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Sdmccray1984
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What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 12:47 am

I’ve always felt that when it comes to airports that have an identity of their own, LAX is the most popular by a mile. Given the celebrity profile, the clientele who regularly travel through, combined with the theme building & the light towers, I think LAX wins above even the likes of JFK, LHR, etc. Your thoughts?
 
johns624
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 1:01 am

Heathrow, then JFK, then LAX in third. They may be famous but I don't like flying to/through any of the three.
 
Gr8Circle
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 3:16 am

Very subjective issue, but I would say LHR would be close to the top of the list....
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 9:35 am

johns624 wrote:
Heathrow, then JFK, then LAX in third. They may be famous but I don't like flying to/through any of the three.


I couldn't agree more. While these airports are world famous, they're actually way too big. Smaller airports are often more pleasant.

Maybe we could add Dubai to the list of famous airports, I guess it comes in 4th place. Personally I would rank them as followed:

1. JFK
2. LHR
3. LAX
4. DXB
 
Electra
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 10:21 am

It’s closed now, but surely Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport deserves an honourable mention :)
 
directorguy
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 11:37 am

1. LHR (and LGW back when you had more longhaul flights land there)
2. DXB (DXB as an airport has had a reputation since the 80s and 90s, at least regionally. The association with shopping is particularly strong).
3. JFK
4. ATL (as a kid in the 90s I remember knowing it was the world's busiest airport; the 96 Summer Olympics and being the home of Coca Cola also raised that airport's profile)
5 FRA (who hasn't changed planes there at least a couple of times)?
6. AMS- this airport had a big reputation in the 80s and 90s as a hub and for being pleasant to use. It's not that AMS and KLM have declined or become irrelevant; rather that so many other airports have sought to copy Schipol, thereby bridging the gap.
7. CDG.
8. SIN- Famous for being a stopover point and for being one of the "best" airports out there.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 12:20 pm

Sdmccray1984 wrote:
I’ve always felt that when it comes to airports that have an identity of their own, LAX is the most popular by a mile. Given the celebrity profile, the clientele who regularly travel through, combined with the theme building & the light towers, I think LAX wins above even the likes of JFK, LHR, etc. Your thoughts?



Heathrow without a doubt followed by JFK
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AeroLogical
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 4:46 pm

I suspect that we're going to get different answers from different people--the UK adjacent folks will say LHR and the US will say JFK based on your sphere of influence. I'd say they're probably a push and in the same realm of fame.

I'd push LAX as others have for its frequent depiction in media and iconic architecture that most would recognize (I'd argue it's more recognizable at this point than many of bespoke terminal buildings at JFK). I'm telling on my age, but I'd say that ORD still enjoys a large amount of fame among the 30+ crowd but that it's waning as the city loses its import. People of my age will recall many movies and TV shows being set in Chicago in the 80s and 90s and the airport being prominent, also for its status then as one of the most busy.
 
VSMUT
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:17 pm

Definitely not anything in the US. Bland, boring and unnoteworthy with the exception of the often horrendous immigration and security lines. I don't recall seeing LAX anywhere in popular media for 20 years, and the place certainly doesn't get attention from the influencer/blogger crowd.

Sint Maarten would be a good bet. Gets featured all over the place on a regular basis, although less since the hurricane in 2017. Popular among holidaymakers, vloggers, influencers and enthusiasts.

Dubai has promoted itself a lot. Famous among the many travellers between Europe, Africa, the ME, Asia and Australia that have taken advantage of Emirate's network. Had a documentary series about it.

Singapore gets a lot of coverage in travel related media. Impressive entertainment options that most travelers remember. Massive hub for the entire Asia-Pacific region.
 
AeroLogical
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 7:37 pm

VSMUT wrote:
Definitely not anything in the US. Bland, boring and unnoteworthy with the exception of the often horrendous immigration and security lines. I don't recall seeing LAX anywhere in popular media for 20 years, and the place certainly doesn't get attention from the influencer/blogger crowd.


I think we may be talking about different things. Considering that we're here on a travel forum on an aviation geek website, I think our opinions may somewhat diverge from the norm. If you were to ask me as an aviation geek what the most famous airports were, I'd agree with you that Princess Juliana and Kai Tak are way up there. Architecturally famous (which is a thing I happen to know a bit about through my profession), I think you'd be mistaken to not include US airports like JFK, Dulles, Denver, LAX, which, though three of the four are dated now, still enjoy fame among those interested in modern architecture.

