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Editors' Choice Awards 2010: Best Airport for Layovers

by SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Choice Badge: Best Airport for Layovers
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 23, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, airport, destination, Las Vegas.

Winner: McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas

What makes an airport ideal for a long layover? Is it the amount of entertainment options? How about ease of transportation for sightseeing? For the Best Airport for Layovers award, we researched airports all over the country and considered several key factors, including proximity to a major city, on-site dining and shopping options, services and amenities, and on-site hotels.

We then compared all airports based on these criteria, and found that, while many airports were contenders for the top spot in this category, Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport hits the jackpot.

Though several airports are within 10 miles of a major metropolis, McCarran is located less than one mile from the neon lights and excitement of the Las Vegas Strip, making it a snap to do more than just sit at the gate and wait for the next flight. Taxis, buses, and car rentals are also available for a quick jaunt into the city, where visitors can catch a show, eat at a five-star restaurant, enjoy an art exhibit, shop, or even test their luck.

Though it's fairly easy to visit Sin City during a layover, there really is no reason to leave the airport. These days it's common to find a range of dining and sometimes shopping options past the security lines. Within its two terminals, McCarran provides more than 50 stores for shopping, including everything from a Brookstone to the hotel-casino gift shops. Plus, there are a variety of restaurants, snack bars, and lounges that go beyond the typical fast food, such as a Wolfgang Puck Express and Jose Cuervo Tequileria.


While many airports are savvy to the needs of passengers and provide the necessary amenities, including things like spa treatments and hair salons, to ease the hassles of traveling, McCarren is equipped with a kids play area, fitness center, pet relief areas, ATMs, and postal services. And with slot machines around almost every corner and a 24-hour aviation museum that offers historic insight into flying, the airport is like no other when it comes to things to do.

While McCarran doesn't offer an on-site hotel per se, as do some of the other candidates, its close proximity to a wide range of hotel casinos makes it easy for visitors to choose from budget to luxurious accommodations.

We would be remiss if we didn't include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as an honorable mention. The Atlanta airport provides more than 110 food options, 90 retail shops, and an array of amenities ranging from a spa to a banking center, as well as many hotels surrounding the airport and easily accessible via shuttle. But, it's also 10 miles from the downtown area, making it fall just a bit short in comparison to McCarran.

Your Turn

Do you agree or disagree with our winner in this category? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

See All Editors' Choice Winners

Most Customer-Friendly Airline | Best Free Airline Perk | Best Coach-Class Experience | Best Value Airline | Best Value Destination | Best Hotel Loyalty Program | Best Rental Car Loyalty Program | Best Travel Rewards Card for Domestic Use | Best Travel Rewards Card for Overseas Use | Best Travel Rewards Card for ATM Use | Best Airline Website | Best Use of Social Media | Most Pet-Friendly Airline for Checked Pets | Most Pet-Friendly Airline for Carry-On Pets | Most Eco-Friendly Airline | Best Airport for Layovers | Best Airport for Connections

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Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
Las Vegas, NV