Hollywood Burbank Airport
Source: Hollywood Burbank Airport.

Other Airports Should Follow the Lead of This Airport — If Only For One Reason

After 14 years as Bob Hope Airport, the name has changed back to Hollywood Burbank Airport — a name this airport in California has not been officially called since 1978.

Other Airports Should Follow the Lead of This Airport — If Only For One Reason

Originally known as United Airport in 1930 after the airline, the airport has had its name changed to — yes, believe it or not — Hollywood-Burbank Airport in 1967.

In 1978, the name changed again to Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport — and despite two more name changes, the entity which oversees the operations of the airport is still to this day known as the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena-Airport Authority.

Those two other name changes were Bob Hope Airport in 2003 — in honor of the late comedian — before reverting back to Hollywood Burbank Airport without the hyphen. Legally, however, the name of the airport remains Bob Hope Airport — but it will no longer be known as that name.

Why was the name of the airport changed again earlier this year?

“A lot of people east of the Rockies didn’t know where Bob Hope Airport was,” Lucy M. Burghdorf — who is the director of public affairs and communications for the airport — said, according to this article written by Mary Forgione of the Los Angeles Times. “Was it in Palm Springs? Or Vietnam?”

New Terminal

After 87 years, Hollywood Burbank Airport will finally get a new terminal as a result of the approval of Measure B by Burbank voters on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

The airport “is working with the community and neighboring cities to build a safer, 14-gate replacement terminal that is farther from the runways and meets current earthquake design standards. The replacement terminal will provide the same convenience and easy access that air travelers now enjoy while providing new amenities. It is a $400 million investment in Burbank at no cost to local taxpayers.”

The new terminal is expected to open to the public sometime in the year 2022.

Why Name Airports After People?

As I first did in this article last year, I am going to give you a little quiz — and please do not use any aid or assistance in deriving the answers, as they should be strictly confined to your knowledge and memory.

Please tell me who are the following people and for what they are known:

  1. Edward O’Hare
  2. Edward Lawrence Logan
  3. Henri Coandă
  4. Ben Elbert Douglas, Sr.
  5. Donald Sangster
  6. John Foster Dulles
  7. Francisco de Sá Carneiro
  8. Lester B. Pearson
  9. William R. Hopkins
  10. William P. Hobby
  11. Gerald R. Ford
  12. Jorge Newbery
  13. Eugene M. Bradley
  14. Benito Juárez
  15. Pat McCarran

You probably know who are one of those people listed — perhaps more than one. Chances are, however, that you are not familiar with all of the names on that list other than the fact that international airports are named after them.


People should not be idolized by naming airports and highways — and erecting monuments and statues — after them, in my opinion. In many cases, doing so creates more problems than solving them.

I have asked this question before — specifically, in this article: what is the point of naming an airport after someone? Why must naming airports be more complicated than necessary? Why not just name it after the destination it serves, as with Hollywood Burbank Airport? That practice would be significantly less expensive, reduce political wrangling, practically eliminate controversial issues — and writing out the full name of the airport would overall be easier:

  • Denver International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • Miami International Airport

If possible, I would even consider changing the airport codes to reflect going back to basics:

  • Chicago International Airport — CIA
  • New York International Airport — NYI
  • Boston International Airport — BIA

In locations with more than one airport, perhaps differentiate them by either purpose or direction:

  • Houston International Airport
  • Houston Domestic Airport
  • Houston Airport East

These name changes address the issue to which Lucy M. Burghdorf alluded: with the aforementioned name changes, people would know which cities or locations those airports served.

Although I personally did not think that Bob Hope was all that funny, I do respect his work as an actor and as a comedian. To me, he should be remembered through the very media he helped to transform: his movies and television shows — not by the renaming of an airport. He also pioneered entertaining the military — even when times were gloomy.

Similar to Hollywood Burbank Airport, I personally believe that John F. Kennedy International Airport should go by its original name: New York International Airport. The name says it all. It is simple and to the point. That is so much better than its subsequent names, one of which was Idlewild Airport. What is an Idlewild, anyway? Is that what happens when an airplane engine races uncontrollably while the aircraft sits on a tarmac?

Going one step further — in my opinion — all areas served by a single airport should have that airport named after that area — such as Atlanta Airport, Memphis Airport, or Miami Airport. Why use the word international, anyway — other than as a differentiator from another airport within its proximity from which flights do not serve international locations? “Oh, I would much rather use that airport because it has the word international in its name.”