I'm with you that the US has fallen behind in infrastructure, but if we separate that out into what airports loom largest in popular culture, JFK, LHR, and LAX are undoubtedly in the top 10 and probably in the top 5, no matter how dilapidated they are today. Hell, LAX has its own "LAX in popular culture" entry on Wikipedia.
 
VSMUT
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Mon Nov 16, 2020 8:11 pm

AeroLogical wrote:
VSMUT wrote:
Definitely not anything in the US. Bland, boring and unnoteworthy with the exception of the often horrendous immigration and security lines. I don't recall seeing LAX anywhere in popular media for 20 years, and the place certainly doesn't get attention from the influencer/blogger crowd.


I think we may be talking about different things. Considering that we're here on a travel forum on an aviation geek website, I think our opinions may somewhat diverge from the norm. If you were to ask me as an aviation geek what the most famous airports were, I'd agree with you that Princess Juliana and Kai Tak are way up there. Architecturally famous (which is a thing I happen to know a bit about through my profession), I think you'd be mistaken to not include US airports like JFK, Dulles, Denver, LAX, which, though three of the four are dated now, still enjoy fame among those interested in modern architecture.

I'm with you that the US has fallen behind in infrastructure, but if we separate that out into what airports loom largest in popular culture, JFK, LHR, and LAX are undoubtedly in the top 10 and probably in the top 5, no matter how dilapidated they are today. Hell, LAX has its own "LAX in popular culture" entry on Wikipedia.


I'm not thinking as an enthusiast. I'm trying to remember what airports I've seen in popular culture, social media and traditional media, and JFK, LHR and LAX just don't feature at all any more. Leipzig-Halle has seen more recent coverage in movies than those 3 combined. On social media (which definitely shouldn't be ignored) they barely see any coverage compared to those I listed. Last I saw major coverage of Heathrow in general media was when Terminal 5 opened and the baggage system broke down. That wikipedia article shows it pretty well. In the 90s tons of movies featured LAX. Since then it barely featured in anything at all, a few B-movies at best.

Think about it, 3 billion people have been born since LAX featured heavily in popular media, people who have been more accustomed to seeing vloggers posting viral content from Dubai.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Tue Nov 17, 2020 3:12 am

In an alternative world, Lincoln International.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Tue Nov 17, 2020 5:22 am

Kai Tak

No question, just nothing like it
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n729pa
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Tue Nov 17, 2020 1:35 pm

JFK is largely famous because of the person it's associated with. The initials alone need no introduction. But say Idlewind and most people wouldn't have a clue... it's the initials that made the airport infamous.
Most major airports these days probably don't want films crews and associated disruption causing delays or getting in the way of busy operations. Itso easier to either be computer generated or a smaller airport can be used....or out of date archive footage!
 
AeroLogical
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Tue Nov 17, 2020 3:48 pm

VSMUT wrote:
Think about it, 3 billion people have been born since LAX featured heavily in popular media, people who have been more accustomed to seeing vloggers posting viral content from Dubai.


Admittedly, this is a small sample size, but I did not just ask my very online Tik Tok generation kids I have, and none of them could tell you what Dubai airport looked like, but our debate is running on anecdata, so your mileage may vary! That being said, I disagree with you, but you can't really posit Dubai as not being a bland airport--I've flown through several times and it's a shopping mall with nothing to recommend it architecturally. I work in airport design and logistics, and I'm willing to wager that if you pulled people off the street in a variety of global cities and asked them to name a famous airport, the list would be a mix of LHR, JFK, CDG, Narita, LAX, maybe Schiphol, ATL, and Dubai if they fly often and do a lot of connecting. These are all, of course, going to be be relative to where the person lives though I suspect the first three would be standard around the world. If you were to show people a picture of famous airport, I suspect the most recognizable would be (even if they can't name the building itself) LAX's Theme building and the TWA Terminal at JFK. You'd probably then move onto a second tier based on where people are from and if they travel often: Barajas, Dulles, Denver, Changi's arboretum. I also think the new Istanbul Airport is really rather stunning architecturally, but it's not famous--as indicated by the people who got off the plane I was on and were shocked to discover they were in a new airport and didn't realize they were 50km from the center!
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:13 am

JFK and LAX, just with the great ammount of movies there.

LHR isn't that famous, yes it's the biggest, but the general public won't know it as it has no cultural link to it.

Important to choose between most famous on avgeek sites and most famous for general public.
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Wed Nov 18, 2020 2:26 pm

It is obviously very subjective, but I think you have to completely disconnect yourself from the mindset of an aviation enthusiast or frequent traveller to assess this question.

To me, a big part of what makes someone a celebrity is recognition - show a (general public) sample group a picture of 'x' celebrity and the majority will recognise them and probably be able to name them too.

