Airport Walking
September 12, 2018 6:24 AM   Subscribe

I can see why this idea might occur to you if you're sitting at Tweed New Haven. The terminal is tiny, and is literally across the street from a sleepy residential neighborhood.

However, extrapolating this to a 15-mile walk over San Bruno Mountain after getting off a plane seems like madness to me. The type of madness I admire, but still madness.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:34 AM on September 12 [7 favorites]

Somebody wrote about walking from Toronto's Pearson airport in 2007, and I was honestly surprised it was possible at all. I have no idea if it's gotten easier or more difficult since then.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:35 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]

Yes to Burbank! That airport is amazing in terms of walkability. I have gotten off of a plane, picked up my bag and walked out of the airport and to a hotel. I. Love. It.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:45 AM on September 12 [5 favorites]

If I had to guess out of every airport I've been to, San Jose would be the one most suited to walking. The whole area feels empty and weirdly spacious, which encourages a driver to speed up (sorry), but they also have some of the largest speed bumps I've ever encountered IN MY LIFE, which causes a driver to repeatedly hit them at accelerated speed (belated sorry to my fam). Anyway, walking from SJC is probably less noteworthy than driving from there, and certainly less memorable than climbing a mountain to South San Francisco.

...also, kudos to this dude for following his passion, but this would be really miserable to do in a warm, humid place.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:47 AM on September 12 [4 favorites]

One of my best vacations ever was a week spent on Nai Yang beach in Phuket, perhaps two miles from the airport terminal, which I chose because I love planes and wanted to planespot, and everything went perfectly. Photos like this were an everyday occurrence and yes, it is walkable - perhaps forty minutes from terminal to sand at a slow amble. Sitting on the beach with the FlightRadar app in one hand using the AR function to literally tell you what plane that is while drinking a cold beer? Bliss. (Map for reference for any Asian planespotters looking for a more local Skiathos/St Maarten - walk a bit north along the sand to Mai Khao Beach and you'll be RIGHT under the landing planes...)
posted by mdonley at 6:48 AM on September 12 [9 favorites]

I used to live in Banker' s Hill in San Diego, and a visiting cousin walked to my apartment from the airport. The only thing I would be worried about there is if there are sidewalks to actually get you off the airport property, but once you do that, you're a mile from downtown San Diego and walking anywhere is a piece of cake.
posted by LionIndex at 6:48 AM on September 12

"If you walk from an airport, nobody has to sit next to you on the plane afterwards."

I can't parse this, what does it mean??
posted by Grither at 6:51 AM on September 12 [11 favorites]

You're gonna be sweaty and stinky after the walk, so better to do it on the way to your hotel rather than on the way to your plane.
posted by moonmilk at 6:53 AM on September 12 [11 favorites]

I once walked from the Madrid airport to a very nearby hotel about 1/2 mile away as the crow flies. It was nearly impossible to find a route, and I jaywalked and/or cut through areas I probably wasn't strictly allowed to go multiple times in order to do it. And that half mile probably became a 3 mile trek.
posted by tclark at 6:54 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Martha's Vineyard has a pretty walkable airport. But then again the whole island is just over 10 miles long and the airport is right in the middle. Also we flew in on a like 8 seater Cessna. Tho oddly that's one of the few times we had an airline lose a piece of luggage.
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:55 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Ahhhh for some reason my mind switched from "tips" to "benefits" on that one. Makes much more sense as a tip. Thanks!
posted by Grither at 6:57 AM on September 12

I did this once, we walked to Prestwick Airport in Scotland. Our friends live in Prestwick, and it was like a half mile walk (if even that much) from their house to the airport. We were embarking on our honeymoon (Ryanair to Pisa, so glam).
posted by like_neon at 6:57 AM on September 12

It's super easy to walk to the airport in Bodø – some people live literally across the street.

The whole town is literally across the street.
posted by Vesihiisi at 6:59 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]

I've walked (not counting a 5 second ferry ride) all the way from Toronto's Billy Bishop airport to Union Station!
posted by moonmilk at 7:06 AM on September 12

LionIndex: I used to live in Banker' s Hill in San Diego, and a visiting cousin walked to my apartment from the airport. The only thing I would be worried about there is if there are sidewalks to actually get you off the airport property, but once you do that, you're a mile from downtown San Diego and walking anywhere is a piece of cake.

