For today’s blog on favorite airports, tripchi caught up with Sonar Travel’s owner, Sonia Frieder.
Sonia Frieder is the owner of Sonar Travel and writer of The Sonar Ping blog. She believes we should stop planning and start enjoying our precious vacation time…and airports! Are you thinking about traveling but dread the travel planning process? Sonia can help. Specialties include destinations in the US and Europe, honeymoons, and budget travel.
Sonia, what is your favorite airport and why?
Believe it or not, my favorite airport is London Heathrow. I know it gets a bad reputation but hear me out. Admittedly, entering Heathrow is no fun. The lines for customs are quite long and that can be quite frustrating after a long flight. However, when you are departing from Heathrow, I find the airport to be a delight. I like the computerized check in system and the security lines were very speedy and efficient. Once inside there are numerous restaurants where you can sit and enjoy a beverage or window shop the high end stores like Harrods.
What is your favorite activity to do on a long layover (2 hours or more)?
Souvenir shopping! You typically do not think of airports when you are shopping for souvenirs but over the years I have purchased numerous items from airports to bring back to friends and family.
In Frankfurt, I picked up a birthday card in German for my German friend. In Boston, I grabbed a Red Sox t-shirt for a fan back home. In Hawaii I found a beautiful pair of locally designed and made earrings for my mom. And just about every airport is good for some local chocolates and candies. And everyone back in the office will be grateful!
Who’s the most random person you’ve run in to at the airport, and describe the situation?
On my way to the Indianapolis airport after a Formula 1 Grand Prix, I was shocked to see German F1 driver, Adrian Sutil, sitting next to me on the rental car shuttle! My whole family wanted to ambush him but given that he had just spent 2 hours going 200 miles an hour, we decided it was better to let him relax!
What frustrates you the most about airports?
Like most travelers, I am not always a fan of the security lines at airports. We all understand the importance of security screenings but, at times, the process can be hard on travelers as well as TSA agents.
As I approach the x-ray machines, I become quite stressed simply because I do not want to be the one who causes a delay. I hurry to make sure my liquids are in my quart sized bag, my electronics are out, my shoes, belt and sweater are off, and all the while, I am trying not to look suspicious. I breathe a momentarily sigh of relief as I pass through the metal detectors or body scanners but the rush begins all over again as I quickly gather my things, make sure I didn’t leave anything behind, and try not cause a pile up of carry ons and bins.
I must also mention that I wish the restroom stalls were larger. Since we are not allowed to leave luggage unattended we are forced to drag them in there with us.
As a travel planner, what tips do you give your clients to avoid hassles at airports?
Airports can be stressful as well as unpredictable, so leave plenty of time to check bags, get through security, and find your gate. It is simply not worth the risk of missing your flight just so you don’t have to wait around.
The airport can also occasionally be a dangerous place with thieves waiting to take advantage of frazzled travelers. Take your valuables out of your pocket and place them in a baggie before you get to security. You do want to make yourself target by displaying your nice watch or wallet. Also, you are less likely to leave something behind if your items are stored in one location. This also allows you to keep better track them and grab them quickly once through security screenings.
Sonia Frieder is the owner of Sonar Travel and writer of The Sonar Ping blog. After a long career in corporate marketing she decided to turn her love of travel into her new career. Sonia creates custom travel itineraries that save the traveler from wasting countless hours on the internet researching their vacation. She believes we should stop planning and start enjoying our precious vacation time. Specialties include destinations in the US and Europe, honeymoons, and budget travel.
Sonia has lent her expertise to numerous travel and honeymoon publications and has been featured in Condé Nast Traveler and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.
Connect with Sonia on Twitter @sonartravelplan, on her blog The Sonar Ping or email her at email@example.com.