So, Where Does That Airport Code Come From?

Donetsk Airport, February 2005
Donetsk Airport (DOK), February 2005

Ever wonder why LA’s airport three-letter code is LAX? And Chicago O’Hare is ORD? Why Newark is EWR, Toronto is YYZ and Quito UIO?

Designers Lynn Fisher and Nick Crohn were curious too, so they collected some of the answers and found a home for them on their website At the moment they’ve listed 261 airports from 77 countries. Readers are welcome to contribute more.

So, what’s up with LAX? A simple explanation.

Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles
Before the 1930s, airports had two-letter codes. When codes switched to three letters, many added the letter X to the end. LA (Los Angeles) became LAX. (See also: PDX.)

And Quito?

Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Quito, Ecuador
Mariscal Sucre International is named after Antonio José de Sucre, who fought for the independence of Quito, in what is now Ecuador. Because the Federal Communications Commission reserved codes starting with Q, it opted for other letters from its home city of QUItO.

Via Slate via Laughing Squid.


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Donetsk Airport, February 2005

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