The Best Airports in the U.S.: 2019 Readers' Choice Awards



Slide 1 of 11: When it comes to airports, Condé Nast Traveler readers already know that small is better—there are no traffic-choked monster hubs on our readers’ choice of America's top 10 airports. Even so, many of these gateways have been undergoing an upgrade to bring them into the 21st century, with new amenities ranging from nap pods to spas, and high-tech features like wayfinders and Wi-Fi that’s not only fast but free. It’s enough to make you want to extend your layover time. For our 32nd annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey—yes, more than three decades—a record 600,000 registered voters weighed in. The impressive number of 2019 results were especially exciting for us: we’re ever curious about where you go, what you loved, and who you went with. As you continue to travel, we continue to listen: Here are the domestic airports you loved most this year.
Slide 2 of 11: If you needed any proof that Austin is a hot destination (other than the iconic SXSW festival), just check out the city’s airport. Austin-Bergstrom is booming, serving nearly 16 million passengers last year, a 50 percent increase in five years; it recently expanded its main terminal to pick up the slack. International airlines have taken notice, the latest being KLM, which announced plans to launch nonstop flights from Amsterdam next March. Despite the growth, the airport’s still easy to navigate, and the short TSA lines give fliers more time to savor Texan specialties like barbecue and breakfast tacos, and to enjoy live music performed by local bands.
Slide 3 of 11: A hub for Delta Air Lines, this airport has plenty of places to unwind, with spa service at two Be Relax locations and a fitness studio at the on-site Westin hotel, which can be accessed by non-guests for just $15 a day. For those seeking therapy of the retail variety, a recent upgrade added outposts of brands like Brooks Brothers and L’Occitane, and local brews are on tap at a new branch of Detroit’s Atwater Brewery. The airport also wins high marks for customer service: With DTW’s Airport Ambassadors, dozens of volunteers roam the terminals, offering help and advice.
Slide 4 of 11: Palm Beach’s airport is tiny next to rival Ft. Lauderdale—its annual passenger count hasn’t budged above 6.5 million in years. But that’s why it’s beloved by regulars, with some online reviewers even calling it “quaint.” Fliers like the ease of getting in and out, the lack of lines and crowded gates, and plentiful food and beverage options. For amusement, there’s a putting green beyond security, and even a full-service spa to ease the stress of flying, though at PBI, you may not need it.
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Slide 5 of 11: It’s more than mere proximity to one of our readers’ favorite cities that sets this airport apart. A recent terminal upgrade created a bright, airy space where it’s a pleasure to hang out, with outposts of local favorites like the Caviar & Bananas gourmet market and the Charleston Beer Works. Thanks to all the buzz, its passenger count is up by 1 million, although with 5 million fliers a year, it’s hardly in danger of losing its laid-back vibe. And it just got its first transatlantic flight, too, with seasonal service to London via British Airways.
Slide 6 of 11: Tampa's airport has long felt like a vision of the future from 50 years ago—because it was. But thanks to a current two-phase expansion project (the first of which involved $1 billion worth of upgrades) TPA is poised to jet into this century and beyond. A new SkyConnect people-mover system—with high-tech trains from Japan—is making this already convenient airport (which is very close to downtown) more convenient than ever.
Slide 7 of 11: More travelers are discovering Hartford, Connecticut’s airport—now New England’s second-busiest airfield after Boston Logan—thanks to a wide spate of flight choices, including Aer Lingus’s flights to Ireland and Spirit’s services to Florida. Customers praise the airport's convenient on-site parking, plentiful charging stations and free Wi-Fi, decent restaurant options, and an overall relaxed atmosphere, making this mid-sized facility an attractive alternative to flying out of New York and Boston’s massive and congested hubs.
Slide 8 of 11: MSP continues to impress with its food, dining, and entertainment options—so much so that it may make you forget you're here to, you know, leave. No fewer than 50 stores sell brand-name clothing and shoes, and our favorite food spot—French Meadow Bakery & Cafe—serves up chipotle goat cheese quesadillas and bison short ribs along with scones and mini cheesecakes. If you're in a rush, try the app that lets you order food from a variety of locations and have it delivered to your boarding gate.
Slide 9 of 11: As the biggest of the top three airports on our list, Portland, Oregon's airport gets a lot of love from readers for being easy to access—and not just by roads. Bike paths and a MAX light rail line make it one of the best-connected airports in the U.S. Its food and shopping choices offer fliers a chance to sample Portland specialties, like java from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, local whiskies at the House Spirits Tasting Room, and handmade goods from Tender Loving Empire. In a nod to the city's creative side, the airport offers a 17-seat movie theater that continuously screens short films 24/7, free of charge. Great local shops (yes, Nike counts as local) and free Wi-Fi, too, make this one of the most traveler-friendly airports around.
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Slide 10 of 11: SAV is not a particularly busy airport—it handles around 3 million fliers per year—but it’s that smallness, not to mention its town square-inspired layout, that makes it feel intimate and inviting. Travelers here might think they’ve been transported back in time to a historic southern street, complete with benches and a large clock under period glass ceilings. Named one of the “happiest” airports in the country in a survey by a dating site (no kidding), passengers can shop for cigars or golfing gear, or dine on classic southern cuisine at the PGA Tour Grill.
Slide 11 of 11: Indianapolis's airport remains in the top spot for the sixth year running—another notable moment in a string of notable moments for IND. The airport hit a personal best in 2018, when it managed its highest traffic ever (9.4 million) for the year—with 145 daily flights to 50 destinations, including Paris, via Delta’s new nonstop service. Given that it already has some of the best food options pre- and post-security (hello, Shapiro's Delicatessen) and security checkpoints designed to help people breeze through TSA procedures, IND has a clear runway to take the top spot next year, too.

When it comes to airports, Condé Nast Traveler readers already know that small is better—there are no traffic-choked monster hubs on our readers’ choice of America’s top 10 airports. Even so, many of these gateways have been undergoing an upgrade to bring them into the 21st century, with new amenities ranging from nap pods to spas, and high-tech features like wayfinders and Wi-Fi that’s not only fast but free. It’s enough to make you want to extend your layover time. For our 32nd annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey—yes, more than three decades—a record 600,000 registered voters weighed in. The impressive number of 2019 results were especially exciting for us: we’re ever curious about where you go, what you loved, and who you went with. As you continue to travel, we continue to listen: Here are the domestic airports you loved most this year.

10. Austin (AUS)

9. Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)

8. Palm Beach (PBI)

7. Charleston (CHS)

6. Tampa International Airport (TPA)

5. Bradley International Airport (BDL)

4. Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP)

3. Portland (Oregon) International Airport (PDX)

2. Savannah Hilton Head (SAV)

1. Indianapolis International Airport (IND)

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