Guest Writer

I visit a few Web sites now and then, though not many really, and when I do the first thing I look for is the comments or “feedback” area. I don’t know why, but I’m generally more interested in what the masses have to say than in the polished, generic blather of the professional media. Maybe that’s why my favorite part of the newspaper is the letters to the editor. Give me plain folks’ point of view any day.

Anyway, in preparation for an upcoming trip, I was looking at airline and airport ratings sites and came across a bonanza of stream-of-consciousness rants like the following gem.

(When I read this, I couldn’t help wishing I could meet the person who apparently spent an hour or so chronicling his experience at ATL so faithfully — and for what? Simply for the benefit of strangers who may benefit from getting the straight poop on this oft-maligned Delta hub.)

Note especially the delightful juxtaposition of the first sentence’s sentiment with the rest of the post. Note also paragraph 6, which is a single sentence. It’s as if the structure of the sentence is sympathizing with his “seemingly endless,” aesthetically horrifying imprisonment between flights while baking in the rays of the setting sun.

From Airports – Passenger Opinion Forum
at Skytrax.com
by Jeffrey D. Sarver
“I am someone who is not too fussy about airports generally. Only one, St Louis, arouses my ire and I don’t fly through that nightmare of an airport anymore. I am hesitant to place Atlanta’s Hartsfied International in the same low box as STL but I think I shall have to.

ATL has some positive attributes which aren’t negligible however. It is efficient (in good weather anyway). Signage is excellent and the trains between the six terminals run frequently. The trek to the escalators leading down to the trains can be a long way from the gates and connections should never be less than an hour or the odds of missing the flights are high.

The airport employees, check-in, information, concessions and cleaning crews, are just about the nicest, most helpful, easy-going and humorous airport personnel I’ve ever encountered anywhere in the world. They are down-to-earth and human, a bit offhand sometimes but good-natured, generally. I have yet to encounter a phony, or non-caring attitude at Hartsfield, once past the TSA government people that is, and they are usually pleasant enough in their invasive jobs.

It is also a clean airport, though that has little effect on the overall atmosphere, see below.

The aforementioned atmosphere is the great down side to Hartsfield. It is without question the most visually depressing conglomeration of buildings I’ve ever had to spend long boring hours inside of awaiting connections. I can only compare it to a sort of civilian prison sentence of a 2 or 3 hours. Externally the 5 branch terminals resemble enormous cargo facilities with few windows, built of a grey metallic material and “decorated” with a sort of orangish metallic panel that looks like a set background for the ‘Alien’ movies.

Within, windows are at a premium and natural light is almost non- existent, except at sunset when the sun blazes into the few western windows and slowly bakes any waiting passengers on that side of the terminals, hence the scarcity of windows I suppose, though every Florida airport I use is riddled with plate glass so Hartsfield really has no excuse for entrapping the thousands of incessantly streaming hordes through its very long, seemingly endless in fact, terminals with their low ceilings and hideous and cheap-looking fluorescent lighting.

At night it resembles the lobby of a very cheap hotel in the Bronx (which I’ve seen in Martin Scorcese movies and such). The shops are mostly tawdry and expensive, the food facilities laughable, nothing but “junk” food in the entire airport, though one could go to the “atrium” (the main terminal prior to security) for some sort of “southeastern” kweezeen I’m told, but then security must be dealt with again so that that restaurant is unfeasible for the connecting passenger with 3 hours to kill, as I usually find myself having to do.

The gate seating is falling apart and uncomfortable and insufficient for all the passengers at any given time. I will do everything possible to avoid ATL in the future simply because it is such a lowering experience, rather like an enormous basement, cheap acoustic ceiling tiles and all. What adds to the general sense of degradation is the ubiquitous blasting televisions with endless CNN Airport junk blaring at one all the time.

Instead of just renaming Hartsfield they should tear it down and start over completely.”

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