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Which Is Your Favorite Airport Terminal?

A comparison of London, Paris and Los Angeles airport terminals. Here's my favorite terminal.

I love to travel, and have a passion for airports. The thrill of seeing people from all over the world converging into one place, and wondering where they live, and what their life is like, fascinates me.

My father instilled a passion for travel and planes within me at a young age. I remember when I was 4, our pilot missed the runway and ended up in a ditch. This is what happened according to my dad.

We were flying to Kano on a Dakota DC 3 of Nigerian Airways. Soon after taking off a pipe blew up and the brake fluid it contained rushed into the passenger cabin. The captain had no option but to try and return to Ikeja airport, which was dangerous because the fuel tanks were full of gasoline. He also had difficulty directing the plane because he could not operate the flaps. The only way he could control the plane was to rev up one engine after the other so that he was facing the runway. But when he touched down he could not operate the brakes and we ended up in a ditch at the end of the runway. All passengers applauded except you who said, “Do it again.”

My father succeeded in turning my fear into a thrill, as though the pilot had done this intentionally for me.

It was a propeller plane similar to this one with 24 passengers on board.

Since my dad laughed and made funny wing-flapping gestures whenever we hit severe turbulence, I learned to focus on the butterflies in my tummy rather than fear.

During my recent trip from Los Angeles to Paris and London, I had the chance to spend several hours in each airport terminal. If I had to pick one terminal to spend an entire day in, it would be London’s Heathrow Terminal 5, the international terminal (see photo).

I discovered that chef Gordon Ramsay has a restaurant inside the terminal and offers what he calls, “plane food picnic.” You have a choice of the “healthy heights picnic” or the “regular picnic.” People can call in their orders ahead of time, and pick it up at the airport.

Gordon Ramsay Plane Food

“In a rush and have no time to take a seat? A Plane Food Picnic is the perfect solution. Pick up a delicious take away Gordon Ramsay picnic with everything you need in on small carry on bag and enjoy on board at your leisure.”

You can order a three-course picnic. Here’s the menu, and this would be my selection:

Starter: Prawn and baby gem cocktail

Main Course: Smoked Scottish salmon with an apple,
celery and walnut salad

Dessert:English cheese selection with quince and berries (yes, I prefer cheese.)

The price for 3 courses £12.95 or $21.00 U.S.

I’ve never seen so many stores in one airport terminal. From Harrod’s to Gucci to Bulgari to WHSmith, to HMV, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, Tom Bradley terminal at LAX, is sorely missing in stores, restaurants and good coffee shops for passengers. It’s quite depressing in comparison to Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle.

After some window shopping at Harrod’s, I decided to buy a Christmas pudding and a jar of brandy butter to bring back childhood memories and share them with my family in California. I remember steaming the pudding, but now you can microwave it, which is far easier.

As far as book stores, London has the best selection. There are several WHSmith stores in the terminal, and I’m happy to say people are still purchasing books like crazy at Heathrow airport.

I boarded my British Airways flight from London to Paris, CDG (Charles de Gaulle) airport, where I had four more hours to look at stores before my flight to Los Angeles. CDG’s international terminal 2A, has some fancy perfume and liquor stores. What I find unusual, is the location of the cash registers. You have to look hard to find a place to pay for your items.

If only LAX could upgrade their Tom Bradley Terminal to compete with other terminals around the world. Even Copenhagen Terminal is far more inviting and impressive to those who have to wait for their flights.

Do you like to spend time at airports? If so which is your favorite one?

Sonia Marsh Bio:

Sonia Marsh is a “Gutsy” woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She’s a motivational speaker who inspires her audiences to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story”; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family to reconnect on an island in Belize.

Sonia has lived in many countries – Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize – Sonia Marsh considers herself a citizen of the world. She holds a degree in environmental science from the University of East Anglia, U.K., and now lives in Southern California with her husband, Duke.

Sonia welcomes new friends, bloggers, writers and readers at Soniamarsh.com (http://soniamarsh.com) Contact her at: sonia@soniamarsh.com www.facebook.com/GutsyLiving or Twitter.com@GutsyLiving

 

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DagnyTaggart December 28, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Exactly - to hell with TSA gate-rape!
Charles December 28, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Waiting in a security line for even five minutes is 69 times worse than being groped by TSA people. I'd rather be groped 10 times than take my shoes off or empty my belongs of electronics once.
Janet Whitcomb December 29, 2012 at 12:01 AM
I haven't flown as much as a lot of people, but I have opted for air travel to places within the United States such as New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Florida, as well as international destinations of Toronto, England, Germany, and Russia. And like Sonia, I do find airports fascinating. My initial interest, while a "tween" and several years away from my first flight, came from having read Arthur Hailey's novel. From that book, and all the excursions made since that time, I've come to realize that airports are really bustling cities, filled with much of the variety and excitement—as well as tension and tedium—that just about any metropolis has to offer.
Sonia Marsh December 29, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Janet, I enjoy your description of airports as "bustling cities, filled with much of the variety and excitement—as well as tension and tedium—that just about any metropolis has to offer." My dad is 87, and still enjoys traveling.
Sonia Marsh December 29, 2012 at 05:54 AM
Tom, thanks for your comment. It sounds like you also enjoy traveling. Janet below described the excitement very well.

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