dicey when booking because they’re all very similar codes.

Located in the Quebec province, this airport and Trudeau Montreal are the two airports where French is the primary language.  Flying into this airport, especially during peak Autumn will provide miles and miles of rich reds, oranges and yellows of the fall foliage along the St. Lawrence river below.

This airport, albeit fairly small, is spacious, modern and open on the inside. The hub for WestJet and Air Canada, it’s mostly domestic, with a few direct flights from the states, Caribbean.

Remember ✈️ non, non  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ oui, oui

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (about 7 miles or 11 kilometers outside the city)

Security: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (preclearance available to the US)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (not huge, very open and spacious)

Dining: ✈️✈️ (there are literally two cafes and a Starbucks in the whole airport)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (not overly crowded, but there could be more stalls/washroom)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (VIP Lounge, Family Zone, this more of a transit airport)

 

know before you go: IND

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As alluded to in my post from last month, Indianapolis International Airport is one of the nicer domestic airports through which I’ve ever been.   I’m not the only one who is impressed; this airport tops ‘best of’ lists of airports year after year.

Modern, spacious, it’s your standard two story, two concourse (A&B) airport but the open, airy design and ease of moving through said space makes it anything but average. From the time you step foot inside, you can tell the personality of the city and just how proud of it they are.  It’s an enjoyable feeling, even if just for a layover.

As it is the gateway to one of the most visible international sporting events in the world, the airport has to make a great first impression, and it does.  The most eye catching feature is the large civic plaza which is a rotunda just outside security that gives you a 270 degree glass-windowed view of the Indiana plains.  There is great signage, and technology both at the airport and on their website informing you of line wait times.  There are about 44 gates serving most domestic carriers (American, Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United) and one international carrier (Air Canada).

Remember ✈️ pace(r) yourself  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ Gentlemen, start your plane engines!

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (if there’s one gripe, it’s that it’s about 25 minutes west of downtown, but that’s where there’s a lot of open space)

Security/immigration:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (clear signage and wait times posted, TSA was very efficient)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (not a massive airport, but it feels very large yet easy to get from concourse to concourse, rental car facility on the lower level)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (your normal fare: Au Bon Pain, Chick Fil-a, McDonalds, Starbucks, local deli Shapiro’s)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (well dispersed, there are a lot in the ticketing area, pre-security)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, the civic center area has charging at almost all their lounge chairs.  This cannot be overstated.)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (Delta Sky lounge, barbershop and multiple Indy themed giftshops to pick up your last checkered flags and racing memorabilia)

know before you go: Chinggis Khaan (ULN)

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You read that right.  Ulaanbaatar, capital city of Mongolia, has an airport named after one of the most famous pillagers of all time, their native son, Chinggis (Genghis) Khaan.  I mean, pretty cool name for an airport, and was so named in 2005 to celebrate the 800th (!) anniversary of Mongolia being an independent state.  Currently, there are around 3 million people in the country, with ~1.5 million of them in Ulaanbaatar.  Many Mongolians are still nomadic, traveling around the country in their gers (yurts), but I have to imagine that most that are on the grid use this airport for travel.

I can’t take sole credit for this one, this is courtesy of my parents, as I have not yet made it to the ends of the Earth..one day.  Apple does not fall far from the tree.

This is a small airport, serving mostly domestic flights throughout the country (Aero Mongolia, Hunnu Airlines), however there of course, are many flights from Asian countries such as South Korea and China, as well as European cities like Moscow and Berlin.  Mongolia has only really been open to foreign tourism for the past few years, so its airport system is still developing.  It’s a little bittersweet because this old airport is being replaced with a new more international friendly airport in the next few months.

There is one terminal with two levels.  Arrivals level one, departures second floor.  It’s located about 11 miles from the city center, and you can access easiest by car/taxi.

Remember ✈️ khan it  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ hun-ny I’m home

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (bus, taxi — there can be dense traffic around the airport)

Security/immigration:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (typically not too bad as there aren’t usually tons of flights coming and going at the same time)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (just one small building)

Dining: ✈️✈️ (cafe, noodle shop, just enough to get by)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (a lot of bathrooms for departure level, only 2 for arrivals, I guess they assume you’re go when you get to where you’re going)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi)

Amenities: ✈️ (one first class lounge, duty free shop/convenience store)

know before you go: kansai (kix)

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The best thing about this airport may be its code: KIX.  Like the wholly underrated cereal.