So for this reason, I would say SXM is the most famous airport.

Because of the 'crazy', 'insane' (insert adjective here) etc... approaches, it has entered mainstream social media and been popularised by sites like BoredPanda and Buzzfeed. It's general knowledge, not enthusiast / traveller specific. Kai Tak sometimes shows up, but because it's no longer there, the amount of media is limited.

Show people a set of pictures featuring Kai Tak, LHR, LAX, JFK and SXM, and I think SXM will be by far the most recognisable to the general public. This plays out with most of my friends - hands down it is the most frequent airport they ask about, or tag me in posts asking whether I've been there.
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Sat Nov 21, 2020 6:52 am

FlyRow wrote:
JFK and LAX, just with the great ammount of movies there.

LHR isn't that famous, yes it's the biggest, but the general public won't know it as it has no cultural link to it.

Important to choose between most famous on avgeek sites and most famous for general public.


You can tell a non-avgeek that you're "flying to Heathrow" and they'll know you mean London. It's been featured in a ton of popular media and if we're talking about global popularity, LHR easily takes the title. I'll agree with previously-mentioned LHR, JFK, LAX as the top three, but there's a case to be made for CDG over LAX if you don't base the assessment on depictions in popular culture.
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Sat Nov 21, 2020 4:48 pm

Former NAS Alameda, everyone has seen it somewhere ;)
or maybe Former RAF Dunsfold
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Sat Nov 21, 2020 5:29 pm

LHR is the most 'famous' airport in the world imo.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:04 pm

Perhaps Honolulu too, PHNL
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Sun Nov 22, 2020 12:21 am

directorguy wrote:
1. LHR (and LGW back when you had more longhaul flights land there)
2. DXB (DXB as an airport has had a reputation since the 80s and 90s, at least regionally. The association with shopping is particularly strong).
3. JFK
4. ATL (as a kid in the 90s I remember knowing it was the world's busiest airport; the 96 Summer Olympics and being the home of Coca Cola also raised that airport's profile)
5 FRA (who hasn't changed planes there at least a couple of times)?
6. AMS- this airport had a big reputation in the 80s and 90s as a hub and for being pleasant to use. It's not that AMS and KLM have declined or become irrelevant; rather that so many other airports have sought to copy Schipol, thereby bridging the gap.
7. CDG.
8. SIN- Famous for being a stopover point and for being one of the "best" airports out there.



Great list, I would only add ICN.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Tue Nov 24, 2020 2:35 am

Maybe we could add BER given the pages and pages of journalistic attention over the decade plus of its commissioning!! Sorry - I'm indulging in schadenfreude!!
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:03 am

I suppose it depends on what "most famous airport" means, although no matter what your definition you can't separate the airport from the city it serves, so I don't think there is such a thing as a "most famous" airport. Just like cities, once you get to a certain tier, they're all pretty equally famous. Big cities all got as big as they are in large part through their airports, so the number of people who have experienced them is going to be roughly equal.

"Fame" to me means something that when you say the name to somebody, they instantly have a mental picture... whether accurate or not. There are probably at least 20-30 airports in the world that you could pick out any person from a fairly modern country and have a reasonably good chance they're going to have a mental picture when you name any of those airports. And if they don't, it's because of regional differences, which will even out as you ask more people from other regions.
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:17 pm

steveinbc wrote:
Maybe we could add BER given the pages and pages of journalistic attention over the decade plus of its commissioning!! Sorry - I'm indulging in schadenfreude!!


I think BER might fall into the category of infamous rather than famous, as was Heathrow T5 when it first opened. Which makes me think that for most airports fame [or infamy] is just a transient thing for most people outside the av geek world based as much on how recently it has been in the news as for any other reason.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:12 pm

jumpjets wrote:
steveinbc wrote:
Maybe we could add BER given the pages and pages of journalistic attention over the decade plus of its commissioning!! Sorry - I'm indulging in schadenfreude!!


I think BER might fall into the category of infamous rather than famous, as was Heathrow T5 when it first opened. Which makes me think that for most airports fame [or infamy] is just a transient thing for most people outside the av geek world based as much on how recently it has been in the news as for any other reason.


Outside the avgeek sphere, asking what’s the most famous airport is akin to asking what the most famous bus stop is. People view them as a means to an end, though be it a nicely designed one with shopping and food. Ask the average flyer what they think of any airport they just flew through, and they’ll most likely say “oh it was nice” and that’s it.

