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Top 10 Airport Movies Part 1

Long layovers are a harsh reality of air travel, but the hours spent languishing in an airport terminal don't have to be a painful exercise in self-pity and patience. A great way to kill time is to settle in with the laptop and a good movie, which is why we have compiled our favourite airport-themed films.

To clarify, these aren't airplane movies, they are airport movies. So while Airplane! might be the funniest movie of all time (which was proven in a scientific study), and does feature a few hilarious terminal scenes, we are looking for movies that revolve around the terminal. Hope your favourite is on the list and if we've missed one or you disagree please put it in the comments.

Due to massive in-fighting the list has been split in two. Chris' five favourites will run today and Jenny's tomorrow or the next day depending on how long it takes her to decide whether Sleepless in Seattle qualifies.

Die Hard 2

John McClane really can't catch a break. All he wanted to do was pick up his wife from the airport, but rogue military types have taken over Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and he's the only one who can stop them. Oh, and it's also Christmas. The terminal itself is a main character as McClane navigates air ducts, does battle on baggage belts and eventually makes his way on to the tarmac to take down the bad guys. Look for the latest installment of the Die Hard franchise coming out later this year A Good Day to Die Hard. And no, that title is not a joke.


Airport is the gold standard by which all other airport movies are judged. Released in 1970, the movie stars Hollywood heavyweights like Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jacqueline Bisset and George Kennedy as individuals employed at the fictional Lincoln International Airport in Chicago struggling to cope with the worst storm in 25 years. Helen Hayes earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in the film and Maureen Stapleton won a Golden Globe. Dealing with real-life airport issues like noise-abatement, customer-service complaints and flight delays, the movie was a huge success, earning over $100 million at the box office (adjusted to inflation this is more than $500 million), making it one of the Top 50 money-makers in Hollywood history. More than just a good movie, Airport spawned a whole genre of film, birthed several sequels and was the inspiration for the spoof series Airplane! A must watch for airport aficionados.

Pushing Tin

One of the most stressful jobs in the world is mined for laughs in Pushing Tin, which revolves around the world of air-traffic controllers. John Cusack is the undisputed best in the business until Billy Bob Thornton shows up with his crazy wife (Angelina Jolie, who was his real wife at the time) and turns his world upside down. 

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Featuring two of the greatest comedic actors of all time (John Candy and Steve Martin), Planes, Trains & Automobiles follows a weary traveller trying to find his way home for Thanksgiving after his flight is cancelled due to bad weather. The scene where an overly-cheery desk agent deflects the profanity-laden tirade of Steve Martin should be shown in customer service training for dealing with difficult passengers.

The Langoliers

This little-known gem paints a haunting portrait of a world in which everyone has disappeared. Ten passengers wake up from a mid-flight snooze only to find everybody else on the plane has vanished (!). They manage to land the aircraft at an abandoned terminal and from there attempt to figure out what happened to everybody else, and what might be coming for them. The eerie thriller is adapted from a Stephen King story and features the author himself in a cameo as one of the character's bosses. The Langoliers aired as a two-part television movie on ABC and was shot almost entirely in and around the Bangor International Airport (BGR).

Honourable Mentions: 12 Monkeys, Home Alone, Jet Lag, Airport '77, Airport '75 and of course Airplane!

Again, if you have ones we missed or think we've included one that's not so great put it in the comments.


1 Comment

  • Cherie wrote on Jan 14 2013 AT 2:27 PM

    Sorry Jenny, but I have to give it to Chris on this one...Pushing Tin is my all-time favourite. Although I enjoyed the Die Hard series, I'm going to pick up a copy of the other 3 top mentions along with 12 Monkeys and Airplane from the honourable mentions list as refreshers (what's better than Brad Pitt and the top scorer of # laughs / minute?).

    Kudos all around though for a fun blog session :)
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