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Luxury travellers who get on and off planes frequently all have their own travelling rituals. I am one of those people who always checks the destination tag on my luggage before it disappears along the conveyor belt just to make sure my suitcase isn't heading for Hawaii while I'm bound for the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. On a trip to Spain a few years ago my suitcase went on a grand tour of Europe, finally turning up three days later. It spent the rest of the trip chasing me, consistently arriving at various posadas (inns) just after I had departed. The bag obviously had a good time because when I finally got it back I found a coaster in there from a trendy nightclub in Cordoba that I hadn't been anywhere near.

A 'priority baggage' label is no guarantee against mishap. And it isn't always easy to identify the airport code they stick on at check-in, especially when you're reading it upside down on an already moving case. A feat not helped by the fact that codes aren't always logical. Why is the airport code for Vancouver, for example YVR not VAN? And if you were flying to Genoa in Italy you'd be forgiven for thinking your suitcase was heading for India since the Genoa Airport code is GOA. The Luxury Travel Bible readers and first class passengers of all kinds should obviously head to Luxembourg (LUX) and expect to be especially generous when they stop off at Tripoli in Libya (TIP). It may seem a little obvious when your Vuitton bag is labelled, well, (BAG) but that is what will happen if you head to Baguio in the Philippines.

... first class passengers of all kinds should obviously head to Luxembourg (LUX)


Or sometimes the code can give you an unintentional clue about your destination. Los Angeles, California, is LAX, which might explain some of the laidback airport service. Changi, in Singapore, has illicit promise; if you fly there you're heading for SIN. Gamblers should love Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean (TAB), children should head for Kristianstad, Sweden (KID), and Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (OMO) washes whiter.
They are pretty poetic at Odense Airport, Denmark (ODE) and just plain zany at Madrid Barajas Airport, Spain (MAD). While Ciampino airport, Rome, Italy (CIA) must be a secretive kind of place. Meanwhile, despite being the erstwhile home of the original metrosexual, David Beckham, Manchester, England, remains aggressively male.  It's code is MAN.


Expect a crowd if you fly into Mobile Municipal, Alabama (MOB) while Montgomery Dannelly Airport in the same US state obviously hopes for a starring role as its code is MGM. Cork, Ireland also has movie connections, with a code like ORK it could star in Lord Of The Rings movies. 

Sometimes I'm glad that airport codes aren't four letters long or Fukuoka, Japan (FUK) and Chochin, India (COK) might be in serious trouble. And don't even start me on the problems of Cumena, Venezuela - I said don't even start me....  Some airports on the other hand invite us to be on first-name terms. Such as Thistead, Denmark (TED). Sydney Airport almost qualifies, with SYD. Oddly SID is the code for Sal in Cape Verde. While, Lille, France (LIL), Debrechen, Hungary (DEB) and Lyon-Bron, France (LYN) all sound like nice girls.
One a more serious note, it is interesting how some airport codes reflect the history of a place, for example Beijing's code, PEK reminds us of the days when the city used to be Peking. The same can be said of Mumbai, India, where the code, BOM, dates back to the days when the destination was called Bombay.

Where do I want to go? I've always had a hankering for Shillavo, Ethiopia (HIL) - somehow we're made for each other.

Hilary Doling, Updated 24/02/2023
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