I walked to the San Diego airport four years ago, and I agree, it was all-in-all a nice walk, except at that time, there were definite gaps in the sidewalks around the airport, but it's looking better now (Google maps aerial view).

Also, walking miles with a rolling bag is no fun, especially when there is no sidewalk. I had hours between the end of a conference and when my flight took off, so I figured, what's 5 miles? A long, hot walk, is what it was. I really should have paced myself, and planned to find places to stop along the way.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:07 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]

like_neon - Did you then walk from Pisa airport into the Centro Storico? Just long enough to stretch the legs and begin acclimatisation back into Italy.

At the other ridiculous end of the spectrum, we arrived by coach at Heathrow at around 1 or 2 am. We needed to get from Terminal 3 (coach station) to Terminal 4 (pod hotel). There were no trains and the foot tunnels were locked. A £20 taxi trip was the only option.

But then Heathrow is special circle of Hell in its own right.
posted by TwelveNoteRow at 7:07 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Somebody wrote about walking from Toronto's Pearson airport in 2007, and I was honestly surprised it was possible at all. I have no idea if it's gotten easier or more difficult since then.

It's super easy from Terminal 3. There's a sidewalk out to American Drive and then along Airport Road. There's a traffic light with pedestrain signals that goes to the lot where the Car2Gos were parked. It was quicker than the shuttle they offered.

A nice walk there would invlove the Etobicoke Creek Trail that runs up the west side of the airport.

I've walked to and from the airport in places like Sandspit, BC and Powell River, BC, but those are small places.
posted by TORunner at 7:09 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

I live 3.4 miles south of Burbank Airport. It's an easy walk, but I still wouldn't.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:10 AM on September 12

Some time ago I had a long layover at LAX and thought "hey I'm close to the ocean, maybe I could walk there!" Well I got lost in a maze of twisty suburbia passages all alike and had to backtrack when I got worried about missing my next flight. It was interesting, and also my first time watching the sky gradually get browner as the day progressed, something outside my quite rural experience.

On the other hand I successfully walked from McCarren airport to the Vegas strip and it was an easy pleasant walk. I got an up-close view of a Janet flight taxiing for takeoff! I did start to regret the lack of wheels on my suitcase by the end.
posted by traveler_ at 7:15 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Google tells me that it would take seven hours to walk from Downtown to Pittsburgh Airport but you'd probably get run over since 75% of the route is on narrow roads with no sidewalk.
posted by octothorpe at 7:21 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]

I saw a youtube video a while back with someone putting their bicycle together from luggage right outside the airport and then riding off and I've had a hankering to do that ever since. Unfortunately, I gather actually packing a bike (and it surviving the flight) is not so simple unless you maybe have a Brompton.

Of airports I've been to recently, New Haven is walkable for sure, Washington National for sure (I thought about taking Capital Bikeshare there before). Chicago Midtown probably. LAX you could walk to somewhere though downtown seems like a stretch. Nashville I think would be a pretty miserable walk.
posted by ghharr at 7:29 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]

The walk from Vegas gives you a very different perspective on the city than if you just taxi to the Strip. I did it with a 60 pound pack in the middle of brutal August heat to my hotel, about 5 miles from the airport. It was fine until I got inside, where the A/C was set to about 67, and I nearly passed out from the shock.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:32 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]

When I was traveling more frequently for work, I had fantasies about skipping the rental car and bringing a folding bike with me. My plan was to buy a Bike Friday with their custom suitcase/trailer combo - bike to the airport with my luggage in the trailer, take out the luggage, convert trailer to suitcase, put bike in suitcase, reverse process at the other end. I had high enough status that checking the bike would have been free, and I could leave liquids and things in there while I carried on my regular luggage.

I scoped out a bunch of the places I was going to regularly to see if this would be feasible. Seattle and Southern California would have been doable; Oklahoma City was pretty much right out. And then the travel dried up, I lost airline status, and I have enough bicycles anyway, so I never ended up doing it.

