U.S. Not There

Here’s a list of the world’s major international airports, voted on and ranked by over thirteen million travelers on a combination of (among others) amenities, cleanliness, shopping, ease of movement, and passenger treatment:

1. Singapore Changi Airport
2. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
3. Incheon International Airport
4. Hamad International Airport (Doha)
5. Hong Kong International Airport
6. Central Japan International Airport
*7. Munich Airport
*8. London Heathrow Airport
9. Narita International Airport
*10. Zurich Airport

11. Kansai
*12. Frankfurt
13. Taiwan Taoyuan
*14. Amsterdam Schiphol
15. Copenhagen
16. Shanghai Hongqiao
*17. Vancouver
18. Brisbane
*19. Vienna
20. Helsinki-Vantaa

21. Sydney
*22. Cape Town
23. Melbourne
24. Dubai
25. Cologne / Bonn
26. London City
27. Auckland
28. Hamburg
*29. Durban
*30. Paris Charles De Gaulle

31. Dusseldorf
*32. Denver
*33. Johannesburg
34. Seoul Gimpo
35. Madrid Barajas
*36. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson
*37. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
*38. Houston George Bush
39. Guangzhou
40. Jakarta

41. Haikou Meilan
42. Athens
43. Barcelona
44. Xi’an
45. Gold Coast
46. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
47. Lima
*48. San Francisco
49. Quito
50. Toronto Pearson

51. Christchurch
52. Perth
53. Bogota
54. Kuala Lumpur
*55. London Gatwick
*56. Dallas/Fort Worth
*57. Seattle-Tacoma
58. Baku
59. Delhi
*60. Lisbon
61. Muscat
*62. Montréal
63. Moscow Sheremetyevo
64. Mumbai
65. Shenzhen
66. Hyderabad
67. Fukuoka
68. Guayaquil
*69. Bangalore
70. Oslo
*71. Los Angeles
72. Beijing Capital
73. Stockholm Arlanda
*74. New York JFK
75. Chengdu
76. Adelaide
*77. Minneapolis St.Paul
*78. Phoenix
79. Porto
80. Moscow Domodedovo
*81. Boston Logan
*82. Rome Fiumicino
83. Malta
84. Dublin
*85. Houston Hobby
86. Hanoi Noi Bai
87. Abu Dhabi
88. Bahrain
89. Budapest
90. Halifax
91. Warsaw
*92. Detroit Metropolitan
*93. Nice
94. Mauritius
95. Luxembourg
*96. Chicago O’Hare
97. Prague
98. Birmingham
99. Changsha
100. Billund

Source: Skytrax World Airport Awards (and asterisks indicate that I’ve been through them myself, some admittedly a while back)

Some comments:

  1. I’m told that anyone who has been through the top 10 airports with any frequency (e.g. Mr. Free Market) will be unsurprised by those rankings. I’m only surprised by Munich’s #7 ranking — I found it quite ordinary, but it’s been over a decade since I was there so maybe it’s improved.
  2. Excluding JFK, most of the U.S. “international” airports aren’t really that — they handle way more domestic- than international flights, so they’re light on amenities and shopping (compared to Heathrow and Singapore, for example, where international flights comprise probably 90% of the total and long waits for connecting flights are the norm).
  3. The numbers are not weighted by airport size or traffic, which is why some of the Third World airports (e.g. India’s) are ranked where they are.
  4. I’m amazed that JFK is ranked as high as it is.  For all its pretensions to being a world-class city, New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia are Third World airports — in fact, they’re worse than that — and not one person I’ve ever spoken to (including New Yorkers) has ever taken issue with me on that comment.
  5. Unless Bangalore has been rebuilt since I’ve been there, I cannot believe its ranking.  Ditto Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo, which is a nightmare, and Charles De Gaulle in Paris.  All of these have set some kind of record for staff indifference to passengers’ needs.

“Flight Shame”

Add another one to the “frightening the neighbors with sudden roars of laughter” category:

Saddled with long dark winters at home, Swedes have for decades been frequent flyers seeking out sunnier climes, but a growing number are changing their ways because of air travel’s impact on the climate.
“Flygskam”, or flight shame, has become a buzz word referring to feeling guilt over the environmental effects of flying, contributing to a trend that has more and more Swedes, mainly young, opting to travel by train to ease their conscience.
Spearheading the movement for trains-over-planes is Sweden’s own Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate school striker who refuses to fly, travelling by rail to the World Economic Forum in Davos and the climate summit in Katowice, Poland.

Well, isn’t that just too precious.  Of course, the Swedes can afford to do this because their poxy country is no more than a few miles from everywhere in Yurp, and they can indulge their foolishness accordingly.

I think we should help them out by banning all Swedish passport holders from entering the United States by air.  (And by ground if they landed in Canada or Mexico first, to try to get round the ban.)

All aboard the Stockholm–New York Express…


And I’m not talking about the usual stuff (guns, SHTF supplies etc.):  it concerns overseas travel.

I’ve been following The Zman’s adventures in Scandinavia, Russia, and parts between with some interest.  (Go ahead and read them first, if you want, starting with the Out Of Lagos post — I had no idea he’d been living there for years — and his point about London’s Heathrow Airport is absolutely spot-on.)  I’ve never been to any of the countries he’s talked about so far (Finland, Estonia, Russia), so I was of course interested in his observations.  

Then something which happened to him in Tallinn caught my attention:

In Estonia, I realized I had no cell service at all.  I was not worried until I tried to buy something and all three credit cards were declined.  To make matters worse, I had no cash of any type with me, as I planned to just charge everything.  That meant I had no money and no way to call the credit card company to get the issue resolved.

I don’t care how much you think the rest of the world has modernized:  it often hasn’t, and sometimes that realization hits you hard, with a potentially-serious outcome.  In those situations, you need cash.  Hence my admonition:

Never travel overseas without cash.

How much cash you take is up to you — I usually take about US$100 (or £100, or 100€) per day I’m going to be out of the country, mostly in small bills (5s, 10s or 20s).  Don’t piss about with some piffling sum like $10, either:  it won’t get you diddly Over There except maybe a couple bottles of water and some chewing gum.  Back in 2017 when I went over to Britishland on my extended sabbatical, I didn’t take that much because a.) I didn’t have that much available and b.) the UK is pretty much a cashless society anyway, so I only carried a few hundred or so, in total, some of which went towards buying a burner phone to escape the ruinous roaming fees.  But when I go on my next trip to a place where nobody speaks English, French or German, I’ll be cashing up beforehand, you betcha.

Now a lot of seasoned travelers are going to throw up their hands in horror because “you’re a target” / “you’ll lose it all” / “blah blah blah”.  Of course  you have to be smart about this:  I have two wallets, a well-hidden one with my real cards, ID and maybe a quarter of my cash in it, and another in an outside pocket with fake ID (got it in some junk mail, a reasonably-accurate facsimile of a California driver’s license with another guy’s photo), a couple of “sample” credit cards (also courtesy of junk mail) and maybe $50 (small bills, to make it look thicker with cash than it actually is).  If I do get mugged, the fake one will be handed over quickly.  Most of my bring-along cash is hidden elsewhere on my person, to be found pretty much only if I’m dead and the money has become irrelevant.  (I also carry a fake phone:  an old, decommissioned cell phone with a stone-dead battery, which I use only as an alarm clock, plugged into the wall socket at night.  Good luck stealing that  one and expecting to get anything out of it.)  And of course you have to be cautious —  to top up your on-hand cash, you only resort to the “roll” at night in your hotel room or in the train toilet, for example.

Here’s the thing.  I have been poor a couple of times in my life — I mean, no cash, no job, sleep-in-the-car-soon-to-be-repossessed, only a small suitcase of clothing / possessions kind-of poor, and the only thing I fear about being this poor again is to be in this situation in a foreign country where I don’t have any friends I can call on somehow.  For those who’ve never traveled in a country where the language is completely unintelligible (in my case, that would be Finland,Russia and Estonia, to name but three), nothing beats the feeling of helplessness at not being able to hail a cab / catch a bus to the U.S. Embassy, buy some street food, buy a burner phone, or check into a cheap hotel.  Take my word for it:  being broke and on the streets in a strange land fucking sucks, Bubba.

Oh, and by the way:  this is especially important if (unlike Zman) you’re not traveling alone.  By yourself, you can get okay with pretty much nothing for a short-enough period of time.  With a wife, girlfriend or (eek) kids?  The dangers of short-term poverty become exponential.