That said, I do think the major airports do carry some fame due to exposure and location. JFK, LHR, LAX, DXB etc
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:52 pm

As others have said, it depends on whom you are surveying, but I think it's LAX hands down. It's been operational for years, it's frequently in both movies/TV programming and tabloid coverage, and people have been referring to it's 3-letter airport code for decades.

Non-U.S. posters (and maybe some U.S. posters) have to remember more than half of Americans don't have passports, so while they certainly know the city of London, Heathrow as a word means nothing to them. Americans have way more name recognition with ATL and DFW. Likewise, until recently, if you were an American flying to NYC, you most likely went through LGA, which I would also argue Americans are more familiar with than JFK, which, again, until recently, was mostly an international airport.

Places like BER and SXM may have received their share of media coverage in the past year or two, but if you were to stop random people on a street somewhere and ask them to name the 5 most famous airports, those aren't going to register.
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Tue Dec 01, 2020 12:17 pm

I guess infamy is not the thing the thread was intended to portrait. Also, if you would ask a random person on the street, most of them would pick a large city they know or probably JFK. The Singapore "Changi Airport" is probably the most famous airport nobody knows the name of. Also it is the airport wich has the most positive posts about it, at least from my point of view. In my opinion it is the most beautiful airport and all those points are worth to a honourable mention at least.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Thu Dec 03, 2020 1:42 am

To me, "most famous" translates to "most instantly recognizable" both by name and by image. As much as LHR or JFK belong at or near the top of the list, I still think LAX satisfies that definition the most solidly.
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Thu Dec 03, 2020 12:45 pm

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Thu Dec 10, 2020 12:26 am

FlyRow wrote:
JFK and LAX, just with the great ammount of movies there.

LHR isn't that famous, yes it's the biggest, but the general public won't know it as it has no cultural link to it.

Important to choose between most famous on avgeek sites and most famous for general public.



LHR isn't that famous? Really?
 
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FlyRow
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Fri Dec 11, 2020 8:44 am

idjim319 wrote:
FlyRow wrote:
JFK and LAX, just with the great ammount of movies there.

LHR isn't that famous, yes it's the biggest, but the general public won't know it as it has no cultural link to it.

Important to choose between most famous on avgeek sites and most famous for general public.



LHR isn't that famous? Really?


Describe fame? LHR is airliners.net famous, but general public whise, meh, more well known, not famous.

Compared to JFK and LAX figuring in hundreds of movies, being cultural icons , yes LHR isn't that special
. It's more a well-known airport because it's the biggest, but I wouldn't call it famous. Famous comes with a certain air of speciality, a cultural significance or "extra'. LHR is more a airport that just happens to be one of the largest, for the rest it's quiet plain outside the quirks that are special here on airliners.net, but not for the general public.

This summerizes it quiet well:

EA CO AS wrote:
To me, "most famous" translates to "most instantly recognizable" both by name and by image. As much as LHR or JFK belong at or near the top of the list, I still think LAX satisfies that definition the most solidly.
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bennett123
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Fri Dec 11, 2020 2:49 pm

Depends where you live.

As can be seen from the answers already given
 
johns624
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Fri Dec 11, 2020 4:27 pm

I'm 61 and I knew what Heathrow was 45+ years ago.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:27 pm

I'm shocked that barely anyone is saying ATL. Not only is it the busiest airport, but it serves the home of coca cola, and Atlanta was the 1996 olympics. It is the largest airline hub in the world, and if you went to the airport in 2018 or 2019, you'd feel like you were in the 1990s, because of all the MD80s, MD90s, 757s, 767s, and cargo 747s.
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FGITD
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Fri Dec 11, 2020 10:34 pm

Boeing757100 wrote:
I'm shocked that barely anyone is saying ATL. Not only is it the busiest airport, but it serves the home of coca cola, and Atlanta was the 1996 olympics. It is the largest airline hub in the world, and if you went to the airport in 2018 or 2019, you'd feel like you were in the 1990s, because of all the MD80s, MD90s, 757s, 767s, and cargo 747s.


Can tell you weren't around airports in the 90s.

would've been 727s and Dc9s left and right. Throw in a few 1011s, md11s and dc10s to round it off.

For all the nostalgia on this site, had it been around back then people would be complaining about how boring seeing all these airplanes is.

