Airport Codes

About Air Codes (continued)

The United Nations developed a simplified system for all airports outside the US. This is called the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) code. It provides a four-character designation for every airport in the world. In this system, the first two letters are intended to identify the country and the last two are intended to identify the airport. In the UK, Kent International Airport has the ICAO code of EGMH. However, the same airport has a Untied States IATA code of MSE. In the US, the ICAO code is simply the IATA code with the letter K added at the beginning. Kent County International Airport (otherwise known as the Gerald Ford Airport) is located in Grand Rapids Michigan. It has an IATA code of GRR. The ICAO code is KGRR.

Then, in the 1960s, the Federal Aviation Authority stepped into the mix, and created codes for use only within the United States. Kent International Airport does not have an FAA code, because FAA codes do not apply outside the USA. Kent County International Airport does have an FAA code, which in this case is GRR, the same as its IATA code. Many times, the FAA code is the same as the IATA code. However, this is not always the case. For example, The Roben-Hood Airport in Big Rapids, Michigan has an IATA code of WBR, an ICAO code of KRQB and an FAA code of RQB. Take note of the similarities among these three airport and location names, and it is easy to see the possible confusion.

Thus, every US airport has three possible airport codes. While many of them are quite similar, there are variations that may puzzle even the most seasoned traveler or baggage handler. Perhaps this has something to do with why luggage can tend to go astray.

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