For Times of London correspondent Chris Ayres, the term "management of Los Angeles International Airport" evokes a picture of William H. Macy pushing pencils in a cubicle. The airport's image problem has little or nothing to do with dirty bathrooms, Ayres writes on today's Los Angeles Times op-ed page.
The reason passengers complain about LAX is because, when they fly, they get to see other airports. And I'm not just talking about LAX versus Hong Kong (No. 1), or LAX versus Orlando (No. 2, believe it or not). I'm talking about LAX versus airports that were recently owned by Soviet satellites.
Take Prague International. The place looks like a billion dollars. It has Skoda automobiles on pedestals, Bohemia crystal hanging from the ceiling — even a Hugo Boss store. As for the non-Soviet airports, London Heathrow (No. 18) has a Paul Smith boutique, a Virgin Megastore and a mini-Harrods. In Britain, people tend to blame the over-commercialization of public spaces on the Americans. If only they knew the truth. At LAX, all you can buy is a copy of Newsweek and a lukewarm Whopper.
At this point, I should probably confess: I'm an LAX geek. As a roving news correspondent who also is required to visit family members on the East Coast and in Europe, I often feel as though I spend more time at LAX than I do in my own bed. I was one of the few people reduced to tears by Tom Hanks in "The Terminal."
I have spent years getting to know LAX's every quirk. I own a membership card for the Parking Spot — having recently ended a long and unhappy relationship with Parking Lot C. I know how to get into the business class line for security at Terminal 4 without having a business class ticket. I'm competitive at the metal detector. Failure to take out my laptop before the TSA agent tells me to take out my laptop can ruin an entire business trip — it marks me as an LAX amateur to all the other frequent fliers in line.
Here's the link to Ayres' official Times of London weblog, So L.A.