By Paul Brady
July 08, 2020
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John Fleck/Courtesy of Indianapolis International Airport

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

If you ask Travel + Leisure readers, the best domestic airports are the small ones. Among the many charms of quick-to-navigate terminals: local food and drink options, free Wi-Fi, destination-specific shopping, and short security lines. All were factors in deciding this year’s winners.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L 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. Readers rated airports on access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, and design.

At No. 8, Dallas Love Field made the top 10 this year, thanks to high-quality restaurants, helpful staff, and intuitive concourses. Many voters praised the manageable size of Love Field as a positive, saying they preferred it to the more hectic Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. “Love Field is what all smaller airports want to be,” one reader said.

No. 2 Portland International lost the top ranking it enjoyed for the past six years — but was a very close second, less than a point behind the 2020 winner. The Oregon airfield still has its ardent fans: “PDX is far and away the best airport I have flown through,” one reader said, summing up Portland’s many assets. “Extremely easy to navigate, signage is wonderful, and you can find anything you are looking for very easily. Customer service staff is wonderfully helpful.” Another reader wondered, “Why can't more airports be as comfy and cozy and welcoming as this one?”

Other smaller airports with high scores this year include No. 5 T. F. Green, near Providence, Rhode Island, which readers said was a terrific alternative to Boston Logan International. “Miles better than flying through Boston,” one voter said. Also on the East Coast, No. 6 Savannah/Hilton Head International got nods for its navigability — and for its rocking chairs and ice cream stands. “The least stressful airport in the U.S.,” one reader said.

A few larger airports did make this year’s list, including No. 3 Minneapolis-St. Paul International, which one reader called “much improved over the past year.” No. 7 Detroit Metropolitan also made the cut.

But it was another Midwestern hub, Indianapolis International, that emerged victorious. Below, the reasons why, along with the full list of the best domestic airports.

1. Indianapolis International Airport

John Fleck/Courtesy of Indianapolis International Airport

Score: 80.51

More information: ind.com

After winning the runner-up spot last year, Indy’s airport is the champ for 2020. Readers said this airport was “outstanding,” with top-notch amenities, short security lines, and ultra-clean facilities. “It’s my favorite,” one reader said. “Just a great place to travel through,” another concurred. “I’m there at least four times a year, and it’s a great airport, beautifully designed,” one frequent visitor said. While a few gripes about the variety of food options were mentioned, voters agreed that this “very modern” airport was a winner. “I fly out of Indianapolis each week for work,” one reader wrote, “and this is definitely one of the absolute best-designed airports for ease of travel.”

2. Portland International Airport, Oregon

Courtesy of Port of Portland

Score: 80.38

More information: flypdx.com

3. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

Courtesy of MSP International Airport

Score: 78.41

More information: mspairport.com

4. Tampa International Airport, Florida

Courtesy of Tampa International Airport

Score: 77.82

More information: tampaairport.com

5. T. F. Green Airport, Rhode Island

Courtesy of T.F. Green Airport

Score: 77.30

More information: pvdairport.com

6. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, Georgia

Courtesy of Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport

Score: 76.88

More information: savannahairport.com

7. Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Courtesy of Wayne County Airport Authority

Score: 76.12

More information: metroairport.com

8. Dallas Love Field

Courtesy of City of Dallas

Score: 75.30

More information: dallas-lovefield.com

9. Palm Beach International Airport, Florida

Courtesy of Palm Beach International Airport

Score: 75.09

More information: pbia.org

10. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Texas

Sandy L. Stevens/Courtesy of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Score: 74.88

More information: austintexas.gov/airport

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.