However, there's a much stronger incentive when I'm flying one of the club planes (the "last mile problem"). It's a lot easier in this situation - I can take the front wheel off, fold the rear seats down, and throw my regular bike in the back of the plane. Still haven't tried putting the tandem in the plane, but I think it's possible.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:43 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]

Most of the airports I'm familiar with are not near anything. DTW, for example, is 20 miles from Detroit city center and maybe a dozen from Dearborn. So walking isn't practical but bicycling might be; there are service roads that can get you close to the arrival and departure entries, so if you're comfortable curb-hopping you don't have to expose yourself to the frantic pickup/dropoff traffic until the last 100 yards, maybe.
posted by ardgedee at 7:50 AM on September 12

I saw a youtube video a while back with someone putting their bicycle together from luggage right outside the airport and then riding off and I've had a hankering to do that ever since. Unfortunately, I gather actually packing a bike (and it surviving the flight) is not so simple unless you maybe have a Brompton.

Long-distance bicycle tourists do this all the time, with regular (non-folding) bikes.
posted by JeffL at 7:50 AM on September 12

I was once stuck in the Tampa airport for the better part of a week (staying at the Marriott attached to the airport), and at one point decided it would be fun to go outside for a run. Which didn't seem unreasonable, because the airport is in a fairly residential area. Got my running gear on, went downstairs to the hotel lobby, and started to walk outside. The doorman basically threw himself in front of me in order to let me know that the gym was downstairs—not outside.

It took the better part of several minutes to explain to him that I wanted to go running, outside. Like right outside, not like taking a taxi somewhere to go running. He eventually had to get his supervisor, who tried to talk me out of my clearly suicidal plan. They couldn't even decide if what I was trying to do was legal. They were pretty sure if I didn't get killed, I'd get arrested, or maybe both. There was talk of calling the airport police.

I eventually did walk out the front of the hotel, and realized they had something of a point. There's nothing but a driveway leading out to a very high-speed perimeter road flanked by tall chain-link-and-razor-wire fences, no sidewalks, no crossing points, nowhere to go. The airport terminal sits in a sort of island surrounded by a blasted hellscape of poured concrete, accessible by something that's built like an Interstate highway. Plus it was in the high 90s, with humidity so high it pretty much started condensing on your skin immediately, and the air was so thick with diesel and jet exhaust it probably gave you a slight positive buoyancy. (Health-wise, it probably would take time off your life to go running there; an actuary would almost certainly conclude that sitting at the hotel bar drinking gin was the way to go.)

I managed to dodge cars long enough to get around the corner to some sort of parking lot, and from there slink back into the hotel without having to go past the doorman who had so valiantly tried to save me from my own ignorance, and just went down to the basement gym.

I was later told that it is, theoretically, possible to walk out of the airport, although nobody would admit to actually having done this themselves: you take the airtrain thing to the rental car / economy parking area, which gets you out of Mordor the concrete-jungle terminal area, and from there you can worm your way out to a single intersection that has a crosswalk to get across one of the big access roads and into a more traditional urban-grid area. But it's probably worth just hopping on any of the hotel or off-airport shuttle buses and using them to get you out of there as God and the Aviation Authority clearly intended: on rubber tires.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:55 AM on September 12 [20 favorites]

I live close enough to JFK that I could walk it. But with a heavy bag on my back, I decided to suck it up and pay $5 for the AirTrain. Maybe if I could pack lighter...
posted by SansPoint at 7:59 AM on September 12

You could theoretically walk from Denver International, but it'd be somewhere around three hours before you got to even the fringiest of the fringe suburbs on the east side of Denver, and another four hours to get downtown. To get there, you'd either have to risk your life on what's essentially a six-lane divided highway or go overland and get acquainted with the prairie dogs.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:00 AM on September 12 [7 favorites]

I was surprised on a recent business trip to Irvine, CA, how walkable John Wayne Airport was. I didn't do it for a number of reasons, but it would have been a 20-minute walk from my hotel to the terminal along manicured streets.

