As far as airports go, there are great airports and horrible airports. And while it would be nice to always end up in great airports for long layovers, the next best thing is to have your home airport be great. People in the Portland Metro area are lucky to have a fabulous airport in Portland International Airport – and we’re not just being biased when we say that. Portland’s airport has been consistently ranked highly by travel industry insiders, and was named the top United States airport for business travel in 2006 by Condé Nast Traveler. So even if we don’t spend hours there during layovers, it’s a nice airport to come home to.
Portland International, the code for which is PDX, is about 12 miles north of downtown Portland in the Northeast quadrant of the city. It’s well-connected via public transportation, including the MAX light rail line which runs all the way out to the airport. For anyone looking to do a little shopping before you hop on your flight, there are some great shops to choose from – including home grown spots like Nike and Powell’s, and a Made In Oregon store so you can bring back a little something local. The restaurant selection is also good, some places serving up Pacific Northwest style cuisine as well as local microbrews. The decor is cheerful and there are art pieces in many of the concourses – and even getting from the short-term parking garage to the terminal is an aesthetically pleasing experience. The huge glass roof covering the curvy walkways keeps people dry during the city’s notoriously wet winters, but it’s also beautiful, too.
One of the best things about PDX (which is what most Portlanders call the airport) is its free WiFi – that’s certainly one of the things that led Condé Nast Traveler to rank it so highly for business travelers. The WiFi signal doesn’t technically reach the entire airport, but you’ll probably be hard-pressed to find an area where you don’t get a signal – about 70% of the main level is covered.
PDX has the word “international” in its title, but locals are accustomed to having at least one layover for every trip they take. Direct international flights are limited, although you can reach Mexico and Canada with some frequency. Other direct international flights include the daily Lufthansa flight between Portland and Frankfurt, Germany, and the soon-to-be-started Northwest link with Amsterdam. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air both have hubs at Portland International.