|Quoting B777LRF (Reply 41):|
Oh how I envey the sheltered life some of the posters here are living. Indeed, JFK, CDG, LAX, MIA and LHR are hardly the most pleasent of airport experiences, but they are still rather a long way from being anywhere near the worst the aviation world can throw at you.
So very true! Even the worst American and European airports are a walk in the park compared to many of their counterparts in the developing world. I haven't traveled through Europe much, but I do know that Americans have it very easy. The TSA? I find that many of their staff are as friendly as Wal-Mart greeters and the rules are VERY clearly stated and straightforward. In most cases, the security lines move fairly quickly since the vast majority of travelers know exactly what to do.
Every U.S. airport I've been to has had excellent signage, clearly audible announcement systems, an array of food/shops/entertainment available before and/or after security, and remote boarding (by bus) is virtually unheard of thanks to an abundance of jetbridges or stairs/ramps right next to the terminal building. Almost all U.S. airports also offer some form of wifi and most have TVs with news or other programming all over the place that you can watch (for free) to pass the time.
In the developing world, you can reasonably expect to encounter any or all of these things -
- awkward arrival and departure times in the middle of the night (when most American and European airports would be closed for curfews)
- multiple security checkpoints:
1) airport perimeter (to check all incoming vehicles for carbombs)
2) entering terminal (all checked baggage and carry ons must be scanned before reaching check in desks)
3) passport control
4) terminal/gate area security (all carry ons and persons screened rigorously in TSA-fashion)
5) if traveling to U.S. or Europe, there may be an additional hand-searches or interview processes before boarding the flight
- the need to pay departure taxes, visa fees, or even outright bribes on the spot
- slow-moving check-in lines, given that many travelers are trying to check in overweight baggage and other huge items such as appliances and large electronics
- heavily armed security guards or soldiers throughout the airport
- swarms of people upon arrival that do everything they can to "help" you part with money
- complete lack of inexpensive mass transit options (trains, subways, etc.) to/from airport
- lack of basic amenities such as poignant signage, restaurants, clean restrooms, etc. in gate areas
- aura of chaos and confusion with many folks unable to communicate with airline staff in mutually intelligible languages
- odd rules and regulations that can delay you, induce fines, etc. (i.e. when visiting Mexico, you MUST keep track of the "tourist card" you get on arrival, or else you have a heck of a time leaving the country)
- boarding by jetbridge is hardly the rule, rather, it's the rare exception
You get the point. LHR, CDG, JFK, or LAX is a traveler's dream compared to some of the large airports in the third world such as LOS, DKR, or my least favorite - AMM.