Key West's tiny airport is as walkable as anything on the island.
posted by me3dia at 8:02 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Reno-Tahoe International is pretty walkable. Sacramento International is absolutely not.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:12 AM on September 12

20 years ago I couldn't find transit at JFK at 11pm, walked to Jamaica station with a heavy pack.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 8:13 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

I love this concept - I found the boston-logan airport rather easy and safe to walk to, but that's because I stayed at a hostel near to Maverick station and walked to the end of the free airport shuttle which is to the west of the airport along a pleasant Greenway.

I think a pedestrial-freindly walk from Pittsburgh airport could be doable now that Carson street has sidewalks. Its a day long excustion though.
posted by muddgirl at 8:13 AM on September 12

I walked to the airport in St. Louis once. I got stopped by the cops.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:18 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]

I always end up walking a considerable 8-10-or more miles when I fly home because the city stopped bus service to the airport - it used to run twice a day.

The funny thing is that it is SO unusual to see people walking along the side of the highway without some kind of distress or shenanigans involved that I have gotten A. people catcalling and threatening me from cars on the highway and B. a county sheriff pulling over to see what was going on more than once.

What I now end up doing sometimes is walking a handful of miles to the county jail nearby that has bus service every couple of hours.

So EVV to downtown Evansville, Indiana - not recommended.
posted by Tchad at 8:26 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

I just checked and it'd take about two and a half hours to walk to the Ottawa airport from my house, and most of it would be along the Rideau River. Might have to try that sometime.
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:27 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, I gather actually packing a bike (and it surviving the flight) is not so simple unless you maybe have a Brompton.

Or buy expensive dedicated bicycle suitcases.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:36 AM on September 12

Admit they mention, LAX is surprisingly easy to walk to. I want him to do Denver now. Good luck.

And speaking of biking. MSP created a meme when someone tried to bike from MSP and was subsequently pulled over and tazed by the police. “Don’t taze me bro.”
posted by misterpatrick at 8:36 AM on September 12

It's too bad he missed the river walk to SJC, that is indeed a very nice walk.

DCA and the San Diego airport are two more that I think work well.

That SFO walk is impressive.

Unfortunately my next trip is DTW<>BOS, no luck there.

Key to all of this is packing really light. On less-than-a-week work trips I get by with a small backpack, which makes this kind of walk nice. It would be less practical with a bug suitcase.
posted by bfields at 8:47 AM on September 12

I was about to say that San Jose airport is fairly walkable but not walk-friendly, since the main non-highway route out leads into a sterile office complex area, but on checking the map, the Guadalupe trail runs right up to the edge of the airport, so if you like to walk, you could in fact take a pleasant stroll on that right into the heart of downtown.
posted by tavella at 8:48 AM on September 12

Some time ago I had a long layover at LAX and thought "hey I'm close to the ocean, maybe I could walk there!"--traveler_

I thought the same thing at the San Diego airport. I thought I'd waste an hour and have a walk on the beach. Nice beaches are tantalizingly close--less than a mile! But every attempt required walking on onramps/offramps with little pedestrian protection and I realized I probably would die in the attempt and gave up. There probably is some really easy way to do it, but I couldn't figure it out.
posted by eye of newt at 8:52 AM on September 12

This is super-cool.

During the Women's March, my wife and I were approached by a group of teachers from Vermont who were looking for a route back to DCA, and they were interested in walking. We tried to talk them into taking the Metro (we were a block from L'Enfant Plaza) to make it easier but they wanted to walk.

I had to pull out my phone and figure it out because I knew it was theoretically possible; the trail runs right to the airport - it just took a little bit to figure out where you could exit the trail to access the terminal. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was do-able.

I now have a goal to walk home from DCA (I live in SW DC so it's not that far) if, returning from a trip, I do not have my rolling bag and have the time and weather to do it.
posted by Thistledown at 8:52 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

The one time I was in San Diego I took a cab from downtown to the airport and remember thinking that it would be walkable. It's interesting to see that someone's actually done it.

I've thought before that Philly is walkable but that particular Philly route looks pretty miserable. I'd probably do it through Southwest Philly with an eye towards crossing the Schuylkill further north.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:54 AM on September 12

"the Guadalupe trail runs right up to the edge of the airport, so if you like to walk, you could in fact take a pleasant stroll on that right into the heart of downtown."

