Airports I have loved…and hated

As my friends and family know, I travel for business.  I estimate that I’m on the road an average of 3-4 days per week 45 weeks per year.  And almost every one of those weeks involves at least 2 flights.  So when a friend tagged me in a Facebook post detailing the “20 worst airports in America” 20 Worst Airports in America I had to read and comment on it.

Of the 20 Worst I have flown into and/or out of all but 4.  JFK in New York, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood FL, Boston Logan, and Miami.  No experience so I’ll skip comment on them.  Others, Philadelphia and Charlotte, I have only made connections in so I’ll also skip comment on them.  Here goes the rest:

20.  Charlotte-Only made connections there.  No opinion.

18a (tie) Ronald Reagan National-I’ve flown into and out of all 3 of the Baltimore/D.C. area airports and for the most part I’m pretty ambivalent about Reagan.  The first time I flew in there was very memorable.  About 15 minutes before landing the pilot came on the intercom and described the landing procedure.  “We’re going to bank hard to the right then hard to the left.  We’ll be flying below the tops of some of the buildings as we make our final approach.”  He was right, it was exhilarating.  As for amenities I can’t really say.  It wasn’t great but it didn’t suck.

18b-Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington-My employer’s headquarters are in Owings Mills, a Baltimore suburb so I fly into and out of BWI at least once a year for training.  I have two issues with BWI.  First, I usually fly United and BWI is more of a Southwest hub so UAL flights are limited.  Second, when you fly in on United you are at the very south end of the terminal, the last place for the rental car shuttles to stop.  Many times the shuttles are full having stopped at all the other loading locations.  I have often waited 20 or 30 minutes for a rental car shuttle with enough room to let me on.  Beyond that, it’s okay.

17.  Kahului (Maui) HI-  Come on man, it’s Hawaii! How can it be bad?  On my last business trip to Hawaii I had to fly into and out of this airport twice.  I was coming from another of the islands so it wasn’t a typical 4 or 6 hour flight from the mainland.  Rental car access is pretty simple, it’s a small airport so there’s not a lot of walking involved.  Frankly, I’m not sure how this one made the list of Worst.

16. Seattle/Tacoma- Okay, I have a major issue with this airport being listed as one of the Worst.  In fact, this is one of my favorite airports for a couple of reasons.  Yes, I’m a bit biased.  I love Seattle and revel in every opportunity to visit there so I’m a lot more forgiving than some would be.  One of the comments in the Worst article was the lack of places to eat after 10pm.  Seriously?  You can’t plan your meals around flight times any better?  And who eats supper after 10pm?  One of my favorite things about Sea-Tac is the food.  I’m a big fan of Anthony’s Home Port and there is one in the airport.  Besides that there are plenty of other great places to eat if you’re not a fan of fish.  I’m a little disappointed that Ivar’s Fish Bar closed.  Not sure if it will be back after construction is done or not.  The only other issue I have is not really an issue for me.  I fly mostly United and there are now zero late flights out of Seattle to my home airport in Denver.  If my meetings are such that I can’t make it to Sea-Tac by 4:00pm I’m not going to get home that night.  Which means…..I have to spend another night in Seattle.  Darn the luck.

15.  Lambert/Saint Louis- I’ve flown in and out of here quite a bit and, again, I’m a little surprised that it’s on the list.  If you fly United it’s a short walk to the rental car shuttle and a 5 minute ride to the rental car facility.  There are plenty of gas stations around so you don’t have to search for a place to fill up the rental car.  This probably isn’t in my top 10 favorite airports but it’s definitely not worthy of being one of the top 20 worst.

14.  JFK New York-Never flown into or out of here.  No comment

13.  Washington Dulles- Like Reagan, I’ve flown in and out of Dulles a couple of times.  The Worst article mentioned the grueling travel from Washington D.C. to Dulles and it can be challenging.  On their behalf, there is a special lane on the highway dedicated to Dulles travelers.  You can’t get off this freeway before Dulles.  It’s worked out well for me.  As far as the facilities, I have no complaints though it wouldn’t be one of my top 10 favorites.

