Los Angeles International Airport - your blogger's home airport -- has been named the top airline in North America by readers of Business Traveler magazine.
Has there a horrible mistake? Or a typo? Perhaps Business Traveler meant Las Vegas? Or maybe Charlotte? Or Vancouver? Or, before United starting having major trouble delivering bags there, possibly it was Denver?
I like LAX. I used to cover it full-time, so I know how to have a seamless travel experience there. I know where to park, which doors to enter and exit, and which security lines are best. Because the airport has such a small footprint -- with about 3,500 acres, it is a fraction of the size of Denver and Dallas/Fort Worth airports -- it's relatively easy to navigate. It's also a lot closer to L.A.'s population centers than most similar sized airports, so for locals it's easy to reach, even in traffic.
But that doesn't make it the best airport in North America. Not even close. I'm sure you all have horror stories. The basic problem is that the airport has nine different terminals, and many of them are not connected inside security. There's also no automated train. If you fly in from Taipei and arrive in the international terminal, you must walk outside and lug your bags almost a half mile to reach your connecting flight at United's Terminal 7. Or you can wait for the bus, which I don't recommend unless you absolutely need to.
Yes, this is all slated to change. More terminals will soon be connected inside security, and the airport will have an automated train in about a decade. But that has not happened yet. So LAX is still a poor place to make an international to domestic connection. It also remains a crummy experience in terminals that have not been renovated, such as Terminal 3, home to JetBlue and Virgin America.
The good news is that things are improving. The international terminal is state-of-the-art, and most of the other terminals have either been recently renovated or will be soon. Southwest Airlines and United Airlines customers will see especially nice changes in a few years. The food in most of the terminals is already a lot better than it was five years ago.
But this isn't an award for 'most improved' airport. It's for 'best airport' overall in North America. And I just don't see how Los Angeles can be number one.
What do you think? Am I wrong?
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