know before you go: JFK

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I have a complex relationship with JFK, as I do with LAX.  Being the two most populous international arrival airports, they should be more inviting and welcoming than they are.  Instead, customs lines are long, people aren’t the friendliest, and they both could be cleaner for sure.  Plus, at JFK, you have to leave security to go terminal to terminal!  There’s no way that’s not confusing to a foreign visitor, or even to a local for that matter.

Perhaps we’re trying to give foreign visitors a picture of what America’s truly like?  Confusing and crowded and sweaty.  At least it’s still better than LaGuardia?

JFK is located in Queens, about 16 miles south of Manhattan.  There are 6 terminals with about 128 gates.  Terminal one serves a bevy of international carriers (Air France, Korean, Lufthansa, JAL, Turkish, Norwegian, WOWAir, Alitalia, Air China, China Eastern).  Terminal 2 is for Delta, Four is for Delta and Skyteam (including Aeromexico, China Airlines, China Southern, KLM; JetBlue, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore and Virgin amongst many others).  Terminal 5 is a club in NYC and it also serves JetBlue.  Terminal 7 has British Airways, Alaska, LOT, Icelandair and Qatar.  Terminal 8 is for American.

Remember: ✈️ = ny i love you but you’re bringing me down to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = welcome to new york (it’s been waiting for you)

Transportation to the airport:  ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (metro, bus, taxi, car, airporter, lots of options)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️ (just the fact that you have to exit and re-enter security sucks)

Convenience of security lines: ✈️✈️ (it goes as fast as it can with the sheer volume of passenger traffic; customs lines can be brutal here)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (there’s lots of options, but it’s inconsistent; like some terminals have McDonald’s and Starbucks, some don’t.  Some have Peet’s and don’t get me started, eesh.  7-Eleven in a few, and Terminal 4 has two Shake Shacks while the others don’t have any.  Some have Dunkin Donuts and Buffalo Wild Wings/Panda Express!  Why so cruel, JFK?  And since it’s NY, so I’m kind of expecting elevated dining, but there isn’t much beyond fast casual)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (please don’t judge us by the bathrooms in this airport)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi — didn’t always used to be the case)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (again, inconsistent luxury shopping between international terminals.  Tumi, Cartier, Hermes, Mont Blanc — do people need last minute fountain pens as gifts? Good luck in Terminal 2, there’s like a Best Buy kiosk for shopping and that’s it.  Lots of international flights means lots of lounges {except for the last one shutting down in Terminal 5}, but don’t expect any yoga or meditation/prayer rooms in this airport, there’s no real estate for that)

know before you go: London Gatwick (LGW)

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London Gatwick may be my favorite airport in London (only because Heathrow is the LAX of London.  Sure, no American carriers are there, but it’s quaint and manageable. Even though it’s a smaller scale, it still has tons of amenities.  A sizeable Harrod’s!  A lot of seating! A Nandos, which is HUGE!

It’s located about 30 miles south of central London, but the Gatwick express will get you there from Victoria station in a jiffy (for about £20).

There are two terminals, North and South that are connected pre-security by a people mover.  There’s 115 gates split amongst both terminals.  North serves EasyJet, Air Canada, Emirates, Virgin, West Jet and Icelandair.  South serves British Airways, and everyone else (Norwegian, Cathay Pacific, Aer Lingus, etc).

Remember: ✈️ = london fog to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = london calling

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️ (Gatwick express is speedy, but spendy. i got to the train early and still didn’t have a seat either)

Security: ✈️ (if you print your boarding pass there, be forewarned, it probably won’t work too well in the self-check first security gate)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (5 planes for Nandos.  I love Nandos, and the fact that they serve their take away in containers making it easy to eat on the go is SO convenient –sorry seat mates on plane, I’m eating my pitta. There’s also Starbucks, Jamie Oliver Italian, wagamama, and wetherspoon)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️  (for some reason, never encountered a line)

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

Amenities:✈️✈️✈️✈️ (a bunch of lounges, British Airways and Virgin especially; Harrod’s, multi-faith prayer rooms, on site hotels and conference centers)

know before you go: Bali (DPS)

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Bali is an otherworldly oasis, tucked away in the pacific island nation of Indonesia.  It’s paradise found for many who flock there for romantic getaways and family vacations.  To get there can be tricky, but there is an airport that serves this area: Ngurah Rai airport (DPS).  Named after a Balinese hero who fought the Dutch, this airport is about 12 km from Denpasar (the capital of Bali) and about 2.5 km from Kuta, a main resort area.

It is Indonesia’s third busiest airport, although a share of passengers has been shifted away to Lombok Airport.  There are two terminals (split into Domestic and International) with about 25 gates serving mostly Asian and Australian carriers and destinations. Domestic mostly serves Garuda, Batik, Indonesia, Citilink NAM, and Siriwaja.  International carriers include Cathay, China, China Eastern and Southern, Emirates, Qatar, KLM, Korean, Qantas, Thai and Virgin Australia.

