You Pays Your Money and Takes Your Choice

Oct. 2, 2019

Professional public speakers have been online lately arguing about which is the worst airport in the USA.

I was one of those professional speakers for decades, and I can tell you that they fly airlines a lot.

Interestingly, and logically, they discuss online about how they are treated by airports around the country. Vendors, walking distance, cleanliness, and convenience were important factors. Safety was not mentioned.

I avoided one major airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (Reagan National), if possible. It was so close to Washington, DC, that I, as an airline passenger, felt hemmed in by buildings, bridges, and other obstacles. Frankly, I never met an airline pilot who spoke well of Reagan National. One even said he wished they would bury the ^#*^$%# airport.

Many believed that Reagan National would no longer exist if not for the politicos who loved it because it was so close to their offices. Today, a huge number of pax use Reagan National. The passenger part of the airport itself is much improved, but the runways are still short—compared to Washington Dulles International Airport (Dulles)—and the city hasn’t moved.

How many of us remember the tragic accident at Reagan National in 1982? It was called pilot error, but some felt that the accident might have been avoided if not for the limits, location, and problems of Reagan National.

I wasn’t exactly scared of Reagan National, but Dulles was available, the runways were much longer, the approach and departure were wide open, and I could easily take that option.

OTOH, I have ridden airlines in and out of Telluride Regional Airport, Telluride, CO. Telluride, at about 10,000 feet, is the second highest airline-served airport in the USA. It was exciting, though, but there was no alternate airport.

When I sold crop duster airplanes for a living, I flew myself in and out of strips as short as 1200 feet. But I was flying small, slow airplanes with huge doors on each side of the pilot’s seat. The cockpit was surrounded by metal tubing; and in most accidents, the pilot walked away with minor injuries or none at all.

Reagan National fans may tar and feather me for this blog, but, hey, as the title says, you takes your choice.

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