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10 Of America’s Nicest Airports (10 To Avoid At All Costs)

Airports can either be a major source of joy or a major source of frustration, which is entirely dependent on your outlook. If you're someone who loves travelling that doesn't automatically mean you love the idea of heading to the airport, and in turn, you could absolutely loathe the idea of flying but still enjoy the process of the airport shenanigans.

From having some food and a drink with your friends to the hustle and bustle of security, there are many pros and cons associated with the practice of going to the airport and we aren't denying that. In fact, we're actually embracing that, because every single thing associated with any given trip can help to make it oh so special.

Over in the US, people tend to travel for a variety of reasons - work, vacations, or maybe just visiting friends and family. There's quite a wide spectrum and courtesy of the nation's overwhelming size, they've got an abundance of airports spread throughout every single state. Some are tiny, whereas others will leave you feeling like an ant.

So whether you're a local heading on a cross-country adventure or you're a foreigner in search of a fun trip abroad, you're in luck. Your perspective could always be entirely different to ours, of course, but in the general sense of things that are enjoyable at airports, we think that this is a pretty comprehensive list - but of course, we would say that, wouldn't we?

So sit back, enjoy, and let your imagination flow.

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20 Nice: Orlando - A gateway to adventure

Via: orlandoairports.net

We're kicking things off with a big one: Orlando International. This airport plays host to an astonishing amount of individuals on a year-by-year basis, primarily because of how popular it is as a vacation destination. It's warm over there, the parks are great, and the scenery is often pretty nice in our estimation.

In terms of the airport, things are pretty good too. It's nice and spacious which ensures you don't feel too cramped, there are plenty of shops and places to eat, and arguably most importantly, it's clean. That isn't overly important to some, but it's always nice to be in a position where you don't have to worry about your germophobe tendencies.

19 Nice: Bradley, Connecticut - Everything you need  

Via: Bradley Airport

We'd argue that Connecticut is one of the most desperately underrated states in America and in turn, Bradley International Airport is equally as underrated. It may be small, but it's definitely a great alternative to the huge and overbearing equivalents that surround it.

There are a series of great restaurants for you to enjoy, a lot of charging stations for those of you who don't like to be away from your phones, and the parking options are great. It gives you everything that you'd want and need from an airport: nothing more, nothing less. That, in our books, makes it a resounding success.

18 Nice: Minneapolis Saint-Paul - they go all out with entertainment options

Via: Eater Twin Cities

Despite the overwhelmingly cold weather felt throughout the calendar year in Minnesota, people visiting the state, and Minneapolis particularly will enjoy a really lovely experience there. Why? Well, for one, the airport has a movie rental kiosk, which is enough of a reason to live there full-time.

Beyond that, though, they really do go all out when it comes to the entertainment options on offer. There are a series of great ways for you to pass the time before your flight, and it goes without saying that the food options live up to the Minnesota hype created in How I Met Your Mother.

17 Nice: Portland, Oregon - embraces local culture

Via: Travel + Leisure

Portland is already a pretty great and underrated city in the realms of the USA, and it's a shame that more people don't pick up on that. Thankfully, even if you're just passing through the city via a changeover, you should be able to pick up on that.

The airport is really well connected to the city, more so than most at least, which makes it incredibly convenient for all different sorts of travellers regardless of how long you're staying for. Plus, it's one of the only major airports that embraces local culture with a lot of Portland-based shops to be found throughout the terminals.

16 Nice: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky - In and out, lickety-split

Via: WVXU

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport may have one of the longest names in the United States of America, but there's much more to it than that. Beyond how many different destinations it travels to, there's one very specific trait that it possesses above the majority of alternatives.

Which is, of course, that it's quick. It doesn't matter how late you are as you attempt to board your flight because you'll be able to go through the whole airport process quicker than you probably have done in your life. That isn't just a hint or a guess, either, that's a damn near guarantee.

15 Nice: John F. Kennedy - The Best choice in NYC

Via: New York Yimby

As is the case in major cities such as London, there are a string of airports in and around New York City that allow you to access The Big Apple. Some are better than others, but for the most part, we can just about guarantee that JFK is the best of them all.

