Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Airport Websites

Unlike some travel writers, we don’t think of ourselves as airplane/airport/airline geeks. We are more interested in the ways that the air experience impacts our travels. So it was interesting when we saw a recent article on Yahoo travel about The World’s Top 10 Airport Web Sites. Not airports, but airport websites. Which got us to thinking that, yes, we do sometimes consult airport websites, but usually during the travel research stage.

The article points out some good pieces of information that are available on some airport websites, such as flight delays, current parking-lot conditions, and gate information.

So what’s important in an airport website? We have only used a few of the airport websites listed in the article, but have visited several other sites that we find helpful, and others that we find useless. Our suggestions for what we want to see from a good airport website include:

When Planning Your Travels
What airlines fly from the airport?
Are there airline route maps for each airline serving the airport?
What non-stop routes (especially internationally) are available from the airport?

After Ticketing but Before Traveling
Where are the gates in relation to the ticket counters?
Are there multiple security lines (so we can find a less-crowded one)?
Where are connecting gates?
What shopping and other services are available?
What are the restaurant and dining choices?
Where are the airline’s lounges (if your ticket allows access)?
Are there links to airport hotels, in case we have a long delay?
Information about ground transportation.
Parking lot information and parking costs.
Maps. We want lots of maps of terminals, gates, parking, etc.

Day of Travel
Delays, gates, updates, and other flight information.
Weather at the airport.
Parking lot updates – what’s full, what’s open.

General Website Features
Ease of navigation of the website.
Clearly defined sections, areas, tabs.
Easy-on-the-eye fonts, colors, graphics.
Fast loading (we don’t always have high-speed internet on the road).

The original article’s Top 10 includes five U.S. airports and five international ones.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Denver International Airport
San Francisco International Airport
Copenhagen Airports
Frankfurt Airport City
London Heathrow International Airport
Singapore Changi Airport
Tokyo Narita International Airport

What airport sites would you add? What other information would you like to find on an airport website?