The Top 10 Domestic Airports in 2018
Travelers are increasingly gravitating toward destinations and experiences with a strong sense of place. Historically, domestic airports have filled terminals with national chains that appeal to the masses, rather than spotlighting homegrown operations. But that has finally changed in recent years, as many of the hubs our readers love most eschew big brands in favor of regional purveyors and hyper-local cult favorites.
The trend is especially noticeable when it comes to food options. These days, fliers can sample everything from gourmet doughnuts (Angel Food Bakery at No. 3 Minneapolis-St. Paul) and handcrafted ice cream (Amy’s at No. 6 Austin-Bergstrom International) to craft beer (Southbound Taphouse at No. 7 Savannah/Hilton Head International).
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Since 2013, we’ve asked readers to cast their votes for their favorite hubs across the world, rating airports on access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, and design.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
Standout cultural and entertainment offerings also distinguished several airports. Among the most notable: the eight-hole putting green at Palm Beach International (No. 9) and the public art program at Tampa International (No. 4) and Dallas Love Field (No. 10).
Beyond applauding hubs that celebrate regional artisans and culture, readers called out the importance of such practical components as cleanliness, safety, and accessibility. One hub that ticked all those boxes: Indianapolis International. “New, bright, beautiful,” described one reader. “Parking is easy. I never feel unsafe or feel that my children are unsafe.” Multiple fans also commented that the building’s high ceilings give it an airy sensibility, so it “never feels crowded.”
The category winner excelled in all these areas, bringing together a seamless curb-to-plane experience, standout local vendors, and a community-minded sensibility that impressed travelers — not just the ones who call it their home hub. Read on for more on the No. 1 airport, and see how the rest stacked up.
10. Dallas Love Field
9. Palm Beach International Airport
8. John Wayne Airport, Orange County, California
7. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport
6. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
5. Pittsburgh International Airport
4. Tampa International Airport
3. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
2. Indianapolis International Airport
1. Portland International Airport, Oregon
It may not be the newest or largest on this year’s list, but “user-friendly” PDX has garnered more than its fair share of enthusiastic fans — and not just for its famous #pdxcarpet. The airport excels in creating a smooth experience for travelers at every turn, from frustration-free security checkpoints (“TSA here is especially good,” said one reader) to affordable retail options minus the usual airport surcharges. Diversity of food and entertainment options — often with local flair — also contributes to its appeal. As one reader put it: “Where else can you sample local liquors, watch free short films, peruse Pendleton blankets, and enjoy a rotating art exhibit before a flight?”
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.