Sunday, June 8, 2008

All I Really Need to Know I Learned at Your Airport

I've been spending a decent amount of time traveling lately. So while I'm waiting for Group 4 to board, I figured I'd comment on the latest of my poorly developed theories. I've decided that instead of visiting cities to determine if the city is a good fit, you can just spend an hour in the airport and learn what the city is all about. The basic premise is that most airports in most cities look a whole lot like the cities themselves. I'm sure that there are some exceptions, but here is my evidence thus far:

Indianapolis: This one might change (we're getting a new airport) but the city and current airport share several qualities. It's cheap. Parking is $6.50/day at the airport, and food is moderately priced, much like the city. Both the city and airport also have way too much sprawl for their size (you'll taxi for 15 minutes on the runway, to get to one of their 15 gates).

Miami: It's big and noisy. There are pushy people, obscene humidity, and a general disinterest in being helpful. It's pretty much New York + more humidity + really attractive people who make bad wardrobe decisions.

Salt Lake City: Incredibly sterile. Really clean bathrooms and really large families. I was in a line with about 30 people in front of me, but there were only 3 families.

Chicago: Too much stuff in too small of a space. Always late. Noisy. Frustrating. Always seems like someone is really close to going nuts and getting violent - both in the city and the airport.
Note: this is a commentary on Ohare. Midway is okay, I guess.

Atlanta: There are good parts and really bad parts. They allow indoor smoking and the Airtran terminal feels like a Greyhound station. Lots of greasy food.

Vegas: Lots of old people gambling. Really expensive.

So that brings me to Charlotte. Kate and I visited the city a few times before we decided to live there, but we probably could have saved some time and money by just visiting the airport. It's nice and clean and everything feels new. Good shopping and food. Oh, and they have rocking chairs.

Well that's my theory for today. Would love for the loyal YIFY readers to comment on how their airports are/aren't an accurate reflection of their city. And if you disagree with this theory, that's okay. I'm working on a couple more, including:

1. A new sliding scale on how much you can spend on something unnecessary that could potentially be memorable. Basically $100 for every year that you'll remember something. So if some meal/trip/wine costs $300, then it's only a good investment if you think you'll remember it for the next three years and reference it in stories to friends/acquaintances.

2. Houston is the worst city in the world. You can prove this by taking the city that you dislike the most, and then take away the best thing from that city (whatever that may be) and you'll probably end up with something that looks a lot like Houston. Like take L.A. and get rid of the're basically left with Houston.

I better stop now. Using multiple subjects in the same post and starting to sound like Andy Rooney or Larry King. I think it's time for Group 4 to board.


Anonymous said...

BMI - A.K.A. - Bloomington, Illinois Airport. Free parking, 20 minute drive from anywhere in the city, clean, friendly, one eatery, one bar, two runways, two baggage claim conveyor belts. Often times the person who prints your ticket at the counter also takes your ticket at the gate and loads your baggage on the plane. The security station closes down between flights. Decor is plain and family oriented. Best descriptors would be 'nice', 'serviceable',
The city of Bloomington - nice, quaint, plain, relatively inexpensive, Serviceable. The person who builds your deck could also be a volunteer fireman and assistant director of the city circus. The pilot could be your neighbor and the airport sculptor in your bridge club. More proof of correlation!

Al Iverson said...

I hate airports so much that I can't reasonably compare them. As far as these things go, I'm happy with O'Hare. I mean, it sucks, and it's evil, but it bothers me no more than the airport in Minneapolis, or Miami, or Vegas, Or DC.

Airports are bad places. They chafe at the soul. Jangly. They have too many arrows and too many people and too many queues of people waiting to go to Toledo. There are few places I wouldn't rather be.

I've always kept this Douglas Adams quote in my mind, whenever visiting an airport. "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the phrase, 'as pretty as an airport.'"

Nate Romance said...

Anonymous (a.k.a. Mom and Dad),
I agree with you 100% on BMI. You can also add that the majority of BMI visitors are there for State Farm...much like Bloomington-Normal.

That's one of the best quotes ever. I was going to offer my opinion on the Minneapolis airport, but couldn't come up with three lines without referencing Larry Craig.

Amanda said...

Hmm... Champaign's Willard Airport... clean, small, overly friendly staff, and oddly old fashioned in that often you must use stairs to a) get to the runway and b) get on the plane.

Richmond VA -- small, convenient, easy to navigate. Friendly staff with a touch of southern-african-american-style-english (such as "go scrait thru the doors and turn leff"). Away from the city itself, so generally little traffic. The city is small, easy to navigate, and full of friendly people willing to give you directions like "Go scrait through this light, then turn leff..."

Hartford, CT: Busy, small, full of pushy, but usually friendly once you get to know them, New Englanders. Same for the city.

I'd say something about Detroit, but I've only been to the airport, so I have no idea about the city itself. (I very much like Detroit's airport though).

Your theory may only apply to American airports though...

Amsterdam: modern, efficient, protected by men with uzis. I'm not sure Amsterdam's airport fits much with the city, which seems older, more relaxed, and full of bicycles and american teenagers seeking legal pot and the red light district.

Anonymous said...

This is an easy one. Sea-Tac Airport... a couple of decent seafood restaurants clouded by a sea of bad dressers. Socks and sandals at every turn.

Jennifer said...

Denver - In shape, Chaco-wearing, snowboard-carrying people, along with cowboys, and lots of everyday people who look like they're nice and laid back. When you're at another airport, you can always tell which waiting area is full of people going to Denver. Tons of moderately priced food, but nothing too fancy. You also can walk into any bar in the airport and get amazing local beer. All of this describes they city of Denver and the Front Range.

SFO - diverse and expensive...just like the city.