An Ode to Portland International Airport (PDX)

Erick Widman

In a recent study by J.D. Power regarding customer satisfaction with North American airports, Newark’s Liberty International Airport (EWR) was voted the worst “Mega Airport” in the country. This is not the first time the Newark Airport has received a very low score on such lists. This extremely low rating is largely due to the airport’s history of long lines, delayed flights, and less-than satisfactory facilities and amenities.

While we cannot necessarily expect an airport experience to be entirely without annoyance or frustration, we thought this was a good time to point out just how lucky we are to be able to travel in and out of an airport that has been voted best in the country six years in a row by Travel + Leisure magazine (2013-2018). Portland International Airport (PDX) also received a very high score in the “Large Airports” category by the 2018 J.D. Power study. If you were looking for reasons to visit Portland, you can add this to the list.

Although it is not as large as Newark or other “Mega Airports” and so cannot be directly compared, Portland International Airport (PDX) is frequently referred to as one of the country’s easiest and most enjoyable airports to travel in and out of. The reason for this designation is likely the fact that PDX has managed to eliminate many of the elements we know and hate about the airport experience: extremely overpriced goods, weird, packaged meals that rival the quality of actual airplane food, long lines, brusque employees, and old or run-down facilities and terminals.

At PDX, there is a policy in place which locks all restaurant food at “street prices.” This means that they require all food, drinks, and coffee served in the airport to be sold for the same price as they would be at the corresponding restaurant or cafe in the city. On that note, one of the best things about PDX is the huge selection of local favorites and exceptional, high-quality dining options that can be found. At PDX, you will not find only chain restaurants or be limited to an “airport-style” dining experience. Instead, you can enjoy a great cup of coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, indulge in a famous Blue Star Donut, and try a flight of craft beers at Oregon’s own Deschutes Brewery while you wait to board your flight.

Even if you’re not a foodie, it is still likely that you’ll have a good experience at PDX thanks to the friendly TSA officers, efficient security checkpoints, and newly renovated concourses.

In addition to the high-quality dining, nice employees, and modern facilities, Travel + Leisure notes several other unique features at PDX: a light rail that drops you off at the front door, a spa, a barbershop, and a mini movie theater, which is a satellite location of a beloved and historical Portland theater, Hollywood Theatre. You can even shop for books at Powell’s if you didn’t make it to the local book superstore while visiting the city.

With so many great amenities, it is no surprise that PDX is scoring high on customer satisfaction lists and has gained a bit of a cult-following. Even the carpet at PDX seems to draw in visitors. Check out the hashtag #pdxcarpet on Instagram and Twitter if you don’t believe us.

This is also great news for new immigrants or visitors entering the U.S. for the first time who may be nervous about a potentially unpleasant customs experience at the airport. PDX is likely to offer a pleasant experience for domestic and international arrivals alike. And it is certainly a great place to embark on your new journey in the U.S.

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