01 Jul 2009

The Futility of the International Terminal

01 Jul 2009
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On a recent trip, I was reminded of the illogical separation of the international and domestic terminals in airports. I, like many, have been confused as to where to go when flying overseas; if you have a stop-over in your origin country, do you go to the domestic terminal or to the international one? Why does the separation exist really? It seems like an antiquated system that no one has bothered to rethink. Furthermore, there has been little room to grow with this separation. In the San Francisco International Airport, for instance, JetBlue has been relegated to the international airport because there was simply no more room in the domestic area. You can see how this begins to further complicate matters for airport patrons. In my most recent trip, I observed a prime example of the utter confusion at the Boston Logan Airport. Having a direct flight overseas with American Airlines, I went to the international terminal (of course, American Airlines does not have a station in said terminal). I called the airline, and the receptionist immediately informed me “If you’re traveling overseas, you must be in the international terminal.” After explaining that I had scoured the area and no AA station was in sight, the phone receptionist responded: “Oh yeah, the international terminal is only for international arrivals. You need to go to the domestic terminal to check in.” Why didn’t I think of that?!? It turns out, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Take a look at the sign that is posted in the airport shuttle:

Logan Airport Shuttle Terminals

Logan Airport Shuttle Terminals

Notice the fine print:

  • Delta/Northwest is in terminal A except International Arrivals (similarly for American and JetBlue)
  • Under International Arrivals: JetBlue is there, for Mexico arrivals only

The question is should it really be this difficult to know where to go in an airport? I’d love to hear other similar experiences people have had. Feel free to comment below.

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