Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Air or Error Ports

We have done a lot of travelling since May and I don't know how I will ever be able to write about what we did each day....so I think I will do topics.  Of course, I might change my mind and write about each day...but today...I will write about our transportation.  I will start with airports.

I have been in ten different airports this summer.  Some experiences were great...others not at all.

Detroit Metro Airport:  I know...lots of people hear the name 'Detroit' and automatically think that something is in disrepair or old.  I have found Detroit's airport clean, friendly, easy to get from place to place (signage telling where things are and people movers).  An unexpected gift is in the McNamara terminal.  A fountain greets the weary traveler.  I have watched people stop and stare at this unusual fountain as it spits out arcs of water in an almost hypnotic rhythm.  After viewing this for a few minutes, the travelers leave...smiles on their faces...and it seems that they have more of a bounce to their steps. 
Fountain at Detroit Metro Airport
I am glad that Detroit airport is where I usually begin and end many of my trips.  I look forward to stopping from the rush of traveling and take a few minutes to renew my energy level.  Here is a short clip of the fountain that I found on line.  There are others...but they have music added to them...and I like listening to the water as well as it floats through the air.  You can see it here: Detroit Metro Airport Fountain designed by WET  WET also designed the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas.

Fort Lauderdale:  This airport was a big disappointment.  My friend, Ann, and I traveled there to pick up a car.  Once we walked out we realized that once we walked to the pick up area there was only one small food place...the kind with over priced wrapped sandwiches.  We had not eaten breakfast thinking we would be able to grab a bite at the airport while waiting for the car dealer guy to arrive.  No luck!  There was also a musty odor and things didn't look clean.  The bathroom was messy.  One good point was that we found a row of seats with many outlets nearby so we could charge our iPhones. We also learned that they are in the process of expanding this airport and figured that was why things looked a bit shabby.

Phoenix Airport:  I have flown into this airport a few times.  It always seems busy, but people were able to move about easily.  Nothing stands out as being wonderful...but we did not spend much time there...we were catching a connecting flight...and were able to get to the next gate with no problems.  The airport was clean, bright and welcoming.

Vancouver Airport:  I think Vancouver is a beautiful city and I would love to visit there again...but if I have to travel through this airport, I doubt I return.  The process of getting into the country seemed unorganized.  The lines reminded me of those at Cedar Point for one of the big featured roller coasters....but moved much slower.  We were dragging our suitcases, zigzagging with all of the rest of the travelers.  I was expecting a long interrogation when we finally reached the boarder security person, but was relieved that he was reasonable and friendly.  I think they must need to have a better system and hire more people so that there is not such a mass of people guided into one line.
Here is an example of lines at Vancouver airport.

Our friends who came to Vancouver the day after we got there
  had lines twice the size of ours.

Anchorage Airport:  We got there so early in the morning (4:00 a.m.) that I really don't remember much about it.  Once people got there to process our tickets things moved along quite well.  Everything was clean and that is about all I remember.

Minnesota:  This was just a connection flight airport, so we just departed and went to the next gate.  It was easy....people movers and good signage.  Things looked clean...and we were soon at our gate and ready to fly back home.

Atlanta:  This airport gets the worst rating.  I was traveling with my friend, Rae, who had just undergone major chemo treatments and had requested a wheel chair.  When we began this trip (in Detroit) there was a wheel chair for us and a young man wheeled her to our gate and stayed with her until he got her onto the plane.  When we got to Atlanta, there was no wheel chair...even though it had been requested...and even though I heard the flight attendant call in to request it (after finding out that there was not one waiting).  That did not bother me so much...but we did have a connecting flight that I feared we might miss if we had to wait too long.  The pilot noticed that we were waiting and had Rae return to sit in the plane and said he would get a wheel chair.  He soon came back...following a woman pushing a wheel chair.  (The pilot helped Rae to the wheel chair and told her to keep up the fight...that he had had chemo two years earlier and had beaten it.  I was really impressed with the care he took.  This was a Delta flight...and I have usually had great experiences with them.)

Back to the woman and the wheel chair....she meandered toward the gate of our next flight.  We had about fifteen minutes.  She stopped and looked at a piece of paper in her hand...looked around as if she was not sure where she was....all in all...I was getting a bit concerned.  She got us to the gate, and left us in the middle of the aisle.  So I was left to maneuver the wheel chair and two carry on bags.  Some kind young man saw me struggling and offered to help and his seat for me.  He disappeared before I could get his name to thank him...but it sure gave me confidence in our young people.

So...Atlanta gets a really bad rating from me.  It might be clean and easy to get around...but my experience this time was terrible.

Albuquerque Airport:  By far...this is beautiful.  There are sculptures throughout depicting the Southwest.  The colors are browns and turquois...welcoming you to "The Land of Enchantment."  I have traveled through this airport many times and still stop to view the designs and artwork. 

Sculpture in Albuquerque Airport

Paris, Charles De Gaulle Airport:  I was expecting a nightmare after our experience in Vancouver getting through the boarder security.  What a wonderful surprise!  The line was short and moved quickly.  We were through and on our way so quickly I kept thinking there had to be another step. 

When we left through the same airport we were coming from Vienna.  Again, things went smoothly and quickly.  The only complaint I have about this airport is the design.  It looks cool....like a big hangar....but the windows are such that there are not many places to sit without being in the sun.  I like the sun...but this was a bright and hot day...and it was quite uncomfortable.

Charles De Gaulle Airport...pretty but hard to get out of the sun.

Vienna:  We left Austria through the Vienna airport.  Things were organized, and like Paris, went quickly.  There were no long lines where people had to wait over an hour.  People were friendly and even though we were ready to get home...it was also kind of sad to leave.

So, that is my experience with airports this summer.  I had great adventures in Alaska and Europe that I hope to write about in the next couple of weeks....with pictures.  And....my favorite airport so far....is still Detroit.  I hope you watched the video of the fountain.


  1. Wow! That's about all I can say. I am glad that you were able to post today. These airports really are something to see. I am not a world traveler and never will be one - I am not a fan of flying. However, I was in the Atlanta airport once and that was enough for me. Look forward to hearing more about your trips.

  2. Wow-I've been in a few this summer, but not that many. I wished I had had a longer layover in the Minneapolis airport. I thought it was wonderful! So glad you made the flight out of Atlanta-ugh. Sometimes one wonders how things end up the way they do. Thanks for sharing all this-glad to read!

  3. Another WOW! from me, too. I enjoyed this journey through so many airports. Now I know what to look for (loved the Detroit fountain!) and what to avoid. Thanks!

  4. I like the idea of writing about your trips by topic. The critique you are giving each airport is very descriptive and I like the descriptive words you are using: nightmare, weary, musty, shabby, clean, bright, welcoming. I think the pictures add to it and are a fantastic touch to the writing.

  5. This is the summer to remember, so many travels! Thanks for the heads up on those airports. :-)