Right, if you ever have a reason to visit the Santa Clara Oracle campus, for example, you can do almost the whole walk along that trail, and I highly recommend it as long as you don't have much luggage.
posted by bfields at 8:54 AM on September 12

I have walked from Birmingham international to a supplier’s office in a local office park that was in a residential area. Once you worked out how to get across the one corner without pavement, it wasn’t too bad but I haven’t been back to that office since so it was a one off attempt.

They were completely baffled when I turned up sans taxi though.
posted by halcyonday at 9:01 AM on September 12

Once, I walked from the Carroll St subway to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (because I was cheap). The walk itself was no problem, except -- it all came down to one little gate at the very end. I was warned that maaaaaaybe it's locked, maaaaaaybe it isn't, and you won't know until you get there. And if it is locked, it'll be a very long backtrack and walkaround. Luckily it wasn't locked, but knowing of that possibility was a major stress point.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:05 AM on September 12

I've thought before that Philly is walkable but that particular Philly route looks pretty miserable.

I have biked from the airport to Center City - I think it was about six miles. A lot of it was pretty harrowing as a cyclist but I think a pedestrian would have a little more luck.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:08 AM on September 12

Or buy expensive dedicated bicycle suitcases.

But if you do that you can't pedal away!

At least around Europe there's a school of though that favours flying bicycles mostly unprotected inside a clear plastic bag. The idea being that baggage handlers can see what they're working with and not damage them. Apparently it works.

There's a related Japanese technique called Rinko where you have a full-size bike that has custom removable parts to allow it to pack down to a surprisingly small size, although I think that's used more for trains rather than planes.

The nearest I've come is flying with a cheap, robust folding bike in a large unpadded canvas bag. After reassembly the bag got bungeed over a clamp-on bar style rear rack so that the sides of it hung down like traditional panniers to carry my luggage. I actually took it packed on buses at both ends though, so it doesn't count.
posted by grahamparks at 9:21 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

There's a Four Points hotel directly across Airport Road from T3 at Toronto Pearson that still runs a shuttle bus. worse yet it's one of those multistop busses. and yet people will queue up and spend 20 minutes on that bus instead of just walking across a perfectly legit crosswalk with traffic controls and up to the terminal building in 5 or 6 minutes. Admittedly there is an odd feeling in strolling right up to an airport terminal from "the real world" without the intermediary of e.g. a rental car lot.

I once tried to walk from T1 to an off-property holiday inn a couple of k away. I couldn't quite sort out my route because there is a lot of road stacking in the area which was confusing my GPS but I figured I could sort it out. Not so much. Two hours later, having crawled along the inside of bridge supports and across drainage rip rap and running across multilane hwy traffic in the dark I eventually made it, but it shaved a year off my life and I don't intend to do it again soon.

I once stayed at a hotel which seemed quite near Reagan airport in DC and had some time on my hands on departure day, and asked at the front desk whether it was walkable. They treated me like an insane person. I even pulled up the map and asked them to show me where the issues were. No no no no. so I took the shuttle. Raised concrete sidewalks the entire time with the exception of one offramp I'd have to dash across, including on the airport property itself which was a bit of a surprise.

I spent a couple of years going back and forth to Newark a lot and was quite chuffed to learn there is a paved sidewalk running between all three terminals. The air train is always unpleasantly packed and or having variable service issues... Admittedly this is not as much fun in the winter.
posted by hearthpig at 9:25 AM on September 12

English author Will Self has done this for years.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:42 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Ooh, I like doing this too. It gives you a chance to get some fresh air after a long flight, and sometimes you get interesting reactions when you tell the story later.

So far, I have tried:
Heathrow- I tried to walk from Windsor, but it didn't work out. There was a narrow tunnel, so I gave up and took a bus.
Longyearbyen- This was really nice, but I heard later it is Not Done because of hungry polar bears
San Diego & San Jose- both are right in town
Adelaide- Very nice walk to/along the beach. Concerned comments from coworkers afterward about why I didn't take a cab.
Ithaca- small town, easy
posted by Maxwell's demon at 9:44 AM on September 12

I walked from LAX to a hotel in Culver City once about ten years ago. Like a lot of LA area walks, it wasn't the most exciting walk but it's certainly doable and didn't feel particularly unsafe.

