Airports & How to Use Them

Getting between major airports and the city center they serve by shuttle, taxi, train, bus, or subway

• No-frills airlines
• How they work
• How to find them
• How to book them
• N. America to Europe
• Intercontinental LCCs
• Big Ben Switcheroo
• Big Apple Switcheroo
• Airport resources

Most major airports around the rold are modern affairs that look and work like airports the world over—in many cases, better. With the notable excpetion of my hometown, New York, I can't think of a single major airport—at least in teh Western world—that doesn't have an excellent and rapid public transportation system to get you between the airport and downtown cheaply.

Well, maybe the Venice airport, where it's either a long, romantic (and expensive) water taxi ride right to St. Mark's Square—which, despite the expense, is a thoroughly thrilling and worthwhile way to arrive in Venice—or a slow bus through traffic to Piazzale Roma, from which you must lug your luggage up and over several footbridges before you can grab a vaporetto water bus that chugs down the Grand Canal towards a stop near your hotel.

Getting to and from the airport

For the best rundown on how to get downtown from the airport (or, of course, how to get to the airport from downtown), the best resource is not always the local tourist office. Rather, the best way to find out about all the airport transport options—from high-speed rail links and local buses to taxis and airport shuttles—is to hunt down the airport's own Web site, which you can find at Atlas Navigator (

Most airports have quite spiffy Internet sites, often with English versions available, and almost all have a section detailing public transportation methods that connect the airport with the local city center (taxis, buses, rail links, subways, shuttles, rental cars, car services, and so one), usually with prices, time it'll take, and links to (or at least phone numbers for) the companies that provide each service.

Finding airport Web sites

You can find links to airport sites either via the national or local tourism office or at the Atlas Navigator (, a database of direct links to the Web sites of airports around the world, most of which, in addition to providing the usual data on flight arrival and departure times, have loads of precise info on how to get to and from the airport.

Stuck in the Airport

We all spend time stuck in airports, whetehr due to long layovers, departure delays, transit strikes, or simply arriving three hours before your flight as instructed only to breeze through check-in and security in 20 minutes.

There are two fine resources for when you have time to kill in an airport during long layovers. The first is the brilliantly titled Stuck at the Airport (—actually excerpts from a book by Harriet Baskas. The second, for when you have a lot of time on your hands and want to catch a nap, is the wonderfully homespun Sleeping In Airports (

This article was last updated in November 2007. All information was accurate at the time.
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