For Your Consideration

I don't know about you but I am just writhing in my chair in anticipation of the announcement of the 2007 Airport of the Year Award. Will Singapore's Changi run away with it again, or is there room in our hearts for a newcomer?

I know it's too late to nominate but I believe the gong should go to the teeny tiny gem that is Sumburgh Airport, the bustling hub of the Shetland Isles.

It may lack the razzle dazzle of your Heathrows or LAXes with its crumbling high school looks and absence of restaurants, Duty Free or vibrating massage chairs, but Sumburgh would charm the pants off the most hardened traveller.


– Instead of the usual fast food monoliths, Sumburgh has a cosy cafeteria with a wholesome K-Mart style, with fresh scones and traybakes made by the local hotel. There's even a real live bloke frying up eggs and bacon and black pudding, ready to plop onto a fat bread roll for your dining pleasure.

– The Hotel makes sandwiches for the outbound flights too; so going home feels like a jolly picnic. No dodgy pretzels here!


– The normal procedure for returning a hire car involves a surly bastard inspecting your vehicle with a magnifying glass and questioning every scratch. But at Sumburgh Airport there's no one waiting – there's just a little slot in the office window for you to chuck the keys into.

– Old red tractors at work!


– Instead of warnings about illegal parking or unattended luggage, the only announcement we heard over the airport PA was, "Attention ladies and gentleman, if you are the owner of a wee powder blue Nissan Micra, you've left your lights on!"

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

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15 thoughts on “For Your Consideration

  1. Sounds like a gorgeous little airport! The only airport I’ve enjoyed visiting recently has been Adelaide airport. Sydney Airport makes me want to weep, especially the international arrivals part.
    How long did the flight take?

  2. Sounds better than the last flight I was on, where they announced:

    “You may have noticed a little confusion up the front. Actually, we seem to have 49 passengers but there are only 48 booked. This plane is going to BIRMINGHAM. Would anyone like to get off? No?” And we left.

    I’m usually a very relaxed flyer but I managed to convince myself there was a terrorist on board. If there was, he/she didn’t do anything.

  3. Well, it’s about time that the quirky little runts got the accolades they deserve. Sumburgh Airport sounds like the kind of bright cousin you see only once every two years at a family reunion. He’s the airport who might pass around a bong after all the adults have gone to sleep, the airport who will get you hooked on strange music, the airport who will dare you to skinny dip in a toxic lake, and the airport who will remind you at all times that it isn’t an airport.

    Why the New Urbanists have failed to remark upon the great possibilities of small quirky airports is something of a mystery. Perhaps because buildings oriented around getting people the hell out of Dodge make folks feel uncomfortable. If they’re leaving town, we may as well not concentrate upon the architecture. After all, it’s not as if the buildings are going to be leaving any legacy now, are they?

    As for the surly bastard, well he might just be pondering the spin on the old red tractor that never happened. The poor sod went to the pub, chatted up numerous birds, and, despite tantalizing prospects of “a tractor ride on the tarmac,” he had several drinks thrown in his face and was told to “go back to the farms where your kind belongs.”

    It’s a tough job being employed at Sumburgh Airport, particularly when there really isn’t a good spot for the Kleenex on a tractor to help wipe away a lonely mess.

  4. I saw those pics of you that SJ took. You are such a hottie, girl. I remember reading you when you were an invisible creature and I thought to myself ‘I’ll bet she is HOTT.” And I was right!

    Now that you’ve been to blogher I expect to see ads here, missy! Because what is a blog without advertisements?

  5. I’m just jealous that you’ve been to so many airports. I just saw the new Jason Bourne movie and at one point they were trying to escape from I think Madrid (lots of cities in this one) and he said — If we drive fast we can make the ferry (from someplace to someplace) and I just thought – oh I wish I’d traveled around enough to think like that!
    I’m not a stay-at-home; we travel a good deal, especially in Europe. But that kind of fluency – “owning” huge chunks of the world – is just lovely. Thanks for giving me a little vicarious taste.

  6. Well, I have certainly been thinking about small airports in Scotland, I might just have to take a look for myself.

    Landed at melbourne’s Avalon Airport last December, exited the tiny building to find myself in a paddock with a couple of cows, hills in the distance and a huge blue sky.

    Thirty billion blowflies celebrated my arrival in a glorious display of acrobatics around my head.

    I thought to myself, I must have landed on a film set….

  7. i figured it was you fifi dear 🙂

    and there will never ever be advertisments on here, unless i am pimping my own wares! hehe.

  8. Love it! My friend Mary is from Shetland and she never told me any of that. Nor did my daughter (K) tell me that stuff about the extra terrorist/passenger. Aarrgghh.

  9. Singleton airport is like a pretend airport – or a demountable school classroom. I was the only passenger. An older lady made me a cuppa and said ‘my husband’ll be here soon’. then he pulled up in the 8 seat plane and said ‘sit anywhere except next to me – the wife’ll get jealous’ and off we went.

  10. That wouldn’t be international, now though, would it. Speaking as someone who is both English and Scottish and considers herself a Brit, not an international citizen. Bugger off the rest of the world you can’t come in on our UK party.

    Is it late and have I had one too many glasses of wine?

  11. I work in a book/CD/DVD/magazine store, and am bewildered by the enormous shelf space devoted to magazines about airports. I can certainly understand a book, taking one on a tour of the world’s great airports, but a monthly magazine about them? How much can change each month? Ah well, perhaps you should write an article for them on Sumburgh.

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