I mentioned it casually in a Border's Books (back then) when I was looking for a good map of the city and they acted like I had just run an ultramarathon.
posted by smelendez at 9:53 AM on September 12

DCA is pretty badly connected for pedestrian access despite how it looks on the map, although they keep acting like they're going to improve it. Right now if you're leaving the B/C terminal the signs direct you into a parking garage, but they don't then direct you to the correct exit from the parking garage. The more direct path was blocked off for construction work on the airport access road the last time I needed to go that way. I ended up in a weird employee parking lot and had to walk up the middle of the ramp. From the A terminal it's mostly a straight shot to Airport Drive, which has a ramp onto Crystal Drive, but the first time I walked it I was actually going to the residential neighborhood on the other side of Jeff Davis Hwy (where I lived at the time). Airport Drive has a sidewalk but that sidewalk doesn't continue to the other side of the ramp from southbound Jeff Davis Hwy, and then you have to kind of hop down an embankment onto Eads. But I got home after my plane landed late without having to take a taxi.

I flew out of SFO a couple weeks ago and the Airtrain had broken down as it was arriving at the rental car center. After about 20 minutes of the station getting increasingly full, they finally made an announcement that they'd be running shuttle buses and everyone should go to the bus stop by the station. I realized I could see the international terminal parking garage from where I stood, and it looked like there were sidewalks (there were!) so I walked there at ground level, took the parking garage elevator up to the terminal passage level, and then walked all the way to my departure terminal. It was a total distance of about 1.75 miles from the rental car center to the TSA screening area at Terminal C. When I got to the food court I saw a couple women who'd been waiting by the same Airtrain door I had. Turned out they'd called a Lyft.
posted by fedward at 10:39 AM on September 12

Twenty years ago you could walk off a CTA train almost directly into baggage claim at Chicago's Midway Airport. Now it's a five- to 10-minute walk through a convoluted series of hallways, but still super easy. You could also walk there from downtown on sidewalks the whole way. O'Hare would be a bit more of a challenge, but still pretty doable.
posted by me3dia at 10:56 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]

PDX is doable depending on your end destination. Somewhere west of Portland proper and it's a...(checks map)... 5+ hour walk but it looks mostly safe except the long stretch on Sandy. The hills could present an issue since they are very steep but there's a lot of paths over them.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:58 AM on September 12

I’ve walked out of LAX before. It’s very difficult and you get a lot of weird looks! But there’s a lovely tiny secret park on the way out
posted by GilloD at 10:59 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Placencia, Belize, although the "airport" there is really just a wider spot in the dirt road.
posted by Maxwell's demon at 11:07 AM on September 12

I missed a flight at Heathrow this morning, it is it's own circle of hell, booked the closest hotel outside of the airport itself, and tried to figure out how to walk it, no such luck, google maps doesn't know how to get there from here ....
posted by mbo at 11:16 AM on September 12

I walked to San Diego airport earlier this year, AMA.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:37 AM on September 12

PDX is doable depending on your end destination.

Let's assume downtown as the article does: From the terminal, there's a sidewalk/bike path on the westbound side of Airport Way that connects to the frontage road for more sidewalks. Once you're on the frontage road, you can take crosswalks to get to NE 82nd. 82nd to Alderwood to Cully, then whatever path you want. 9 miles and relatively flat at ~300 ft elevation change.

There's also a cut-through to the Marine Dr. bike path, so you could go up to Marine Drive, follow the Columbia west to somewhere, then cut south.

