Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I travel a lot.  I've flown over 82 times this year (I don't keep track of non "star alliance" flights, of which I've probably had about ten or more).  I have 28 more scheduled flights before the end of the year (and that is probably all that I will take...)

So, I spend time in airports - and I can say this for sure, European airports are much much nicer than North American airports.

Much nicer.

I'm in the lounge, which they let me into for free since I fly a lot.  Try that in the US.  I had to buy a red carpet club membership.  This is pretty standard in Europe - you fly a lot, you get into the lounge.

The lounge has actual food - meat, pasta, a buffet.  Red carpet in the US - no real food and you are not allowed to bring in your own food either. Food is pretty standard in Europe.

The lounge has wine and beer and other drinks for free.  This is pretty standard in Europe.  Red carpet in the US - $6 for a wine, $$ for a beer, charges for everything. 

The network I'm using - free.  This is not standard, but does happen from time to time.  I cannot imagine a complimentary network connection in the US.

Newspapers, magazines - dozens of them here.  Not so at home.

In general the shopping - many choices here.  Not so much at home (well, Denver and Pittsburgh are pretty good - from time to time it can be OK).

Even if they do not have a lounge, the food is just so much better in the airport restaurants over here.

Ok - there is a downside... They let you smoke in most of them still.  Person next to me just lit up. 

Anyway, my point is - traveling in North America, not a user friendly experience in general.  In Europe - not too bad.

And the luggage comes out in baggage claim pretty darn fast too.



Anonymous Anonymous said....

Totaly agree...a lot of the airports over there are new or remodeled so that helps with "nice". Service-wise I guess it has nothing to do with it. Ever been to the new airport in Madrid though? Very nice, but it took us 40 minutes of walking to get from one gate to another. But the stores there are really nice. It's like being in the mall here.

Wed Sep 27, 08:05:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Mathew Butler said....

I believe plans are afoot to stop people smoking in public places in the UK.

When I lived in Australia, the government stopped people smoking in bars/restaurants...beaches. It makes a big (positive) difference to a night out.

Wed Sep 27, 08:18:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Connor McDonald said....

Changi airport singapore...Massive space, lots of greenery *inside* the terminal, lots of shops, shower, gym facilities...all beautifully laid out, and smoke free

Wed Sep 27, 09:07:00 AM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....


The only construction site in the world to have its own airport.

At large US airports (and some international ones) I recommend being a military dependent so you can take advantage of the free everything at the USO.

Wed Sep 27, 09:08:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Mark said....

I'm currently sitting in the departure lounge at Vilnius Airport, which appears to be the only airport I've even been in where you could die of starvation if you haven't eaten earlier. Going through passport control, there's just a small cafe selling cold rolls with a sausage and grated cheese on them, and some other unspecified sandwiches with I'm not sure what in them :-(

I just tried to change up some Lithuanian money into Estonian money - the cashier just said 'no' and shrugged her shoulders. Went over to the other booth - 'No' again, carried on with her paperwork. Apparently you can't change Lithuanian money into Estonian money at the main airport in the country, a bit like not being able to change CN$ into US$ at JFK. I think Vilnius Airport must be the only institution left in Lithuania still run by the Russian Military...

Wed Sep 27, 10:48:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Doug Burns said....

Mathew Butler said....
I believe plans are afoot to stop people smoking in public places in the UK.

Already the case in Scotland and Ireland and it won't be long before England and Wales follow.

Even in England, it would be rare not to have only minority smoking areas in an airport.

The rest of Europe is another matter though ;-)

This was a very educational blog for me. Having not spent much time in US airports I was shocked that you have to pay in lounges even when you're a frequent flyer!

Wed Sep 27, 11:39:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

The rest of Europe is another matter though ;-)

Italy - forbidden to smoke in any open-to-public building (pubs, restaurants, shops, working facilities, etc), unless in smoking areas equipped with superperformant air cleaners (so expensive that they're virtually non-existent).

Wed Sep 27, 11:54:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Doug Burns said....

3-sided bus shelters? ;-)

It varies, but I recall working in Bucharest and being astounded by virtually no smoking restrictions, even in restaurants.

Wed Sep 27, 01:35:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

>> Italy - forbidden to smoke in any open-to-public building ...

I remember when Al Italia's flights went non-smoking only, back in '96 or '97. I was regularly flying from Heathrow to Rome and thought, "No point in asking for a smoking seat, then". Foolish me -- smoking continued unabated for many months afterwards, and you just had to ask for a seat in the back five (or six?) rows to get in the appropriate section.

Wed Sep 27, 01:58:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Dougie McGibbon said....

I'd agree with Connor. I've flown round the world a few times and Changi airport is definately the best.

