Best Airports in North America 2017

Date: October 15, 2017

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

  • Comfort (Gate seating & availability of rest zones)
  • Services, facilities & things to do
  • Food options
  • Immigration/Security
  • Customer service
  • Cleanliness
  • Navigation and ease of transit
  • Sleepability

The best airports in North America fuse essential airport amenities with thoughtful local touches. Whether it is a display of local art, a pop-up market, or just a free cot when winter weather rolls through, the top terminals make sure that they warmly welcome travellers. Some airports on this list forego the creativity, instead offering a simpler airport experience that relies on cleanliness, comfort, and efficiency. On a continent where mega-airports with convoluted connections can be all too common, these terminals show that simplicity can be best.

1. Vancouver International Airport, Canada (YVR)

airport

The International departure area is truly a place to relax, with great sculptures and an amazing saltwater aquarium filled with local sea life. - survey respondent

Canada’s Vancouver International Airport is becoming the uncontested best airport in North America. Year after year, travellers vote it into the number one spot, referencing its cleanliness, friendliness, and overall decor as winning qualities. Its west coast feel, complete with aboriginal art, panoramic views, and a saltwater aquarium, gives you a sense of the area that you’re in - even if you don't leave the airport. Other amenities, like good restaurants, an easy layout, and helpful staff simply make time spent here painless! All in all, YVR is an excellent welcome to the continent. (Photo courtesy of Vancouver Airport)

See also: Best Airports for Overall ExperienceBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

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.

» Vote

2. Portland International Airport, USA (PDX)

airport

They try to put a local spin on the travellers' experience. - survey respondent

Travellers love how local Portland’s airport feels. A pop-up market, live music, locally-sourced shopping, and affordable restaurant prices (mandated to be the same, not higher, than elsewhere in the city) all combine to make the airport feel decidedly un-airport-like. Of course PDX doesn’t skip the travel essentials. Naturally-lit terminals are well laid-out, and they provide free Wi-Fi and loads of charging points. Travellers also frequently describe the airport staff as friendly and helpful. Overall, local touches combined with top-notch essentials make PDX another excellent welcome to North America! (Photo courtesy of Port of Portland)

See also: Most Sleep-Friendly Airports

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

» Vote

3. Tampa International Airport, USA (TPA)

airport

Getting to my gate was a breeze. Along the way there were plenty of restaurants, shops, services if I wanted them, but unlike at other airports none of these seemed to block passenger movement. - survey respondent

Year after year, travellers are delighted at just how easy it is to navigate Tampa International Airport. The hub-and-spoke design of the terminals and the plethora of signs make it convenient and easy to get from parking to your gate. Of course, it’s not just airport layout that facilitates travel. Voters also remarked on how friendly and helpful the staff were - with a special nod to the airport police force. Couple this logical layout with free Wi-FI, a good range of restaurants, and loads of power outlets, and you’ve got yourself the third best airport in North America. (Photo courtesy of sue_bacon /Instagram)

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

» Vote

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

I had a better experience at MSP in the huge Delta terminal than most other airports. - survey respondent

Minneapolis – St. Paul Airport earns big points from travellers looking for a place to get some shuteye. As an airport that sees its fair share of winter storms, MSP has taken a number of steps to ensure that anyone who needs to spend the night can comfortably do so. They provide sleeping mats in Concourse D and the observation deck, which can be used by anyone at any time. The airport itself is consistently clean. There are a good range of shops, some of which are open 24 hours a day. All in all, we’re not surprised to see that this airport has once again, hung onto its number four spot on our list.

See also: Most Sleep-Friendly Airports

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.

» Vote

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

Restaurant and food variety is amazing.
- survey respondent

This year, Detroit jumped up few spots on our list of Best Airports in North America. Traveller say the terminals are easy to navigate with straightforward gate-to-gate transfers thanks to moving sidewalks and trams to cover longer distances. The airport also has a few clever attractions, like a giant fountain and a light light tunnel (perfect for selfies). The only thing that really stands to be improved here is the seating situation. Some travellers report there are too many armrests and too few charging points.

See also:Best Airports for a Layover

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

» Vote

6. Dallas-Fort Worth International, USA (DFW)

airport

A blueprint for what an airport should be clean, great food and shopping, free WiFi, and an overall great experience. - survey respondent

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the Dallas-Fort Worth airport is that it goes out of its way to accommodate airport sleepers. Should you find yourself stranded here overnight, one traveller suggests picking up a courtesy phone for help locating the nearest cot and blanket (for free!). Other voters wrote in with praises for particularly comfortable areas with multiple charging stations, oversized chairs, two couches, and a great Wi-Fi connection. For travellers who are just passing through without delay, you can look forward to a good range of shops and restaurants, a few rest zones, and a yoga space. (Photo courtesy of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport)

See also: Best Airports for a Layover

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.

