Smaller Airports a Traveler’s Pleasure?

My dad LOVES flying out of Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York. Once he found out he could get out of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York without heading to Newark, JFK or La Guardia and the hassle that comes with mega airport travel, he heads to Stewart if he can find the connections.

This summer when I landed at the airport in Bellingham, Washington and found the Hertz car rental counter so close to baggage claim that I could pick up my bag and rent the car at the same time, I was hooked on the simpler life. I’m not alone. According to Gary Stoller’s article in USA Today, business folks often prefer smaller airports without all the amenities that the bigger ones do.

Convenience is the reason. There isn’t as much traffic to get to them, car rentals, as in Bellingham, are closer, gates aren’t miles apart to get to or for connections between flights and security lines are generally shorter.

Not all small airports are equal, however. Some lack in speed when it comes to uniting passenger with bags. Austin-Bergstrom airport in Texas is one of the culprits. This slower than molasses in January approach landed it on the bottom of the ratings. Texas generally does airports right, though. It has the highest ranked airport as well, plus a few high ranking others. William P. Hobby airport is number one. Dallas Love Field is number two. San Antonio International Airport is three and El Paso is number four. I found it interesting that Port Columbus International (in AP photo, Jay LePrete) is ranked number 17, only two higher than Austin-Bergstrom. If it’s not one of the best, I have to say, it’s not bad. As a helpful hint, Wendy’s has $1 meal options, but you have to go there before you go through security.

Large airports still have a large fan club in tact. If you miss a connection, it’s more likely you’ll get another flight fairly quickly. Plus, there’s more to do to pass the time in airports geared for keeping the masses entertained while they wait.