Monday, April 30, 2012

Corrected headline: IAH just about in middle of airport rankings.

How can we get a decent debate on the IAH/HOU question if we don't get honest reporting?

George Bush Intercontinental among worst airports in reader survey. Olivia Pulcinelli, Houston Business Journal
Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport ranked No. 9 on Travel + Leisure magazine’s first-ever list of the worst airports in America.

The magazine asked readers to rate America’s 22 major airports in seven categories: flight delays, design, amenities, food and drink, check-in and security, service, and transportation and location.
So, if it was the 9th "worst" then it was also the 13th "best" which would statistically put it in the middle-third of the data set. But that's not what's reported here. Drilling down in the data it appears that the two major strikes against IAH are its location (which is ridiculous, since most International hubs of worth are located on the periphery of their cities) and its WiFi. That second bit is a legitimate complaint. WiFi at IAH is brutally slow, when it works period. However, the same can be said for most airports.

It's also worth noting that many of the "worst" airports, are major International hubs. Given increased customer traffic and wear and tear (American airports, as a whole, are grungier than their counterparts overseas) and you have a pretty poor representation of the type.

I would argue, however, that many of IAH's former problems have been addressed. IAH has some great food offered up now, in Terminal E especially. The whole location thing could be solved by Houston Metro if they would ever come to the realization that people want to come and go from IAH to different destinations than downtown, and the upcoming renovation of Terminal B should go a long way toward improving the overall experience. At this point I'm unsure if they have any plans on tap for WiFi (the Master Plan doesn't really address this and a few Google searches just provided technical specs) but again, I could see United wanting to have something better given all of the money they're throwing at the place.

IF they keep throwing money at IAH that is. Given the current state of the UA/WN debate I'm not sure if that's the case. Ironic that many people screaming for HOU to get International service (which would certainly weaken IAH if completed under the current plan) will be the same people screaming that IAH isn't "World Class". Welcome to Houston, we hope you enjoyed your flight.

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