Monday, April 30, 2012

LGA SUX:  Travel & Leisure Magazine's reader survey on twenty-two major American airports places all three NYC airports (plus PHL and LAX) in the bottom five, with MSP, CLT, DTW, MCO, and SFO (what, did they not poll US Airways customers?) topping the list. Airports were rated in seven categories: flight delays; design; amenities; food and drink; check-in and security; prominence of Rosetta Stone kiosk; service; and transportation and location.**

(Isaac, don't bother clicking on the link. Slideshow.)

** I may have added one.


  1. Chuck4:26 PM

    The Rosetta Stone kiosk. . . . Too good, Adam.  I feel like that Kiosk appeals to the one of the best parts of ourselves, the part of us that aspires to learn more and to develop ourselves to our fullest.  It also speaks, "So, you've known about this trip to France for six months and just now, moments before boarding, you think you are going to learn French en route?  Oh wait, you don't speak French.  I mean, while on your way to France."

  2. 1.  IAH is a pain to get to and annoying to deal with baggage claim--they've designed it so you have a ridiculously long walk from your gate to bag claim, though, on the plus side, this means you aren't standing around at the carousel waiting as long.

    2.  I know MCO was in the midst of a major renovation when I was last there, but my flight home was delayed, and while there was a bunch of stuff in the main terminal pre-security, once you got past security and into the gate area?  A pretzel cart and a half-ass newsstand.  Ewww.

    3.  MIA is evil for rental car pickup, as you have to walk nearly half a mile with bags to get on the train to the rental location.

  3. Randy4:50 PM

    I used to live in Denver, and for a while I was travelling between Denver and Vancouver BC quite a bit.  And they're absolutely right about DEN's location.  Once you're there, it's a beautiful airport: big and spacious and well-served by amenities.  But wow it takes a while to get there.

    Because I live in Canada (apart from two years in Denver), most of my US airport experience involves arriving from or travelling to Canada.  And it's been my experience that US airports save their crappiest gates/terminals for Canadian flights. Logan... Laguardia... Newark: they're all TERRIBLE. (I mean, they're terrible in general, but extra-special terrible for Canadian flights.)

  4. LGA Is the seventh circle of hell.  Dante said so...look it up.

  5. Adlai5:05 PM

    Rick Bayless's Tortas Frontera at ORD are a blessing.

  6. gtv20005:17 PM

    I've lived in the Bay Area and since I moved away flown back there maybe thirty times.  I always use SFO even if I'm going to the East Bay (Oakland) or the South Bay (San Jose).  SFO is so much easier to get in and out of, especially if you're renting a car, that it's worth the extra drive.  OAK and SJ have grown way too much in volume for their physical size.

     And I lived in Denver for a while - I don't mind driving a little for the benefit of landing a little farther from those windy foothills.  It's still exciting enough for me.

  7. Marsha5:23 PM

    I was gobsmacked that ORD wasn't in the bottom five, but then the world righted itself when I saw it was 6th worst.

  8. isaac_spaceman5:27 PM

    I won't click; thanks for summarizing.  Incidentally, I get why "location" (and ease of train access) might favor BWI over IAD, but it's just amusing that people will complain about the location of LAX, JFK, and LGA.  You can choose not to go to NYC or West LA, but if you're going to go to those places, where do you think the airports should be?  Is there an international-airport-sized plot of real estate in Manhattan available at government-payable prices, short of dropping planes at 75-degree approach angles onto a paved-over former Central Park?  And aren't all those West Angelenos put out by the appalling five-mile/75-minute drive to LAX the same ones who put Santa Monica Airport out of the commercial air business for noise reasons?  Folks, the problem isn't that your destination airport is poorly located; it's that your destination is poorly located. 

    As for amenities, though, yeah.  I've been in LAX during a mid-day no-good-reason blackout, and I defy anybody to explain why it took 40 years for IAD to give up on the ridiculous elevator-buses. 

  9. Depending on where you're going in NYC, it can be very quick to get from JFK or Newark into the city (or vice versa) on public transit.

  10. Joseph J. Finn6:04 PM

    If you can't take a train directly to the aiport (assuming your city has trains), you should automatically be towards the bottom of the list.  (How O'Hare gets dinged 17th for location is beyond me; one the other hand, ORD and MDW both need to be dinged for no WiFi.)

  11. The Pathetic Earthling7:31 PM

    The single criteria I use to judge an airport's greatness is whether or not I get to walk down the stairs onto the tarmac.  I <3 Burbank.  I used to <3 Lihue, but no longer.

  12. Duvall7:34 PM

    It's a little odd that Travel & Leisure's readers seem to have forgotten that BWI is located in Baltimore.

