More Weird and Wacky Airport Code Names

Where in the World is OGG

Ever been to OGG? Sure you have – if you’ve flown to Maui. OGG is the airport code for Kalului Airport on the popular Hawaiian island.

The origins of OGG are interesting: it honors Bertram Hogg, a pilot who helped build air travel in Hawaii. They couldn’t assign the code HOG as that was already taken by Cuba’s Holguin Airport, and forget HAM - it’s the property of the Hamburg, Germany airport.

Some origins are easier to figure out than others. For example, JFK and DFW are the airport codes for New York’s Kennedy and Dallas-Ft. Worth. But are you familiar with SUX?

Get Your SUX Souvenirs Here

Yes, SUX – the pride of Sioux City, Iowa. Those clever Hawkeyes can laugh at themselves – and turn a buck – by selling SUX souvenirs like t-shirts and mugs (including several emblazoned with the logo, “The Joy of Sux”).

They have it easy compared to some airports. I think a preschooler had a hand in selecting the codes for Russia’s Bolshoye Savino Airport – PEE – and poor Brazil’s Poco De Caldas Airport which has POO. The airport in Rotorua, New Zealand is designated as ROT and Louisiana’s Barksdale Air Force Base is unfortunately coded, BAD. At least OGG is a friendly-sounding name but sorry, you boot-loving fans, there is no UGG.

Go ahead, look up the airport codes yourself and find your own favorites.

In case you’re wondering how these codes came into being and what they mean, I gave a brief explanation in an earlier article on airport codes that mentioned some of my favorite weird and wacky codes including FAT and GRR, but let me expand a bit now – and give you some more of my top picks.

Where the Airport Codes Come From

But first, where in the world did these codes come from?

Easy: the assignment of the codes is administered by the Montreal-based International Air Transport Association (IATA) for locations (mainly airports) around the globe.

You can figure out most of these codes yourself; for example, LGA is LaGuardia in the Big Apple, HOU is for Houston’s Hobby Airport, and SLC naturally enough stands for Salt Lake City.

And there’s LAX – what’s the “X” stand for? Nothing. It goes back to the early days of air travel when airports used the same two letter codes that the National Weather Service used in its city-coding system, never dreaming there’d ever be a need more for more letters because of a need for more combinations. But they did need more of course, and at first all they did was add an “X” to the end of the existing code, which is why we have LAX and even PHX for Phoenix.

Codes That Make No Sense

And I’ll thank the pilot behind the SkyGod website for explaining Chicago’s ORD when the airport is called O’Hare. It seems O’Hare is in the vicinity of a now long-gone community called Orchard Place – and ORD stands for “Orchard”. Nope, they didn’t bother to change it when the airport was renamed for WW II ace Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare in 1949 (maybe because OHR is already being used in Germany, and OHA is claimed by New Zealand).

If you like puzzlers, be sure and see my previous airport code article on why Nashville’s has the code BNA and Knoxville’s designation is TYS.

Learn the Airport Code for Chicken, Alaska

Most colorful airport codes? My vote goes to Alaska, where they have a lot of rural airports and very few roads (according to the state, 82% of Alaska’s communities are not served by roads).

So, the people there fly a lot. In and out of airports like EEK, the code for the small community of Eek in western Alaska; or they fly to and from WOW for Willow, GNU for Goodnews Bay and UNK for Unalakleet Airport. Or in and out of the airport at Chicken, Alaska or CHX.

Yes, good old Chicken, where they have a wonderful website that says the population of Chicken is “usually between 17 and 37, depending on who you ask”). No doubt the Chickenites would have loved to have had the CHK code but unfortunately, Chickasha Municipal Airport in Oklahoma was already using it, and the next best code, FWL is the exclusive property of Farewell, Alaska.

More Weird and Wacky Airport Codes

Want some more? How about Harbour (Eolie Island) Airport in Italy (ZIP) or Dumai, Indonesia (DUM) or Headingly, Australia (HIP) or Hot Springs, Arkansas (HOT) or Norway’s Bodo Airport (BOO)? Pick your favorite.

And let me know what they are, below.

Photo of SUX souvenir bumper sticker from Sioux City Airport

More from Rick Seaney:

The Wacky Logic Behind Airport Codes

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Published: September 22, 2010