Freetown-Lungi International Airport, Sierra Leone. Aka. FNA. How can you add that in a sentence? 

Why do you pick just that particular travel destination? Sometimes there may only be one reason to go to a specific airport or to travel between several; The airport codes. I have looked at some of the best three letter abbreviations. And combinations thereof.

The International Air Transport Association administer the almost 9500 IATA codes that are used to easily identify the location of airports and that you can see on checked-in luggage and some websites that sell flight tickets. Some of these codes make for amusing reading alone or in combination with others.

Yes, I do admit to being a total airport nerd. Then again, I have been to a couple. And I insist that travellers kiss better.

There are of course some that fit in well with the aviation industry.
AIR, BUS (Aripuana, Brazil; Batum Georgia)
BOE, ING (Boundji, Republic of the Congo; Lago Argentina, Argentina)
FLY, ING (La Guaira, Venezuela; Lago Argentina)
FOK, KER (Suffolk County, USA; Kerman, Iran)

People are certainly not left out. How about the following line-up?
(Marseille, France; Moudjeria, Mauritania; Da Nang, Vietnam; Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu; Brownsville, USA; Borgo, Burkina Faso; Sishen, South Africa; Kristianstad, Sweden; Dornoch, UK; Columbia, USA; Singapore)

Animals are of course represented.
(San Juan Aposento, Peru; Barretos, Brazil; Beagle Bay, Australia;  Benguela, Angola; New Bight, Bahamas; Yellowstone, USA; Coquimbo, Chile; Dongola, Sudan; Leconi, Gabon; Pitinga, Brazil)

So is food and drinks.
(Alpine, USA; Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda; Budapest, Hungary; Buenaventura, Colombia; Wenatchee, USA; Jambol, Bulgaria; St. Petersburg, USA; Tela, Honduras)

And then there are some airport codes that are just fun, strange or head shaking.
(Altamira, Brazil; Barksdale, USA; Bodø, Norway; Butler, USA; Ciampino, Italy; Fresno, USA; Freida River, Papua New Guinea; Hot Springs, USA; Funafuti, Tuvalu; Konge, Papua New Guinea;Derby Field, USA; Omega, Namibia; Perm, Russia; Pocos de Caldas, Brazil; Langgur, Indonesia; Sembach, Germany; Teresina, Brazil; Willow, USA)

Sometimes there are stretches that you may or may not want to travel:
COP-KIL-LER (Cooperstown, USA; Kilwa, DRC; Leinster, Australia)
FRA-NCE (Frankfurt – Nice)
HOT-DOG (Hot Springs, USA – Dongola, Sudan)
IAM-SEX-COD (In Amenas, Algeria – Sembach, Germany – Yellowstonem, USA)
ILO-VEY-OUA-LOT (Iloilo, Philippines – Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland – Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso – Lewis Lockport, USA)
MAD-COW-DIS-EZE (Madrid – Coquimbo, Chile – Loubomo, Republic of the Congo – Buenos Aires)
NOR-WAY (Nordfjordur, Iceland – Greene County, USA)
SIN-FUL (Singapore – Fullerton, USA)
THE-FAT-BUM (Teresina, Brazil – Fresno, USA – Butler, USA)
TIC-TAC (Tinac Island, Marshall Island – Tacloban, Philippines)

Of course, the combination of codes don’t get real far out or head shaking until they are put together into rather specific and complicated itineraries.

(Finley, Australia – Lago Argentino, Argentina – Guangzhou, China – Novato, USA – Benbecula, United Kingdom – Wenatchee, USA – Eneabba West, Australia – Yangambi, Democratic Republic of the Congo – Thompson, Canada – Lago Argentina – Itambacuri, Brazil – Sucre, Bolivia – Alicante, Spain – Coolangatta, Australia)

(Franz Josef, New Zealand – Dourados, Brasil – Waverney, Australia – Britton, USA – Tarama, Japan – Vernal, USA – Tonu, Papua New Guinea – Ormara, Pakistan –  Ayawasi, Indonesia – Tompkins County, USA)

And finally, my favourite air itinerary:
(Gunter, USA – Nare, Colombia – Garaina, Papa New Guinea – Pinto Martins, Brazil – Singapore – Teresina, Brazil – Aripuana, Brazil)

I’ll leave it at that. Which funny airport codes or combinations did I miss?

You can search here.

While I am at it, a few other airport related stories
Truly international airports sprawling more than one country.
The world’s busiest air route is in…Korea.
How to book cheap plane tickets.
Just another 20 travel tips.

The article first appeared on, a website specializing in aviation news. It has later closed down. 


  1. Given that the airport codes can be made up using letters a-z, there are 15600 possible 3-letter combinations of these letters. With 9500 IATA codes in use, there's a pretty high chance that anything can be "written" with combinations of these codes, i.e. if you randomly write down any 3 letter combination, there's a 61% (9500/15600) chance that an IATA code for this combination exists…

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