Photo courtesy of ThinkstockMore than 3.3 billion passengers flew in 2014, according to the International Air Transport Association. North America’s airports rank among the busiest in the world, handling more passengers than any other region on the planet; traffic to, from and within the United States continues to grow.
The more you travel, the more spending time at the airport becomes an inevitability. While layovers, delays and overbooked flights often leave passengers in the airport terminal longer than they’d planned, many airports around North America are going above and beyond to make the airport experience a pleasant one.
10Best Readers’ Choice teamed up with Airport Revenue News (ARN) to honor the best airports and concessions in North America. Miami International was a reader favorite, taking home titles in three of the 10 categories: Best Airport for Shopping, Best Airport Newsstand/Travel Essential (Air Essentials) and Best Shop for Local Merchandise (The Shoppes at Ocean Drive).According to 10Best readers, Miami International Airport has the best shopping. — Photo courtesy of Miami International AIrport
The full list of 10Best Readers’ Choice airport winners are:
Best Airport for Dining: Long Beach Airport - Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Long Beach, Calif. claimed the 10Best Readers’ Choice title of Best Airport for Dining, thanks in part to its great representation of local flavors. Taco Beach Cantina has long been a must-visit on Pine Avenue, and the airport version serves the same tacos, burritos, nachos and margaritas that made it famous. Other Long Beach local favorites, like McKenna’s Burger Bar, 4th Street Vine Wine & Beer Bar and George’s Greek Cafe, also have locations within LGB.
Best Airport Sitdown Dining: Ruby's Diner - George Bush Intercontinental - Ruby’s is a '40s-style diner serving breakfast, burgers, salads, famous fries and Rubyrings. The location inside Houston's George Bush Intercontinental also offers made-to-order shakes and malts, as well as a full bar.
Best Airport Grab-And-Go Dining: Garrett Popcorn Shops - Chicago O'Hare International - Travelers at Chicago O'Hare can pick up takeaway tins from Garrett Popcorn Shops, a popular Chicago delicacy featuring flavors like as CheeseCorn, CaramelCrisp and the signature Garrett Mix.Perfect airport snack? 10Best readers voted Garrett Popcorn Shops at Chicago O'Hare. — Photo courtesy of Garrett Popcorn Shops
Best Airport Local/Regional Dining: Elway's - Denver International - The Denver International Airport edition of the popular Denver steakhouse, named after Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, has a menu featuring prime steaks, fresh fish, soups, appetizers and salads.
Best Airport Bar: Whisky River - Charlotte Douglas International - Whisky River, created in partnership with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., features an extensive food menu and a bar offerings for travelers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Those with a layover should try the signature drink Moonshine Mule made with Midnight Moon original moonshine, ginger beer and lime juice.
Best Airport Bar/Restaurant Atmosphere: Phil's BBQ - San Diego International - A local San Diego favorite now offers fast-casual barbeque in the airport. Phil's BBQ serves a menu of mesquite grilled baby back and beef ribs, chicken and sandwiches that lives up to its street-side location.
Best Airport Bar/Restaurant Wait Staff: Bar Symon Pittsburgh International - Bar Symon at Pittsburgh International Airport features excellent drink offerings and a food menu designed by celebrity chef and James Beard award winner Michael Symon. Service is quick and attentive.
Best Airport for Shopping: Miami International Airport - There are plenty of Duty Free options, especially in the North Terminal, of Miami International. One of the highlights is the Shoppes at Ocean Drive in the same terminal. The airport has also developed a marketplace to showcase local vendors and products.
Best Airport Newsstand/Travel Essential: Air Essentials - Miami International - Air Essentials, a convenience store-like concept at Miami International Airport, sells over-the-counter medication, snacks, candy, beverages and various health and beauty aids, travel accessories and even souvenirs.
Best Airport Shop for Local Merchandise: The Shoppes at Ocean Drive - Miami International - Travelers at Miami International will find lots of local Miami flair at The Shoppes at Ocean Drive, named after the famous street in Miami Beach. Pick up some great local gifts, especially fresh stone crabs to go!
Awards presented at ARN Conference
Airport Revenue News announced its annual Best Airport & Concession Awards at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas on Wednesday, bringing to a close the ARN 2016 Revenue Conference & Exhibition.
ARN provides media coverage and expert perspective on issues affecting businesses operating within airports. The company’s annual event brings together the airport concessions industry to network and learn about the latest industry trends. The event also features an exhibit hall of established and emerging brands as well as a host of major concession operators.
For the first time in 2016, USA TODAY 10Best teamed up with ARN to give the traveling public an opportunity to vote on their airport favorites in the lead up to the conference, held March 6-9. The Readers’ Choice awards were presented by Travis Seward, VP of Travel for USA TODAY 10Best.
“Airports play an important roll in the traveler’s experience. Today, more than ever, travelers expect to be able to find an airport dining or shopping option to fit every lifestyle.” said Seward. “With the help of over 83 thousand voters, we are happy to present the winners of the 2016 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice awards for the airport category.”Long Beach Airport won in the category Best Airport for Dining. — Photo courtesy of Long Beach Airport
ARN worked with industry experts to vet and nominate 15 finalists per category, and USA TODAY 10Best readers had three weeks to vote daily for their favorites in each category at 10Best.com. Nearly 150 different airports and airport concessions were nominated.
ARN announced industry awards
ARN also presented its own industry awards. Nominations began in September 2015, and a committee of industry professionals voted on the winners of each category from a pool of short-listed finalists.
"On behalf of the staff at Airport Revenue News, we would like to congratulate all of the award winners," said Ramon Lo, publisher of ARN. "But this is also a time to celebrate the entire industry. The ARN Awards showcase how far airport concessions have come and how much more creative they continue to be. These are the industry's awards.”
The ARN Awards program winners are as follows:
Property Manager Of The Year
James Tyrrell, Philadelphia International
Airport With The Best Customer Service
Large: Denver International
Medium: Vancouver International
Small: Reno-Tahoe International
Airport With The Best Concessions Management Team
Large: Dallas/Fort Worth International
Medium: Nashville International
Small: Edmonton International
Airport With The Best Concessions Program Design
Large: Los Angeles International
Medium: Vancouver International
Small: Long Beach
Airport With The Best Overall Concessions Program
Large: Toronto Pearson International
Medium: San Diego International
Small: Pittsburgh International
All winners will be featured in the upcoming April issue of ARN. This issue will also recap the many highlights from the 2016 conference.