For all the perks like art galleries and sleeping pods that airports add to their terminals, the deciding factor for many travelers is still whether or not they can get through check-in and security smoothly.
We asked T+L readers to evaluate U.S. airports as part of the World’s Best Awards survey and found that more hubs should follow the example of Indianapolis, voted No. 1 in the check-in and security category. Ample natural light helps travelers find their way from point to point, check-in counters are never more than 45 feet from the entrance doors, and the baggage system moves luggage quickly in and out of the building.
Smaller airports like Albuquerque and Austin, TX, also received high marks. The screening procedures at these airports are usually fast (and friendly) and the gates an easy stroll from the terminal entrance.
But even airports not blessed with innovative layouts or a diminutive stature are finding new ways to speed travelers along, including self-service check-in kiosks and self-tagging of bags, courtesy of American Airlines in Austin and British Airways in Las Vegas.
The dreaded security process has been enormously improved by the TSA PreCheck expedited screening program, which is now available for international flights too. The TSA has installed PreCheck lanes in 40 airports, with planned expansions into 60 more domestic airports by the end of 2013.
Meanwhile, in-airport PreCheck enrollment centers will also soon start rolling out—opening up the program to all U.S. travelers (no passport or frequent-flier membership required). The first will be in Indianapolis and Washington Dulles this fall, followed by some 300 locations across the country.
Read on for more airports that are improving the terminal experience.