As Vice President Joe Biden recently pointed out, it has become painfully evident that airports in North America have struggled to keep up with international competition.
Ageing infrastructure coupled with booming demand for air travel have put a sometimes unbearable strain on facilities.
While it’s no secret that North American airports often lack the amenities and architectural flair of their international counterparts, there are, however, a few that can hold their own.
Leading aviation reviewer Skytrax just released the results of its annual World Airport Awards, which includes a list of the best airports in North America. The Skytrax awards are based on 39 parameters including ease of access, airport comfort, cleanliness, and wait times at check-in and security screenings. Nearly 13 million travellers from 110 different countries participated in this year’s survey.
Yearly passengers: 49 Million
2013 rank: 10
Why it's great: For many, JFK Airport is synonymous with the glory years of aviation. For others, JFK is no more than a crumbling relic of a bygone era.
In reality, the JFK of today is neither. Gone are the dated 1960s era terminal buildings and their dilapidated facilities. In their place are modern terminal facilities that are either newly constructed or recently renovated. JFK customers cite the airport's new terminals and shorter security lines as key points of interest.
Yearly passengers: 59 million
2013 rank: 7
Why it's great: DFW is the fourth-busiest airport in North America and the eighth-busiest in the world. The airport serves as the main hub for American Airlines as well as the gateway to Latin and South America for many others. Customer reviewers liked the airport's open circular design and convenient intra-airport transportation.
Yearly passengers: 33 million
2013 rank: 9
Why it's great: SeaTac is the busiest airport in the Pacific Northwest. It serves as the main hub for Alaska Airlines, and is one of Delta's gateways to the far east. Skytrax customers noted the airport for its cleanliness, wide variety of dining options, and efficient baggage system.
Yearly passengers: 4 million
2013 rank: 8
Why it's great: Stanfield is the smallest airport on this list, but it's not without its own charm. Skytrax named Stanfield the third-best regional airport in the North America in 2013. Customer reviewers raved about the regional cuisine served at the airport, which includes live lobster.
Yearly passengers: 96 million
2013 rank: 6
Why it's on the list: ATL is the busiest airport in the world. It serves as the main hub for Delta Airlines and its 800-plane fleet. Though ATL has long been plagued by congestion and delays, the addition of a new $US1.4 billion international terminal and fifth runway has helped alleviate those problems. ATL also boasts a wide variety of southern regional foods and an extensive African art collection.
Yearly passengers: 35 million
2013 rank: 5
Why it's great: Toronto is the busiest airport in Canada and serves as Air Canada's main hub. Located just outside of Toronto in Mississauga, Ontario, Pearson Airport boasts state-of-the art de-icing facilities and revamped check-in areas. Skytrax customers gave the airport high marks for its clear signage and easily navigable layout.
Yearly passengers: 44 million
2013 rank: 4
Why it's great: Featuring one of the beautiful approach paths in commercial aviation, SFO serves as United Airlines' gateway to the Pacific Rim. Situated on the San Francisco Bay, SFO features a modern Craig Hartman-designed International Terminal. Though customers have complained of its cramped dimensions, they have also noted the airport's efficient use of the space it does have, as well as easy movement between terminals.
Yearly passengers: 53 million
2013 rank: 3
Why it's great: Perhaps the most architecturally daring of the airports on this list, Denver International opened for service in 1995 as a replacement for the city's old Stapleton International Airport. Even though its now-infamous automated baggage system never truly lived up to expectations, Denver still receives customer plaudits for its efficiency and customer service. Skytrax customer reviewers also give the airport high marks for its atmosphere and cleanliness.
Yearly passengers: 6 million
2013 rank: 2
Why it's great: Even though Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport is one of the smallest on this list, reviewers have consistently rated it as one of the best in North America. In fact, Skytrax named CVG as the best regional airport in North America in 2013. Reviewers have cited short lines, an open design, and an extensive collection of industrial murals as some of the airport's positives.
Yearly passengers: 18 million
2013 rank: 1
Why it's great: Vancouver tops this list for the 5th year in a row, and for good reason. Customer reviewers on Skytrax cited YVR's friendly staff, high level of organisation, and easy access to downtown Vancouver as some of the key positives of the airport.
Vancouver International also boasts a float plane terminal as well as a sizable collection of art indigenous to the Pacific Northwest.
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