Summer is here and it’s already heatin’ up, well at least for us southerners it is. With temperatures reaching 90 degrees in some places, we can already tell it’s going to be a scorcher! In order to help you “keep your cool” this summer, we compiled this list of helpful airport hacks that’ll assist you in maneuvering stressful travel in the heat.
Whether it’s a “minute suite” in ATL to help you get some proper rest, or awesome fro-yo in MDW to satisfy that sweet tooth we’ve got them all listed here (well, at least for the 25 busiest airports in the US, that is) for your travel convenience. So read on, and enjoy planning the airport stops you’ll make this season to help you beat the heat.
Chicago Midway Airport is home to many Southwest flight attendants, which is no surprise since it’s one of their major bases and it’s where many of their flight connections run through. I, myself, practically grew up in this airport!
If you’re looking to avoid the craziness that is the food court at MDW, look no further than Glaciar City Frozen Yogurt. Located in Concourse B, you can stay away from the hoards of people fighting the food lines, and even pop across the hallway to charge your device at the charging station.
The whole airport is going through a massive modernization project, so keep your eyes open for all new food options, like the sushi restaurant that’s replacing my beloved Chinese one (I ain’t that mad though!).
A hub for Delta, Salt Lake City serves many connecting flights to western destinations – usually ski resorts! This airport is far from a slouch, especially after it garnered top marks for its impressive air traffic record this year. A pretty large airport, SLC offers a wide variety of food and snacking options.
Our food favorite option is the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Sure it isn’t Halloween, but that shouldn’t keep you from enjoying a delicious caramel-dipped apple! After you get your sweet treat head over to one of the airports XpresSpas.
They’re open from 6 AM to 9 PM and offer a great variety of relaxing treatments.
IAD is beautiful Washington D.C.’s main international airport, and it’s located in northern Virginia. A hub for United, IAD grew by 8% in its on-time departures in 2016. It’s known for being a busier and more crowded airport, but one not many can avoid.
If you’re a member of the military check out IAD’s USO lounge. It offers wifi, toiletries, snacks, a tv lounge, computers, and a library. When it comes to food, and if you want to get fancy and treat yo self, check out Wolfgang Puck’s “The Kitchen” near gate A22.
Usually used as an alternative to flying into Washington D.C., BWI is a major East Coast hub for Southwest Airlines. Situated in lovely Baltimore, this airport offers some really unique options for travel R&R.
For example, did you know that BWI offers a Cardio Trail? Well, it does! It consists of two different loops in the terminal that are both designated American Heart Association Walking Paths. Check it out next time you’re there and burn off some extra steam on the loops (each takes approximately 20 minutes).
Also, don’t forget to stop at The Marshall Observation Gallery (adjacent to the new B/C security checkpoint). It offers multiple amenities, as well as charging stations and the new Sky Azure (a trendy bistro offering small plates, local craft beers, and international wines).
Another one of those airports used in alternative to another, FLL is often used instead of Miami as an ideal entry point for visiting the beaches of south Florida. Southwest, Delta, and jetBlue are some of the major airlines that frequent here.
As far as good food goes here, I’ve been told (by Joan) that Casavana is the way to go. The Cuban restaurant offers an incredible variety of authentic Cuban cuisine and is open morning, noon, and night. When you’re not nom-nom-noming on fried plantains, check out the live music often offered at this airport.
Known as New York’s domestic airport, LGA handles the bulk of commuter shuttles to and from the Big Apple. It’s located in the northern part of the Queens borough, and has, may I say, an excellently easy to use website. Although I will admit that I had a giggle over their inclusion of a “Hydration Station” in their services. (That’s a water fountain, in case you were confused.)
Besides their luxurious Hydration Stations, LGA has much more to offer. They too have a XpresSpa. Although they used to be known as a barren food land, they now offer multiple fine dining experiences. Stop by Bisoux (a star-studded culinary redesign) for a delightful croque monsieur or duck confit.
The main airport for New England destinations (Boston, Portland, Maine, Vermont), BOS is home to Delta, jetBlue, and U.S. Airways. They also offer a USO lounge, as well as Classique Salon! That’s right, don’t let one broken nail force you to abandon your manicure. Classique services include hair and manicures for men, women, and children alike.
Want to enjoy all the seafood Boston has to offer without leaving the airport? No problem, check out Legal Sea Foods (in various guises) for their raw bar, lobster, fish & chips, and other classic cuisine. Afraid the place will be full? Don’t fret, Legal Sea Foods has multiple storefronts in various terminals.
