I’m not proud of this fact, but I have earned elite status on three different airlines. And virtually all of that travel is domestic. Trust me, I know U.S. airports much better than I’d like to.
I rate the airports on overall experience: Location, flight choices, shopping and dining, sprawl, seating, facilities and general comfort. Here are the best and the worst.
Convenient location to the entire Puget Sound area. Spacious and aesthetically pleasing. Great food and shopping. Plenty of room at the gates. And despite the constant rain, the flights generally run on time.
Like the nearby Mall of America, the Minneapolis Airport contains shopping, dining and services like nowhere else in the country. Of course, severe weather can make traveling through Minnesota difficult, but the airport experience itself is pleasant.
People give Denver a bad rap for its location (some say the airport is technically in Kansas), but the airport itself is quite beautiful. There are plenty of choices both before and after the security lines. Easy to get around via consistent trains. Great amenities. Plenty of seating and food choices.
This entry might surprise people, but Indy definitely steps up as the nicest airport in the Midwest. Clean, friendly, easy to get around, and a relaxed atmosphere. There is plenty of elbow room in the spacious gate areas.
Washington – Reagan
Unlike the sprawling and unwieldy Dulles airport, Washington-Reagan allows for a great in-and-out experience. The location near downtown is tremendous, the food choices are decent, and the airport has kept up with an ever-increasing demand.
Washington – Dulles
Impossible to get to during rush hour, and impossible to get around once you’re inside. A massive rebuilding project is underway. So,for the time being, I avoid Dulles whenever possible. The C-D terminal is one very long and ugly building. It’s a marathon for connecting flights. But at least the concession choices are awful.
LAX (Los Angeles)
It starts with the idea that if you have to get from one airline to another you must leave one terminal and pass through security at another – just for a connecting flight. That maneuver means you have to rely on shuttle buses. Oh, wait – that should be shuttle bus; it appears they have just one. Inside you’ll find tight spaces and dated interiors. But at least the employees are unpleasant.
LaGuardia (New York)
My advice: tear it down and start over. LaGuardia is a hodge-podge airport that started with a poor design and went downhill from there. Choppy, depressing, dated, tiny bathrooms. But at least it’s not Dulles.
I give them an “A” for effort, but at some point the sprawl becomes unbearable. Try getting from an F gate to a C gate in time for your United connection – I dare you. Horrible on-time record that causes major headaches. Fortunately, the terminals are PACKED with bodies to make it even more pleasant.
I know they’re trying to class the place up with a revamped Terminal Four, but all the snazzy concessions are outside of security. If you want a good meal near your gate you can forget it; it’s all fast food once you clear security. The terminals were dated in design when they were built; the desert flair did not age well. Great location in the city; otherwise, no thanks.
This is just one traveler’s opinion. Do you agree with my choices?