I will be the first to admit that Brian Cohen International Airport does not quite smoothly roll off the tongue; nor does BCIA or Brian Cohen Expressway. I am not sure I want something named after me to be run over by millions of cars per year or have some Boeing 747-800 airplane land on it — and be marked with oil splatters and skid marks — and even though my bodily functions currently operate normally, I really do not want people to say that the Brian Cohen is “backed up” again…

Source: Hollywood Burbank Airport.

  1. a unique name gives an airport a bit of character. [CITY NAME] International is so blah. Something like Logan, Pudong, or Heathrow is instantly recognizable. But ridiculously long names like “Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport ” for BWI isn’t all that helping either (17 syllables).

    But I also dislike those that entirely threw their city/metro away in favor of the person’s name. Who the heck would know “O. R. Tambo International Airport” is referring to JNB unless you’re an av-geek ?

    HKG is known locally in a colloquial manner as “Chek Lap Kok Airport” because that’s the name of the island that was reclaimed and landfilled (“Chek Lap” in Cantonese is a type of fish that frequented those waters before). But since HKIA never used that name formally, nearly no one foreign calls it by that, which is a shame because HKIA is definitely as blah as one gets.

    As for your proposals for Chicago and New York, how would you apply that considering CHI comprises ORD+MDW and NYC comprises JFK+LGA+EWR. Even if you’re one of those anti-Newark purists, there’s still JFK+LGA in contention for “NYI”.

    1. For New York: New York International Airport, New York Domestic (or some other term) airport, and Newark International Airport.

      For Chicago: Chicago International Airport and Chicago Domestic (or some other term) airport.

      I agree that certain names are indeed recognizable, henry LAX — but does Logan International Airport really give more character than Boston International Airport, for example?

      1. In Chicago, Midway isn’t just domestic though. They have flights on Volaris, Porter, and Southwest has a couple international flights out of there

        1. I know, Chris L — which leads to another question: what do you think of airports which have the word international in their names but only have one or a few international flights?

  2. @ henry LAX

    “Who the heck would know “O. R. Tambo International Airport” is referring to JNB unless you’re an av-geek ?”

    This might be true of Americans but Oliver Tambo is well known as a South African politician to the rest of the world and so it’s not that great a leap of the imagination. I know who Gerald Ford was and Benito Juarez – don’t have a clue who any of the others are as a none American, and aside from Logan, O’Hare and Dulles I have no clue where the associated airports are located. The point remains the same however that turning an airport into a memorial is highly culturally specific and probably unhelpful.

    I’m largely in agreement with the point of the article although would suggest that JFK and Heathrow are the exceptions that prove the rule. Then again, non AV geeks tend in my experience to just use the geographic “name” in any event.

    1. The name Henri Coandă International Airport came to my mind when reading your comment, Evan; but its code is OTP, which represents where the airport is actually located: Otopeni and not Bucharest.

  3. Like who is William B Hartfield or Maynard Jackson for that matter. I liked the Bob Hope airport name. I think most people east of the rockies like me knew where it was but we also know where LAX is.

  4. I have a similar irritation with bridges and tunnels named after people instead of what they connect. After a generation or two, no one really knows who these people are, whereas geographic names apply in perpetuity. Oh, and the cost to taxpayers for these name changes. I suspect that these honorific name changes would occur much less often if the proponents had to raise the funds to pay for the cost of the change.

    1. Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge? Robert F. Kennedy Bridge? Jackie Robinson Parkway?

      Those will always be the Queensboro or 59th Street Bridge; the Triboro Bridge; and Interboro Parkway to me, BenL – NYC.

      Then again, the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge are ingrained in my mind — with the bigger “crime” being the $15.00 toll…

    2. Then again, I drove through the Robin Williams tunnel yesterday and it brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. And started a nice conversation with my kids. That’s how honorific naming is supposed to work.

  5. US Navy owns IATA codes starting with “N”, so NYI is unlikely.

    I’m in the “if it aint broken , don’t fix it” camp. I don’t see the point of a name-change if it doesn’t solve a problem or improve efficiency. Today, we’re talking about airport names, tomorrow it’ll city, state & country names (many are named after real or legendary people).

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