Kansai is the airport that serves Osaka, Japan and is located on its own artificial island in the bay of Osaka.  It is made up of Terminals 1 (main) and 2 (domestic low cost carriers), which are not connected, but have shuttle service between them.   Kansai is designated as the longest airport terminal in the world at 1.1 miles in length.  This is why there’s a people mover.

As this airport is in the middle of the water, railways connect it to the mainland, and a ferry service can transfer you to Kobe airport.  That does however make it a potential target for tsunamis, such as Jebi 2018 which halted operations for several days.

Remember ✈️ kant-sai  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ pumped up kix

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (bus, car, etc.  there’s an efficient railway, duh it’s japan, but it is on an island, so…you have to plan ahead for travel time.  There’s a high speed ferry to KOBE airport as well)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (terminal one has a people mover)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (What are you even doing if you’re not loading up on musubis for your trip?  Have curry, udon, even okonomiyaki before you board.  And yes, there’s Starbucks, McDonald’s and Burger King if you must)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (japanese toilets are the best)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, business oriented so plenty of charging)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (japanese airports have the best shopping.  Aside from luxury brands like Rolex, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, you have japanese craft markets, dollar stores like Daiso and even a Pokemon store.  There’s Korean, JAL, ANA, Royal Orchid lounges, business centers, and an airport hotel as well.)

 

 

 

know before you go: marseilles (MRS)

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But where’s the Mr?  I jest, but Marseilles Provence Aeroport has the coolest code, MRS! Although she makes less than her male colleagues. {rimshot} I’m here all night, y’all.

This regional airport is actually the fifth busiest in France, with destinations from all over Europe and Northern Africa.  Located about 17 miles from Marseilles in the bucolic region of Provence, this is probably the most convenient airport for those who summer in the south of France. As one does.

There is a direct shuttle from the train station to the airport for those coming in from the city.   There’s also bus, car and taxi transport.

There are 2 terminals, with around 45-50 gates total.  It is a small regional airport, but has all the traveler comforts you need.

Remember ✈️ provence is enough  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ marseilles it again

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (plan ahead, it’s a regional airport in a rural region)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (small, very manageable)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (mostly french cafe fare, but there’s a Burger King and Starbucks)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (there could be more, but it’s a small airport)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, could have more changing)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (paid VIP lounge, a few airport shops, uniquely a few culinary shops due to the region where you can pick up your herbs de provence and sel and lavender and all sorts of curated gourmand goods)

bon voyage: know before you go CDG

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Paris is one of THE magnificent cities of the world, and its main airport? C’est si bon!  It is the second largest airport by volume in Europe and the 10th largest in the world.  Obviously Paris is a destination in its own right, but as a port to the rest of the world, if you’re headed to Africa or the Middle East, good chance you could be stopping here, too.

The hub for Air France, this airport is named after the leader of the French resistance against Nazi Germany during WWI who later became president of the newly re-democratic France, Charles de Gaulle.  The history is complex, so you’re gonna have to trust me when I say he was a very notable French figure in the 20th century.  They don’t name airports after just anyone (see: the soon to be Muhammad Ali airport in Louisville).

There are three Terminals, but the set up is not exactly like other airports.  Terminal 1 is for airport operations, mass transit stations, shops and restaurants, check in counters and baggage claim.  Terminal 2 is split into sub-terminals 2A-2G. 2E is where your long haul flights will be, as it can accommodate Airbus A380.  Air France international flights are almost all exclusively run through Terminal 2 (American, Delta are also Terminal 2, while United flies through both 1 and 2A).  2F is for intercontinental European and 2G is in a separate building and is dedicated to regional Air France flights.  Terminal 3 is for budget airlines.

