According to a survey by J.D. Power in the fall of 2022, many Americans are frustrated with their current flying experiences, citing fewer flights available and more crowded terminals.
However, according to a recent survey conducted by the travel publication "Travel + Leisure" in July of 2023, Floridians may be luckier than some Americans when it comes to air travel since two of its airports ranked as the nation's best.
Interestingly enough, one of Florida's picks is actually a smaller, "relaxed" airport that Travel + Leisure readers have crowned a readers' favorite and another publication identified as having the shortest wait times.
The Travel Readers Picks: Travel + Leisure readers identified two Florida airports that were favorites based on convenience, short security lines, parking, and easily navigable terminals.
Neither Florida airport was identified as the best in the country. That honor went to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
Florida's highest-rated airport was Tampa International Airport, which may not be a surprise since J.D. Power Report also ranked TPA as the best larger airport in the winter of 2022.
What might be a surprise, though, is the airport that Travel + Leisure readers ranked Palm Beach International Airport - which is medium-sized and smaller than TPA- the 8th most popular in the country.
What's So Special About PBI?: Located in West Palm Beach, The Palm Beaches.com has called PBI a "relaxed" airport since it is less crowded and smaller than some of its South Florida peers.
The airport prioritizes enjoyment as it includes a spa, golf putting green, and 200 non-stop routes from 13 airlines, including traditional and budget varieties.
In February of 2023, PBI spokeswoman Nicole Hughes told the Sun Sentinel that although the national average for baggage wait times is between 10 and 50 minutes, PBI's wait times average only 10-20 minutes.
Of Travel + Leisure's ranking, Palm Beach County Director of Airports Laura Beebe told WPTV in July of 2023:
“We are very honored by this recognition because we take so much pride in providing passengers at PBI with a world-class experience. PBI has the most affordable parking of any South Florida major airport, among the shortest TSA screening times of any domestic airport, and nearly every budget-friendly airline operates here."
Locals and Visitors Give PBI High Marks: Google reviewers give PBI 4.5 out of 5 stars. Many reviewers note that the airport is very easy to navigate and is well thought out. Some noted that PBI is accommodating to pets and that food options were sufficient. A few said that the staff was patient and kind.
One reviewer had this to say on Google Reviews in August of 2023:
"Very organized, low-stress, non-crowded airport. Received a bag accidentally redirected here with the greatest of ease! Parking officer in the outdoor pick-up area was kind, patient, helpful, and respectful. This was a good, stress-free experience! I highly recommend this airport to those desiring to avoid crowds, chaos, and travel anxiety."
Opposing Opinion: Although Travel + Leisure readers and most Google reviewers had favorable opinions on PBI, one Yelper was less enthusiastic, writing in August of 2023, in part:
The airport is really cute and small, as far as airports go, and it is easy to traverse. My problem is with the workers here. The people working here were extremely rude and highly disrespectful!..."