The best airport movies

Airports and the movies

The Terminal

In this 2004 comedy, Tom Hanks plays an Eastern European trapped at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport because a military coup in his – ficticious – native country has left him stateless. Charming, witty, and in broken English, with only his luggage and a peanut can, he ekes out an existence at the bustling terminal for all of nine months.

Airports and the movies

Catch Me if You Can

Forgery expert and conman: Frank Abagnale made a fortune impersonating a doctor, a lawyer and a flight captain. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Abagnale in the 2002 Steven Spielberg film Catch Me if You Can, flying the world, strolling through terminals posing as a Pan Am pilot and cashing fraudulent checks before being apprehended by an FBI agent. He ends up devising unforgeable checks for the FBI.

Airports and the movies

Up in the Air

A frequent flyer if there ever was one: For his job, corporate "downsizer" Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) lives out of a suitcase flying around the country, racking up thousands of miles a week. He knows the layout of every airport eyes closed, and all the ins and outs of air travel. This character in this 2009 comedy is an expert at perks, priviliges, short cuts and time savers.

Airports and the movies


Based on a bestselling novel by Arthur Hailey, the 1970 film Airport involves a terrible snowstorm paralyzing Chicago and a plane that gets stuck on an air field at the city's fictional Lincoln International Airport, in effect shutting down the runway. The film received nine nominations at the 1971 academy awards and won Helen Hayes, playing a stowaway, the award for Best Supporting Actress.

Airports and the movies


Airfields or terminals often feature in movies, sometimes in unforettable scenes. The final scene of the 1942 classic romantic drama Casablanca brings the main protagonists together in the dense fog of an airfield, with a transport plane waiting for takeoff in the background. The film with its many memorable lines and theme song won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing.

Airports and the movies

Home Alone 2

Home alone 2: Lost in New York - the 1992 US comedy is the second film revolving around young Kevin's holiday chaos and adventures. Probably every parent's nightmare: the family decides to go on a trip to Florida, but at the airport, their youngest son boards the wrong plane. It takes him to New York City - all alone.

Airports and the movies

Top Gun

The 1986 movie that launched Tom Cruise's international career - he plays naval aviator "Maverick" Mitchell in the action drama film - is set at a naval air station training school. Top gun was a huge commercial hit. For Best Original Song, the title song "Take My Breath Away" won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award.

Airports and the movies


On a darker note, a 2008 made-for-TV thriller based on a true story: the abduction of a German Lufthansa plane by a team of terrorists in 1977. The plane made several stops to refuel before it landed in Mogadishu, Somalia where a German counter-terrorism unit stormed it and rescued the hostages. The hijacking came at the height of the far-left militant RAF's crusade against the West German state.

With thousands of air passengers displaced by strike, long waits at airports are on people's minds. Movies set at airports or with unforgettable airport scenes come to mind. Here are our picks for the best ones.

There are plenty of airborne disaster movies: thrillers about disappearing children or deadly snakes onboard, hijackings, crashes, natural disasters and attacks of all kinds.

But other films include memorable scenes at airports, teary fare-wells - and surprised hellos such as in the popular 1989 love story When Harry meets Sally. Not to forget vivid Bollywood dance numbers such as in the film Chalte Chalte, a romantic Indian movie from 2003 starring Shah Rukh Khan.

Some films are actually mostly set in the familiar hustle and bustle of an airport. Click on the above picture gallery for our airport film favorites.

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