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Avoid Kona and Frankfurt Airports

Copyright © 2009, 2012. 2015, 2017 by David E. Ross

In a half-century of flying on business or personal trips, I have flown from, through, and into 29 airports:

AMS Schiphol (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
BUD Ferihegy International (Budapest, Hungary)
BUR Bob Hope (Burbank, USA)
BWI Baltimore/Washington International (Baltimore, USA)
CDG Charles de Gaulle International Airport (Paris France)
DEN Denver International (old location) (Denver, USA)
DFW Dallas/Fort Worth International (between Dallas and Fort Worth, USA)
ELP El Paso International (El Paso, USA)
FRA Frankfurt (Frankfurt/Main, Germany)
HNL Honolulu International (Honolulu, USA)
IAD Washington Dulles International (Washington, USA)
ITO Hilo International (Hilo, USA)
KOA Kona International Airport (Kona, USA).
LAX Los Angeles International (Los Angeles, USA)
LGW London Gatwick (London, UK)
MRS Marseille Provence (Marseille, France)
MUC Franz Josef Strauss (Munich, Germany)
OAK Oakland International (Oakland, USA)
OGG Kahului (Maui, USA)
ORD Chicago O'Hare International (Chicago, USA)
PHL Philadelphia International (Philadelphia, USA)
PHX Sky Harbor International (Phoenix, USA)
SFO San Francisco International (San Francisco, USA)
SJC Mineta San Jose International (San Jose, USA)
YEG Edmonton International (Edmonton, Canada)
YUL Trudeau International (Montreal, Canada)
YXE Diefenbaker International (Saskatoon, Canada)
YYC Calgary International (Calgary, Canada)
YYZ Pearson International (Toronto, Canada)

One airport stood out, however, for poor design and passenger service — Kona International Airport (KOA). Returning from a week in Maui, my wife and I changed planes at KOA, which is located on the west coast of the big island of Hawaii (USA). With a long layover, we had plenty of time to study KOA and all its deficiencies.

When I told my wife that KOA is the "arm pit of airports", she smiled and agreed. In the future, we might change planes in Hilo (ITO) or Honolulu (HNL). We will never fly from, through, or into Kona (KOA) again.

5 March 2009

For different reasons, Frankfurt Airport (Rhein-Main-Flughafen, (FRA), Frankfurt, Germany) might be placed only one step above Kona. Flying from Los Angeles (LAX) to Budapest (BUD), my wife and I had to change planes — both for the same airline, Lufthansa — at Frankfurt.

The plane from LAX landed at a different terminal than the plane to BUD. This meant we had to go through security a second time, having already cleared security at LAX. The lines at security were very long, and four security stations were closed. This meant standing in line for at least a half-hour before we reached a security station.

After clearing security, we entered the terminal for our connecting flight at gate #1. The concourse was approximately a mile long, and we needed gate #38. After walking about 15 minutes, we flagged down an electric cart, which sped us along but still required another 5 minutes to reach our gate.

Because of the delay at security and the long walk to the gate, the plane delayed take-off for 10 minutes to allow passengers to board. Even then, some passengers were left behind because they could not reach the plane in time to board.

Several things were quite wrong, the fault of FRA and not the airline:

If your trip involves boarding a plane or changing flights in Europe, avoid Frankfurt (FRA).

18 July 2012
Updated 13 May 2017

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