airports

I’m currently in the Charlotte Airport. Normally I’d be sitting in a rocking chair, eating a caramel apple and reading a book, but my lappy has to finish updating before I turn it off. So, airports.

I’ve been in a few. The first airport I was ever in was the Oneida County Airport. It closed a long time ago. Long before current security measures. I love(d) everything about it. It was tiny. And by tiny I mean it had two gates – the left and right sides of a double door. I distinctly remember the plastic bucket seats in the “gate” area being attached together in back-to-back rows, and being the exact same seats as in a bowling alley. It was awesome. Time for your flight: walk out onto the tarmac, up the steps to the plane, say hi to the pilot, take your seat. Everyone got a window and an aisle. There were only 13 seats. It was absolutely deafening. And fantastic. That was my first flying experience.

I’ve flown to a few places – Orlando, Phoenix, San Francisco, Detroit, Dallas, Tallahassee, New York City, Syracuse, Geneva. I’ve been laid over in probably twice as many airports. They never cease to interest me – it’s like being in someone’s home.

Atlanta and Detroit strike me as being very similar – okay, but boring. They’re pretty well laid out, but there’s not much to do. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. There’s the obligatory place-you-can-buy-things every few gates, but no place to hang around except at your gate. And Atlanta is loud. Gates are on top of each other, no space to move around, constant commotion.

I’ve been in the JetBlue and the International terminals of JFK. The international terminal is pretty small once you get past security, and there’s very little to do, considering the amount of time one has to spend in it. There’s a few food stands, a Peet’s coffee (best vanilla latte ever), a newsstand and a souvenir stand. Outside security, there’s shopping galore and several eateries, including a pretty posh sushi/caviar bar and an excellent bookstore. But not a lot of place to sit. The JetBlue terminal is actually pretty great – large centrally located “food court” area, things to do, spacious, fairly quiet. My main beef with JFK is the hike between terminals. Sure, there’s the tram, but it’s still a hike on top of that.

I hated the Syracuse airport until I found the Tallahassee airport. Syracuse has 30 gates. Tally has 16. Syracuse has eateries and newsstands. Tally has a “food court” once you get past security. Tallahassee turns up their Airport CNN network loud enough to preclude any reading, and it’s inescapable. Tallahassee’s airport doesn’t have hot coffee. ‘Nuff said. (Imagine a 9 hour delay there! It sucks.)

The Geneva airport is almost exactly what I would have pictured (if I had tried.) Clean, efficient, comfortably spaced. All the ads on the walls are for Swiss banks or Swiss watches. Pretty awesome. Check-in counters are a bit of a zoo, but online check-in eliminates the need to stand in the two-hour line. Security is incredibly swift and efficient – and fair. Everyone gets a swift pat-down, regardless. Bonus: train stop attached to it.

My favorite airport? Charlotte. Where I am now. Really good layout. You can run from one end to the other in 5 minutes. Central area is full of things. Sushi bar, NASCAR bar (currently showing the FSU football game), and a killer BBQ place. Not too far away are the best caramel apples ever. Starbucks are strategically placed throughout the airport. There are windows everywhere – the place is almost entirely naturally lit during the day, something I don’t think can be said of any other airport I’ve been in. There’s a giant airplane mobile, and during Christmas giant trees appear, built out of poinsettias and pine. But the best part? The rocking chairs. In the central area and the corridors leading between and to the terminals, are white rocking chairs and potted trees, in true Southern hospitality. So you can just sit back, enjoy the free wi-fi, take in some sun, watch the planes land, whatever. When I got stuck here overnight last Christmas, I was quite happy it was here and not somewhere else. It’s really a relaxing atmosphere.

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