I think the reason ATL doesn't get as much attention is because for many travelers it's not the destination. It's a necessary evil along the way. I think the Simpson's even made a joke at one point about having to connect via Atlanta twice in one trip
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:16 am

Sint maarten the most famous amongst aviation enthusiasts.
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WrldTravlr65
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Thu Dec 31, 2020 4:45 pm

FGITD wrote:
Boeing757100 wrote:
I'm shocked that barely anyone is saying ATL. Not only is it the busiest airport, but it serves the home of coca cola, and Atlanta was the 1996 olympics. It is the largest airline hub in the world, and if you went to the airport in 2018 or 2019, you'd feel like you were in the 1990s, because of all the MD80s, MD90s, 757s, 767s, and cargo 747s.


Can tell you weren't around airports in the 90s.

would've been 727s and Dc9s left and right. Throw in a few 1011s, md11s and dc10s to round it off.

For all the nostalgia on this site, had it been around back then people would be complaining about how boring seeing all these airplanes is.

I think the reason ATL doesn't get as much attention is because for many travelers it's not the destination. It's a necessary evil along the way. I think the Simpson's even made a joke at one point about having to connect via Atlanta twice in one trip


This was my thought too.
ATL may be known as the busiest airport in the world but beyond that there isn’t much to say about it. I’ve been through ATL three times, and I find it a very non-descript airport. Outside of just being busy.
And as you noted, it’s largest claim to that traffic is domestic connections. It does have a fair share of international destinations, largely due to Delta, but when you look at international carriers it pales in comparison to other airports.
But yes it does garner some attention as the busiest airport. Fame is indeed subjective though. And depends on what you have in mind.
LAX is immediately recognizable.
You show most people a pic of ATL and it looks like a lot of airports.
 
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Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Thu Dec 31, 2020 6:39 pm

WrldTravlr65 wrote:
FGITD wrote:
Boeing757100 wrote:
I'm shocked that barely anyone is saying ATL. Not only is it the busiest airport, but it serves the home of coca cola, and Atlanta was the 1996 olympics. It is the largest airline hub in the world, and if you went to the airport in 2018 or 2019, you'd feel like you were in the 1990s, because of all the MD80s, MD90s, 757s, 767s, and cargo 747s.


Can tell you weren't around airports in the 90s.

would've been 727s and Dc9s left and right. Throw in a few 1011s, md11s and dc10s to round it off.

For all the nostalgia on this site, had it been around back then people would be complaining about how boring seeing all these airplanes is.

I think the reason ATL doesn't get as much attention is because for many travelers it's not the destination. It's a necessary evil along the way. I think the Simpson's even made a joke at one point about having to connect via Atlanta twice in one trip


This was my thought too.
ATL may be known as the busiest airport in the world but beyond that there isn’t much to say about it. I’ve been through ATL three times, and I find it a very non-descript airport. Outside of just being busy.
And as you noted, it’s largest claim to that traffic is domestic connections. It does have a fair share of international destinations, largely due to Delta, but when you look at international carriers it pales in comparison to other airports.
But yes it does garner some attention as the busiest airport. Fame is indeed subjective though. And depends on what you have in mind.
LAX is immediately recognizable.
You show most people a pic of ATL and it looks like a lot of airports.



If you show a pic from the 2000s or the early 2010s, I think the red strip of paint on the concourses should set ATL from other airports. Not to mention that no other airport would have that many Deltas. :D
Going to ATL airport in 2019 is like being in 2013
Going to ATL airport in 2010 is like being in 2000
Going to ATL airport in 1998 is like being in 1988
Going to ATL airport in 2035 is like watching paint dry
 
ExpatVet
Posts: 156
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2018 4:35 am

Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Thu Dec 31, 2020 9:10 pm

Just for kicks, I'm going to say King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah.

Jeddah is the airport everyone flies to when you perform Haj and Umrah in Islam - bet that's a fair few people!
L101, 733/4/5/8/9, 741/2/3 (never managed 744!), MD 80/2/3/8/90, MD11, DHC8/3/Q4, E170, E195, 757, 77W, 763/4, Travel Air 2000. A300/310, A319/320/321, A333, ATR-72, probably a few others I forget. Passenger, not pilot, alas! BUD based.
 
vegasplanes
Posts: 723
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 2:22 pm

Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Fri Jan 01, 2021 1:01 am

 
bfitzflyer
Posts: 519
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:02 am

Re: What’s the most famous airport in the world?

Sat Jan 02, 2021 5:23 pm

Been watching this one and just not one way to define this. For me, I will put down the ones, I was most excited to go through when I did in no particular order:

LHR as a traveler was excited to connect regardless of the experience not being the best
NRT growing up in a NW household was excited to finally see the NRT hub in action, was something to see all those red tails
LAX Immediately recognizable and once in it disappointing
SIN just to see why people thought so awesome, was great but not as great as reputation
ICN Amazing place just hits on every level for me as a traveler.

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