When Finding the 'Best' Airport Matters
I've sometimes scoffed at those surveys that rank the "best" airports -- after all, if I'm headed to
-- When you're connecting from one flight to another. You often have a choice of different airlines or alliances that connect through different hubs.
-- When you have a choice of different airports at your destination.
When you have to connect, three main factors come into play in considering hub airports:
-- Typical weather -- you want to avoid hubbing in areas with frequent bad weather.
-- Congestion -- congestion means delays, delays mean possible missed connections.
-- Terminal changes -- you don't want long schleps from your arrival to your departure gate, and you really don't want a hub where you must exit one terminal and pass through security again at your connecting terminal.
Skytrax -- the big British-based airline data source -- just released the results of its latest worldwide airport rankings. They cover just about any airport you might think of using. And as with most Skytrax rankings, top scores are concentrated in
The world's best airport, says the survey, is
-- Top North American airports are
-- Top European airports are
-- And the best airports for international connections are Incheon,
Most top-rated fields act as hubs, too, so you can often find connections that use them.
Although the latest Skytrax scores and the ongoing star ratings cover many key airports, however, complete worldwide airport rankings are still "in progress." In fact, most major North American airports still await published scores.
As to those main U.S. airports, your general first choice among popular hubs depends on the type of trip. Winter weather problems, congestion, and public transportation are important regardless of your itinerary. If you're connecting between flights on the same airline, you usually don't need to worry about exiting and re-entering security -- transfers are "sterile," meaning you stay within a single secured area. But if you have to change airlines, non-sterile connections can be a major hassle. Here are my personal thumbnails for the biggest U.S. hubs:
No matter what else, a nonstop flight always beats a connection. But when you have to connect, connect at a good hub.
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