Unwanted Layovers May Not Be So Bad in Top 10 Airports

North American airports vary widely in quality—as many travelers will discover this winter when bad weather strands them between flights.

Avoiding travel-related holiday stress requires getting marooned in the right place, according to Sleeping in Airport’s 2014 survey of the best overall airport experience. The rankings cover comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service, as well as amenities and what it terms extravagances: spas, yoga studios and even welcoming puppies.

Some repeat winners are on the list, and this year, PLANADVISER National Conference attendees will likely recognize a new entrant. Orlando International Airport was voted in because it is clean, efficient and pleasant.

The top 10 winners are:

  1. Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) International Airport (YVR). Beautiful, comfortable, clean, friendly and the top-voted airport in North America again this year. Art exhibits, an aquarium, great food, great nearby public transit, rest zones and ample “aboriginal cultural influences” make this airport an interesting spot to be stuck for a while. For-pay lounges include resting rooms and showers, with a spa and gym available at an adjoining hotel.
  1. San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Consistently clean, friendly, convenient and entertaining, with an aquarium, showers and luggage storage. A yoga studio, reading rooms, an aviation museum and a “wag brigade” of puppies trained to de-stress travelers are other amenities.
  1. Tampa (Florida) International Airport, USA (TPA). Clean, modern and easy to navigate, with quick and efficient security systems, fast and free Wi-Fi, permanent art exhibits, a business center and a hotel connected to the terminals.
  1. Portland (Oregon) International Airport (PDX). Comfortable, clean, convenient and friendly, with free Wi-Fi, good food options, free filtered water bottle-filling stations and plenty of power outlets. One of the few airports still almost entirely carpeted.
  1. Detroit (Michigan) Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW). The $15 “Westin Workout” pass gives access to the hotel’s health club, pool and showers, a full-service spa, retail shops and free mini-makeovers.
  1. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, USA (DFW). For the sleepers willing to pay, the new Minute Suites can be rented hourly. Soundproof suites provide weary guests with a TV, a bed and access to showers. When storms hit, this is one airport that consistently provides stranded travellers with cots, pillows, blankets and toiletries.
  1. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, USA (MSP). Given that Minneapolis, Minnesota, is too often subject to some intense winter storms, it is lucky that MSP is as pleasant as it is for delayed passengers. The airport has incorporated a few thoughtful touches to aid with a prolonged stay, including a 1.4-mile walking path that tours the perimeter, and a good variety of shops and restaurants.
  1. Toronto Pearson International, Canada (YYZ). Generally there are also a number of comfortable benches along with quiet places where you can catch a nap. Goodlife also opened a gym in Terminal 1 this past year, providing an extra bonus to fitness-minded travelers.
  1. Orlando International Airport, USA (MCO). Rankings describe MCO a wonderful place for sleeping, given that there are plenty of long benches, quiet corners and dim lighting. An extra convenience: most of the charging stations are set up right beside the comfortable sleep areas.
  1. Indianapolis International Airport, USA (IND). Amenities and activities beyond a meditation room are limited, but the airport makes up for it with their courteous staff and quiet atmosphere.