Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Review: Airport

Title: Airport


Author: Arthur Hailey

Date: 1968

Publisher: Doubleday

ISBN: none

Length: 440 pages

Quote: “Lincoln International Airport, Illinois, was functioning, though with difficulty.”

And here’s a long novel, with serious literary aspirations, about the lives of the different people who make that airport function, as airports did in 1968: controllers, pilots, ticket agents, flight attendants, customers, and the snowstorm that is the main source of the difficulty. In a real airport it’s possible to find enough drama to spin 440 pages out of, in one night—even if it’s not a snowy night—and that’s what Hailey has done.

There are the tiresome people who want to restrict the noise and traffic of the airport.

There’s a couple who will be divorced, by mutual consent and thus more or less happily, by the end of the book.

There’s a stewardess who’s crying because the passengers are grumpy.

There’s a madman with a bomb.

There’s a sweet little old lady who’s made her post-retirement career of sneaking onto planes without paying for tickets.(“They never do prosecute anybody.”)

There’s a frazzled air traffic controller who just might commit suicide.

There are pilots flying solely on instruments, unable to see out their iced-up windows.

There’s a pregnant stewardess, and a married pilot who thinks she should have an abortion.

There are "shoeshine boys" setting up stands in violation of an exclusive contract with the one the airport manager has authorized to operate.

There’s some explicit sex, some violence, and some bad language, but not more than anyone travelling through a real airport might reasonably expect to notice, and they’re narrated in a realistic, not sensational, manner.

All these elements come together to form a rather simple plot, the overall effect of which is to explain why airports and air travel are even more unpleasant nowadays.

In the 1970s Airport was taken seriously, as a book everyone needed to read. Now it’s become a period piece, but if you like action-adventure stories, it’s still a pretty good read.


Arthur Hailey no longer needs the dollar he'd get if this were a Fair Trade Book. (You can use the search box to discover Fair Trade Books reviewed at this site.) Our minimum price is still $5 per book, $5 per package, $1 per online payment, to either address at the bottom of the screen. You could, however, fit at least one standard-size Fair Trade Book (standard-size adult novel or nonfiction book) into the package with Airport and pay only the one $5 shipping fee, so please feel free to browse and order.