Brian Sumers expresses concern at the silly naming of LAX as the best airport in North America by Business Traveller magazine.
There’s no conceivable universe in which LAX is the best airport in North America. In many ways it belongs grouped with the worst airports. Unquestionably the Tom Bradley terminal is one of the most improved. But many of the terminals are unconnected inside security, and it can take 20 minutes or more just to drive around the terminals. Traffic at that airport is horrendous.
Over the summer I named LAX the second worst airport in the U.S.. I grouped it with Miami, New York JFK, and Washington Dulles.
You take a train outside security between terminals at JFK.. and a train to where you can pick up hotel shuttles.
But what are the best airports?
It’s tough to come up with a clear winner, the way Singapore and Seoul Incheon stand out in Asia (Hong Kong has many partisans, I actually like Bangkok Suvarnabhumi more than most, and rank Seoul lower than conventional wisdom due to time from Seoul’s city center). In Europe I’m partial to Munich and Vienna.
In the U.S. we might consider but also must reject:
- San Francisco. The terminals are generally modern and fresh, and the food offerings are very good. But parallel runways just 750 feet apart mean that whenever there’s any fog off the bay the airport’s capacity drops in half and delays stack up.
- Denver. Reasonably modern airport, but baggage has always been a mess and distance from city center takes it out of contention.
- Las Vegas. It’s close to the city center, but cab lines are awful, and once you make it through security you still have to take a train out to gates.
We might reasonably include in any finals:
- San Diego. Close to city center. Gates are reasonably close once you’ve cleared security. On the flip side, terminals aren’t the most modern, dining options aren’t fantastic.
- Dallas Fort-Worth. The airport grounds are larger than the island of Manhattan, but if you enter the correct terminal there’s very little distance to walk. The airport train is pretty efficient. There’s plenty of dining options and lounges. The international D terminal is one of the brightest and most modern in the country. Terminal A’s refresh is taking too long but offers improvements. You get a pretty good experience if you’re flying American, though flying other domestic airlines things aren’t as pretty.
Delta hubs Detroit and Minneapolis are surprisingly good, and Salt Lake City isn’t awful. Chicago O’Hare is a bad airport but has Tortas Frontera, which is a saving grace.
What do you think is the best airport in the United States?