An airport poll

Who else cringes when they have to fly into Reagan National Airport? I do. And then there’s that boring statue of the evil old fart near the roadway…ick.

How about naming an airport after a liberal hero? There’s a poll to do just that.

Should SFO be renamed in honor of Harvey Milk?

Yes, great tribute to civil rights leader 23.6%
No, San Francisco International Airport the right name 73.6%
Coffee, tea or …2.8%


  1. says

    I’m conflicted over this. On the one hand, Milk definitely deserves to be honored, and very prominently. On the other hand, naming airports to hide where they serve seems pretty silly and counterproductive.

  2. thunk, hull overheating says

    Yeah, I’m in general support. Many airports that are “obfuscated” in this manner have their city name in front of them, but are usually shortened (e.g. “Chicago Midway”)

  3. Nepenthe says

    While the Milk–San Francisco association is fairly clear to people who care about these things, I’m still not keen on naming international airports after people. Traveling is confusing enough without strange and seemingly arbitrary names. Who the fuck are O’Hare and Dulles anyway?

    SEATAC has the right idea.

  4. marko says

    My Dad always liked the idea of Paul McCartney having to fly into John Lennon international airport. Can’t we name all airports in a way that will annoy one specific person?

  5. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    They could have named it Hitler-Stalin-Vader International Child Shriek Zone, and I’d still prefer it to Dulles.

  6. thecalmone says

    I love the fact that the airport in Rio de Janeiro is named after Antonio Carlos Jobim.

  7. tubi says


    Butch O’Hare was a Navy pilot and Medal of Honor recipient who was shot down over the Pacific in 1943 and never found. Among other things.

    When I lived in Texas I often had to use what used to be Houston Intercontinental. It’s now Houston-Bush. Ugh.

  8. sundiver says

    Nepenthe: Chicago O’Hare was named after a WWII fighter pilot/Medal of Honor winner from Chicago. Its original name was Orchard Park. Dulles was named after one of the Dulles brothers, which one I don’t know and don’t care. I kinda like the Phoenix airport’s name, Sky Harbor even though the name doesn’t give a clue as to where it is. Being a native of the DC area, I still call it National Airport without refering to the senile batfart’s name.

  9. Louis says

    Milk was a good guy, deserving of honour, but this is not far enough.

    SF airport should be named Folsom Street International Fuckport and cater only to various species of slut

    That would be anyone who has NORTY SECKS, i.e. extramarital sex, homosexual sex, sex using birth control, any kind of sex that isn’t “lights out, socks on, brace yourself, brief pumping, dissatisfaction and self loathing”, sex where people enjoy themselves, sex where the woman is not “respectable”…see previous item, sex that those OTHER people have, and no sex at all. Those people are really kinky. ;-)

    And because of Teh Patriarchy I think that the statue outside should be a large golden vulva. With a happy face tattooed on one labium. And the runways should be in the shape of penises.

    Okay, what the fuck is in this coffee?


  10. Draken says

    If airports are to be named after the person(s) having had most influence on them, I’d suggest Osama Bin Laden int’l airport.

  11. toro says

    Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “Comedians and jazz musicians have been more comforting and enlightening to me than preachers or politicians or philosophers or poets or painters or novelists of my time. Historians in the future, in my opinion, will congratulate us on very little other than our clowning and our jazz.”

    May I propose: The Gracie Allen Airport.

  12. Randomfactor says

    I’m just sad they decided not to name the local sewer plant after Dubya after all.

  13. frankb says

    In the rest of the world sports teams don’t have nicknames like “Colts” or “Badgers”. Airports shouldn’t have personal names either. New York’s two biggest airports should be renamed “New York L” and “New York K”. Or you can go part way and call them Gordy and Kenny.

  14. bradleybetts says

    I must admit, I was completely unaware of Harvey Milk until the movie “Milk” came out. Now that I know more about him, I’d say he was certainly deserving of some sort of honour, though I do also agree with Gregory in Seattle and Nepenthe re. naming airports after anything other than their location. Perhaps they could name some part of the building after him? “The Harvey Milk Departure Lounge”, or something…

  15. scottrobson says

    While I love traveling, and aeroplanes, and the sites and scenes of the airport (you can tell I don’t travel as much as I would like, right?) I think we can find better things to name after Harvey Milk. Airport names should definitely be descriptive. Bridges, parks, buildings… much better options.

    In addition to that, Reagan National should go back to being Washington National. Nothing personal, even if I don’t like Reagan, this just causes unnecessary confusion.

  16. larrylyons says

    The DC (actually the airport is in Virginia) airport was originally named DC National Airport. Unfortunately Grover Norquist and his Reagan project managed to get it changed – over the objections of DC, Arlington and the rest of northern Virginia. It ended up costing millions to change signs in the Metro, highway signs maps etc. And of course the bill mandating the change made no provision for funding it. Typical right wing republican method of operating.

  17. says

    at least they’re not naming them after corporations yet, the way they do with sports stadiums and increasingly other buildings serving the public, as well.

  18. tbp1 says

    I certainly hate flying into Reagan Airport. Also Bush Airport in Houston. I kinda agree that airports really should just be named after the main city they serve, and that the three-letter codes should be changed accordingly. SDF for Louisville? YUL for Montreal? That doesn’t even agree with the airport’s name, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. I know it will never happen, but…

  19. poxyhowzes says

    If you don’t like the name of the dedicatee, you often have recourse to the three-letter IATA code. National Airport is still DCA for all the re-naming exercise, and I assume that if it becomes “San Francisco International Harvey Milk Airport, it will still be SFO. Granted, Dulles is “IAD,” where the “D” stands for Dulles, I believe. (Maybe it should be re-named “Dulles Dishwater.”)

