An IATA (International Air Transportation Association) code is a three-letter code that designates an airport located anywhere in the world, including private jet airports. There are different ways in which IATA codes are chosen for certain airports.

How it Works

In some cases, the first three letters of the airport city are used to determine the airport’s IATA code. Such as:

  • SIN – Singapore
  • IST – Istanbul
  • ATL – Atlanda

However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the IATA code is made up using a combination of letters in the city’s name. For example:

  • JNB – Johannesburg
  • HKG – Hong Kong
  • WAW – Warsaw

In fewer cases, IATA codes will simply use two letters from the city and tack and X onto the end. Some of the more common codes that follow this rule include:

  • LAX – Los Angeles
  • PDX – Portland
  • PHX – Phoenix

It’s also not totally uncommon to see IATA codes that don’t fit the more common schemes listed above. Some airports, especially the ones that cross several municipalities or regions, use a combination of the different methods above. Some examples include:

  • DFW – Dallas-Fort Worth
  • MSP – Minneapolis-Saint Paul
  • DTW – Detroit-Wayne County

In large metropolitan areas, it’s not uncommon to see IATA codes given to airports, including private jet airports, that reflect the name of the airport versus the name of the city while a different IATA code is given to the city itself. A common example includes:

  • London (LON) vs. Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW), London City (LCY), Stansted (STN), Luton (LTN), and Southend (SEN).

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