FIRST, TO SEA SHARK, WHO COMMENTED ABOUT MY MOST RECENT BLOG (REFERENCING TOM CAPRA AND STEPHEN BOGART): THANK you for your great reminiscence about your Santa Monica conversation with Lauren Bacall. An outstanding and memorable occurrence, especially since she kept looking directly at you during the entire conversation. Regarding whether or not she and Humphrey Bogart named their son Stephen after Bogie's character, Steve, in his and Ms. Bacall's first film together, I defnitely don't know, but it would certainly make sense. Thanks, again, for the story and comments.
Now, airports. I've been blessed to fly to a lot of destinations domestically and internationally since my first flight just before Christamas, 1954, from Elmira, New York to Newark, New Jersey. It was in a DC3, in a snowstrom, and hardly "glamorous". Since then, because of simply personal and other work-related travel, I've been blessed to get to "know" a lot of airports. If YOU'RE an airport aficianado, perhaps you'll identify with some of my observations and "ratings", just for the heck of it.
A FEW OF "THE BEST" (in my opinion):
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL: I don't know how any air traveler could complain about ANYTHING at our airport. Outstanding shops, eateries, convenience of transport to longer-distance gates and for those with some difficulty walking needing to use convenience carts driven by courteous drivers to get to a particular gate, we're at the top of the mountain. That also now includes our "screeners" (also at many other airports, globally) and the mega-ease of getting through security, thanks also to the new scanning technology that doesn't require pat-downs. If MSP isn't the best anywhere, I don't know which airport WOULD be.
KANSAS CITY, MO: Whoever designed THAT airport was THINKING, especially about ease of getting from a plane to the taxi or car pickup lanes. From getting off the plane to baggage claim to "curbside" takes less than two or three minutes, walking slowly. GREAT pedestrian flow-pattern and design.
PARIS, FRANCE (CHARLES DeGAULLE AIRPORT, ROISSY): It's somewhat similar to Kansas City, i.e., regarding ease of getting from plane to baggage to curbside. From de-planing, the entry to a moving walkway to get one to baggage claim, then the street, is less than 30-feet from any gate. From baggage to curbside, just another 100 feet, maximum. As is the case with MOST overseas airports, at least in Europe and Asia, the self-service carts upon which to place a multitude of baggage, are FREE.
SINGAPORE: It's not so much the ease of getting from plane to curbside, but rather the beauty and cleanliness of that airport. The spectacular carpeting and first-class gentle ambience are soothing to the senses, making even the most frenetic traveler "calm down". It's a 20 to 25 minute drive from the airport's remote location to "downtown" Singapore, truly one of the world's great city-states. (No chewing gum allowed to enter, or be in, Singapore.)
LONDON, ENGLAND (Gatwick): Again, somebody was THINKING. Either boarding or de-planing, especially the latter, the distance from point "A" to point "B" is exceptionally easy to take. Also easy to take is the superb British rail system, whisking Gatwick passengers into Victoria Station after only a less than three minute walk from baggage to train platform. The Brits had the world's first subway (The London Underground, as they call it), and truly corner the market, in my opinion, about how travelers should experience the least possible angst when traveling.
A FEW OF "THE WORST" (in my opinion):
NEW YORK CITY (LaGUARDIA): While the city fathers in office at the time were clever enough to build LaGuardia's runways atop tons of mostly non-pollutant garbage emptied into Long Island Sound (true), I think it's embarrasing to have a city the size of New York have an airport the size of a postage stamp, and even with recent cosmetic upgrades to its terminal, still not care about traveler comfort enough to even have moving walkways. The city is this country's biggest, of course, and where I lived most of my teenage years, actually riding my bicycle around Flushing Meadow Park, near LaGuardia, watching the planes land. THOSE were GOOD memories. Experiencing LaGuardia's terminal, even recently, the memories are NOT so good (although they've definitely upgraded their eateries). The place still makes me claustrophobic. Biggest city, smallest major city airport/terminal. Go figure.
CHICAGO (O'HARE): Biggest complaint for yours truly, and maybe you: NO moving walkways from gates to curbside. There ARE moving walkways in the cavernous underground tunnels from the terminals to parking spaces, but the initial user-unfriendly walks on very hard surfaces (throughout), especially if one de-planes or boards at something like gate E-498 (being facetious here, of course) are exhausting.
ATLANTA (Hartsfield): The nation's and (said to be) the world's busiest airport, it's, to me, somewhat like Seattle-Tacoma (SEATAC) and Denver's DIA, wherein one really needs to pack a lunch to get on the trams and walk and walk and walk. To me, the intent was correct, the reality again not as "user-friendly" as it could be.
AMSTERDAM (Schipol): I've had to fly into Amsterdam at least 20 times in my life, and only once to stay overnight in that city. The remainder of the times have been to change planes. Progressively, the Schipol experience has become much, much better, with more and better traveler conveniences (my favorite Chinese noodle soup is served at one of the Schipol eateries), but the perpetual compaint, at least for yours truly, is the distance between gates, especially when changing planes, with very few courtesy-car (golf cart-like) drivers to be found. Walking from gate to gate at Schipol (even with their moving walkways) should be included in any weight-loss regimen!
Thanks for taking the time to read these occasional rants. Please also join me at www.startribune.com/videos for my SENIOR MOMENT webcasts, the subjects for which changes every Monday.