    One of the clumsiest re-namings I’m aware of is right up the coast from DCA and IAD: What started out as “Friendship” Airport south (waaaay south) of Baltimore, became Baltimore-Washington, and then Baltimore-Washington International, Airport, code BWI. Then, in 2005 or so some political geniuses decided that proper recognition of Supreme-Court Justice and Baltimore native Thurgood Marshall required that it be re-named “Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. It is still, however, BWI , and it’s usually referred to these days in flight-attendant announcements as “BWI-Marshall.”

  20. opposablethumbs says

    Airports are usually pretty unpleasant places, though – all panic and stress and overpriced coffee, and all you want to do is leave as quickly as possible – so although I would go for this name-change I’d go even more for naming something better after Harvey Milk. Like the biggest main road, or the biggest park, or the most attractive neighbourhood, or the port or a shorefront … I don’t know, whatever San Franciscans notice and love most about their city?

  21. Larry says

    My experience is locals ignore airport name changes. Shortly after 9/11, Newark International Airport became Newark Liberty International Airport. But everyone I know in NJ still just calls it Newark Airport.

    But I suppose it would get Harvey Milk some more name recognition, so I don’t have any specific objections as long as San Francisco is still prominently in the name.

  22. bradleybetts says

    “But I suppose it would get Harvey Milk some more name recognition”; plus piss off the Fundies and Conservatives no end :D

  23. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    There has been a push to rename an airport in England to Ozzy Ozbourne Airport… I could dig taking a trip from Harvey Milk to Ozzy and back.

  24. says

    Random thoughts:

    I flew out of Reagan coming home from the Reason Rally (which seems ironic in some way I haven’t bothered to work out). Seems like a functional enough airport, anyway, with Metro service right to the terminal entrance.

    Don’t understimate the snob factor: it really marks one out as a Sophisticated Traveler[tm] to be able to refer to one’s itinerary as involving eg. “O’Hare”, “Pearson” etc, instead of “Chicago”, “Toronto”, etc. Anyways, even place-names aren’t necessarily informative — “Heathrow” and “Gatwick” don’t really convey “London, England” unless you know already.

    Codes I love: LAX for LA, and of course YOW for Ottawa, which sort of conveys the experience of getting in late at night and having negotiate with Canadian Customs and drag one’s luggage out to the parkade…..

  25. Erp says

    “I don’t know, whatever San Franciscans notice and love most about their city?”

    I don’t think they are going to rename the Golden Gate Bridge. They might rename the Bay Bridge.

    Personally I think the Emperor Norton Airport. :-)

  26. tubi says

    The IATA codes usually do have some relationship to the airport name, if not the city. Montreal is YUL because all Canadian codes start with Y, which neecssarily limits the options. I don’t know where the UL part comes from though.

    Louisville is Standiford Field, hence, SDF. Sometimes it’s historical, for example, Orlando International used to be an Army airfield called McCoy, so its code is MCO. Spokane used to be Geiger Field, so it is GEG.

  27. tubi says

    I once saw an itinerary from Wenatchee, WA to Fresno, CA.

    The code for Wenatchee is EAT. Fresno is FAT.

  28. DLC says

    Doesn’t Harvey Milk deserve a better memorial than a place everyone dreads going to ?
    Don’t get me wrong, I think he deserves a memorial place too. Perhaps a park, or a Hospital.

  29. tbp1 says

    Actually I live in Louisville, so I know why the airport code is SDF, but virtually know one here, even true locals (which I am not; I’ve been here a mere 18.5 years), knows who the heck Standiford was or why he got the airport named for him. And there are weirdness like the code for O’Hare being ORD, for Orchard Field, which is what the airport was originally called. So it’s two steps away from the logical CHI.

    Not the biggest deal in the world, and unlikely to change, but I travel enough that the disconnect between city names, airport names, and airport codes is a bit annoying at times. I do find the history between the names a little interesting, and will sometimes spend a few moments looking it up when I travel, especially to a new place.

  30. jamiejag says

    Every time I drive by that statue I think to myself “Uh oh! Has somebody already called in a silver alert to report that guy wandering around outside the terminal or should I do it?”

  31. Rey Fox says

    I didn’t even know it was called Reagan. I’ve always known it as SFO. (from flying out of it a grand total of one time)

  32. Larry Clapp says

    > Who else cringes when they have to fly into Reagan National Airport?

    Not I. Couldn’t care less. I usually just call it DCA anyway. :)

  33. Trickster Goddess says

    I read an article a while ago about the Sioux City Gateway airport which has the code SUX. They felt it was rather negative, so they petitioned the FAA for different code. They were offered GAY, short for Gateway.

    The decided to stick with SUX and turned it into an ironic marketing campaign.

  34. says

    DCA is, was and always shall be “National Airport”

    When people refer to it as “Reagan” airport, I always ask “Who?”
    When the inevitable reply “Reagan… You know… Ronald Reagan” comes, I return
    “Oh yeah, the old movie chimp guy.. The Butcher of El Salvador and seller of arms to Iran…. THAT guy. Why did they name an airport after him?”

    I’ve had some very interesting conversations start that way {evilgrin}

  35. pascale68 says

    As a long-time SF resident, I love this. This would be less for the locals (who all know who Harvey Milk is anyway) than for those outside of SF. If we named a street after him, most people living elsewhere would probably never hear about it, but an airport name? I especially like the idea of it pissing off the fundies having to fly to SFO.

  36. hoku says


    You mean like the Manchester United Red Devils or Arsenal Gunners? They have them, they just don’t use them as much as we do.

    More generally and on topic, Bill Clinton also has an Airport named after him, as does HW and JFK, as will Obama someday. This is America, we name things after presidents. I personally prefer local names like SFO or SEATAC, but if I had to pick a person for that one Milk is a damn good choice. Also good