Bad airports

This week’s issue of The Economist has an article about London area airports. They write:

The airport consistently ranks near the bottom in surveys of quality of service and passenger satisfaction (see table). Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, crooned his worries over Heathrow’s baggage-retrieval system in the 1980s and little has changed since then.

(The lyrics to the song are precious, because they put worry about the Middle East on par with baggage claim at Heathrow.)

For the record, the table has selected quality rankings for 35 international airports.

Rank Airport
1 Seoul Incheon
2 Hong Kong
3 Dallas/Ft. Worth
11 Brussels
16 Amsterdam
20 Sydney
28 Rome
32 Heathrow
33 Madrid
34 Moscow

I can agree with most of these. I’ve been to Seoul once, and it was a wonderful airport. I’ve used Hong Kong regularly, and my only complaint is that when I arrive on the San Francisco-Hong Kong flight from Cathay Pacific, it’s too early for any of the restaurants or shops to be open. I don’t understand how DFW makes the list for a good airport. The international terminal is very nice, but if you have to transfer to a domestic U.S. flight, you’re dealing with a Texas-sized airport that’s a pain to get around in.

The source for the survey is the Australian Airports Association, but they don’t collect the data. The best I could find was a reference to the Airports Council International’s program to measure Airport Service Quality. However, in a March 2007 press release, they say that Kuala Lumpur’s airport finished third. I went looking for the data because Moscow is legendary for bad airport experiences, so for Heathrow to only beat Moscow by two places says volumes. I used to like Heathrow, but that was before I was stuck using it as a business traveler. (I guess visiting London on vacation makes anything seem good!) It’s cramped, outdated, and I find that I frequently use the word “metastized” when referring to its layout.

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