Now that I wrote the above, I think I just found my next random 20 mile bike ride.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:49 AM on September 12

I don't believe it's technically possible (ie: to actually walk) but DFW airport in Dallas to downtown is 19 miles and a 6.5 hour walk. That's got to be up there for the least walkable airports? By comparison Dallas Love Field is only a 2 hour, 6 mile walk, and parts of it even might be a half decent walk.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:28 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Even escaping DFW via automobile from the rental car place is nearly impossible.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:36 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]

O'Hare to downtown Chicago is another epic 19 mile 7 hour walk, do not recommend.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:16 PM on September 12

Looking at Google's suggested walking route, SMF to downtown Sacramento would be 5 hours and 15 miles. The airport proper is pretty much entirely unwalkable, and then you're on a bunch of low-traffic but also no-sidewalk country roads. The suggested path through the urban areas also seems fraught, although I did find a nicer path (that adds a mile)
posted by ckape at 1:18 PM on September 12

I have not done this, in large part because suitcases, but I do recall briefly considering it when I was in San Diego. It also seems like it would be doable in Boston, although I've never flown through there.

In NYC, I'd think you could probably walk to LGA without too much problem, at least before the construction started. Lugging a suitcase across the Queensboro Bridge pedestrian path doesn't sound like much fun, but if you were in northern/western Queens it probably wouldn't be too bad. There's a sidewalk on the road leading into the airport, I'm pretty sure. JFK or Newark seem like they'd be tougher.

Google tells me that it would take seven hours to walk from Downtown to Pittsburgh Airport but you'd probably get run over since 75% of the route is on narrow roads with no sidewalk.

Pittsburgh Airport is stupid far from the city center, or at least it feels that way. I remember being in a cab there and wondering if we were going in the right direction because once you drive out of the airport there's just nothing around.
posted by breakin' the law at 1:28 PM on September 12

I’ve designed buildings at the San Diego Airport and the walking (and biking) experience has come up every time. The airport isn’t necessarily making it a priority but doesn’t complain when incremental improvements are made to improve walking access. They even added a stop to their long term lot shuttle to pick people up walking across the street from the trolley stop. Baby steps. (Do not let your baby walk to the airport alone -ed. )
posted by q*ben at 1:55 PM on September 12 [4 favorites]

Getting out of MSP terminal 1 on foot is a non-starter, but if your rules accept a short light rail jaunt to terminal 2 then it looks doable.
posted by ckape at 2:01 PM on September 12

I thought the Tobin was walkable, so I tried to get Google to give me walking directions from Boston's Logan... and it keeps putting me on a ferry. Which is definitely more direct, and sensible!, but seems like cheating.
posted by maryr at 2:13 PM on September 12

Pittsburgh Airport is stupid far from the city center, or at least it feels that way. I remember being in a cab there and wondering if we were going in the right direction because once you drive out of the airport there's just nothing around.

I assume that they had to go that far to find enough flat land to build on? No idea. At least there are busses that go out there. When I moved here, there was no public transportation to the airport at all. And the taxi service was horrible. If you didn't have a car, your best bet was just to call a friend.
posted by octothorpe at 2:45 PM on September 12

To get to MSP terminal 1, google maps wants me to hop the airport permimeter fence and casually stroll along one of the taxiways.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:10 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]

I suspect it is possible to walk from the San Antonio, TX airport to the riverwalk, but Google's suggestions all look terrible to me and I would not follow them. The fun thing about walking anywhere in San Antonio are the incredible appearing and disappearing sidewalks.
posted by muddgirl at 3:23 PM on September 12

Phoenix looks like it would be pretty trivial, except for the part where you feel silly because you're just walking along the light rail corridor the whole way downtown. And the terrible heat.
posted by ckape at 4:14 PM on September 12

I walked in and out of JFK yesterday. It's ... not good.

In contrast, Reykjavik Airport is right in the middle of town and you'd be hard-pressed to get there any way other than walking.
posted by 1adam12 at 4:55 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Walking from the airport always reminds me of the scene in The Castle. I used to live a 15 minute walk from the Sydney International terminal. Super easy walk. The CBD would be easy to navigate from there too, if you have the time. I think it's around 11km.
posted by Kris10_b at 6:34 PM on September 12

I can emphatically dis-recommend trying to reach Izmir airport on foot. I do, however, recommend double-checking to see whether the dolmuş you thought was going to take you to the airport in fact only goes near the airport.

For extra excitement, leave for the airport in what you were assured would be plenty of time, then arrange to get stuck in traffic for several hours approaching the airport. Realize with dismay that the bus is going past the airport entrance without entering, then disembark from the dolmuş at the next possible stop and try to race, as quickly as possible, back to the road entry to the airport complex, through the concrete wilderness of ramps, parking garages, security gates, and landscaping, dragging with you the suitcase with the one broken wheel that failed earlier that morning.