» Vote

7. Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport, USA (ANC)

airport

Concourse C (Alaska Airlines) has many rows of chairs and 95% are armrest free, making it very easy … to get a good, nights rest - survey respondent

Alaska’s primary airport is a new addition to this year’s list of Best Airports in North America. Smaller and a little out of the way, this lesser-known gem delights travellers with loads of armrest-free seats that are “practically made for sleeping”. ANC also has a few creative touches, like an Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, a museum, and some great massage tables, perfect for those coming off an adventurous holiday. Prices inside aren’t much more expensive than elsewhere in the state, and the free Wi-Fi always helps. For those who find themselves on an Alaskan adventure, it sounds like this is a great starting and ending point! (Photo courtesy of Anchorage)

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

» Vote

8. Indianapolis International Airport, USA (IND)

airport

Clean, great food outlet
- survey respondent

The Indianapolis airport is a great example of a simple terminal that keeps travellers happy by doing a good job providing the basics. Though there aren’t a ton of extra bells and whistles at IND, the terminal itself is clean, organized, and efficient. Getting from the curb to your gate is a quick process - and it’s easy to stop at a number of good restaurants for a bite. Free Wi-Fi keeps travellers happy while they wait. A few key couches please those who need to spend a longer period of time here. (Photo courtesy of waggonab / Instagram)

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

» Vote

9. San Francisco International Airport, USA (SFO)

airport

A clean airport! Well maintained and good customer service! - survey respondent

San Francisco International Airport is a staple on our list of Best Airports in North America. Clean terminals, great customer service, efficient airport processes, and a decent range of restaurants and shops combine to provide travellers with a happy Californian travel experience. Those voters who spent long layovers here were happy to find plenty of comfortable chairs, though there was some continued disappointment with all the armrests separating them in some areas of the airport. Amenity-wise, the airport remains fairly bare-bones with the exception of the in-house yoga room. (Photo courtesy of axwolfe /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.

» Vote

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

airport

The fitness trail is alive and well in the gate area where it should be and allows for a mile hike before your mile high experience. - survey respondent

Phoenix Airport nabs the spot of tenth best airport in North America thanks to features like the water bottle refill stations, the in-house fitness trail, the friendly staff, and the good range of dining and shopping options. Free connections between the airport and the city’s light rail system helps save a few dollars along the way. With that said, travellers would welcome an improvement in seating areas - PHX seems to have too many seats with armrests, preventing travellers from getting too comfortable during long layovers. (Photo courtesy of contagiouslight / 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

  1. Vancouver International Airport, Canada (YVR)
  2. Portland International Airport, USA (PDX)
  3. Tampa International Airport, USA (TPA)
  4. Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport, USA (MSP)
  5. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, USA (DTW)
  6. Dallas-Fort Worth International, USA (DFW)
  7. Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport, USA (ANC)
  8. Indianapolis International Airport, USA (IND)
  9. San Francisco International Airport, USA (SFO)
  10. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, USA (PHX)
  11. Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Canada (YUL)
  12. Denver International Airport, USA (DEN)
  13. Atlanta Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport, USA (ATL)
  14. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, USA (LAS)
  15. Calgary International Airport, Canada (YYC)
  16. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, USA (IAH)
  17. Orlando International Airport, USA (MCO)
  18. Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, USA (SEA)
  19. Washington Dulles International Airport, USA (IAD)
  20. Philadelphia International Airport, USA (PHL)
  21. Charlotte Douglas International Airport, USA (CLT)
  22. Nashville International Airport, USA (BNA)
  23. Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, Canada (YOW)
  24. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, USA (CLE)
  25. Salt Lake City International Airport, USA (SLC)
  26. Dallas Love Field, USA (DAL)
  27. Orange County John Wayne Airport, USA (SNA)
  28. Albuquerque International Sunport, USA (ABQ)
  29. Pittsburgh International Airport, USA (PIT)
  30. San Antonio International Airport, USA (SAT)

Top 5 Worst Airports in North America

  1. New York City LaGuardia Airport, USA (LGA)
  2. Los Angeles International Airport, USA (LAX)
  3. Miami International Airport, USA (MIA)
  4. Newark Liberty International Airport, USA (EWR)
  5. Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, USA (FLL)

2017 Best Airports

2017 Worst Airports

Survey Information

2018 Airport Survey

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