Remember: ✈️ = bally total fitness to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = bally’s las vegas

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ = not too far, but as in any Asian country, beware of swindlers and pickpockets.  Taxis are notorious for overcharging and cheating tourists, so get a shuttle to your hotel if possible or take the bus transport.

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ : some western options (McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza hut, Haagen Daz, Hard Rock Cafe), but take this opportunity to explore some interesting Asian eateries with the best names: The Duck King, Beard Papa, Coffee Club.  The traditional Indonesian fare looks amazing: Kantin Modern, Singgalang Jaya, Bakso Lapangan Tembak Senayan.

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️ : tidy, could have more

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ : free wifi, but not a ton of charging areas

Amenities:✈️✈️✈️: balinese architecture is beautiful, these decent dining options, Garuda Executive lounge, spa, the shopping could be better and more luxurious

 

 

know before you go: Palm Springs (PSP)

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Palm Springs, formerly the hotbed of older celebrities: Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby.  Now still pretty well used by the jetset for quick getaways (and Coachella).  Located about 2 hours from LA, this small regional airport gets its mileage from the tons of events that happen year round…and its proximity to some top desert resorts.

There are only 20 gates, and two runway, but there is a lot of sun in its open floorplan.  There is a main terminal, but the gates are split into Sonny Bono and an unnamed concourse.  Sonny Bono was the former mayor of the city, and congressman…also he was a half of Sonny & Cher, duh. American, Allegiant, Alaska, Delta, United and Westjet all fly regular flights out of this airport. Air Canada, Frontier, JetBlue and Sun Country fly seasonal flights in the winter.  Who knew Canadians came down here so often?

Remember: ✈️ = the beat goes on to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = i got you babe

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ = 2 miles away from downtown Palm Springs, and security is a breeze

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (they know their audience: 2 starbucks, golf themed restaurant and a winery; Celebrity Bistro has a beautiful, prime location in the center of the courtyard)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️  (clean, not very notable)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️ (free wifi available, not as much charging, but it’s a small airport)

Amenities:✈️✈️✈️ (PGA store, some sundries shops, mainly you’re here for the peaceful outdoor courtyard)

 

know before you go: (HAM) hamburg

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hamburg fish market

When you go here, you’re literally GOING HAM. (!)

Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city.  I know, I thought it was Munich, too!  But, Hamburg edges it out at ~ 1.8 million people, and attracts many more as it is a very popular destination for tourists.

Despite having more people, HAM is only Germany’s fifth busiest airport.  It seems like every international airline in the world operates flights to and from this airport, from the common like British Airways and United to the obscure like Iran Air and Air Malta (although United in the only American airline represented,  and that’s only seasonal flights from Newark). There are two terminals, 1 services most of the airlines in Oneworld and SkyTeam alliances.  Terminal 2 houses Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners.

Remember: ✈️ = hamburglar to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = hamburger helper

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (located 5 mi from the city center and easily reached by train or Deutsch Bahn)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (McDonald’s, Starbucks, and a lot of bakeries, which allows an extra ✈️)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️  (clean, of course, it’s Europe)

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

Amenities:✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Lufthansa, Emirates and AirBerlin lounges, brands popular with Germans like Gant, Desigual, Moleskine, Ray Ban; there’s also a pharmacy, acupressure massage and a dental office! Gotta love German efficiency.)

know before you go: Reagan (DCA)

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Well I was hoping I’d have this whole week to post about Stanley Cup Finals cities of Washington, D.C. and Vegas, but so far, it looks like the Caps are about to run away with this one…hopefully Vegas can make this a series, but if not, better head over to the nation’s capital by Thursday.

DC metro area has a plethora of options transportation wise, being our nation’s capital, with three major airports allowing for travel to this area.  Dulles, Baltimore and Reagan all feed our nation’s capital.  Reagan National is probably the least chaotic and most convenient. Located in Arlington, VA, it’s a quick Metro ride away from the city center.

As a hub for American Airlines, there are very limited international flights allowed to land here (must be from countries that have pre-clearance US Customs facilities), instead those flights go to Dulles or Baltimore.

Terminal A has 9 gates and operates flights from Air Canada, Frontier, Southwest and Sun Country.  Where it gets a little tricky is that B and C are split into three concourses. Terminal B serves Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue and United with gates 10-22, Terminal B/C gates 23-34 and Terminal C gates 35-45.  Terminal C is used by American and Virgin.

Remember: ✈️ = popcorn jelly belly to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = pear jelly belly

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (quick train ride from the city, traffic in DC can be bad so plan accordingly)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (it can be a long haul from the train station to Terminal A, like so long I thought I had crossed into another state)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️ (security is long here, but for good reason)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (Starbucks, of course, Chick Fil-A, Legal Seafood, Pinkberry)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️  (not the newest or cleanest)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi available, designated charging areas)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (lounges available, it is DC after all; Smithsonian and Spanx stores–just in case you forgot your shapewear?)

 

know before you go: San Antonio (SAT)

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When I heard there was a rhesus monkey that somehow got loose in the San Antonio airport, I thought to myself, that’s so San Antonio.  He was probably just jonesing for some Raising Cane’s (IMO, the best food vendor in the airport).

