What Passengers Are Looking for in Airports

When they are stuck at an airport waiting for their flight, all travelers want to eat, shop or surf the web, according to a recent survey by ORC International.

The online survey found that:

  • 57 percent of passengers would spend time after check-in at a restaurant or bar
  • 39 percent would use the internet
  • 32 percent would shop
  • 44 percent said they would be interested in exploring a history, science or cultural exhibit
  • 16 percent would be interested in a massage or spa treatment
  • 12 percent would want to take their kids to a playground

Fortunately, there are airports across the country which offer these traveler-friendly amenities. We rounded up a list of the best airports in the country in each of these categories.

Best Airport Restaurants and Bars

JFK’s Terminal Five – This much-lauded terminal has “an unrivaled culinary monopoly on airport restaurants,” according to Food & Wine. There’s Deep Blue, which offers sushi and tempura; The Italian Aeronuova headed by New York City star chef Mark Ladner; Brasserie La Vie, which serves French bistro-style cuisine; and Piquillo, a tapas bar. All serve up dishes that will make your stomach thank you profusely.

New York’s LaGuardia Airport – There are a few spots in New York’s other airport to grab a satisfying bite. But head to the Delta terminal and you will find a surprisingly-nice, high-end food court. There’s Custom Burgers by Pat LaFrieda for the perfect patty, Tagliare for that awesome New York slice and Prime Tavern for all your steakhouse fare.

Los Angeles International – No airport food roundup would be complete without mentioning LAX’s space-themed Encounter, which serves California-inspired fare in a Jetsons-esque setting. Kids will love the unique décor and parents will love dishes like wild mushroom ravioli and sesame crusted Norwegian salmon. The restaurant is in the famous Theme Building. You will want to check out Pink’s Hot Dogs in the international terminal and La Brea Bakery in Terminals 1, 2 and 7.

Boston Logan – There’s no better place to enjoy the famous Legal Seafood chain than in its hometown. Logan is home to the Legal Test Kitchen in Terminal A, which offers a smaller menu and fast service; Legal C Bar in Terminal B with a full menu and plenty of beer options; and a traditional restaurant in Terminal C.

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Best Airports for Internet Access

Dayton International Airport – Use the free Wi-Fi available throughout the terminal and recharge all of your mobile devices at one of the two new charging stations in Concourses B and C.

Boston Logan Airport – The airport offers free Wi-Fi and seats that incorporate a power outlet (marked with a clear charging icon).

Salt Lake City – One reviewer on talktechcomm.com noted that the airport had free Wi-Fi and plenty of charging stations near bars.

Which Airports Offer Wi-Fi? Here’s the Top 50

Best Airports for Shopping

Portland International Airport – This airport steers clear of luxury boutiques and duty-free outlets, favoring local retailers. Stop in the famous Powell’s Books or shop for women’s clothing at McKenzie Shoes & Apparel. Portland-based brands Columbia and Nike also have outposts in the airport, and if you are looking for a good souvenir, grab a six-pack from one of the 36 microbreweries in the city. Even better, Oregon has no sales tax, and they guarantee that prices at airport retailers will not be any higher than they would be downtown.

San Francisco International Airport – This one made a recent Today list because of its regional offerings, including Ghiradelli chocolate, Napa Valley vintages and sourdough. For fashion lovers, there is the affordable clothing retailer MANGO, and for art lovers, the San Francisco Museum of Art store. And, of course, there is the requisite Duty Free and label-heavy fare for those who live for a little luxury.

Pittsburgh International Airport – This Pennsylvania stop ranked first for best concessions by Airport Revenue News. The airport?s “design standards have resulted in attractive storefronts, strong themes and an inviting shopping atmosphere.” There is a little something for everyone, too, from Creative Kidstuff for your little ones, to L’Occitane in Provence for mom, to the PGA Tour Shop for dad. Plus, there are plenty of familiar chains including Rite Aid, Gap, Brooks Brothers, Nine West and The Body Shop.

Best Airports for Kids

Boston Logan International – Kids will love the Boston Children’s Museum-designed Kidport in Terminal C. The hands-on, interactive exhibit encourages kids to think and play while they climb model airplanes and slide down a baggage claim slide.

Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport – Terminals B, C and D all have padded play areas with comfy spots for weary parents to sit. Kids will love getting to the playgrounds via the airport’s Skylink.

Chicago O’Hare – The Chicago Children’s Museum helped design “Kids on the Fly,” a playground complete with mini control tower, luggage station and helicopter, which are all accessible to kids with disabilities.

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Best Airports for Culture

Washington Dulles International Airport – If you have a long layover, take the 15-minute, 50-cent bus ride over to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The free museum’s giant hangars house a variety of airplanes and spacecrafts that are sure to leave you and your kids wide-eyed.

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport – The Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum on level 2 looks back at the start of air travel with videos, memorabilia and a full-sized Cessna 172.

John Wayne Airport, Orange County, Calif. – The Airport Arts Program presents “museum quality exhibitions,” holds periodic special programs, and sponsors an annual student art contest and exhibition.

Top 7 Best Airport Hidden Treasures

Best Airports for Pampering

Newark Liberty International Airport – At its two locations, d_parture spa offers a variety of services including spa manicures and pedicures, full-body and chair massages, cuts and colors, facials and even oxygen therapy. There are also Massage Bar locations where you can receive a seated massage or reflexology.

JFK – In JetBlue’s posh Terminal 6, you will find a full-service location of New York’s Oasis Day Spa. But do not worry, you will not need the day ? spa services are tailored to jet-setting travelers, so there are express options. You can get full-body or chair massages, manicures, waxing and facials.


Published: October 18, 2011