Home to one of U.S. Airways largest hubs, PHL services passengers coming from the Pennsylvania, south New Jersey, and the Delaware Valley area. It’s usually much less crowded that JFK, LGA, and EWR, and is a good airport to use as an alternative to those mentioned for oversea travels. (I know I’ll always have a soft spot for this airport after a long, and I mean long, international non-revving debacle.)
This seven terminal beauty may seem a bit overwhelming, but it need not be. Simply walk from one terminal to the next (no monorail required) and enjoy the stunning arts along the way. If you’re looking to shop for something more than another People magazine, check out the terminal B/C connector. There you’ll find names like Swarovski, Tumi, and L’Occitane.
After all that walking and shopping you did to help pass time on your layover, stop by Chickie & Pete’s and grab a bucket of their famous Crab Fries. They also offer other fresh seafood options, so take a look at those as well. Need a coffee to fuel your terminal sprint? La Colombe, then, will be the best option for you.
No, this isn’t a regional airport, in fact, DTW is international and is Delta’s second largest hub! After a stunning renovation, you’ll find yourself in love with DTW’s new look and feel. Move with ease between concourse A, B, and C via the very photogenic light tunnel. Its multicolor LED lighting and sound effects will grab your attention, and soothe your soul.
That not doing the trick for you? Then head on over to DTW’s art installation called “Water Feature” and stare in awe as streams of water shoot out of a black fountain in the pattern of a flight map. If art isn’t your thing though, there’s always the Be Relax spa at gate A45.
Members of the US Armed Forces, as well as their families, can relax inside DTW’s Freedom Center, much like the USO lounges of other airports. When it comes to food, DTW options have really gotten fancy. For starters, you can order online on an app called Grab. That’s right, no waiting in line for you!
If you’re looking for something a little more upscale than the Popeyes that Grab has to offer, check out Bigalora. It’s a local Detroit metro chain designed by chef Luciano DelSignore, and offers Italian classics (as well as vegan and vegetarian options) that you won’t want to miss.
MSP is another major Delta hub, and it services the majority of upper Midwestern destinations (like Wisconsin, Michigan, and the Dakotas to name a few). This airport is actually pretty fancy (for all of you that were thinking that there was nothing in the Midwest) and it offers lots of arts, special waiting areas (for kids included), and some golfing to boot.
Apparently, though, the food at MSP is “where it’s at,” and the reason (besides security lines) that you should arrive early to your flight. Republic is known in the Twin Cities as being ground zero for great beer. Shoyu offers the best Japanese in the region, and TwinBurger is where you’ll get that “Jucy Lucy” (cheese-stuffed burger) everyone’s been talking about.
Called SEA-TAC by the locals, SEA is a hub for Alaska Airlines and is a convenient 20 minutes away from downtown Seattle. It was upgraded in the mid-2000’s and is now a pretty pleasant place to relax between flights. If you’re a Southwest flyer you’ll probably be relegated to Concourse B, but that isn’t bad since the concourse embodies much of the classic older feeling of the airport.
In Concourse B you’ll be able to enjoy some of the coolest artwork in the airport, like the bronze fish embedded in the terrazzo floor. There are also massage chairs stationed throughout the airport for those of you looking to really relax, as well as live music scheduled during the day in the Central Terminal.
When it comes to food, don’t miss the halibut tacos at Anthony’s Restaurant and Fish Bar, or the best breakfast sandwich you’ve ever had at an airport at Dish D’Lish. Vino Volo, although an airport chain, offers a quality selection of Washington wines, and Ivar’s fish bar’s smoked salmon and clam chowder are the way to go.
A major hub for domestic and international travelers alike, EWR has undergone a $2.3 billion renovation in terminal A to handle the record-breaking number of passengers. One to also offer cheaper flights than its neighboring JFK and LaGuardia, EWR is an avid flyer’s hidden secret.
EWR is also known for the likability for passengers to be stranded here during inclement weather, and often trots out cots. To pass the time on a long layover (typical of this airport) make sure not to mess around in the other terminals and head straight for Terminal C. There you’ll find everything from MAC to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Stay cool with some ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s in Terminal A, or go for the fancier food in Terminal C. No stress if you can’t maneuver between them easily, all three terminals offer a bit a variation in food and shopping to get you through.
Walt Disney World, among other popular Orlando-based parks, makes MCO one of the busiest airports in the US. Many regional airlines service MCO, like Southwest and jetBlue. This airport offers a variety of services and restaurants, thanks to the unique culture of the city itself, and you can find everything here from a Disney store to an On the Border, to Pinkberry.