Remember: ✈️ = hate it  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =   louvre it (sorry i couldn’t do any better, i’m le tired)

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (16 miles away, but RER metro transit will take you from central Paris –and there’s a new express trains coming soon.  There are also express buses and old fashioned car travel as well)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️ (there are CDGVAL trains that will take you from one terminal to the next; it does get confusing though and there’s not a lot of helpful people jumping at the chance to help you)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️ (there are a lot of travelers here, that doesn’t make things go quickly)

Dining:✈️✈️✈️✈️ (there is only one thing to know and that is there is a Laduree in 2F.  Otherwise, there’s a McD’s, Starbucks and Pre-A-Manger along with french offerings)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (fair for an airport of its size)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Free wifi, charging is available — don’t forget your Type E adapter!)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (this is Paris, home of Cartier, Dior, Chanel, Hermes, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Saint Laurent –you will find them all here along with well known Italian brands too 😉  All that’s missing is Goyard and Louboutin and then you’d have the best place ever airport shopping center in the world.  There are MANY lounges available as well — Air France/Delta SkyTeam in like all terminals, American, Etihad, Air Canada, El Al, Emirates, Qatar, SAS, Lufthansa, United/Star Alliance, Cathay Pacific.  Also, this airport was used in both U2 and Alan Parsons project album artwork, so extra cool points.  J’aime cela!)

know before you go: MIA

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One of the few times the blog post title actually makes sense because chances are, during a weekend in Miami, there’s a high probability of actually going MIA.

Miami International (formerly Wilcox Airport) is one of the busiest airports in volume and is a main gateway to Latin America.  This place is always bustling.  Located about 8 miles from Downtown, it serves the entire metropolitan area of Miami/Dade County.

Like everything else in this city, the set up is a little confusing, with three terminals: North, Central and South. North houses the largest Concourse, D, which is the main home of American and takes the bulk of passengers both domestic and international.  Central Terminal has Concourses E, F, and G serving OneWorld, international carriers and domestics, respectively.  South Terminal has Concourses H and J, which serves Delta/SkyTeam and Star Alliance with a few One World carriers as well.  In total, there are 131 gates.

Remember: ✈️ = miami vice to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =  welcome to miami

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (8 miles from downtown, there is a MetroRail, Amtrak, buses and buses)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️ (it’s a large airport, so at least there’s the MIAmover to take you between terminals and to the rental car facility.  It’s a little bit of a hike to get there though)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Where MIA achieves success is having a lot of dining options that explore local flavors.  There’s a lot of Cuban food in this airport, like a lot, a lot.  From the famed Cafe Versailles to the modern Ku Va, if you have a hankering for some Cubano treats, you’ve got it.  There’s also the normal Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Dunkin, McD’s, KFC, Sbarro, TGIFriday’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Nathan’s fare.)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ (Terminal D is very well lit, clean, could have more locations)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi, decent amount of charging)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (hotel on the premises, yoga room, Military Hospitality, multiple American Admiral’s clubs, VIP lounge by LATAM, Delta Sky Club, Avianca/Star Alliance, and even a Consular lounge for foreign dignitaries, which is kind of cool.  MIA also fancies itself as a mall, and there are the typical brands like Michael Kors, Coach, MAC, Bijoux Terner, Sunglass Hut and Hudson.  There’s also some specialty shops that are hella random shops like RonJon, Penguin and Johnnie Walker to keep it interesting.  Great place to people watch, saw the Chainsmokers at the gate last time I was here.)

 

 

 

here’s looking at you CMN: know before you go Casablanca

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Play it again, Sam.  Originally built by the US as a military airport during WWII, Casablanca’s Mohammed V airport has evolved into the busiest airport in Morocco.  After Morocco gained its indepedence from France in the 1950s, the airport basically rebranded into a public airport named after the former King/Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed V who ruled in the 50s-60s.

There are two terminals 1 (domestic and international) and 2 (international).  It is the hub of Royal Air Maroc and probably services more passengers from Paris to Morocco than any other airport in the country.

Remember: ✈️ = what in heaven’s name brought you to casablanca? to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = the beginning of a beautiful friendship

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (30 km from the city, but there is a train station on in Terminal 1 that will take you to the city)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️ (Terminals 1 and 2 are connected, lack of signage makes things a little difficult.  Airport communication is in French, Arabic and English but can be confusing)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️ (very crowded, expect longer wait times)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (some westernized options: Starbucks, pomme de pain — very expensive)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (could use more facilities based on the level of passenger traffic)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi x 30 minutes, remember your European adaptor plugs)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (there’s a few international brand stores, local Moroccan purveyors, pharmacy, urgent care, Pearl lounge and a VIP concierge service)

know before you go: volare FCO

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Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (say that three times fast) is one of my favorite airports ever.  It’s very representative of the city it serves, Rome: bustling, loud, a little disorganized and has the best shopping ever.  It’s one of the busiest airports in Europe and you get that impression right away; there are people everywhere.