12.  Miami International- Never been there.  No comment

11. Oakland- I’ve flown into Oakland a couple of times.  Nothing sticks out in my mind either positive or negative.  I haven’t flown there in quite some time since there don’t usually seem to be any non-stop flights to Denver when I’m able to travel.

10.  Boston Logan- Never been there.  No comment

9.  Fort Lauderdale /Hollywood FL- Again, never been there.  No comment

8.  Louis Armstrong New Orleans-I’ve flown into and out of here once and out once after driving from Jackson, MS to Baton Rouge for meetings.  Haven’t spent enough time in this airport to form an opinion but I can say that I did have one of the best meals I’ve ever had at a Hilton hotel near the airport.  No other opinions.

7.  Daniel Inouye Honolulu International-Again, It’s Hawaii!  How can it be bad?  I’ve been to Hawaii twice.  Both times this was the first airport I encountered and the last airport I encountered in HI.  I have zero issues with this airport.

6.  Philadelphia-I have only been here twice, both times to make a connecting flight.  Both times I had to walk rapidly since my connecting flight was quite a distance from my arriving flight.  No chance to stop or look around.  No opinion.

5.  Chicago O’Hare-Another disagreement.  I would rate O’Hare as one of my top 2 most hated airports.  O’Hare is a major hub for United so I often have to make connections there.  In the 50 or 60 times I’ve had to connect at O’Hare only 1 time has my inbound flight been on the same concourse as my connecting flight.  Add to that the musical gate changes and it’s a nightmare.  Once I was standing in line to board the plane when everyone got a text that we had a gate change.  We all went running from Concourse B to Concourse C.  When we arrived at the new gate we were told the flight had been changed back to the original gate on Concourse B and they were boarding so we needed to hurry.  Grrrrrr…..that situation may be a United problem, not an O’Hare problem but the airport is certainly complicit.  On their behalf, Rezzios has the best hot dogs I’ve ever eaten.  Also, O’Hare recently opened a new rental car facility.  Previously there was only one way to get to the old rental car facility without paying a toll and most GPS devices didn’t recognize that route.  The new facility is easy to get to without tolls.  Still, I think O’Hare should rank higher on the list than 5.

4.  LAX Los Angeles-I used to hate LAX.  Terminal #7, the United terminal, was a hole.  Dark and dirty, generally unsafe.  Traffic on the streets makes it difficult to get into and out of and there are no gas stations conveniently located for your rental car.  About a year ago LAX completed a remodel of Terminal 7 and now it’s nice.  Bright and airy, and the United Club there is amazing.  Still, though, it’s difficult to get into and out of the airport due to traffic.  It’s L.A….go figure.

3.  Kansas City-This is a tossup with O’Hare for my most hated airport.  I view Kansas City International as my perception of a 3rd world airport.  It’s small and horribly outdated.  The last couple of times I’ve been there I’ve heard rumors of a new airport in the works.  Please God, let it happen.  I have 2 major gripes with the KC airport:  First, there are ZERO decent restaurants in the terminal either before or after you go through security.  The bigger problem, though, is how the Concourse is laid out.  In most airports if you are at the wrong end of the place you can walk to the other end of the airport without having to go through security again.  Not so with Kansas City.  If you are flying United and get to the United gates you are stuck.  No place to eat, no place to get reasonable snacks.  And if you want to go to gates for other airlines you have to go out of secure areas and come back through security again.  I have TSA pre check which at the Kansas City airport is worthless if you don’t fly on Delta.  The United check point doesn’t have full capacity TSA Pre-Check.  It’s small, there are very few electrical outlets, aaaarrrrrgggghhh!  Don’t get me started.  This airport should be either 1 or 2 with O’Hare.

2.  Newark-I’ve only flown in here once and took a cab to Manhattan.  No opinion.

1.LaGuardia- This is the only airport I’ve been to where I saw uniformed military guards carrying M16 rifles at the entrances to the terminal.  Nuff said.

So there you have it.  My take on the 20 Worst Airports in America.  Some I agree with, some I disagree with, and some I have no opinion on.  How bout you?

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