What Makes A Good Airport? Thoughts From The MtM Team

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What Makes A Good Airport? Thoughts From The MtM Team

What Makes A Good Airport? Thoughts From The MtM Team

What makes a good airport? The answer to this will be highly subjective. No 2 people will agree. Just look at us! These are the thoughts of the Miles to Memories team members on the question of “what makes a good airport?” We had a discussion about good and bad airports the other day (after disagreeing with some of these opinions), so we decided to put this together to share with you. Let us know your thoughts!

Shawn

Favorite airport: LAS (or maybe SIN)

For me an airport is all about convenience and the passenger experience. I look at things like how long it takes to make a connection and how everything is connected. That makes such a difference in the experience. Older airports designed before security measures usually fail when it comes to this.

Location is also a huge factor as is public transport options and traffic in general. I like airport that make it easy to explore a city, especially when traveling internationally. Not every airport ticks all of the boxes but more modern airports tend to get most of this stuff right whereas older dated ones struggle to keep up.

Mark

Favorite airport: DTW

My favorite airports tend to be more spacious. I hate feeling crowded at the gate or in the corridors like you do at LGA for example.  I love an airport that has space but also offers a lot of flight options, a big reason I like DTW.  Cool architecture like DCA is also a plus.  When a majority of the best stuff is before security, like LAS or MCO it is also a negative for me.  I wish they would have thought that through more.

DDG

Favorite airport: Whatever gets me to where I’m going

Close to the city center, and connected with public transportation. Connectivity between terminals, without having to jump on a long bus or train ride. Having several lounge options (hopefully not over-crowded), so you have a place to stay before your flight, or between connections.

Benjy

Favorite airport: SFO or DXB

The airport trait I value most is location. While any facility can be renovated, cleaned, or otherwise improved, an airport’s location cannot. For this reason, I prefer airports such as Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Dallas Love Field (DAL) for their superior locations in comparison to their local counterparts. Airports with excellent locations may not have the amenities others closeby may hold. But well-located airports help me preserve the asset that I value most – time.

Ian

Favorite airport: SFO or SEA

Living in a rural area, I have an appreciation for tiny regional airports for their ease of transit, and overall efficiency. They may be less stressful, but they are often missing the best ingredients of what makes a great airport. It’s hard to pinpoint that perfect combination of what simply feels right, but you can’t go wrong if you combine an open, airy terminal that isn’t crowded (especially if it includes awesome airplane or runway views) with at least a few excellent food vendors and efficient public transportation access. I think that does it best for me.

Ryan

Favorite airport: KUL

A few features make for a good airport, and I find them quite easy to accomplish. It should have lounges accessible to paying / Priority Pass members (not just “flying on our airline today” lounges), public wifi, easy connections from gate to gate or terminal to terminal, and ample seating (preferably comfortable!). Plus, it should be easy to find the 3 things passengers care about most: departure information, bathrooms & food. Big bonus points for efficient security procedures and moving walkways/sky trains.

What Makes A Good Airport? Final Thoughts

Within our team, we obviously have very different approaches on this topic. Is there something that is the most important to you? Must have a certain type of lounge? Quiet terminal or with gate announcements? Don’t care, and just happy to be traveling? Let us know what you think makes a good airport.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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16 COMMENTS

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16 COMMENTS

  1. LAS misses out on a LOT of points due to the off site car rental center and lack of rail to rental cars or vegas strip. They also lack some lounges that should be there and there is no onsite hotel. I’d rank it even with SLC or even TLV. Domestically people bad mouth ORD but it’s not really too bad, other than the international terminal train deal. DFW is really good as well, DFW might be the best transfer airport but they lose at lot of votes for lack of CLEAR at AA entry points. I’d vote for AMS -Schipol as a good airport that really ticks a lot of boxes, good lounges, good hotels onsite, good parking, good transfers, good security, good shopping and restaurants. LHR and CDG would be good but are just a big mess. LAX is also underrated as a good airport I think. I’m no fan of the AA “eagle’s nest” but with lounge access it’s OK. At the end of the day the best airport is one that will get you to where you are going without too much fuss and without crappy TSA wait times. I’d give ATL and DEN the award for worst TSA lines.

    • Agreed about LAS. Getting to and from the airport is the worst part of going to Vegas…aside from the trashy drunk idiots, taxi/Uber scammers, and smoke filled casinos. There’s no excuse for a rail link to the strip considering how close it is, or at least a better Uber process or an efficient shuttle system. One thinks the LV taxi mafia holds major sway. I’m also not a big fan of having to take a tram from terminal to terminal, it’s kind of confusing for someone not accustomed to not going there. The entire process of going to this airport raises stress level, and that’s a sign that’s it’s not a good airport.

  2. Great subject for a story. Totally agree that LAS checks all the boxes in USA, MIA is great if you have PP. Internationally, it’s hard to beat Doha. Incheon is awesome as well. Singapore is totally overrated. I just don’t get why everyone is so impressed with the place? Security at the gate and then you can’t go to the toilet, ridiculous. Japan is unbelievably terrible for international airports, for everything else it does so well. Stupidest design – BKK or KLIA2 – both great for standing in line and 1 mile plus walks. People go nuts for Amsterdam, why? Helsinki and Istanbul are so far superior, it’s a joke. Start looking at the up and coming airlines. Forget KLM, BA, LH – awful airports. One thing is certain – SG is the most overrated product on the market. I’d knock TG as well, but everyone knows they won’t be around much longer.

    • While I provided my favorite domestic airports for the story, I really like Helsinki Airport. I think it is my favorite of all I’ve visited in Europe. Lovely design.

      The new Istanbul airport, while nice, is freakishly far from the city center.

      • Ian – I had listed IST as my favorite until I remembered that part. The airport is really awesome, but the arrival there with no good public transit options (aka you must use Uber or taxi) took it out for me.

  3. FRA is pretty high up on my list. There’s good lounges, a fair amount of nearby shopping, a nice rail connection for both short and medium haul, and hotels within easy walking distance. They also have smoking areas that are clean and accessible. I’m a nonsmoker but sometimes travel with one so this really eases stress.

    • Christian – agree FRA is good. I used it a lot in the 2.5yrs I lived in Germany (even though MUC was closer, but FRA often had the connection I wanted). It’s quick and user-intuitive.

  4. Even me, as one person, has different criteria so there is no one best airport. Some plausible criteria include:
    1. not too much walking. This is not an issue for me but what about when I am 85 and not frail enough for a wheelchair but cannot walk long distances? ATL, AMS are examples of failures. ORD, while big, doesn’t have that much walking, particularly Terminals 2 and 3.

    2. if being picked up by car. If so, LIT Little Rock Arkansas, OMA Omaha Nebraska, and MCI Kansas City fit the bill. MCI is a bit far from the city so maybe a tad less.

    3. if taking public transit. If so, DCA Washington National or SIN Changi Singapore isn’t bad.

    4. if making a connection, some airports are more interesting than others. Some also have a greater number of connections.

    5. architectural design is nice to look at. EWR Newark is far uglier than IAD Washington Dulles or CDG Roissy Paris. By the way, who calls it Charles de Gaulle? If I take a taxi, I always say “l’aeroport a Roissy, terminal 2A”

  5. With a 6 hour layover at MCO what are the best eateries for a family of 5, with 2 adults and kids ages; 19, 12 and 7.

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