There’s all sorts of shopping at this airport (there’s even a Sea World store!) but to save costs, stick to what’s necessary. There’s a Lush in the main terminal where you can buy a delicious lotion that you can ask the kind ladies and gentlemen at XpresSpa to use on you.
Once you get done window shopping in Harley Davidson, The Kennedy Space Center shop, and Swatch, head over to Cask & Larder. This beautiful and relaxing-atmosphered restaurant will have you asking, “What beach?”. Finish your layover at Club MCO, a luxurious spa (that even offers showers!) available to any and all.
MIA, and no we’re not talking about the performer, is the main US gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean. It has the largest number of international passengers (after New York’s JFK), and is a major hub for American Airlines. I was actually really excited to research this airport, after remembering it not offering much in airport entertainment during my childhood.
I was pleased to discover that MIA had been spruced up, and now offers much more. In fact, now it’s rated one of the 7 Top Airports for Layovers in North America. Like many updated airports, MIA is covered in scattered artwork all around. Take in the beauty at Books & Books (a locally owned bookstore with a cult crowd), or get a spray tan in Terminal J.
Want to do it all in one swell swoop? Snag both accessories and lavish seafood in Terminal D’s The Shoppes at Ocean Drive. If you’re in Terminal D, don’t forget to stop at Icebox Cafe for its popular pastries and fabulous hot plates.
CLT services the upper Southeast (including popular destinations in the Carolinas) and is a hub for US Airways and United. Well known for their rows and rows of rocking chairs that line the main hall, CLT is nowhere near short on charm. In fact, they even have a Canine Crew. That’s right, they bring pooches through the airport to greet passengers, and these therapy dogs (unlike the ones at security) are allowed to be petted!
CLT has all the airport essentials plus some. Stop at BodyWorks for some luxury toiletries, or shop in Pandora and Brighton. As far as food goes, we suggest the 1897 Market for their North Carolina-sourced foodstuffs (like shrimp and grits) or Beaudevin for the break it offers from florescent lighting.
IAH is United’s largest hub, but it is far from the only carrier at this bustling southern airport. You’ll also find many flight options for Alaska, American, and Delta. Its busiest routes are to Central and South America. Full of luxury items, stores, and foods this airport is hard to beat.
Besides the luxury brands like Chanel, Jo Malone, and Apple that you’ll find here, you can also discover authentic Texan goodies. Try on cowboy boots at Pinto Ranch, or enjoy the Etsy collaboration that is MADE:TEXAS. Besides their many airline lounges, the also offer the occasional live music.
Other than the oodles of shopping options, Houston also offers just as many eating options. There’s a lot, and you can check them all out here.
“America’s Friendliest Airport” has 120 gates in three terminals, and its main airlines are U.S. Airways and Southwest. PHX is also one of the first airports to be testing the new TSA CT scanner. This innovation, offered in only one line of security at the airport, may allow passengers to return to bringing liquids through the checkpoint.
PHX offers a variety of services and things to see including the Phoenix Airport Museum (that offers self-guided tours), and the FitPHX Sky Harbor Fitness Trail. If you’ve really got time to kill, take a ride on the PHX SkyTrain and watch airplanes landing, taxiing, and taking off all on the backdrop of beautiful Pheonix.
Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas and the airport people love to hate, or hate to love? Let’s just say there are mixed emotions about it. This taste of Vegas a few minutes outside of the actual city gives travelers the opportunity to have a little Vegas fun without having to leave the airport.
Gamble at one of the 1,000+ slot machines available while you wait for your flight (most likely on Southwest, Spirit, United, American, or Delta), or check out the LAS Aviation Museum. Looking to stay fit? Look at McCarran’s website to see their proposed walking routes that are pre-measured to help you meet your FitBit needs.
The second largest airport in California, SFO serves a large West Coast, European, and Asian traveling crowd. Virgin America has its base of operations here, and like the savvy airline, SFO is pretty smart as well. It’s won awards for its green design, and efforts to reduce waste, water usage, and greenhouse gases.
SFO also offers showers, spas, a medical clinic, museum galleries, yoga, and a reflection room that will help your spirit take flight before your actual flight. Don’t forget their adorable Wag Brigade (Animal Assisted Therapy dogs there to lessen travelers’ stress) which at one point even had an adorable pig!