The worst by far is the LA cattle pen where they hold you for four hours while your plane gets refueled when flying between UK and NZ. Thats after you've cleared customs, been shouted at, been fingerprinted, been shouted at again and then herded around by armed guards - and this is for a transiting flight!

Wed Sep 27, 05:12:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

While we're on the subject of travel, Tom, I don't suppose you can recommend any good, fairly cheap hotels real close to the Oracle training facility in Boston?

Wed Sep 27, 05:52:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Mark said...

I'm currently sitting in the departure lounge

Mark - thanks for that, laughed out loud. Yes, there are the good and the bad. I'd say in general - better in Europe than North America :)

fairly cheap hotels real close to the Oracle training facility in Boston

cheap Boston hotels :) oh my...

Sorry, no.

Wed Sep 27, 06:02:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hmm, I guess that's why I love my AmEx Platinum, it gets me into the airport lounges in the US just by showing it. Also, in the airports where I frequent, Detroit, Miami, Dallas, Minneapolis they all give free booze and free internet and snack food. Guess I always fly NWA and they seem to have great service in their World Club

Wed Sep 27, 06:41:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

The worst by far is the LA cattle pen

LAX Bradley International terminal is just about to get started on a major construction project, expected to be completed March 2010.

I wonder if the gambling sites will give odds on how over-budget and delayed?

The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading only.

Wed Sep 27, 07:03:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Robert said....

>> Ok - there is a downside... They let you smoke in most of them
haha I was just going to say something to this effect.

IMO, in general -
Food is taken more seriously almost everywhere than it is in the US.

Wed Sep 27, 09:01:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Mark -
your cd$/us$ analogy is a bit broken;
it would be more like trying to buy Iceland krona at JFK. I do not know if this is possible - maybe it is, but if it wasn't, I wouldn't be surprised. With less-known currencies, you buy them in destination and sell on your way out, NOT the other way around!

Wed Sep 27, 11:26:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Phil said....

So here's the big question: What is your favourite Eurpoean airport? And the world?

I'm nowhere near as much of a traveller as you, but I'd have to say that my votes would be Schipol (Amsterdam) and Changi (Singapore).

In the US the question is really what airport do you *hate*. Apart from tiny airstrips (like Muskegon Michigan) which double as airports, most US airports pretty much stink.

Though, I have to say that perhaps Star Alliance doesn't treat you as well as other programs? No food, but (last year anyhow) Northwest lounges had free drinks including beer...

Thu Sep 28, 05:43:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I like the Copenhagen airport, Vienna was very nice - there are a couple of nice ones.

Airports I'm not fond of...

Washington Dulles - my home airport, hate it. Slow baggage, C and D terminal food/shopping is horrible (B terminal, not bad - but I never fly out of that). The people movers - man, that is bad.

And don't even ask me about the G terminal. Biggest mistake they've made there...

Thu Sep 28, 05:53:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Robert said....

Miami International = pure CHAOS

Thu Sep 28, 10:03:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hello Tom,
A different question out of line to this topic but this could be your next topic.

How actually did your blog help/not help you personally and professionally.


Thu Sep 28, 12:46:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

^^ You might to search...I think Tom blogged about this before

Thu Sep 28, 03:26:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Italy Rome's Fiumicino airport... really nice and cute...

Fri Sep 29, 01:48:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

did you know that you are not allowed
to enter any Moldavian airport

Fri Sep 29, 08:01:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Anyway, my point is - traveling in North America, not a user friendly experience in general. In Europe - not too bad.

I agree with this, as long as "traveling" is limited to the airports and planes... if you broaden the definition a bit, then I think North America is more user friendly because the hotels tend to offer MUCH more for only a fraction of the cost.

Internet connection, hot breakfast, refrigerator, microwave oven, cable TV in a big screen, parking place, exercise room, free local phone calls, etc., are all quite common in USA even in affordable hotels... try to get the same in Europe! (or at least in Western Europe)

Sun Oct 01, 06:00:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I get those in most European hotels - and that funny pants press (which really works nicely) too boot.

Most/many hotels I stay at charge me for internet regardless (that is why I travel with my verizon aircard and skip their network).

Hot breakfast is very common (although give me a "nordic" style breakfast of cheeses and fishes and cold meats any day)..

refrigerator - most of them have the mini-bar :) But I don't tend to use the fridge's regardless.

TV - whats that...

Parking place, it is all about taxi's....

Phones - I've not used a hotel phone for years, all about the mobile...

I find the rooms are perhaps smaller, but big enough in Europe, the one thing that most US hotels have that they do not however is the drip coffee pot in the room! That I really do miss as I tend to get up, make the pot of coffee work for an hour or two and then go where I was supposed to be.

Sun Oct 01, 06:10:00 PM EDT  


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