Aging infrastructure and booming demand for air travel have put a sometimes unbearable strain on North America's airports. While it's no secret our domestic facilities often lack the amenities and architectural flair of their international counterparts, there are a few airports that can hold their own.
In March, leading aviation reviewer Skytrax released the results of its annual World Airport Awards, which includes a list of the best airports in North America. The Skytrax annual rankings are based on the impressions of nearly 14 million fliers from 105 countries. More than 550 airports were included in the survey, which covers 39 service and performance parameters, including facility comfort, the location of bathrooms, and the language skills of the staff.
Here's a look at the airports in North America that ranked the highest:
10 best airports in North America
10 best airports in North America
10. New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
Yearly passengers: 56.8 Million
Previous rank: 9
Why it's great: For many, JFK Airport is synonymous with the glory years of aviation. For others, JFK is no more than a crumbling relic of a bygone era.
In reality, the JFK of today is neither. Gone are the dated 1960s-era terminal buildings and their dilapidated facilities. In their place are modern terminal facilities that are either newly constructed or recently renovated. JFK customers cite the airport's new terminals and shorter security lines as key improvements.
Why it's great: SeaTac is the busiest airport in the Pacific Northwest. It serves as the main hub for Alaska Airlines and is one of Delta's gateways to the Far East. Skytrax customers noted the airport for its cleanliness, wide variety of dining options, and efficient baggage system.
8. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
Yearly passengers: 43 million
Previous rank: 11
Why it's great: Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport was the 11th busiest airport in the US in 2015. IAH serves as a major hub for United Airlines and is home to 29 airlines with direct flights to more than 160 destinations around the world. The airport's five terminals and five runways sit on over 11,000 acres of land.
Why it's great: DFW is the fourth-busiest airport in North America and the ninth busiest in the world. The airport serves as the main hub for American Airlines, as well as the gateway to Latin America for many others. Customer reviewers liked the airport's open circular design and convenient intra-airport transportation.
Why it's great: Toronto is the busiest airport in Canada and serves as Air Canada's main hub. Located just outside of Toronto in Mississauga, Ontario, the Pearson Airport has state-of-the-art de-icing facilities and revamped check-in areas. Skytrax customers gave the airport high marks for its clear signage and easily navigable layout.
5. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Yearly passengers: 101.5 million
Previous rank: 5
Why it's great: Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world. It serves as the main hub for Delta Airlines and its 800-plane fleet. Though the airport has long been plagued by congestion and delays, the addition of a new $1.4 billion international terminaland fifth runway helped alleviate those problems.Atlanta International Airport also has a variety of Southern regional foods and an extensive African art collection.
Why it's great: Featuring one of the most beautiful approach paths in commercial aviation, San Francisco International Airport serves as United Airlines' gateway to the Pacific Rim. Situated on the San Francisco Bay, the airport features a modern Craig Hartman-designed international terminal. Though customers have complained of its cramped dimensions, they have noted the airport's efficient use of the space it does have, as well as ease of movement between terminals.
Why it's great: Perhaps the most architecturally daring of the airports on this list, Denver International opened for service in 1995 as a replacement for the city's old Stapleton International Airport. Denver receives customer plaudits for its efficiency and customer service. Skytrax customer reviewers give the airport high marks for atmosphere and cleanliness.
2. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Yearly passengers: 6.8 million
Previous rank: 3
Why it's great: Even though Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport is one of the smallest on this list, reviewers have consistently rated it as one of the best in North America. In fact, Skytrax named CVG as the second-best regional airport in the world for 2017. Reviewers have cited short lines, an open design, and an extensive collection of industrial murals as some of the airport's positives.
Why it's great: Vancouver tops this list for the eighth year in a row, and for good reason. Customer reviewers on Skytrax cited the airport's friendly staff, high level of organization, and easy access to downtown Vancouver as some of the best things about the airport.
Vancouver International also boasts a floatplane terminal, an aquarium as well as a sizable collection of art from the Pacific Northwest.