One of the fastest growing cities in the US, San Antonio is a strange place, often overshadowed by its hip neighbor Austin.  It seems to be a nice place to live and work, and for some reason there are always conferences there.  I myself, have been to San Antonio several times and thus have passed through the airport where said monkey wreaked havoc yesterday.

Located about 8 miles from downtown/River walk, this airport has 24 gates split into two terminals.  Terminal A offers service from Aeromexico, Alaska, Allegiant, Air Canada, American, Delta, Frontier, and Southwest. Terminal B serves American and United flights and there’s a USO for the large military presence in SA.

Remember: ✈️ = Old Man Riverwalk to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = The Big Fundamental

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️ (not too far and pretty easy to get to from the touristy Riverwalk area)

Security: ✈️✈️✈️✈️:  there’s a steady flow

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (McDonald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Raising Cane’s.  There has been a vast improvement since the first time I visited years ago, but taking off a plane for no whataburger)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️  (fairly well dispersed for a smaller airport)

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

Amenities:✈️✈️✈️ (there a few mall stores, duty free, United lounge, USO)

know before you go: PHX

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Phoenix SkyHarbor has to be one of the most connected through airports to the West. A hub for Southwest, I feel like I’ve flown into here or Denver a million times.  It’s a nice airport to have a layover, there are a lot of casual dining options and there’s a lot of space to stretch out and relax, although I wish things were open later. Recently in the news for its newest feature, an Urgent Care, it’s a huge facility that has a lot of interesting amenities.

There are 3 terminals (2, 3 and 4) comprised of 116 gates.  There are people movers, but the distance between the concourses is vast.  Terminal 2 serves United, Spirit and Alaska.  Terminal 3 is the home of Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian and JetBlue.  Terminal 4 serves American, British Airways, Southwest, Volaris and WestJet.  Almost every domestic carrier is represented here.

Remember: ✈️ = from the ashes to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = phoenix rising

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️ (it’s a little bit of a trek, and driving around in the airport loop can be tiresome)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️ (would be impossible without people movers)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️ (not the worst, not the best)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️  (it’s a large airport, so there’s lots of food: from McDonald’s to Cartel Coffee, Panda Express and Pei Wei, Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Peet’s).

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️  (they could have more, but usually clean)

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

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️  (Urgent Care, airport lounges for each of the  major carriers, FitPHX trails, XpressSpa, a lot of Native American themed shops)

 

 

 

know before you go: Ontario (ONT)

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No, not Canada.  To continue the Coachella prep, for out of town friends joining in on the party, consider Ontario, an Inland Empire airport into which you can fly.  There’s not much there, so enjoy the animal style above instead.  The best thing about this airport is that there’s an In-n-out across the street.  Otherwise, it’s a hard sell unless you’re flying Southwest.

But remember, #1 rule on this blog: avoid LAX at all costs.  PSP is ideal, but it’s probably going to be pricey for the average general admission holder.  SNA is further and more expensive. Ontario is about a 90 minute drive from Indio, and it’s a really efficient and gets you from point A to point B.

There are two terminals, numbered 2 and 4, and a separate international arrivals area for a total of about 28 gates.  It is an international airport, with flights to Guadalajara and Taipei — but mostly it’s Southwest locoregional flights on the west coast.

Remember: ✈ = ontario, CA to ✈✈✈✈✈ = ontario, CA (you can decide which is which)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈✈✈✈ — it’s pretty small

Convenience of security lines: ✈✈✈

Dining: ✈ (there is a Coffee Bean, but you should really consider eating elsewhere before — hence the In-n-Out)

Bathrooms: ✈✈ (there could be more)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈✈  (free wifi available, not many charging areas)

Amenities: ✈ (you’re not here to shop, you’re here to get in and out)

know before you go: Venice (VCE)

MARCO!!!!

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… POLO!!!

That’s right, the official name of Venice’s airport is Marco Polo, named after the famous Venetian native son known for being a well-traveled explorer and trader.  Luckily for us, we don’t have to take years long journeys to get from one place to the other now, we can jet in and out from his airport.

Flying into Venice through his airport will afford you one of the most marvelous views of your life.  If you’re sure to catch a seat on the right side of the plane, towards the front, you may catch a glimpse of one of the most beautiful cities in the world from a birds eye vantage point.

It’s not a huge airport, one terminal split into only about 35 gates, but it understandably serves a lot of tourists heading on their Italian holidays.  Lots of european airlines, and SkyTeam airlines.  The airport itself sits about 5 miles from Venice’s city center, and can be reached by ACTV bus, Aliguna ferry or water taxi.  Careful, water taxis alone can be very expensive (but may be a little faster).

Remember: ✈️ = o sole mio  ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = volare

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️ (mainly because of the large sea in between airport and city, understandable though)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (only one terminal)

Dining: ✈️✈️ (all italian, but extra points for a gelateria on site)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️  (fairly clean)

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

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️  (Two lounges.  For being a smaller airport, there’s a lot of designer shops: Bvlgari, Versace, Ferragamo, Valentino — hey, you’re in Italy, what do you expect?)

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