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Home / Travel Gear and Gadgets / Travel Tip: Airport Codes – Peter Greenberg Travel Detective

Travel Tip: Airport Codes – Peter Greenberg Travel Detective

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It’s time once again to celebrate the often confusing, always entertaining, world of the 3-letter airport code.

Most of you know that JFK means John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and that LAX means Los Angeles International Airport. But you can also buy a ticket to FAT, DOH and even to MAD. But most folks have no idea what these codes mean.

FAT stands for Fresno, as in the Fresno Air Terminal.

DOH is not just a line from The Simpsons. It’s for Doha in Qatar.

And MAD isn’t short for Madison, Wisconsin. Just ask a lot of folks heading for Wisconsin’s capital whose bags end up in Madrid. By the way, the code for Madison is MSN. So always check those bag tags in order to avoid confusion and lost luggage.

There’s also some great history here. ORD, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, was originally Old Orchard Field and no one ever changed the code. Although it’s easy to argue that Chicago’s main airport is somewhat larger—a lot larger—than a field.

Image Credit: Alessandra Taryn

For more on airports, check out:

The Most Reliable Airports

The Busiest Airports

America’s Best Alternate Airports




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