I had a fantastic time in Turkey except for getting to the Izmir airport.

To be fair, though, it's still easier to get to as a pedestrian than the local airport where I live, which is on another island and requires a boat ride to reach.
posted by Nerd of the North at 6:36 PM on September 12

octothorpe: "I assume that they had to go that far to find enough flat land to build on? No idea."

I think so, yeah. The main airport used to be the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin, but they were running out of room and couldn't expand. The site they picked in the early 50s for the new one had a lot of flat-ish land, and was cheap - it was a dairy farm, and was a long time from the area becoming suburbs.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:29 PM on September 12

I've walked to and from Haneda several times. First attempt I got stymied by one of the tunnels and had to turn back. Never tried it for an actual trip, just for urban hiking. There is all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff out near that airport. There are parks landscaped onto some of the artificial islands that don't have m/any neighbors. One time I saw a marimba band practicing out there. Yep, the trucked out all their giant percussion instruments and banged away. People go clamming along some of the coasts near the airport. Run into people having barbecues in little hollows of the grass landscaping around the terminal. There's an abandoned resort complex and old unused check points from when Haneda was the main airport. It's really relaxing and interesting to walk around. Some of the tunnels and access roads within the airport are pedestrian accessible so you can get to repair depots and other random stuff. And, when you're done there are some nice sushi and a decent cocktail bar in the International Terminal.
posted by Gotanda at 9:21 PM on September 12

Ted Stevens Anchorage International is very doable, and could be pretty pleasant if you skirted the edge of the seaplane lake and headed straight through Earthquake Park to the bike trail along the coast to downtown. 5.5ish miles, very scenic, very civilized, no cars in sight for most of it.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:13 PM on September 12

I walked to the Belfast airport once only to discover upon my arrival that there were two airports and I had walked to the wrong one.
posted by nestor_makhno at 8:52 AM on September 13 [6 favorites]

That's got to be up there for the least walkable airports?

20 miles from DTW to downtown Detroit. I'm pretty sure you'd die along the way. (Remarkably, though, it's basically a one-seat ride on the bus!)
posted by praemunire at 10:22 AM on September 13

I walk to and from DCA regularly. It's always funny when you show up to 'pick someone up' on foot (with their prior consent).
posted by oryelle at 10:23 AM on September 13

This is great. My favourite time doing this was walking from the Mexico City airport to the Zócalo (central square), and back (I'd actually planned to take the Metro, but the line going from the airport was closed).
posted by borsboom at 12:20 PM on September 13

I haven't walked it, but I've biked to/from Vancouver BC's airport. The part on Sea Island (where the airport is) is really boring but safe enough. Once you cross the bridge to the mainland, most of the ride or walk can now be done along the very pleasant Arbutus Greenway multi-use trail.

Most of the walk/ride from Victoria BC's airport is along really nice multi-use trails.
posted by borsboom at 12:39 PM on September 13

" it's basically a one-seat ride on the bus"

What's a one-seat ride?
posted by bfields at 6:28 PM on September 13

What's a one-seat ride?

No transfers, I'd guess.
posted by ckape at 6:46 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]

Yep. NYC does not have one-seat subway rides to any of its airports, and I don't think (though I'm not certain) you can do it on the bus going strictly to downtown Manhattan, though you can from the UWS (-> LGA) and other spots.
posted by praemunire at 7:22 PM on September 13

I did walk to the San Jose airport last month, since it got me to the airport faster than I would have if I'd waited for the next bus. Not bad at all until we got to the actual airport property, since it wasn't clear where the best places to cross were, and the sidewalks didn't lead directly to the terminal entrances. Some wayfinding signs would go a long way toward improving that walk.

For Denver, it's walk+bus+train for my last few trips, and that works very well, though I wouldn't want to walk the whole way (DEN is basically in Kansas).
posted by asperity at 9:10 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]

« Older 1945: an amazing cookbook   |   23. The hero, unrecognized, arrives home or in... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments