Over on VICE, Dave Schilling makes the argument — tongue firmly planted into cheek — that Tallahassee Regional Airport is “The Greatest Airport in America”:
“If you’re looking for real fun, may I recommend Tallahassee Regional Airport? It’s almost completely empty at all hours of the day, so getting through security is a breeze. The most expensive part or the terminal is the X-ray machine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a better place to wait for a flight than the trumped-up shopping malls in LA, New York, and Atlanta. That might seem counterintuitive to those expecting a place to buy a ‘genuine leather handbag,’ but allow me to count the ways this small, plucky regional terminal tickled the long hairs on my balls.
… Ever get hopelessly lost looking for your gate at your local international airport? Do you find it impossible to navigate the cacophony of duty-free shops, electronics stores, and kitschy bars on your way to the plane? Tallahassee Regional has you covered there too. There’s an A gate… and a B gate. There’s no way you can fuck that up. Also, most of the flights go to Atlanta. The rest, I imagine, are either bound for Bogota, Colombia or into the Bermuda Triangle, never to be seen again. Also, you can tell from the above photo that there’s no annoying TV screens to distract you from the latest Sue Grafton novel you just picked up from the newsstand. A is for Awesome!
What travelers actually, truly care about is getting to their destination on time and in one piece. When I went to Tallahasse Regional, my flight was delayed, as so many are in this country, but the clerk at the gate immediately put me on a flight leaving a full hour earlier than I was supposed to depart so that I didn’t miss my connecting flight back to Los Angeles. That’s the kind of efficiency and customer service that is usually lacking at big airports.
The most popular solution to the myriad problems facing the airline industry in the United States is bigger and more expensive. LAX, JFK, DFW, and others keep growing and morphing into little cities unto themselves. They build art installations, sculptures, and gaudy lobbies to distract people from the reality that flying is a painful, laborious process. Silly stuff like the arcade and the Florida A&M office at Tallahassee Regional are the low-budget versions of the expensive trinkets being added to big airports. No one actually needs that stuff. They just want to go home. America needs smaller, stripped down, efficient airports that are focused on the task of transporting you from point A to point B. We don’t need a billion dollar carnival that happens to have some airplanes circling in the background. I’ll take Tallahassee Regional over Abu Dhabi any day.