We travel a lot and see many more airports than we’d like to. The snapshot (a popular word in Nigeria—we pick up many local expressions) is from Madrid Barajas which is arguably the most impressive airport on the planet. Not a favorite, though, because of the long distances and basic lounges.
These are some of the airports we enjoy:
- Guayaquil has the best airport in Latin America (the departure side; arrivals is nothing special). The city can be quite oppressive because of the heat and lack of attractions, so getting to departures is always a pleasure. The airport has perfect air-conditioning, nice shops, and not too many people trying to board. A wonderful experience. (The new terminal in Bogota is equally good, but already too small and crowded.)
- Copenhagen’s airport is a marvel. The wooden floors, the great shopping, and the Danish hospitality make it one of the best transfer airports in the world.
- Seoul’s airport is run-of-the-mill, but with one key plus: an airside hotel. When we arrive from Boston, tired and jetlagged, and have one more leg to go, this hotel feels like home even though there are no windows and the rooms are more or less the size of the bed.
- Heathrow is dysfunctional because of its size, but Virgin Atlantic’s lounge in terminal 3 is fantastic and well worth a long layover. Fantastic food, plenty of services like massage and hair salon. Another lounge we enjoy is the American Express Centurion Lounge in Buenos Aires.
- Boston’s Logan airport is quite good. Perhaps we enjoy it because 50% of the time we’re there we’re soon home. The airport is also very convenient, close to the city and usually fast departures and arrivals.
There are airports we try to avoid:
- Lagos’s airport is as bad as reputation has it. Overcrowded, hot, dirty, and dysfunctional. Nevertheless, one of our consultants has made it his transfer hub in Africa, so it must have some saving graces.
- JFK is not to be enjoyed. Too many passengers (often with little travel experience), worn down infrastructure, and generally unpleasant staff makes it a less than inviting place. Flights are often delayed.
- Sao Paulo, as a city of the world, has a surprisingly bad airport. It looks like a 1980s airport in a third world country.
- Dublin may just be carrying bad luck, but it seems like we’re always delayed there. Not much going on either.