There are three passenger terminals, 1, 2 and 3 (however 2 is currently closed for renovation) with > 50 gates.  The renovated areas of the airport are NICE.  Like, there are moss living plant walls in the bathrooms, nice.  It is the hub airport for Alitalia and Vueling, and most international carriers have flights to FCO.  Flights to and from the US can be found on American, Delta, United, Norwegian and Alitalia.

Remember: ✈️ = rome if you want to  to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ =  volare, whoa whoa!

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (22 miles away from city centrale; there is transit, but if you know anything about Rome’s metro system, you know it’s not the easiest to navigate)

Ease of navigating through terminals:  ✈️✈️✈️ (as with a lot of European airports, they don’t announce/show your gate until right before departure, so don’t wander too far)

Convenience of check in/security lines:  ✈️✈️✈️ (faster than I thought it would be)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (McDonald’s, inexplicably Ferrari and Mercedes Benz cafes.  There’s a place called heaven Italian Food Street in the shopping mezzanine. As I tend to say, the worst pasta in Italy is like the best pasta in any place you live, so mangia!)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (the renovated bathrooms are some of the nicest bathrooms i’ve ever seen)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Free wifi, charging is available if you can get it — don’t forget your Type E adapter!)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (this rivals CDG Paris as one of the best in airport shopping: Bottega Veneta, Bulgari, Burberry, Dolce&Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna, Emporio Armani, Fendi, Gucci, Hermes, Michael Kors, Moncler, Montblanc, Omega, Pandora, Prada, Rolex, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sunglass Hut, Swatch, Tod’s, United Colors of Benetton, Valentino, Versace.  You can even get a free personal shopper to accompany you on your duty free bonanza!)

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Also, there’s a Venchi for one last gelato before you go. Or be like me, and have two before you go!  That’s amore!

know before you go: KOA

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The long anticipated Southwest to Hawaii routes just went on sale, and man were there some good deals (especially if you have flexible schedules).  I’m definitely going to have to take advantage of a random Tuesday flight one of these days –worth it for < $100 from LAX.  The departure cities are mostly from Northern California and the destinations are three airports for now: HNL (Oahu), OGG (Maui) and KOA (Big Island), with the hope to expand to more destinations and inter-island flights.

Often times overshadowed by it’s flashier sister Oahu, a Big Island adventure is actually Hawaiian must.  So much vast, natural beauty.  Volcanoes National Park, Waipio, Akaka Falls and black sand beaches are just a few delightful destinations on this very large island.  Throwback to my 5 day itinerary, which is a perfect amount of time to spend hanging loose in the Hawaiian tropics.

Ellison Onizuka (in honor of Challenger astronaut and hometown hero) Kona Airport is the Big Island’s larger airport (the other being Hilo ITO) and it truly looks like a Polynesian village when you taxi towards the main cluster of buildings.  It really reminds me of the Siem Reap airport in Cambodia, too.  The bulk of the structure is outdoors, because it is so temperate and gorgeous in Hawaii.

There are technically two Terminals 1 which has gates 1-5, and 2 which houses gates 6-10.  It only has one runway, and still uses ramps to board and deplane passengers from planes.  I love these kinds of airports, it makes you feel like you’re flying Pan Am in the 60s or something.  Southwest joins Hawaiian, Japan, United, Delta, Alaska and American.

Remember: ✈️ = go Big Island or go home to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = Bigger the Island, the better

Distance from city: ✈️✈️✈️ (about 7 miles from Kona Village, 25 miles from the resorts on the Kohala Gold Coast — give yourself time if you’re renting a car, it can take a long time)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (could probably walk from one side to the other in 5 minutes)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️ (a lot of families, one security area, you do the math)

Dining: ✈️ (there’s not much, so highly suggest picking up something from Pine Tree Cafe nearby — the chicken karaage and mac salad, mmm so good)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (not many, but not usually crowded)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️ (no wifi set up yet)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (you can definitely get lei’d here, and that’s a plus right?)