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Seattle beats Vancouver to first place in Skytrax ranking of North American airports

This year, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport overtook Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in the SkyTrax rankings. We explore how Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was the first airport to overtake Vancouver International Airport for the first time in 12 years.

What Seattle-Tacoma Airport does well

The author greatly appreciated SpotSaver’s access privileges eliminating time in security lines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Photo: Joe Kunzler | single flight

According to SkyTrax, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport got the grade ahead because the airport made substantial capital investments, but also invested in accessibility. Below is a quote from their 2022 review:

“Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has implemented a wide range of terminal improvement projects to benefit the customer experience, including the complete renovation of Concourse N and the soon-to-open new international arrivals facility. . The airport’s 4-star rating recognizes these substantial changes along with more nuanced improvements to the airport’s accessibility facilities such as the Sensory Room, a new Interfaith Prayer Room and SEA Spot Saver.

The author uses SEA Spot Saver at every opportunity while flying from Seattle-Tacoma International to save time and reduce anxiety during necessary security checks. The reduction in time spent queuing, as illustrated above, is substantial.

SIMPLEFLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY

Due to the significant walk between the Sound Transit Link light rail terminal and the airport terminal, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport now offers a scheduled shuttle.

Photo: Joe Kunzler | single flight

Then there is (pictured above) the shuttle provided by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport between the terminal and the Sound Transit Link light rail terminal. The other alternative is a substantial walk. The author used the shuttle occasionally and enjoyed the big red electric golf cart.

The new baggage claim area. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Finally, the expansion of the new international terminal was previously covered by Simple Flying. The facility was built to focus on sustainability and improving the customer experience.

But Vancouver International Airport is no slouch

Yes, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) receives British Airways Airbus A380 tours in the summer. This photo is from June 18, 2019 of G-XLEH.

Photo: Joe Kunzler | single flight

As you can see above, Vancouver International Airport is no slouch in the international airports department. First of all, to the delight of Content Manager Thomas Boon who has a de facto Airbus A380 segment on the Simple Flying podcast, Vancouver International Airport has A380s to spot and Seattle-Tacoma International doesn’t. Second, unlike Seattle-Tacoma International, the airport has cue areas complete with viewing platforms for people to monitor flight operations closely but safely.


Yes, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) also has light rail. Oh, and its lightweight train is extra wide to accommodate travelers’ bags.

Photo: Joe Kunzler | single flight

Second, Vancouver International Airport is well served by light rail with several TransLink SkyTrain Canada Line stops serving parking lots and a final stop very close to the airport.

Nevertheless, Vancouver International Airport was hit a few points for – according to SkyTrax – “Long waiting times for security screening and poor layout of business class lounges.” YVR also opened a massive expansion of Pier D which was not considered in the SkyTrax rankings for 2022.

Also worth noting in SkyTrax’s list of top 10 international airports – none of them are from North America. The top five are from Asia – Doha, the two from Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul. It is very competitive to enter the list. The author has been to a few North American airports and isn’t surprised that Vancouver and Seattle-Tacoma International are vying for the top spot.


Which airport do you think is the best or what else do you want to know about each? Let us know in the comments, please!

Sources: Daily Hive, Seattle SkyTrax Ranking, Vancouver SkyTrax Ranking

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