There’s even an Airport Butler at this ridiculously awesome airport, and he/she does everything from connecting flights support to personal shopping, to meeting guests with flowers and customized gifts. As if all that wasn’t enough they also have a great selection of super cool restaurants.
DEN is the biggest airport (by area) in the US, in fact, it’s twice the size of Manhattan! Many regional airlines fly into this airport, including Frontier and Southwest. Travelers traversing through DEN are usually bound for the western states.
You probably have heard of Denver’s incredible beauty, but you don’t need to be sad if you’re just “passing through!” You can see the purple mountains majesty from gates C23 and C24. Get your blood pumping as if you were hiking through the Rockies by simply walking from terminal to terminal, DEN sits at 5,431 altitude.
If you’re feeling a bit stressed keep an eye out for the Canine Airport Therapy Squads (CATS), there to help you relax by petting a four-legged friend. The best part about this airport? The wifi is free and it doesn’t expire!
New York’s main international airport, JFK sees airplanes from almost every international airline in the world. You’ll see the occasional domestic airline here, but the majority usually provide services out of nearby LaGuardia Airport.
JFK, like many other major international airports, offers a wide variety of luxury shops and airport lounges. If you’re not at member status for any of those lounges you can pay the $25 to enjoy the open Airspace Lounge in Terminal 5, which offers great food, peace and quiet, and even showers.
What other cool things does JFK offer? Besides the unlimited food and shopping options, travelers can also visit the medical clinic and/or get their dry cleaning done!
We here at ID90 Travel love DFW, and that’s not only because we’re a whole six minutes away from it (although that definitely plays into it). It’s the busiest airport in the state of Texas, and it’s so big that it has its own postal code and post office!
DFW was named one of the nation’s most tech-friendly airports and is a home-base for American Airlines. If you need to squeeze in some much-needed work (or lets be honest, Netflix time) check out one of the free travel lounges offered throughout the airport, or get your blood pumping on the walking path mapped out in Terminal D.
Walking not your thing? Check out the free yoga studios in Terminals B and D (they’re 24 hour!), or let the little humans work off some energy at the soft-mat playgrounds. Other amenities include lots of art, Minute Suites, XpresSpas, a 36-hole golf course, and Founder’s Plaza (which offers an observation deck for av-geeks).
LAX, now under construction to help it handle the influx of visitors from Asia and the Pacific, serves the California-bound crowd as well as those headed to Hawaii. LAX is a popular airport, as well as a big one. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your gate.
The Great Hall in the TBIT (Tom Bradley International Terminal) has lots of great shopping options, and is newly renovated. You’ll see lots of art at LAX, as well as have many restaurants to choose from. We recommend ink.sack.
Once the busiest airport in the US, before it was usurped by ATL, ORD is a major connecting airport for the Midwest and is also hub for United. This airport is absolutely full of amenities that rock, so we’re going to jump straight to sharing them.
Besides offering an on-site hotel (one I’ve crashed in many times before), ORD provides a health club that has a fitness room and pool. Not one to get laps in before you flight? Check out the Yoga Room instead, and unwind before you take off.
ORD also has a burgeoning art scene, plus an Urban Garden, the first aeroponic garden at in airport in the world! In fact, many of the restaurants on site use herbs from the garden in their food. Speaking of food, there’s lots of it and it’s good. Check it out here.
We’re finally here, the number one busiest airport in the US! Actually, it’s also the busiest passenger airport in the world. ATL sees over 100 million passengers a year while servicing the Southeast, and is only a 2-hour flight from 80% of the US population.
You’ll find both international and regional airlines here, especially Delta since this is their hub. The airport is covered in art, including 20 sculptures from Zimbabwe, and it hosts four annual concerts in the atrium.
Let your pooch stretch its legs at ATL’s 1,000 square foot dog park, or get some R&R yourself at The Club at ATL (a mere $35 for a day pass). Like many of the big airports, you’ll find lots of shopping, oodles of food, and Minute Suites on this large and bustling campus.
That’s all we have for today folks! We hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about our busiest national airports, and have found a trick of two to help you pass your layover in style. Do you have anything you’d add to this list? If so, comment below. Until next time Interliners, safe travels and keep your eyes on the skies!
Author: Emily (@ID90 Travel)
Emily is the Content Marketing Specialist here at ID90 Travel. An avid non-rev flyer (she grew up in the industry), and passionate private pilot, Emily can’t get enough of all things aviation. When not writing awesome ID90 Travel content she can be found on a Texas patio, being one with nature, or annoying her ID90T co-workers with her many, many, crowdsourcing questions.