All my recent travels inspired this post. You can tell what I look for in an airport. (hint: food and power outlets).
Best airports, in no particular order:
SFO (San Francisco): Great food! It was voted best airport food in some award, and it deserves it. Plus, there’s plenty of power outlets and companion-accessible bathrooms. The bathrooms all have these awesome hand dryers, too. They look sort of like a square-nosed Jaws the shark. You stick your hands in, and voom! Dry in 12 seconds or less. And you can get there by BART. Lucky for me, I get to spend a lot of time at this airport.
DEN (Denver): Spacious, easy to navigate, decent food options, moving walkways, generally few delays.
BOS (Boston): Just discovered this one. Wins points for actually having protein sources I can eat.
DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth): I was only there once, but it was clean and organized. I liked the train that connected all the terminals.
PHX (Phoenix): My old home. Modern, straightforward, rarely delayed. Not much character, just like its home city, but it works for what I need. Also there’s lots of cheap parking.
ABQ (Albuquerque): Stylish and southwestern looking. But most notably, it has a branch of Garduno’s, one of my very favorite New Mexican style restaurants. (New Mexican is different from standard Mexican, authentic Mexican, or Tex-Mex. It can even be subdivided into regular New Mexican and Santa Fe style New Mexican. But I digress.)
AMS (Amsterdam): Swank! Big cushy recliners for napping, multilingual signs, free lounging areas that weren’t part of clubs. Very nice place.
Edited-to-add KOA (Kona-Kailua): I can’t believe I forgot this one! There’s no roof. The whole airport is outside, including baggage screening and everything. (There’s a small roof-like part over some of the more critical areas. But the waiting areas and terminals are open to the sky. You can see waving palm trees and feel the gentle Hawaiian trade winds. It was a treat. (Except for poor Shannon melting without air conditioning.)
LAX (Los Angeles): Just went through there for the first time. Ugh. Dingy, badly lit, no outlets, weird seating formations (to prevent people from lying down, I think). At least I wasn’t stuck there.
ORD (Chicago): It wouldn’t be so bad except… a) I have to go through here a lot on transfers, which means I need dinner, and b) they do NOT SERVE food I can eat. Everything, including the pre-made sandwiches, is full of red meat and cheese. I’m usually stuck with a bagel and a salad (a nasty iceberg one, usually). I’ve tried packing my own food, but it usually makes a mess in my bag and it’s one more thing to carry. But anyway.
MAD (Madrid): Dark and outdated. Admittedly, some of my dislike for the airport stems from having to stay there overnight before a 6 AM flight because of public transit issues. Stone benches are not comfortable for any part of human anatomy.
MOW (Moscow): There’s actually three airports and they each have their own code, but I can’t remember which one I was in. It wasn’t the one with the car nailed to the ceiling. Anyway, it was creepy and weird. This was 1996 when I was there. Creepy, dim, and all done with a very institutional feel. If I ran an insane asylum, I might use this as my model.
Airports which I feel mostly neutral about: Portland OR, Seattle-Tacoma, Minneapolis-St Paul, Chicago Midway, Chattanooga, Atlanta, New York JFK, Washington-Dulles, Las Vegas, Hartford, Orlando, Frankfurt, Zurich, Berlin, and a whole bunch of local/regional small airports.
And for people who look at different factors than I do, here’s the best airports for sleeping.