Airport waiting in the US
Best of the Rest,  North America

The Best Airports in the US

The United States is home to a large number of international airports and has some of the busiest airspace on the planet. Its airports though don’t always receive the most positive reviews with long queues, extensive checks and serious, unwelcoming officials among the list of common complaints. Few have facilities to match the state of the art, modern offerings in the Middle or Far East either, but there are a few gems. In this post we look at the best airports in the US and how all the biggest ones rank according to Google reviews.

While Google’s review/rating system may not be the absolute perfect way to rank airports, at the very least it’s a strong indicator as to how good the passenger experience is. Ratings are accurate as of 7th October 2021. For the purposes of this article we only looked at the 35 busiest airports in the US, according to 2019 (pre-pandemic) passenger figures.


The 3 Best Airports in the US according to Passenger Ratings


Tampa International Airport

USA airport
Tampa International via Tom Driggers, CC BY 2.0

The top ranked of the busiest 35 airports is Tampa International with an impressive score of 4.6. Few airports globally can better that with Singapore, widely regarded as the world’s best airport, only scoring slightly higher at 4.7.

Therefore Tampa can certainly lay claim to being the best airport in the USA. Travellers report the speed with which you can get through security and get to your gate, a sensible layout and overall cleanliness as reasons for the many five-star reviews it has attracted. The airport also offers free parking for an hour which makes the process of picking up and dropping off passengers much less challenging than it is at other airports, both in the US and worldwide.

It may not have as many long-haul flights as Floridian neighbours Miami or Orlando, but there are direct connections to European cities such as London, Zurich and Frankfurt and it’s certainly one of the best airports in the USA for international travel. For a slightly more relaxing start to a trip to Florida, you may want to consider flying into Tampa.

Google Rating: 4.6

Portland International Airport

3000 miles away from Tampa in the opposite corner of the country, lies Portland International, another of the best US airports. It’s by far the biggest airport in the state of Oregon with 20 million passengers per year during normal times.

That makes it nowhere near as hectic or busy as major US airports such as JFK or Atlanta, but it’s still large enough to have a wide selection of places to eat and drink and good overall facilities. It’s often the small things that add up to give airports (or indeed any type of public service) a high rating. That seems to be the case with Portland with happy passengers commenting on the large number of charging points as well as water fill stations in the bathrooms.

The airport has won many awards over the last decade and is currently undergoing an expansion of its main terminal. This will eventually create more space in the pre-security areas when it is completed in 2025.

Google Rating: 4.5

Dallas Love Field Airport

Love Field Airport view
Dallas skyline from Love Field Airport via RockIn’Rita, CC BY-ND 2.0

It is perhaps a bit easier for the smaller, less crowded airports to score well across the board and the number three slot does go to another of the smaller airports in the shape of Dallas Love Field which receives much more positive reviews than the main Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The lack of international flights into Love Field is perhaps a factor in that with US border controls often enough to sour anyone’s airport experience. Apart from having a cool name, Love Field Airport also has lots of nice quirks and fun areas for adults and kids alike where you can learn about the city. There are also musicians in some areas which helps to create a cheerful atmosphere.

Another positive, is how close to the downtown area it is, with Love Field Airport located roughly midway between the city and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. As a result, it’s quite easy to get quickly into the heart of Dallas while transfers are also not too much hassle if you’re connecting to/from another flight from Dallas/Fort Worth.

Google Rating: 4.5


The 35 Biggest US Airports Rated & Ranked


Ranking Airport Google Rating
1 Tampa International Airport 4.6
2 Portland International Airport 4.5
3 Dallas Love Field Airport 4.5
4 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport 4.3
5 Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport 4.3
6 Detroit Metropolitan Airport 4.3
7 Baltimore/Washington International Airport 4.3
8 San Diego International Airport 4.3
9 Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport 4.3
10 San Francisco International Airport 4.2
11 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 4.2
12 Denver International Airport 4.2
13 Las Vegas McCarran International Airport 4.2
14 Orlando International Airport 4.2
15 Miami International Airport 4.2
16 Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport 4.2
17 Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport 4.2
18 Nashville International Airport 4.2
19 Austin–Bergstrom International Airport 4.2
20 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport 4.1
21 Seattle–Tacoma International Airport 4.1
22 Boston General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport 4.1
23 Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport 4.1
24 Salt Lake City International Airport 4.1
25 Washington Dulles International Airport 4.1
26 St. Louis Lambert International Airport 4.1
27 Chicago O’Hare International Airport 4.0
28 New York JFK International Airport 4.0
29 Charlotte Douglas International Airport 4.0
30 Los Angeles International Airport 3.9
31 Philadelphia International Airport 3.8
32 Newark Liberty International Airport 3.7
33 Honolulu International Airport 3.7
34 Chicago Midway International Airport 3.7
35 New York LaGuardia Airport 3.6

The above table highlights some of the best airports in the US as of 2021. None of those with 4.3+ ratings are among the 10 busiest airports in the country, but Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport comes pretty close to that with nearly 50 million passengers per year before Covid.

Most rank between 4.0 and 4.3 in terms of their google reviews so the three best airports in the USA featured above really do stand out, and the same can be said of those at the bottom of the table.

It’s not a great surprise to see two of the New York airports in the bottom four. LaGuardia is widely regarded as one of the worst US airports and it is the lowest rated of the 35 biggest in the country with neighbouring Newark not a great deal better. 

Proving that smaller airports don’t always rate higher we have Honolulu and Chicago Medway, two of the other least popular airports with US travellers. Both were opened in the year 1927 and both could do with a bit of TLC and an upgrade or two according to these ratings.


This post on the USA’s best airports was written in October 2021, based on ratings at that time.


 

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