Best Airports in the United States and Asia

Getting There is Half The Fun


Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

Entry to Immigration at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

As the old saying goes, “Getting there is half the fun!” Nonetheless, many are finding the airport experience to be trying between post 9/11 security restrictions, lengthy lines, and long walking distances combined with a decline in service.

At the same time, consumers are feeling squeezed between higher airfares and additional fees. Meals and checked-luggage which were once free now come at a price. As a result, many find it frustrating to pony up additional hard earned dollars for in-flight meals, checked luggage, and an array of additional services which range from early boarding to preferred seats.

The good news is, getting there can still be half the fun if you use the right airports, plan in advance, and follow a series of travel tips we’ll be publishing in the upcoming days.

This past July, I set out to visit many of the great airports here in the United States and in Asia. I had the opportunity to visit many great airports (and some which could use improvement) along with taking flights on a variety of US and International airlines.

Best Airports in the United States

Tampa International Airport Airside E

Tampa International Airport Airside E and International Concourse.

As new, modern airports in Asia and the Middle East are setting the bar when it comes to the best, we have some excellent airports here in the United States. Trekking across the nation,Detroit-Metro Airport(DTW), Minneapolis/St. Paul International (MSP), Portland International Airport (PDX), Silicon Valley’s San Jose’s Mineta International (SJC), Tampa International Airport (TPA), and Washington DC’s National Airport (DCA) all make our list as top-notch facilities.

The busiest airport in the world, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), doesn’t quite make the list, but it’s noteworthy to mention it’s a highly efficient airport when the weather is good with its five parallel runways. On a similar note, Chicago’s Midway International Airport (MDW) isn’t anything to write home about, but as Chicago’s second airport, it’s a highly efficient operation.

Other US airports such as Los Angeles International (LAX) are going through major modernization programs. If the greater Los Angeles area is in your travel plans, be sure to look at nearby alternate airports including Orange County (SNA), Long Beach (LGB), and Burbank (BUR).

Garden or Airport

Spectacular Garden or Airport? Welcome to Singapore Changi Airport!

Best Airports Across Asia

Across the Pacific in Asia,Singapore’s Changi Airport(SIN) tops the list and is rated Best in the World by FlyersPulse. Changi Airport sets the bar and with so much to offer, the airport is a destination in its own right. Other top airports in Asia include Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), Seoul’s Incheon Airport (ICN), and Tokyo-Narita (NRT). The smallest, yet most beautiful, Koh Samui Airport (USM) in Thailand.

Sign to arrivals or international transit

Sign directs passengers to the arrivals hall or to international transit security for connections.

Unlike the United States, airports across Asia (as well as Europe) offer international transit zones for passengers. The sign above is at Tokyo’s Narita Airport (NRT) and directs passengers to the arrivals hall or over to transit security for connecting international flights.

Shanghai Maglev Train

Maglev Train Pulls Into Longyang Road Station from Shanghai Pudong (PVG) Airport.

While Shanghai’s Pudong Airport (PVG) didn’t quite make the list as a result of air traffic congestion problems, it’s well designed and features the Maglev Train which connects the airport with Longyang Road Station. The Maglev Train uses magnetic levitation for a smooth ride and is the fastest train in the world as of this writing.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), also known as KLIA, seems promising but feels empty and institutional, especially the “G” gates which are used for Boeing 737-800 aircraft operating regional routes.

Duty Free at HKIA

Hong Kong International Airport provides a large array of duty free selections.

If you love shopping, you’re in luck when it comes to Asia’s best airports. The large Asian airports which made our list, plus many others, feature some of the best duty-free shopping in the world.   While cosmetics, alcohol, and tobacco, are the big duty-free sellers, you’ll discover much more including your high end retailers.  In the end, something for everyone!

FlyersPulse will be featuring and rating each of these airports – but we value your feedback too!

Do you have an airport which you feel is the best?  Let us know!

Which airline to use?

For travel within the domestic United States, unless you’re loyal to a particular airline for a good reason, I’d go by cost and schedule. Short of flying enough to earn elite status with a frequent-flyer program or having an airline credit card which provides you with a free checked bag, chances are you’ll be paying for checked luggage unless you’re flying Southwest.

When traveling with a family, checked luggage fees can add up fast. The good news is it’s possible to travel light and avoid the brunt of checked luggage fees, a topic we’ll be covering soon.

Thankfully the legacy carriers still provide one free checked bag when making a long-haul international trip to or from the United States. Additionally, meals are complimentary.

When flying on airlines outside of the United States, unless you’re on a low cost carrier, service standards are high and you can generally count on a meal on any flight longer than one hour – yes, even in economy!

For long-haul international flights, I’ve found service is improving on some US carriers. As a result of industry consolidation, US airlines are engaged in fleet renewal projects and are making significant modifications to their older aircraft.

Delta 747-400 landing at Detroit

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 747-400 from Tokyo lands at Detroit-Metro Airport.

On recent trips to Singapore and Shanghai on US based Delta Air Lines, I was actually impressed with their service in economy. However, as a general rule, most Asian and a variety of European carriers have a leg up when it comes to in-flight service.

If you’re looking for additional space but can’t afford business class, many airlines offer a premium economy product. Short of a premium economy product, you can also gain more space by upgrading to a seat with more legroom such as an Economy Comfort seat on Delta or an Economy Plus seat on United.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy, as our upcoming series featuring both airports and travel tips will help you alleviate the stress associated with air travel.

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