On a recent journey back from a fabulous trip to Aspen for an amazing week of skiing the Colorado Rockies, I had a quick layover in Atlanta. Being the social media-obsessed information junkie that I am (i.e., a modern homo sapien), I naturally had to check in on Facebook and share whatever synaptic misfire-induced commentary I could dream up at the time. So I promptly drafted a cute status, took a selfie with a travel buddy, and checked into the "Atlanta Latoya Jackson Intergalactic Spaceport and Hot Wing Express."
This humorous location is one of a growing series of alternate names for airports around the country that bored and witty frequent travelers have created and populated with likes and check-ins on Facebook and other social media outlets. The names are often twists on the airport's real name mixed with references to local celebs or popular memes.
If you've lived near or been to Atlanta before, you'll recall that the real name of Atlanta's sole commercial airport, the busiest in the world, is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. Originally named after one Atlanta major, William Hartsfield, in 1980 and later jointly after another, Maynard Jackson, in 2003, by 2013 this dually-denominated hub had become too boring of a frequent check-in location for some travelers. While there are other "alternate" names for ATL out in the TweetBookStagram-osphere of the social network, my favorite remains the above-mentioned Atlanta Latoya Jackson Intergalactic Spaceport and Hot Wing Express.
In my adopted hometown of Washington, DC, we are blessed with three major airports, in addition to lots of prominent figures and entertaining scandals from which to derive fodder for alternate airport names. Our city's most convenient airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, was renamed in 1998 to honor the 40th President of the United States. But recently, DC visitors have been able to check into the humorously renamed (on Facebook anyway) Monica Lewinski Washington National Airport.
Chicago, a city served by two major airports, has also gotten in on the social media airport renaming action. O'Hare International Airport was named in honor of local Chicago World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Cmdr. Edward H. "Butch" O'Hare by the Chicago City Council in 1949. But after more than 60 years of the same name (many other major airports seem to change names every few decades), travelers with a sense of humor started checking into Chicago O'kurrrr International Airport. The reference most likely comes from one of the characters, Shocantelle Brown, played by Laura Bell Bundy in a series of comedy skits that went viral on YouTube between 2010 and 2012.
In addition to the alternate airport names that will have your Facebook friends cracking up, there are also witty insider check-ins for specific spots at major hub airports that travelers have fun with. At DTW, there's a Facebook check-in for the "Creepy Tunnel Thing in Detroit Metropolitan Airport." Better known as the Light Tunnel, the sand-blasted and LED-illuminated glass panels that envelop the underground tunnel between concourse A and concourses B and C in Detroit's main airport are intended to calm frazzled travelers with changing color patterns and southing new-age music.
I actually think the DTW Light Tunnel is pretty neat and have always enjoyed the psychedelic experience of traversing it when laying over there. In fact, in my April 2012 blog post on AIRistocrat.com entitled "Am I on Acid or is This Detroit?" you can find a 40-second video of the tunnel, in case you've never had the pleasure.
Travel can be tough, and frequent travel for those who have to endure it can be a real pain. So it's no surprise that savvy fliers have engaged their senses of humor and had a little fun on social media with an otherwise taxing routine of layovers in the same old places week after week.
If you have come across other funny or witty "alternate" airport names, post them in the comments here and share them with the rest of the world. And next time we're there, we'll all be sure to check-in and say hello. O'kurrr.