Back in 1998, when the University of Michigan was searching for a new men’s basketball coach, it conducted interviews under cloak and dagger circumstances to avoid tipping off the media and other potential candidates.
And where did they conduct a couple of these interviews?
A conference room at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Say what you want about airports, but they are the conduit to conducting trillions of dollars in business nationwide and worldwide. They need to offer great facilities within the confines of the airport – conference rooms, reliable Wi-Fi, work spaces, charging stations – as well as offering a good mix of commuter flights and nonstops and be relatively close to the city they serve.
What did respondents to TravelPulse’s survey seeking the best 100 U.S. airports say are the best business-friendly airports in the country?
“Size matters,” said one respondent. “The larger the airport, the more options available.”
TravelPulse survey takers chose Atlanta as the most business-friendly airport in America, followed by O’Hare, Las Vegas, Boston, Los Angeles and New York-JFK.
Yes, even JFK.
“JFK is probably the most business-friendly taking it all into consideration, but that is based mostly on the fact that so many international flights go in and out,” one respondent said. “Atlanta is pretty exceptional in general considering that it's probably the busiest airport in the world and handles the traffic relatively comfortably.”
The drawback on JFK, of course, is that if you are coming to New York City to do business you better plan accordingly. Not only is the airport one of the worst for delays in the country, but on a good day, it’s a 40-minute ride into Manhattan. On a bad day? Don’t ask.
And that’s the conundrum. The bigger airports can be great for business travelers and still be considered one of the poorer airports in the country. For instance, in virtually every survey – including TravelPulse – of the nation’s best and worst airports, New York-LaGuardia usually comes in at the bottom. Aging, decrepit, unkempt … and yet in a recent MarketWatch survey of the top airports for business travelers, LGA came in ninth because of its business services, including its Wi-Fi, shoeshine areas, currency exchange and Xpress Spa.
Las Vegas, of course, is a business traveler’s dream, with more than 21,000 business conferences held in the city last year. There are flights to and from virtually everywhere, and enough convention space close to the airport to entertain groups from single digits into the thousands.
Chicago O’Hare’s choices also make it a business traveler’s delight – “O'Hare is great for getting anywhere!” said one respondent – but the airport also has Wi-Fi, several airline clubs with conference and meeting rooms, plenty of work stations, an athletic club to work out, and a neat “B4 You Board” app that allows travelers to have a hot meal delivered directly to the gate.