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Best and worst airports in the US – through the eyes of a non expert

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 22: Welcome to Las Vegas Sign at International Airport Mc Carran on May 22, 2015. Foto: Bojan Bokic

I’d lie to you if I told you that there weren’t times in my life where I felt like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal” and I felt like I was wasting half of my life at random airports. But I’d also lie to you if I told you that there weren’t times where I felt so privileged to be able to travel as much as I do and experience so much of this beautiful country.

In all of my travels, I have compiled a list of best and worst airports in the US. I am sure this list vastly differs from expert opinions; but then again their experiences probably differ than my own.

For the purposes of this article, there are three items that I am taking into consideration to determine the quality of the airport:
1. Ease of getting around;
2. Amenities;
3. Punctuality.

As this list is based on personal experience, I also recognize that I may be leaving off AMAZING airports off of the list simply because I haven’t had a chance to visit them yet (for instance, I hear great things about Honolulu International; but I’ve yet to make a pit stop there!).

BEST AIRPORTS

Denver International Airport (Denver, CO)

A photo posted by Todd (@toddsmoyer) on

An Artsy Fartsy airport with a rotating art program exhibiting photography, sculpture, and paintings makes this a really awesome airport – especially if you’re only in transit and have a few hours to kill. It’s amazing how quickly the time goes by when you have art to look at (though some would argue people watching is an Art… and if it were something you could make money off of… I’d be rich!). Lots of great amenities, and a fairly low delays and cancels (especially considering Denver’s geography) make this airport pretty much a shoe in for the Best list.

Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Atlanta, GA)

A photo posted by Rob Steele (@xrobsteelex) on

I’ve written about Atlanta before – it is the world’s busiest airport; but the speed at which the security checkpoint moves would have you doubting this. The ride to the rental car center is far, however quick. Intra airport shuttle service from terminal to terminal is amazingly fast and reliable, and amenities are plentiful. Free Wi-Fi doesn’t hurt either.

Tampa International Airport (Tampa, FL)

So I may be a bit biased here because this is my home base airport, but I absolutely love it. Parking is easily accessible, parking fares are reasonable, shuttle service to gates are quick and accessible, security lines are decent, and amenities – both before and after the security checkpoint are marvelous. If I have extra time (which I often do, because I always overestimate the security line process) I enjoy a pint of local brews from Cigar City Brewing located at terminal C. Connect to Free Wi-Fi and either catch up on work, enjoy a good book, or perfect the art of people watching. The airport is currently undergoing a $1 billion expansion project, and I’m super excited to see what’s in store. The construction is well under way, but it is conducted in such a way that it is not a major inconvenience to travelers.

WORST AIRPORTS

LaGuardia Airport (NY, NY)

A photo posted by Philippe Corbé (@phlppcrb) on

Anyone who’s ever been at this airport is shocked, I’m sure. Data from FAA ranks this as the airport with the highest number of delays and cancellations last year. Drive into the city is atrocious, and amenities are subpar – and that’s putting it lightly. On the plus side, however, LaGuardia is getting a $4 billion makeover, so here’s to hoping!

Miami International Airport (Miami, FL)

Didn’t get a chance to start that book on the plane to Miami? No worries. You can start – and finish – a War and Peace caliber novel on the walk, then a train ride, to car rental terminal. While the airport isn’t too far away from the city; the congestion and never ending construction of fine Florida roads make this airport very challenging to get to. And the amenities of the airport are nothing to write home about.

McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas, NV)

A photo posted by Anja (@anjastanisic) on

If going for vacation in Vegas (and not sure why you would want to), this could be the BEST airport when you arrive. The airport feels alive the second you step off the plane. However, that excitement is short lived as soon as you get to the cab line. Unless there’s not a convention in town (which is never; on one of my trips to Vegas I sat next to a guy who was going there for a carpet cleaner’s convention) expect the cab lines to be ridiculously long. Security line does move swiftly and plenty of restaurants and bars, however the ever present sound of slot machines that you enjoyed when you arrived is now nothing more but a grizzly reminder of how much money you wasted in Sin City. And what happened in Vegas sure as shit follows you home.

How would you rate the above airports based on your experiences, or which other ones would you add to the list? Any airports around the world that you want to rant or rave about?

Author: Sanja H

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Best and worst airports in the US – through the eyes of a non expert