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airport terminal chairsUgly architecture, crazy traffic patterns and parking in the hinterlands. Confusing signage, endless corridors, torn carpeting and uncomfortable seating. Not to mention endless delays, lost baggage and I-have-to-take-a-what-to-get-there gates. Airport terminals can seem soulless, sapping the joy from a trip. And the biggest offenders have made it onto Frommer’s list of the 10 worst airport terminals.

At the top of the list (or should we say the bottom?): JFK Airport’s Terminal 3 in New York City. Built in 1960 and now Delta’s international hub, the eyesore is set for demolition. Frommer’s describes it as having “a sense that the cleaning crew gave up in despair a while ago.” Perhaps they were given a different tear-down date.

Poor Terminal 3. Its neighbor, JFK Airport ‘sTerminal 5, made it onto Frommer’s earlier list of the World’s 10 Most Beautiful Airport Terminals. It’s not easy being the ugly house on the block.

What Makes a Great Airport?

Smack in the middle of the worst list is Amman Queen Alia Airport. Tell me how an airport named for a woman can receive such a bad rating for bathroom cleanliness. Sad but true: Skytrax, a global consulting firm, ranked it low on such basic necessities.

Chicago’s Midway Airport, which the U.S. Bureau of Transportation recently ranked as the nation’s worst for on-time departures, was only 10th on the Frommer’s list. (They decided the Windy City’s notorious winter weather should take the lion’s share of blame.)

Except for three hours stuck on the tarmac in Philadelphia with a stranger squeezing my hand (she was seriously afraid of flying and her meds had worn off), I’ve had fairly good luck in airports. I do remember nearly missing a flight out of Orlando International Airport years ago, just barely catching that ridiculous train to the gate in time. While the airport’s Web site insists it’s only about a 68-second ride, it seemed interminable as I worried that my attempt to reach my flight in time would be, well, terminal.

Which airport is at the top of your worst list?

– written by Jodi Thompson

airlines behaving badlyThis post is the first in a new series called “Airlines Behaving Badly,” which will chronicle the oft-wicked ways of the air travel industry.

“This is an emergency announcement. We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water.”

Not what you want to hear at 3 in the morning, cruising about 35,000 feet above the North Sea. But that is exactly what happened to some 275 passengers aboard a British Airways flight from Miami to London Heathrow on Friday night, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph.

As expected, the passengers — many of whom were awakened by the calm female voice on the automated announcement — panicked. Fortunately, they didn’t have much time to work up a frenzy as the cabin crew quickly canceled the alert.

Oops. A flight attendant reportedly announced on the public address system about 30 seconds later that the message was played by mistake.

Readers’ Worst Airplane Horror Stories

In August 2010, that same terrifying message was accidently played aboard a British Airways flight from London to Hong Kong. If it’s that easy to release the beast, perhaps it’s time to jettison it.

Should the need arise for such a message, just let the flight attendant scream into the mike: “We’re going to die! We’re going to die!”

The response would likely be the same. Well, not exactly the same, but passenger reaction might well be just as terrified.

The plane landed without incident on Saturday, and British Airways issued an immediate apology to the passengers, although some complained that the airline had trivialized their fear.

The Daily Telegraph reported that a passenger said he couldn’t think of anything worse than being told your plane’s about to crash. Hmm, can you?

– written by Jodi Thompson

museum of celebrity leftoversIt doesn’t exactly have the “ooh” factor of a Lucille Ball caricature hanging on Sardi’s wall. It does, however, inch toward the “eww” factor of, say, a faded 34C underwire tacked up on the ceiling of a dive bar. What is it? Just a wee crumb of a toastie eaten by the Libertines co-frontman Pete Doherty.

That’s right. There’s a museum where you can view the dried-out crust of a British pop star’s cheese, tomato and pesto panini that he ate at a cafe in a Cornish seaside village. Owners Michael and Francesca Bennett wanted to commemorate the visit of celebrities to their seafront cafe, the Old Boatstore. When photographer David Bailey visited, the couple told the BBC, they were so excited they decided to keep a bit of the sandwich he’d consumed. The Museum of Celebrity Leftovers grew from there.

Now, when you visit Kingsand in the U.K., you can view about 20 “artifacts” sealed under tiny glass domes and kept on a bright blue shelf hanging on the cafe wall — the museum’s entire collection. Ogle actress Mia Wasikowska’s wedge of zucchini. Examine the end of comedian Hugh Dennis’ ice cream cone. Ruminate over retired BBC weatherman Craig Rich’s pasty crust.

No preservatives have been added to the remains, and Michael Bennett assured the BBC that none of the exhibits seem to be getting moldy, just dried and shriveled.

The Bennetts have owned the cafe for nine years and serve mainly vegetarian fare with locally sourced seafood when available. So don’t expect to see a bite of Prince Harry’s burger anytime soon. However, Charles and Camilla have paid a visit. The Museum of Celebrity Leftovers has a tiny silver crown adorning the glass dome protecting Charles’ relic: a teensy crust of bread pudding.

It’s unlikely that the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall came just to see the odd exhibit, as the display of food waste is more kitschy than captivating. It may, however, have some competition for the world’s most underwhelming excuse for a museum. Consider the Asphalt Museum with its chunks of tar at Sacramento State College in California. Or the Barbed Wire Museum in LaCrosse, Kansas. And you might just get “sucked in” — their pun — at the Vacuum Museum along Route 66 in Missouri. (For more, see our list of the world’s weirdest museums.)

No reason to cross the Hermitage or Smithsonian off your must-see list just yet. En route between the two, you might want to stop in the Old Boatstore for a bite to eat. Who knows who may be seated next to you.

What’s the stupidest museum you’ve ever visited?

– written by Jodi Thompson

Guam? Really? Yup, the 212-square-mile island in the Philippine Sea about midway between Japan and Hawaii is sixth on the top 10 list of U.S. states/territories most favored by overseas visitors last year. In 2010, Guam had 1.3 million overseas visitors, according to a list compiled by the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries — which defines “overseas visitors” as tourists from beyond the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Tiny Guam beat out Massachusetts, Illinois, Texas and New Jersey, numbers 7 – 10 in the list. Not surprisingly, New York took the top spot with 8.6 million foreign visitors, followed by Florida, California, Nevada and Hawaii. Makes sense. But what about Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Alaska? Nowhere to be found. Yet there sits Guam, as smack in the middle of the list as it is in the ocean.

guam hotel resort coast



guam ruined church ruin historic



guam beach sunset palm tree tropical



Sure, it has year-round tropical weather, lovely beaches and hospitable people. Its Chamorro culture is a stew of Spanish, Micronesian, Asian and Western influences — a heady mix you can taste in the island’s unique cuisine. And of course you’ll also find all the water sports, golfing and hiking you’d expect on an island.

So who’s going to Guam? According to the Guam Visitors Bureau, most tourists come from nearby Japan and South Korea (each just a three- to five-hour flight away). But you can get there from the continental U.S. too — though you’ll have to spend more than half a day on a plane and make at least one connection, typically in Honolulu. Once you get there, you can relax at a big-name resort (such as the Outrigger or the Westin), or stay at a more intimate property like the Guam Garden Villa, a B&B homestay.

You can also get to Guam by cruise ship. It’s a popular port for world cruises, with Princess and P&O among the lines visiting this year.

Have you been to Guam?

– written by Jodi Thompson