You don't need much in the ways of 'wow' factor when you're touching down in NYC, because let's face it, the city itself gives you all the wow factor you need. The best part about John F. Kennedy Airport, in truth, is what it represents. It truly is the passageway to one of the greatest holidays or trips you're ever likely to have in your lifetime.

14 Nice: Indianapolis - Some say it's higher quality than the city itself

Via: Reader's Digest

Indianapolis is viewed as a fairly unremarkable city by many, which is a shame because the history of the Pacers and the Colts alone should be enough to warrant you spending a long weekend there. Nevertheless, what the city itself lacks in quality, the airport more than makes up for that.

It's highly regarded as one of, if not the best airport in the United States and we can understand why. It's incredibly efficient from the shops to the pilots, it's really clean, the runways are great and work like clockwork, and it's one of the nicest security experiences you're ever likely to have.

13 Nice: San Francisco - efficient and comfortable

Via: Eater SF

Anyone who has travelled to San Francisco will be able to tell you what a truly remarkable city it is in many ways. Los Angeles may be the obvious choice for many when they head to Cali, but trust us when we tell you that San Fran exceeds it with ruthless efficiency.

The airport stands up to that reputation, too, and the best thing that we can say for it is that it's very, very comfortable. One of the main issues with airports can be that they don't provide you with the comfort that you need either on the flight or whilst you're waiting to board, but San Fran gives you that in addition to some great architecture.

12 Nice: Savannah/Hilton Head - a miniature version of Disneyland

Via: Thomas Hutton

Speaking of architecture, we've arrived at probably the most breathtaking entry on the list: Savannah/Hilton Head. Located just outside of Savannah, Georgia is this fantastic airport that makes you feel like you've been transported to a miniature version of Disneyland.

It's known for being one of the happiest airports in the USA and there's no denying that on our end, with quirky shops as well as really friendly staff. You can also shop for authentic cigars too if you're into that kind of thing, but for the most part, you'll probably just want to wander around marvelling at your surroundings - and we wouldn't blame you.

11 Nice: Palm Beach - They go that extra mile to show that they care

Via: Palm Beach International Airport

The place has a got a putting green - what more could you possibly want?

But in all seriousness, aside from that, you'll struggle to find many things wrong with Palm Beach International Airport. Not only is the place itself absolutely stunning, but the theming around the airport really does make you feel like you never want to leave.

On the flip side of things, when you arrive, it feels like you've stepped into your hotel from the moment you step foot off of the plane. It's one of the best examples we can think of when it comes to airports that go that extra mile in order to show that they care.

10 Avoid: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta - Just. Too. Big.

Via: Gresham, Smith and Partners

We're going to put this as simply as we can: this airport is just too big. While we can understand and appreciate just how big and 'fantastic' it is, the actual size of it is what causes the majority of problems for people who are travelling.

From the poor direction to the absolute age it takes to get from one terminal to the other, the shuttle bus doesn't make up for this atrocity as that's just as cramped. Oh, and despite the fact it's often used as a changeover airport, the majority of staff there don't actually inform you that you need to change your luggage over onto another flight.

9 Avoid: Los Angeles - Staff snobbery

Via: Leverage Wiki - Fandom

Los Angeles is a great place to visit and it's a lot of fun to spend time there, but the airport itself is an absolute nightmare. There are regular delays, you often have to wait hours just to get through security, and the signs that are supposed to tell you where to go are really ineffective.

Oh, and the snobbery on display from the staff needs to be noted, too. LAX should be one of the most fun places you could ever possibly visit because of what it represents, but in reality, it gives you a really foul taste in your mouth from the second you step off of the plane.

8 Avoid: Chicago O’Hare - Too many delays

Via: City of Chicago Investor Relations

Chicago is a lively city that's full of energy and great food, amongst a series of other things. Whether it's due to work or just a long weekend away with your friends and family, visiting here should feel like a holiday every single time.

