It’s no secret, LateDeparture has always had a love-hate-relationship with the UK’s third busiest airport. Whilst the airport itself is quite alright, it can feel crowded plus the pure nature of mainly operating low cost carrier can add to the airports stress level (as reviewed a while back). Now, however, the airport presents itself in an entirely different light. And it’s not because of the UK Competition Commission’s turnaround of allowing BAA keep owning the airport, it’s a different story: the actors from the controversial but highly acclaimed comedy show, Little Britain, Matt Lucas and David Walliams launched a spoof of British documentaries Airport and Airline. The series officially started in Britain on Christmas day last year and follows the activity at a fictional airport and three airlines: FlyLo (a low-cost airline), Our Lady Air (an Irish low-cost airline) and Great British Air (a major international British airline).
This week three US airports caught our attention: First on Tuesday there was San Francisco’s International Airport (IATA: SFO; LD reviewed) which made headlines with the arrival of the first scheduled Airbus A380 flight. The Lufthansa plane with flight number 454 landed at the Northern Californian airport on Tuesday morning for the first time and was welcomed by a fire truck and many eager plane spotters as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Flight delays and even more so cancellations are a pain in the #$%## for any traveller. We all heard anecdotal stories of airports or airlines that are said to be more likely to occur delays or cancellations. But is that good enough for us to make a call on who to fly with and where to stop over? Maybe. A better way though is to look into some actual numbers.
This week we published our 35th airport review. And it wasn’t just a review about some large, well known airport – no – we wrote about one of the more exotic airports in the world: Papua New Guinea’s Port Moresby airport. It’s our first review of an airport in Oceania outside Australia and while Port Moresby’s airport doesn’t have many shops or other “ready made, time consuming attractions”, we nevertheless provided a list of interesting things to do when your flight is delayed or you simply have ample time. Check it out here.
Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea (PNG) – a beautiful and vastly unexplored country North of the Eastern tip of Australia – is nothing you’d call out of the ordinary. Yes, Port Moresby is fairly accessible from Australia and a few Asian countries, but the people you’d see on those planes wouldn’t be your typical tourists. In fact, most of them won’t be tourists at all. Locals then? Nope, the locals mostly can’t afford the western priced airfares. Papua New Guinea’s per capita GDP lies at only US$2,500, putting the country at the bottom quarter of the global statistic. So who flies to PNG? Expats, businessmen, politicians and the one or other adventurous traveler, is the answer. It’s therefore not surprising that when you land at Port Moresby’s Jacksons International Airport (IATA: POM) the queue at the foreign residents visa counter is the longest; followed by the queue for visa-on-arrival (many nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival for 100 Kina/per person; check with the embassy of PNG in your country prior to your trip).
The long Easter break didn’t just bring travellers to their loved ones or chocolate eggs to the kids, it sadly, also brought the tornado season to the South of the United States with devastating effects in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and elsewhere. The New York Times even calls it the worst tornado disaster since 1925. The storms also had severe effects on the aviation industry with delays and some closures throughout the US. One of the worst hit airports, however, was Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (IATA: STL). The drama was even caught on CCTV when the tornado hit the airport; watch it here.
With Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding only days away, we thought it’s timely to look closer at Britain’s capital airports in order to find out whether these London airports are actually living up to the (new) royal standards. Plus, is there even such a thing as a royal airport? The answer to the latter question is yes and no. Actually more no than yes. A ‘yes’, because for shorter flights the Queen and the rest of the British Royal Family use RAF Northolt (IATA: NHT), a Royal Air Force station approximately 10 km north of London Heathrow Airport (IATA: LHR). From there they use BAe 146 or HS125 aircraft from ‘No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron’ when available according to the Monarchy’s official website. More no, because in order to save costs the British Royal Family is encouraged to use commercially scheduled flights. This they do mostly out of Heathrow as their royal travel grant-in-aid documents reveal (see for yourself here).
With the long Easter weekend around the corner, many of us are taking the plane to reach their Easter break destination. And you won’t be the only one! Airports across the globe will be filled with eager travellers. Many of the airports will reach or even exceed their capacity resulting in long queues and departure delays. But all this doesn’t mean you can’t have a great airport experience. Let us show you how to make the whole experience a pleasant or even exciting one:
What’s so comfortable in sleeping high up in a US airport control tower you might ask after having read this week’s news about controller number five and six falling asleep during their night shifts. Number five was reported to have happened mid week at Reno-Tahoe International Airport (IATA: RNO) where a medical flight carrying a sick patient tried to land without anyone responding. The latest one, number six, was reported on Saturday. Here the controller fell asleep during his shift at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center, which oversees mostly high-altitude, long-distance flights. According to the FAA, this time the controller did not miss any calls from aircraft and there was no operational impact. With all this, voices suggesting problems in the system rather than failures of individuals now become louder as stated in a Washington Post article. This won’t be the last time we wrote about it!
Last week we started the big LAX review by describing what you can do if you have ample time at Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX). For example, we showed you that you can reach the beach in 5 minutes or where you can dine in a sixties environment and spot exotic planes at the same time. In part two we are going to highlight what you can do if you are the active type or if you wanted to shop outside the airport. We then wrap it up with the popular ‘top-things-to-do list’.