People always talk about safety when you travel:  avoiding skeevy areas, staying with crowds, having complete situational awareness and so on.  But you only have a modicum of control over those things, especially in an unknown country.  How much cash you can carry, however, is completely under your control.  So control it, and minimize your vulnerability in a place where nobody  knows your name (or speaks your language).

Lest We Forget

As Britishland totters on the edge of Brexit/ No-Brexit/ Hard Brexit/ Soft Brexit/ Whatever-Brexit, it behooves us to remember just why they hate the EU enough to want to leave its clutches warm embrace.

Example #1:   Control

‘Intelligent speed assistance’ is at the centre of a European road-safety shake-up.
These systems are capable of automatically stopping cars from exceeding the limit or cutting the speed if they pass into a slower zones. But the Department of Transport insists that mandatory systems will not physically slow a car.
It says drivers will simply be alerted by a dashboard light and an audio alert, similar to existing warnings when seatbelts are left unfastened.
The technology will have to be installed in all new cars from May 2022 and in existing models two years later. Other features include automatic emergency braking and a system which keeps a vehicle in the centre of a traffic lane.
The EU Commission claims the mandatory devices could help avoid 140,000 serious injuries by 2038.

Note the weasel word “could”.  The infernal things “could” also cause still more deaths from equipment failure, because none of this shit has ever been tested, yet.

Example #2:   Hobbling the Internet

The directive, which passed by 348 votes to 274, seeks to update the EU’s copyright legislation in light of recent technological changes. Its most controversial elements, passed much more narrowly, are Article 11, a “link tax” requiring social networks and news aggregators to pay publishers to display snippets of their output, and most of all Article 13, an “upload filter” making larger online publishers like YouTube responsible for copyright infringements in material uploaded by their users.

This is akin to the “holding gun manufacturers responsible because a few assholes murder people with guns”  rationale.

Example #3:   Unstable currency

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told a Paris conference that the currency union ‘is not resilient enough’ to emerge unscathed from ‘unexpected economic storms’.
Lagarde acknowledged that the currency union was now ‘more resilient than a decade ago when the global financial crisis struck.
‘But it is not resilient enough,’ she said. ‘Its banking system is safer, but not safe enough. Its economic well-being is greater overall, but the benefits of growth are not shared enough,’ Lagarde told the gathering, which was organised by the French central bank.
The warning comes as signs are multiplying of slower economic growth, especially in powerhouse Germany and the bloc’s second-biggest economy, France.
On Friday, indications of a weak first quarter for the eurozone mounted as a closely-watched survey pointed to March output being dragged further down by manufacturing weakness.
Manufacturers in the 19-nation single currency bloc ‘reported their steepest downturn for six years’ as pressure mounted from trade wars and Brexit fears, data company IHS Markit said.

This is what happens when you couple one or two “strong” economies (Krautland, Frogland) to fucked-up economies (Eytieland, Spicland, Porroland etc.) and expect good results.

So the Brits want out of all this shit (they’re quite capable of fucking their country up all by themselves, without any assistance), and no wonder.

The only thing which still puzzles me is why a “hard” Brexit — in essence, just telling the Europigs to FOAD  — is seen as a Bad Thing for the UK.  I’m sure there’s some sophisticated response to that simple question, but as said response would only come from the turds who lost the Brexit referendum (a.k.a. the Remoaners Remainers), I think we’re safe in ignoring it, and them.


As I get older and older, and the promise threat of assisted living gets to be ever-more imminent, I think this guy may be onto something:

A Texas man says he has no intention of checking into a nursing home during his golden years and is planning on moving into a Holiday Inn instead.  Terry Robison, 64, who is listed as a producer/director at Scarlet Tye Films, shared his novel thought about retirement in a now viral Facebook post.  “No nursing home for us. We’ll be checking into a Holiday Inn!” he begins, a referring to himself and wife Renee Wilson Robison, both of Spring, Texas.

I’ve often wondered about that option, myself.

My only prerequisites are a decent neighborhood (i.e. close to a decent pub and/or restaurant), proximity to a shooting range, and protected parking.  Oh, and a fast fiber-optic hookup.

Your thoughts in Comments?