Alas, it often resembles more of a nightmare when you're heading through Chicago O'Hare. One of the primary reasons for this is that the flights are delayed more so than most other big airports courtesy of the awful weather that the state of Illinois regularly endures.

Oh, and despite being so big, they really haven't figured out how to manage the numbers they bring in on a daily basis.

7 Avoid: Philadelphia - Food & Drink options are sub-par

Via: YC.NEWS

The City of Brotherly Love is good for a lot of things, but hosting an airport isn't one of them. Sure, all that matters to most people is that they have a good time when they actually enter the city centre itself, but the airport experience can make or break a trip for some folks.

So then, it doesn't help that the security system is really poor, there's very little guidance, and the food and drink selections aren't as good as you'd expect them to be for a place like Philly. Also, and this is going to sound a little bit picky, it's quite an inconsistent airport when it comes to the architecture.

6 Avoid: Newark Liberty - cramped and claustrophobic

Via: SOM

Newark Liberty Airport isn't very good and there aren't too many other ways to put it. That obviously isn't a great sign when you consider the fact that it serves as the primary airport for all of New Jersey, but we can't lie to ourselves here.

From a visual standpoint, it just doesn't have any real kind of appeal, with the aesthetics being all off from the minute you walk through the door. It doesn't feel like they make any real kind of effort to make it an enjoyable experience for you, and because it's viewed as being more cost-effective, the sheer volume of people that go here make it feel very cramped and claustrophobic.

5 Avoid: Miami - Feels way too businessy for a laid-back city

Via: YouTube

Miami is a really fun city and anyone who's been can relate to that statement, but the airport itself is the polar opposite. It feels way too 'business' orientated for what is supposed to be a laidback city, and from a financial point of view, it's just way too expensive.

They know that they're one of the biggest players in town which is probably why they don't feel the need to improve their facilities all too much, and that's a shame. As we've stated so many times already, a good first impression can mean everything when you're travelling around the world.

4 Avoid: Oakland - Jealous of San Francisco Across The Bay

Via: Wikipedia Commons

We aren't going to beat around the bush here: Oakland isn't the greatest of cities, and we're trying to put that as delicately as we can. When you visit it doesn't really scream 'California' in the natural sense, and that's echoed throughout the airport and beyond.

They've made no real effort to spruce up the place in an attempt to make it feel like an enjoyable destination, and that kind of highlights Oakland's true problem through and through. They need to build their reputation from the ground up, as opposed to just caving and playing off of the stereotypes that everyone else knows them for.

3 Avoid: Honolulu - living twenty years in the past

Via: Hawaii Travel Guide

If you're looking for a place to escape on holiday, then you'll be hard-pressed to find many better US destinations than Honolulu. It's viewed as a pretty stereotypical holiday destination, but trust us when we say that you shouldn't let that throw you off.

What may throw you off, however, is the looming threat of poor safety regulations at the airport. The place has a really bad vibe and doesn't feel like it's up to scratch in comparison to most other major airports in the country, as if it's living twenty years in the past.

That 'retro' feel can work sometimes, but not often.

2 Avoid: Boston Logan - Lines, everywhere

Via: One Mile At A Time

We don't have to sit here and try to sell Boston to you, because it's one of those cities that is able to sell itself based on reputation alone. Boston is the hub for so many different things across the New England region, and that's why their primary airport is so disappointing.

There are lines for just about everything because of the bad crowd control, the food is overpriced, and the people, once again, often aren't very nice. We may sound like snowflakes in that regard, but manners never cost a thing.

Besides, who wants to buy expensive airport food anyway?

1 Avoid: LaGuardia - unhappy atmosphere

Via: Observer

If you ask us, LaGuardia is the worst airport in the United States of America, and if you get the chance to fly into or out of JFK instead, then we highly suggest that you take that opportunity.

It's incredibly congested, there are so many delays that we aren't often even able to keep count, and it serves as a really poor alternative that some people only select because they think it'll cost them less - which isn't even always true.

It's also quite poorly lit making for a really unhappy atmosphere, and while we're excited to hear about renovation plans, it could be too little too late for some travellers.

References: World Airport Codes, Forbes, Huffington Post

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