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Airports. We love to hate them for their incessant delays, overpriced food courts and surly gate agents, but we sure can’t live without them. Since art imitates life, it’s no surprise they are featured heavily in many Hollywood blockbusters—so much so that if you look closely enough, you may even recognize a terminal or two. While you’re traveling for the holidays, keep an eye out for the filming locations of these five famous airport movie scenes.

Also: Check out airports where you can work outwhile you wait.

My Best Friend's Wedding | TriStar Pictures

My Best Friend’s Wedding | TriStar Pictures

O’Hare International Airport: Chicago
The busiest airport in the world would surely be central to many movie story lines, right? Indeed it is. In “My Best Friend’s Wedding” Julia Roberts’ character meets a friend at the Chicago airport, Macaulay Culkin famously slaps his hands to his cheeks because he’s been left behind by his family who departfrom the airport’s Terminal 3 in Home Alone and Home Alone 2 and Tom Cruise as Joel drops his parents off there in Risky Business.

Heat | Courtesy of Warner Bros

Heat | Courtesy of Warner Bros

LAX: Los Angeles
Remember the opening scenes from the gag-a-minute spoof comedy Airplane! Yep, they were filmed at Los Angeles International Airport, aka LAX, even though the story actually begins in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles (those scenes were filmed there too). Not surprisingly, the airport has made numerous silver screen cameos over the decades. Dustin Hoffman is filmed walking through it at the beginning of The Graduate, an action sequence was filmed there in the William Friedkin-directed thriller To Live and Die in L.A., and the climactic ending to Heat was filmed there. Other noteworthy films featuring LAX include Speed, Fight Club, Catch Me If You Can and Kill Bill Volume 1.

Catch Me If You Can | Courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures

Catch Me If You Can | Courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures

JFK: New York
The Big Apple has three major airports serving its metro area—Liberty International Airport serves nearby Newark, New Jersey—but Hollywood has gravitated most to JFK. Harry Burns bumps into Sally Albright for the first time in several years at JFK in When Harry Met Sally and Tom Hanks confronts Leonardo DiCaprio’s con man character at the TWA terminal—which is still there!—in Catch Me If You Can. Need a nod to Newark’s Liberty Airport? Look carefully in the Sopranos and you’ll see it there.

Bullitt | Courtesy of Warner Bros

Bullitt | Courtesy of Warner Bros

SFO: San Francisco
The City by the Bay has been a striking setting for dozens of Hollywood films, so it’s not surprisingly that its airport has gotten in on the action, as well. The final scene from the 1968 action thriller Bullitt starring Steve McQueen was filmed there—check out that Pan Am Boeing 707!—and both the opening and closing scenes of the Barbra Streisand movie What’s Up Doc were filmed at Terminal 1. San Francisco is synonymous with antihero movie cop Dirty Harryso it’s no surprise the renegade cop foils a terrorist hijacking plot there in 1973’s Magnum Force.

Airport 77 |Courtesy of Universal

Airport 77 |Courtesy of Universal

Dulles International Airport: Washington, DC
Relax, we know this airport isn’t within the District at all, but rather nestled a distant 26 miles away in the Virginia suburbs. Nevertheless portions of all three sequels of disaster flick Airport were shot here includingAirport 1975, Airport ’77 and The Concord…Airport ’79. Dulles was also the setting for Die Hard 2: Die Harder, but alas the airport scenes were all filmed at LAX in California.

Photo credits: TWA Terminal at JFK by Krowtography via Wikimedia Commons. All others, courtesy of respective studios via MovieStillsDB.

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Tagged: California, Midwest, New York

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.

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