America's Best and Worst Airports
by T+L readers.
Courtesy of The Port Authority of NY & NJ
Frequent traveler and novelist Ryan O’Reilly has a love-hate relationship with Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. “Nearly every time I’ve been through Chicago, my flights have been delayed, canceled, or both,” says the Springfield, MO, resident. “Once, my flight was delayed by six hours, and when we finally got onto the plane, we had to perform an emergency exit because the deicing truck next to it caught on fire.”
Perhaps it’s no shock, then, that Chicago’s airports scored near the bottom in the latest America’s Favorite Cities survey, where Travel + Leisure readers rated 30 U.S. cities on a variety of fronts, including food, shopping, on-time performance, and the efficiency (or potential surliness) of airport employees.
The best airports in the U.S. share a few things in common: plenty of dining options and “entertainment,” which could mean live music, kids’ play areas, spas, or—increasingly important—free wireless Internet access. Strikingly, airports that made up that lower half of the AFC airport survey tend to still charge up to $10 for you to check your email or change your Facebook status. The free wireless is one reason Oregon pharmacist Chris Carter loves Portland International Airport (No. 4), along with small niceties. “It’s easy to get in and out of,” he says, “and we love the parking garage with lights in the ceiling, showing you where open spots are.”
America's Worst Airports
The Big Apple has long made a tradition of outdoing its fellow American cities, and its area airports—JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark—indeed stand out, at least in terms of being miserable. Food, entertainment, on-time performance, and staff efficiency all occupy the last-place ranks in the AFC survey. The highest the NYC airports rank for anything is 28th—for airline clubs, which perhaps just serve as a comfortable place to hide until your flight finally boards.
2007 Los Angeles World Airports
Like many things in the L.A. area, it’s all about traffic: transportation to and from the L.A. airports—from Long Beach and Burbank to the granddaddy hub, LAX—ranks a lowly No. 30 in the AFC survey. AFC readers are so over the Jetsons-style façade of LAX (No. 29 for design and functionality), and the airports’ staff rank next-to-last, too. But perhaps that’s no surprise in a city that also ranks 29th for its friendly locals—just the types to cut you off on the freeway.