New York fancies itself the biggest and the best at pretty much everything. But when it comes to airports, the city that never sleeps is really good at being the absolute worst.
Few places offer as much decrepitude, congestion, or inconvenience as LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports, both of which are warrens of passenger misery. These two took top “honors” as the lowest-ranked North American airports in the 2016 J.D. Power study of airport satisfaction. Boston’s Logan, Chicago’s O’Hare, and Philadelphia airport rounded out the bottom five. They were ranked on a 1,000 point scale based on responses from more than 36,000 travelers who made a round-trip flight between January and October.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport ranked 15th in customer satisfaction among large airports with 734 points.
This summer, LaGuardia Gateway Partners, a public-private partnership, launched a $4 billion overhaul of the airport aimed at dragging it into the 21st century. The ancient central terminal building will be replaced, with a new structure and its 35 gates moved closer to the adjacent turnpike and located where a now-demolished parking deck once stood. The redesign will give aircraft more space to maneuver, and help relieve LaGuardia’s severe congestion.
On the happier side of the equation, passengers ranked Portland, Ore.; Tampa; Las Vegas, and Orlando as the best large airports. Miami came in fifth, displacing Salt Lake City.
As in J.D. Power’s prior studies, the overall highest scores were collected not by the behemoths noted above, but by medium size airports. These, unsurprisingly, tend to offer easier access and less congestion, said Mike Taylor, director of airport practice at J.D. Power, which is part of the London-based investment firm XIO Group.
One of those midsize airports, Indianapolis was the very top scoring U.S. airport. Vancouver, tied for points with Albuquerque, was the highest-scoring Canadian airport.
When it comes to a common denominator among the best airports, it may not come as a surprise that it’s not bright lighting, comfy chairs, or even the number of bars that make the grade: Clean restrooms are what generally win the day.
The five best airports were Indianapolis International, Buffalo Niagara International, Southwest Florida International south of Fort Myers, Jacksonville International, and Portland International.