Last month, the Skytrax World Airport Awards released its survey of 12.1 million world travelers, and of 395 international airports worldwide, LAX ranked 109th. It also finished 24th out of 50 airports in North America.
Last year, Travel & Leisure magazine rated LAX the second-worst airport in the country.
What were the issues that travelers had? The airport got low scores for "the long time it takes to get through security and immigration and customs," the Skytrax spokesman said. Also, "the airport's check-in and screening process, baggage handling, staff communication and terminal cleanliness" the Los Angeles Times reported about Travel & Leisure's findings..
Other than that, all was well. Except for "Seating at the airport is limited, security staff are rude, signage is poor, bathrooms are in poor conditions and travel between terminals is difficult and confusing," according to the author of The Budget Traveler's Guide to Sleeping in Airports," Donna McSherry, who rated LAX as one of the world's 10 worst airports.
I've been doing quite a bit of traveling the past year, and must say that I haven't been overwhelmed by LAX. Though when I did have to make an international flight, my wait in line was bizarrely fast. I'd been warned that it could take 2-3 hours. I got to the gate in about 20 minutes. Fortunately, I'd brought a book.
(I thought the airport in Berlin was dismal, but they have new one being built which is almost completed. That's very needed, since the old one was sort of like a bad bus depot. The airport in Amsterdam was very nice, though they did have some confusing signage, and the waiting area that I had for my specific flight was non-existent. No, literally. The other gates looked fine, but for this one, there were -- literally -- no chairs or benches. A lot of people did get to sit on the floor, though!)
I haven't found LAX "bad," just not particularly amenable or convenient. (Berlin was bad.)
My favorite quote about all this was from a spokesman from ACI World, which is the trade group for the world's airports. She told the Times that since the airport was originally built in 1961, LAX "is at a disadvantage when compared with newer, privately funded airports in Asia and the Middle East." That is most likely very true -- except it's beside the point when LAX is being rated so low among U.S. airports.
I was also taken by this passage in the Times: "To improve the airport's reputation, the Los Angeles City Council voted last week to approve $4.76 billion in improvements..."
I'm hoping that that was a slip of a phrase. I'm perfectly fine with $4.76 billion being spent to improve such a huge civic enterprise which needs it. But if that money actually is being spent to improve the airport's "reputation," then a lot of people on the City Council need to be publicly scorned and humiliated, right before losing their jobs. Honestly, who cares about the "reputation" of LAX? No one has come to Los Angeles over the past 50 years -- or ever -- because the city has a great airport. "Say, where should we go to for vacation this year, kids? Do you want to see Disneyland, Hollywood, the Pacific Coast -- or Dubai? I hear they have a wonderful airport." LAX should be improved, but not because of it's reputation.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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