The Essentials

Know Your 3-Letter Airport Code

Airport three letter codes can often be confusing or misleading.


JFK? Most folks know that it means John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. But what about other airports?


Take Madison, Wisconsin for instance. If you think the code is “MAD,” you’re heading in the wrong direction. You’ll land in Madrid.


Madison, Wisconsin’s code is actually MSN.


Are you going to Fresno? Don’t be insulted if your bag tags read “FAT.” It has nothing to do with your weight. It stands for Fresno Air Terminal.


Do you have a ticket with the code “LOL”? Don’t laugh. It stands for Lovelock City, Nevada.


What about “OMG?” You’re headed for Omega Airport in Namibia.


So what’s the translation here? Never get your boarding pass or bag tags without first confirming that three letter code is actually where you — and your luggage — are going.