Denver International Airport earned several high rankings among U.S. airports in some of the industry's most prestigious categories, but the survey reveals U.S. airports still struggle to outshine their international counterparts.
In the 2013 Skytrax World Airport Awards, DIA was voted the third-best airport in North America, fifth on the list of the "World's Best Domestic Airports" and runner-up in the "Best Regional Airports in North America."
The worldwide quality survey is based on more than 12 million airline customers of more than 100 nationalities. The passengers ranked the airports on 39 criteria.
In this survey, a domestic airport is one where the primary passenger numbers a composed of domestic travelers instead of international customers.
And while DIA officials are boasting that the facility has been named one of the top 10 airports in the world, there is a caveat. DIA finishes ninth on the list of "World's Best Airports" — but only when the list is broken down by size.
DIA made the top-10 list for airports with more than 50 million passengers annually — the survey's largest airport category — but garnered an overall ranking of 36th on the more comprehensive "World's Top 100 Airports" list.
Nonetheless, this year's 36th-place rank is an improvement over last year's 44th. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is the only U.S. airport to outrank DIA, at 30th on the "World's Top 100 Airports" list.
These results, released last month, were referenced by President Barack Obama on April 30: "There was a recent survey of the top airports ... in the world, and there was not a single U.S. airport that came in the top 25."
According to Angela Gittens, director general of Airports Council International, there are several factors that may hinder U.S. airports from achieving the highest marks.
"Major international hubs in the U.S. are sometimes hampered by long immigration and security queues which would hurt their rankings in comparison to an airport with primarily domestic service such as Cincinnati," Gittens said in a statement. "The same problems hinder the rankings of U.S. airports compared to the newer airports in Asia where the national governments see their airports as key assets for their economic vitality and strive to make the visitors' journey through the airport as smooth as possible."
Kristen Leigh Painter: 303-954-1638, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/kristenpainter