It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Frequent Flyer Miles from Hell

CNN reports that London-based consultancy Skytrax has just released a list of the world's 10 best airports and lounges. Not surprisingly, London Gatwick did not make the top ten owing to its "facilities more suited to sheep-herding than world-class travel...sniff, sniff".

We here at DOUI are very interested in travel. As some of you know, one of our associates, the inestimable Stew Miller, has been traveling with his family at Disney World this week. (For those of you who were there, Stew was the one on top of the geodesic dome in Epcot, with the major pants malfunction.)

So, allow us to offer our list of the world worst airports and lounges. These are places you wouldn't want to be caught dead in for a five hour layover, or where you might just be caught dead if you have a five hour layover.

10. Medellin International Airport, Colombia - The Cartel Lounge. This exclusive lounge is actually quite luxurious and opulent. It contains saunas, hot tubs, bikini-clad professional massusses (massussi, whatever the plural is), massive world-class restaurants and bars, and baggage carts made of solid gold. Unfortunately, the clientele are all drug-trafficers with violent rivalries against one another. So that guy lounging in the hot tub next to you hasn't been snorkling without a hose for 40 minutes. He is, in fact, suenendo con los pescados...which explains the unusual bald spot on the very back of his head.

9. Siberia International Airport, Russia - The Gulag. There are two simple English words to describe the ambiance of this notorious lounge: Frickin' cold. This is a part of the world where your vodka martini could freeze over if you don't sip it quickly enough. The seats aren't made of stone, they've just frozen that way. Heating units are occasionally repaired or reinstalled in a Quixotic attempt to stifle the vicious mean streak mutha nature has unleashed here. They usually commit suicide by exploding after 15 minutes of futile work. It does, however, give the heavily-clothed airport staff time to thaw out the building and locate passengers from previous layovers of 30 minutes or longer.

8. Antartica International Airport. All right, it's not as cold as Siberia International, and the facilities aren't really that bad. Nothing works though and the service is horrible. Why? Everything is run completely by penguins. Cute little birds, but the flightless, web-footed, fish-snarfing little gits couldn't run a restaurant to save their lives. Example: Everything on the menu is some kind of cold, raw fish. They do attract the odd Japanese tourist looking for rare sashimi.

7. Heraklion International Airport, Crete - The Labyrinth Lounge. A lot of walking. Bring breadcrumbs or a large ball of twine. If a maitre'd approaches whose head is that of a large bull, run for it.

6. Tehran International Airport, Iran - The Ayatollah Lounge. Here you can relax surrounded by dozens of beautiful women. Well, I think they were beautiful...they were covered from head to toe. I think they were women too, although one may have had a beard. Let me just say that the Iranian people are wonderful, generous, and hard-working, but their rulers are some of the weirdest lot I've run across. I won't say any more, lest I wind up like Salman Rushdie.

5. Death Valley International Airport, California, USA. The opposite of Siberia International Airport. The one big advantage: You can still get a hot meal, even if the electricity and gas are off...even at night. Avoid the scorpion and gila monster salad. I don't know what Wolfgang was thinking.

4. Atlantis International Airport, Atlantic Ocean (Somewhere east of Spain and west of New York City). You try going through customs in a deep-sea scuba kit.

3. Khartoum International Airport, Sudan. Not bad unless you're non-Arabic, Christian, animist, European, American, Asian, Black African, non-Muslim, or have a sense of humor. If you fall into any one of those categories, I recommend routing around this airport, unless your idea of a great layover is a permanent one in a shallow grave, accompanied by vigorous physical abuse. Still, if you don't fall into these categories, I hear the couscous isn't half-bad.

2. Hartsfield International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. This is on anyone's list. The airport's really not so bad as far as amenities go. However, almost every flight involves switching concourses, and traveling from gate to gate is only slightly less arduous than the journey Dante took through the Inferno... and that's only if the inter-concourse train is running. You don't think I'm serious? One time, while switching planes at the airport, I distinctly remember seeing Virgil sitting in the lounge as we entered the concourse. He had a really insensitive smirk on his face for one of the "virtuous non-believers." Also, just above the exit of Concourse A is a large sign that says, "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Have a Flight Departing from Concourse E."

1. Pyongyang International Airport, North Korea. Wall to wall pictures of the "Beloved Leader". This is what people mean by "the inmates taking over the asylum". Still, if you like high-levels of radiation, malnurished staff, sado-masochism, and dancing, this may just be the place for you, Mr. Hussein. A word of advice though: Under no circumstances should you try the mystery meat.

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