The greater Manchester-Londonderry, N.H. metropolis is located about 50 miles north of Boston as the crow flies, and for many travelers they would rather try flying a crow than to battle the traffic, the parking, the congestion, and all the other problems with flying out of Boston Logan International Airport.
Fortunately, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is the alternative that New England residents have and that the rest of the country envies.
Simply put, the city the locals call "Manch Vegas" hosts the best small-to-midsize airport in the U.S., one that finished 27th overall in the TravelPulse survey ranking the 100 best American airports.
To put that in perspective, Manchester emplaned 1,026,349 passengers in 2015 according to Department of Transportation statistics. Every single one of the airports ahead of it on the TravelPulse final ranking processed at least 3 million passengers.
Strategically situated, Manchester is less than hour from Boston and an hour from New England’s most popular ski areas and its most beautiful beaches. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport has a mission statement to “provide world-class aviation facilities and infrastructure; provide safe, efficient, and convenient transportation; develop, promote and manage the Airport to stimulate economic growth; foster a culture that promotes fiscal, civic and environmental stewardship; and
provide a working environment that empowers its employees to contribute to the success of the airport.”
Airport Deputy Director Tom Malafronte told TravelPulse that everything is done with the customer in mind, including the ability to get in and out of the airport.
“We look at ease of access even in the marketing and we identified something we call MHT – Master Hassle-Free Travel,” he said. “I think our passengers like that idea and that, in part, is what separates us.”
Passengers love Manchester for what it is – a dedicated regional airport being served by four major airlines that can take you to nonstop to 14 different cities, and beyond with the hub system. American flies to Charlotte, Philadelphia and Washington-National; Delta goes to Atlanta, Detroit and New York-LaGuardia; United flies to Chicago-O’Hare and Newark; and Southwest has flights to Baltimore-Washington, Chicago-Midway, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando and Tampa.
“Loved Manchester and Charlotte,” said one of TravelPulse’s survey respondents. “So many of these airports feel so cookie-cutter. These two actually try to be comfortable instead of just pretty.”
“The friendliest are the smallest volume, such as Manchester, N.H. or Kansas City,” said another.
And, passengers love Manchester for what it isn’t – Boston Logan.
“Whenever there is an option to take Manchester vs. Boston Logan, I take it,” a respondent said. “Getting into Boston in morning traffic on any road is, on average, a nightmare. Manchester on the other hand is usually an easy ride up I-93. Far less stress for a comparable airport experience. Hope they keep growing.”
To that end, Malafronte and his staff created the MHT Fast-Pass, a free customer-loyalty program in which a traveler assigns his or her credit card to the pass and is then able to access the parking garage more quickly – in and out – while accumulating a point for every dollar spent. As the points add up, passengers get discounts off of parking.
Malafronte hoped that 250 to 500 people would sign up for MHT Fast-Pass.
“We have 2,400 right now,” he said. “We listened to our customers. They wanted some relief when it came to parking and we gave it to them.”
The interesting thing about Manchester is, it’s not a connector airport.
“We’re an O&D airport,” Malafronte said, noting that 52 percent of Manchester’s traffic comes from outside of New England. Given its rural location, the airport also decided to upgrade its car rental facility and add to its amenities, including a new Starbucks.
“We are talking with other carriers, especially since Boston is trending toward reaching their capacity level,” Malafronte said. “We will continue to talk to JetBlue (which uses Boston Logan as a hub) and some other airlines.”