Some of the most well-known airport codes include SFO for San Francisco International Airport, LAX for Los Angeles International Airport and MIA for Miami International Airport. Airport codes serve as location identifiers assigned by the International Air Transport Association. Over 47,000 of these codes are in use, as of 2015.Continue Reading
As the number of airports increased, it became necessary to use airport designators to help with navigation, so the three-letter system was created. In the early days, airport codes were combined with weather station codes, such as LAX. The L and A represent Los Angeles, and the X indicates a weather station. Portland, or PDX, with its PD for Portland and X for weather station, provides another example.
Sometimes, the IATA uses the first three letters of an airport's city as the code. Examples include ATL for Atlanta, BOS for Boston and MAD for Madrid. Some identifiers are harder to figure out, such as MSY for New Orleans, named for the Moisant Stock Yards where the airport now stands.
Cities with more than one airport require variations, and London provides a perfect example. LGW represents London Gatwick, while LHR serves as the code for London Heathrow. Canada decided to go a different route, with all of its airline codes beginning with Y. Some, such as YVR for Vancouver International, appear fairly straight forward, while others, such as YYZ for Toronto, are a bit harder to figure out.Learn more about Geography