Best Airports in North America 2016

Date: October 15, 2016

best airports north america 2016In our annual survey, we asked travellers to rate airports in North America based on their overall airport experience. They ranked their experiences on these factors:

  • Comfort (Rest Zones & Gate Seating)
  • Services, Facilities & Things to do
  • Food Options
  • Immigration/Security
  • Customer Service
  • Cleanliness

The best airports in North America are the ones that make an effort to improve the passenger experience. Whether it’s providing cots to snowed in travellers, building an aquarium that features local marine life, or providing quiet areas to escape the crowds and get work done, these terminals have got the inbetweens of air travel figured out. Better yet is that most of the best airports show up on this list year after year, proving that they really take travel seriously.

Here are the Top 10 Best Airports in North America based on overall airport experience, as determined by voters in our 2016 Airport Survey.

1. Vancouver International Airport, Canada (YVR)

vancouver airport by sleepinginairports.net

Beautiful airport. The international terminal feels like a destination in itself. - survey respondent

For another year running, Canada’s ultra-friendly Vancouver International Airport has been awarded the title of Best Airport in North America. This inviting terminal first wows visitors with stunning architecture and locally-inspired First Nation’s art. Great shopping and dining options for every budget up’s the terminal’s appeal - as do the airside aquariums that feature marinelife of the North Pacific. Life at YVR is made even better by the clean facilities, the efficient lines and the convenient connections into the city centre. And, in true Canadian fashion, the staff are incredibly co-operative, polite and helpful. All in all, time spent at Vancouver International gives you a glimpse into Canadian life and hospitality.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Aquarium • TV Lounges • Rest Areas • Nap Rooms ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Self-Guided Tour • Showers ($) • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Vancouver Airport Guide.

See also: Best Airports in the World   •   Best Airports for Sleeping   •   Best Airports for Layovers

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2. Tampa International Airport, USA (TPA)

tampa airport by bretra88 / Instagram

It very easy to transfer to any gate. You could never get lost in this airport. - survey respondent

Tampa International Airport continues to lead the pack of American airports thanks to its logical hub-and-spoke layout. In a world of mega-huge airports that require what feels like hours of walking, visitors to TPA appreciate how few steps you take from curbside to gate. Minimal lineups, efficient processes and helpful staff only continue to ease your airport travel time. And, given how little time you spend walking at TPA, travellers really appreciate that there is free Wi-Fi, numerous restaurants and a good range of shops for entertainment. That, and they love that the bathrooms are large, spacious and clean! ( Photo courtesy of bretra88 / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • 24-Hour Food Options ($). For more information, visit our Tampa Airport Guide.

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3. Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport, USA (MSP)

minneapolis airport by jjam5725 / Instagram

Love the clean space and updated stations and food selection. - survey respondent

Year after year, travellers at Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport emerge from multi-hour weather delays only to vote MSP as one of the best airports in North America. The airport’s ability to flawlessly work around snowstorms by providing blankets and mats to the stranded makes delays here anything but ordinary. Of course, it’s not all inclement weather in Minneapolis. Fair weather travellers are equally as pleased by the publically accessible iPads, healthy food options, quiet couches and good shops, all of which are housed in a clean and fresh terminal. (Photo courtesy of jjam5725 / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi (45 minutes) • Luggage Storage ($) • Rest Zone • Walking Path • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Minneapolis Airport Guide.

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4. Portland International Airport, USA (PDX)

portland airport by lyndafaye / Instagram

PDX airport has fantastic food at regular prices (just like anywhere else in Portland). - survey respondent

Portland International Airport feels a bit like the airport of the people. Here, the “nicest TSA people” welcome travellers to an airport that keeps security processes and food prices to a manageable minimum. The bright and clean terminal features a great number of padded armrest-free benches, and no matter where you walk, you’re never far from a snack or the bathroom. While entertainment options are limited to free Wi-Fi at the moment, the PDX carpet memorabilia is sure to keep travellers entertained for a while - as will the soon-to-be open vintage movie theatre! ( Photo courtesy of lyndafaye / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Portland Airport Guide.

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5. Indianapolis International Airport, USA (IND)

indianapolis airport by maysville / Instagram

I love the ease of getting around and the open spaciousness - survey respondent

Indianapolis International Airport pleases travellers by being tidy, organized, open and efficient. As one of America’s smaller international terminals, it is reliably easy to get in, out and around. If spending a longer amount of time here, there are plenty of good couches to sleep on, and a 24-hour Starbucks to get you through the wee hours. Otherwise, amenities here are basically limited to some Indy500 memorabilia displays and free Wi-Fi. Sweet, and simple! ( Photo courtesy of maysville / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Indianapolis Airport Guide.

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6. Denver International Airport, USA (DEN)

denver airport by sandwichinhand / Instagram

I give DIA kudos for having blankets and sleeping pads though it would have been nice to have these earlier in the day. - survey respondent

Jumping up in our ranking this year is Denver International Airport! Last year’s ninth place is now a solid sixth thanks it’s clean, vibrant and comfortable atmosphere. The airport itself is a bit of a behemoth, which works for and against it. Though it takes a bit longer to navigate, travellers generally maintain a good amount of personal space. Food options here are also quite good (albeit spread out), and there is a range of restaurants suitable to most budgets. As a destination prone to weather delays, voters also appreciated that the airport provided water, mats and blankets on occasion. ( Photo courtesy of sandwichinhand / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Unlimited Free WiFi • 24-Hour Food Options ($). For more information, visit our Denver Airport Guide.

