Most of the general public is pretty ignorant to airport codes, to say nothing of the general travel public. You probably know your local airport's code and, if you live in the US, biggies like LAX (Los Angeles International), ORD (Chicago O'Hare) and DFW (Dallas-Forth Worth International). You might even know some international hubs like LHR (London Heathrow), NRT (Tokyo-Narita) and SYD (Sydney).
One thing you've likely noticed is that airport codes don't always logically relate to the full name of the city or airport they describe. What you probably don't know (unless they happen to be your home airport or you've flown through them, this is) is that some of the more obscure airport codes used by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) are not only weird—they're downright obscene! From FUK airport code to FAT to VAG, here are the world's most obscene airport codes.
The good news? IATA had the sense not to use the letter "ASS" to designate any airport around the world. The bad news? Unless you're British, "ARS," which the small Brazilian city of Aragarças uses, is not nearly as funny. This is particularly the case because this city is so deeply buried in the jungle that you're unlikely to visit there and see the code on your boarding pass, even if you do come from the U.K.
Charata is in rural northern Argentina, and although it appears initially that you might have no reason to visit this city, whose airport code is "CNT," there actually is a good reason. Specifically, Charata is the closest city (and airport) to Campo del Cielo, a meteorite crater that scientists estimate to be between 4,000-5,000 years old.
While the first two obscene airport codes on this list seem logically concordant, the one for Kochi, India isn't, at least on the surface. That's because "COK" seems to stand for a different city entirely. And it does, in a way, because Kochi, like many cities in India, used to be known by a different name. It was called "Cochin," which would make more sense in the context of its airport code.
Corpus Christi, TX
As a native Texan, I can tell you that Corpus Christi gets a bad rap, whether you refer to the city itself, the nearby beaches or even its most famous company, Texas fast-food giant Whataburger, which some say sells crap food. This last point is particularly important when you consider the city's airport code, "CRP," which seems to be semantically coincidental, its similarity to the word "Corpus" notwithstanding.
It's unfortunate that Fresno is one of the most obese metro areas in the United States for a number of reasons, first and foremost because of the very real health challenges obese and morbidly obese individuals face, their geographical location notwithstanding. Indeed, the fact that "FAT" seems more than a coincidence in this regard, being that neither "A" nor "T" appear anywhere in the city's name, although they are in the airport's official moniker "Fresno-Yosemite International Airport."
Fukuoka is a city that's well-known in Asia (and especially in Japan) as a clean, pleasant and beautiful place to live and visit, if a bit lacking in character due to all that. It's also the largest city on Japan's Kyushu island, with a population well over a million. For most non-Asians, and certainly those who've never been to Japan, Fukuoka (which is pronounced "Foo Koo Whoa Ka") is known for one thing: It's unfortunate airport code for FUK airport, which is "FUK."
Helsinki doesn't have a reputation as being the most exciting or beautiful city in Scandinavia, but that doesn't mean it's all bad. For example, even if you get bored in the city center, which is mainly defined by a green-domed Lutheran church, you can head out into the nearby archipelago and pick mushrooms for a maritime lunch. Even if you stay in the city center and aren't incredibly excited, however, it's difficult to associate Helsinki with its airport code "HEL," if only on account of the weather: The city boasts an average annual temperature of just 40ºF.
Located in the floodplain of the Golbourn River in the northern part of Australia's Victoria State, Shepparton isn't the most exciting place on the planet, that's for sure. While it does boast a certain level of bucolic charm, Shepparton isn't flooded in character, even if its population (about 30,000) is quite largely by the standards of cities in rural Australia. Indeed, love it or hate it, Shepparton really doesn't deserve its local airport code, which is "SHT."
In Spanish, the name of the tiny Colorado city of Salida means "Exit," which doesn't make a lot of sense initially. What Salida lacks in urban excitement, you see, it makes up for in the natural beauty that has made Colorado one of America's must-visit states, namely the Arkansas River, whose presence outside of Arkansas is nonetheless confounding. Of course, if you happen to fly to Salida's equally tiny airport, you might be shocked looking at your boarding pass upon using the salida there. In fact, you might feel like some "SLT" shaming is going on, even if it's not quite as egregious as the FUK airport code.
It feels somewhat satisfying that this list ends where it started: In a tiny Brazilian city that it's much less likely you will visit than FUK airport. Of course, when you look deeper, you realize that Varginha, Brazil boasts a bit more for tourists than Aragarças did, particularly if you were ever a fan of the X-Files—and not just because its name doesn't sound near as vulgar in Portuguese. If you happen to arrive at "VAG" airport and you're not simply a resident of Minas Gerais station, you're probably in town to take in the UFO folklore that's sprung up since a rumored sighting years ago.