  13. isaac_spaceman7:46 PM

    Relatedly:  deplaning from the rear.  Gaming the system by snagging the second-to-last window seat on a to-Burbank Southwest flight is one of the underrated pleasures. 

  14. isaac_spaceman7:57 PM

    Counterpoint:  (1) when it's foggy in SF, which is often, they close one runway at SFO.  This means that SFO suffers huge weather delays that don't affect OAK at all.  (2) if you live in the bay area, parking at OAK is easy ,plentiful, and convenient (though you might have a long walk in the rain).  Parking at OAK adds about 10 minutes compared to drop-off.  Parking at SFO adds about 40 minutes compared to drop-off, and that's if you park at long-term parking and not one of the (further away) private places.  And those 40 minutes seem way longer if you're going from plane to car on a return trip from the east coast at 11:30 p.m. or later.  (3) For a while, OAK was easier than SFO for out-of-towners who were not taking rental cars, because there was the BART bus.  Then SFO got the BART extension.  Now OAK's BART extension is under construction.  My guess is that BART is going to be the same price and time to downtown SF for both airports.  Given SFO's flight delays and OAK's high number of Southwest flights, you're probably going to get to downtown SF cheaper and on-timier through Oakland if you want to ride the train.

  15. Stevie8:27 PM

    <span>Maybe it's because I'm used to it, but I don't mind flying out of ORD at all. I've found security particularly efficient. And just on the convenience factor, I'd fly out of ORD over Denver any day -- so far away!  
    I did just fly through MSP, though, and it was a pretty great airport. It does help, I suspect, that it doesn't have quite the same volume  as the New York/LA airports.</span>

  16. Anonymous8:39 PM

    The last time I flew, I was lucky enough to be at the gate right next door, so I enjoyed the Bayless yumminess without missing my boarding call.

  17. Guest was me. And sorry for the double post. Stupid wi-fi problems.

  18. I was also surprised that DFW was rated so low.  The only airport I ever sent a thank you letter to was DFW.  I was travelling with my twin sons, who were 11 months and crawling, but not walking, and we had a 2.5 hour lay-over in DFW.  They had play areas in the airport!  And one was only a few gates down from where we were to depart from.  It saved my life.

  19. Rebecca10:05 PM

    I really only use, LGA, LAX, and DTW, with any regularity and I generally feel okay about LGA (i dunno, it feels kinda cozy to me) and hate DTW, I guess I should be reassessing my priorities?

    Also, there was that one time I flew into Flint. Not really pertinent to the conversation*, but in case anyone wanted an update on the status of Flint, MI, it's still a place you can fly to.

    *the ridiculous 1980's light tunnel I had to sprint through to get on my connecting flight to Flint is a significant part of my irritation with DTW 

  20. Anonymous11:29 PM

    The problem with the NYC airports isn't the location per se, but the fact that none of them have one-seat train access. To get to Newark or JFK, train access is pretty good, but you have to switch to an AirTrain to get to a terminal. To get to LGA by transporation, you're just screwed. Especially when you compare to DCA, where to metro goes right to the terminal. 

    Otherwise, most of the US doesn't have public transportation, so public transportation isn't as big of a deal as it is in NYC. 

  21. Jessica11:37 PM

    LGA is god-awful to get to. I once almost had a coronary when I missed a train connection and then a bus connection and then made it to the airport 25 minutes before my flight (having planned on getting there 60 minutes early). I made it on board, due to digital boarding pass/already checked in, realllly short security lines, and no checked bags.

  22. Jenn.8:26 AM

    I used to have a lot of NJ-based cases. I had so many delays and cancellations that I would tell people that purgatory for me would be the Newark Airport without the Starbucks. Then came the time that I got off the plane, and the Starbucks was gone.... Scary stuff.

  23. BWI is about as convenient to downtown DC as Dulles is. And they're right--it's WAY nicer.

  24. Genevieve12:49 PM

    DEN is so damn far -- I always forget when scheduling flights, and then pay for it later.

  25. gretchen1:39 PM

    I've been flying in and out of the Bay Area for 16 years and there was definitely a Golden Age of the Oakland Airport, when it was cheap and easy.  For an upcoming trip, I've been really surprised at how few transcon flights there are into OAK; the nonstops into OAK are also late in the day.  It's disappointing. 

  26. gretchen1:40 PM

    I love that about Burbank!  Flying into Burbank feels like flying into 1963. 

  27. Andrew2:00 PM

    I was the Guest above. 

    LGA can be decent to deal with. For a 7 AM flight, I was from my door in Brooklyn to the gate in 25 minutes. No traffic and no security line was amazing. ANd other times, the security line in the morning can be ridiculous.

  28. Anonymous3:54 PM

    Exercise is good, Matt.

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