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7. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, USA (DTW)

detroit airport by officialnotixx / Instagram

It is extremely efficient in moving from gate to gate and concourse to concourse. - survey respondent

While Detroit Airport often gets flack for being gigantic and spread out, this year, voters frequently wrote in with praise for the moving sidewalks, the tram, and the signage. In spite of its size, the airport really is quite simple, clean and efficient. And, it offers up a few truly creative attractions like a giant light tunnel and a sensational fountain. Like many of the airports on this list, DTW is prone to winter storm delays and we’re impressed that it emerges from them stronger than before! ( Photo courtesy of officialnotixx / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Unlimited Free Wi-Fi. For more information, visit our Detroit Airport Guide.

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8. San Francisco International Airport, USA (SFO)

san francisco airport by themoderndomestique / Instagram

SFO to me is the baseline of what an airport should be. It's very busy but spacious and relatively clean with adequate facilities and food. - survey respondent

San Francisco was one of the first airports to introduce a yoga studio and other clever amenities, so it’s always got a special spot in our hearts. This year travellers loved the in-house aquarium, the museum, the reading room and the reasonably-priced restaurants (for San Francisco, that is). They also say that while seating is plentiful - albeit mainly with armrests - there are a few nooks with padded benches and swoopy high-back relaxation chairs available. These amenities and comforts are all housed in a bright airport with much natural light and great views of the surrounding area, which further boosts your mood (and ranking) when spending ample time here. And while sure, fog delays and the associated chaos definitely grated on voters, those flying United, were given blankets and an overnight hygiene kit! ( Photo credit themoderndomestique / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free Wi-Fi • Nap Rooms ($) • Aquarium • Aviation Museum • Hydration Stations • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($) • Reading & Reflection Rooms • Yoga Studio • Spa ($) • Workstations. For more information, visit our San Francisco Airport Guide.

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9. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport , USA (DFW)

dallas-fort worth airport by hyunbae__kim / Instagram

I spent 13 hours at this airport and actually found myself having a good time. There are so many terminals that you can pass the time browsing through them all shopping and checking out the restaurants. - survey respondent

This year, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport scored particularly well with the airport sleepers. Those interested in spending a bit more can check into one of the paid sleep suites for as little as a half hour. The more frugal among us can try to get their hands on a limited supply of cots and “overnight kits” or, they can spend some time at one of the free relax zones or the yoga room. Food, retail and charging options are good throughout Dallas Fort Worth - though with a terminal of this size, it’s hard not to find what you’re looking for! ( Photo courtesy of hyunbae__kim / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Relax Zones • Showers ($) • 24-Hour Food options ($) • Nap Suites ($) • Walking Path • Yoga Studio. For more information, visit our Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Guide.

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10. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, USA (PHX)

phoenix airport by themayocynic / Instagram

They had decent free wifi with no time limit and plenty of ac outlets. - survey respondent

Phoenix International Airport is one of those small, friendly airports that has you move from the curb to the gate in no time at all. Friendly staff and few crowds keep the pains of travel to a minimum, while the free Wi-Fi and free SkyTrain to the city’s Light Rail system make sure that time here is easy on the wallet. The terminal itself is bright and clean, and those who look are able to find couches in a few select spots. PHX is particularly quiet overnight, meaning those who get stuck there have a better chance of getting a decent night's sleep! ( Photo courtesy of themayocynic / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Unlimited Free WiFi • Showers • 24-Hours Food options • Museum • Walking Trail. For more information, visit our Phoenix Airport Guide.

» Vote

Top 30 Best Airports in North America

Below is a list of the Top 30 Best Airports in North America as voted by travellers in our 2016 Airport Survey:

  1. Vancouver International Airport, Canada (YVR)
  2. Tampa International Airport, USA (TPA)
  3. Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport, USA (MSP)
  4. Portland International Airport, USA (PDX)
  5. Indianapolis International Airport, USA (IND)
  6. Denver International Airport, USA (DEN)
  7. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, USA (DTW)
  8. San Francisco International Airport, USA (SFO)
  9. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport , USA (DFW)
  10. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, USA (PHX)
  11. Raleigh–Durham International Airport, USA (RDU)
  12. Sacramento International Airport, USA (SMF)
  13. Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, Canada (YOW)
  14. Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Canada (YHZ)
  15. Pittsburgh International Airport, USA (PIT)
  16. Baltimore–Washington International Airport, USA (BWI)
  17. Port Columbus International Airport, USA (CMH)
  18. Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, Canada (YWG)
  19. Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport, USA (DCA)
  20. Salt Lake City International Airport, USA (SLC)
  21. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, USA (LAS)
  22. Edmonton International Airport, Canada (YEG)
  23. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, USA (CVG)
  24. Dallas Love Field, USA (DAL)
  25. Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, USA (SEA)
  26. Orlando International Airport, USA (MCO)
  27. Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport, USA (ANC)
  28. Atlanta Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport, USA (ATL)
  29. Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada (YYZ)
  30. Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, USA (FLL)

While we love how friendly and accommodating some North American airports are, this isn’t the case for them all. Read on to learn about the Worst Airports in North America.

SleepingInAirports 2017 airport survey

Explore more of our survey results:

OVERALL AIRPORT EXPERIENCE
» Best Airports in the World » Worst Airports in the World
» Best Airports in Africa » Worst Airports in Africa
» Best Airports in Asia » Worst Airports in Asia
» Best Airports in the Caribbean & Central America » Worst Airports in the Caribbean & Central America
» Best Airports in Europe » Worst Airports in Europe
» Best Airports in the Middle East » Worst Airports in the Middle East
» Best Airports in North America » Worst Airports in North America
» Best Airports in South America » Worst Airports in South America
» Best Airports in the South Pacific » Worst Airports in the South Pacific
LAYOVERS  
» Best Airports for Layovers » Worst Airports for Layovers
SLEEP-ABILITY  
» Best Airports for Sleeping » Worst Airports for Sleeping

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