The holiday travel season is about to begin and one thing you can count on is you’ll spend plenty of time at the airport if you’re flying between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The travel site Orbitz has taken some of the pain out of holiday travel by compiling a Top 15 list of the best domestic airports to get delayed in this holiday season.
The list looks at things like the airports’ number of shopping outlets (the more, the better, so they say), dining outlets, WiFi speed (so you can Facebook post how annoyed you are to be stuck at the airport), and lounges.
The rankings also take into account the percentage of flights leaving on time and how many are canceled.
If you have family in the Atlanta area, consider yourself lucky, according to Orbitz. The rankings put Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as the overall best airport to get delayed in during the holiday season.
Seems the Atlanta airport, the busiest in the nation and a major connection hub, has the most shopping outlets (221). There’s also a virtual forest underground walkway between Concourses A and B where you can imagine you’re in a “peaceful grassy meadow under a canopy of trees,” according to Orbitz.
Travelers can also rent a private room that features a convertible sofa bed and a TV in Concourse B. And Hartsfield-Jackson has the fewest canceled flights of the Top 15 airports, with nearly 85 percent taking off in time and the third-fastest free Wi-Fi service (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which ranks No. 2 overall, has the fastest free WiFi).
So how did Florida airports do?
Orlando International Airport and Miami International Airport made the Top 15 list. Orlando is ranked No. 9 overall and Miami is No. 12.
Orlando does well in terms of its retail and dining options. There are 74 shops and 67 restaurants to choose from, according to Orbitz, along with 17 bars and eight coffee shops, including the ubiquitous Starbucks.
Orlando’s airport also has a noted art collection. Duane Hanson’s tired “Traveler” sculpture has been in its collection since 1986 and gets much social media attention.
But Orlando’s MCO gets some knocks in the category of flights leaving on time — just above 78 percent, which puts MCO at fourth worst in this category.
Newark Liberty International Airport (No. 14 overall) has the worst record of flights leaving on time: 68.4 percent. But with 28 bars and two spas where you can get massages, facials, manicures and pedicures, you can drink to forget you’re stuck and look pretty good when you finally arrive for Thanksgiving dinner.
As for Miami International Airport, the range of retail and dining options at MIA is “impressive,” according to Orbitz. There are 70 shops and 65 different restaurants at MIA, plus 22 bars and 10 coffee shops. Both Orlando’s MCO and MIA rank among the Top 5 for shopping outlets.
And history buffs who might want to revisit the era when flying was actually something glamorous can check out the outdated flight information display monitors inside MIA’s Concourse F, which have been refurbished by the airport. These boards now display film clips of MIA from the 1950s and 1960s. The videos show celebrity arrivals at MIA from the 1950s to the 1980s, like the Beatles and the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.) , as well as home movies that were filmed in Miami between the 1920s and 1960s.
MIA ranks No. 10 among the 15 airports for flights leaving on time (80 percent) and, with Orlando just above it, near the bottom at No. 12 in terms of canceled flights percentage (2.54).
MIA has 15 members’ lounges, ranking No. 4 in that category, but only one public lounge.
San Francisco International Airport has the most public lounges at 12. SFO also once brought in LiLou, “the first known” airport therapy pig.
But MIA has added its own cute distractions for stressed travelers. In September, MIA started its Miami Hound Machine project by bringing in canines from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs to comfort and de-stress passengers inside Concourse D.
For the complete list and breakdown of rankings visit www.orbitz.com/features/best-and-worst-airports/.