Five Great Things About Portland Airport

I was up in the Pacific Northwest this past weekend, and on my way home yesterday, I had a chance to walk around the Portland Airport. Since this place has been rated the best airport in the US by many, I thought I’d walk around to see what was so great. Sure there were short security lines and all that, but I was looking for things that really made the airport stand out. Here’s what I thought were the top 5 features.

5) Green-tastic

Portland Airport Goes GreenYou’d think a place that gets far more rain in a year than should be legal wouldn’t care about water conservation so much, but they do. They’ve even installed the dual-flush handle on their toilets. Pull up for #1 (and less water) and push down for #2 (with more water). I have to wonder how many people pay attention to which way they flush, but hey, it’s a nice effort nonetheless.

4) Pull Up a Seat

Portland Airport TSA BenchesIt’s bad enough when you have to take your shoes off at security, but it’s the ultimate in frustration when you can’t find a place to sit down to put them back on. I’m not sure why the TSA has decided to be so friendly here at PDX, but it’s very nice to see that there are big benches just past security where you can sit and recompose yourself. Why can’t other airports do this? Maybe it’s a space issue, or maybe there’s just someone more compassionate running the show in this town.

3) Be Entertained

Portland Airport MusicAs I passed security, I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn’t in a Nordstrom store. Yesterday, William Fischer was tickling the ivories on this piano, and I found out that it was just part of an entertainment series that the airport puts on regularly. Nothing like live music to soothe the harried traveler. Then again, I wasn’t so harried yesterday but you get my point.

2) Get Online Free

Portland Airport Free Wi-FiThis is becoming more and more popular around the country, but I still don’t see it nearly enough. Go to PDX and you’ll have free wi-fi throughout the airport. In addition, they have business centers with workstations to get things done. I think the other feature I find most useful here is the place to charge your cell phone/ipod. Sometimes finding a plug in the airport can be such a pain.

1) Public Transit to the MAX

Portland Airport MAXThere’s nothing I love more about an airport than good public transit access, and this has to be one of the best. The MAX light rail comes right in to the airport. How close? This picture was taken from behind security on one of the concourses. So yeah, it’s close, and it’s easy. You can get just about anywhere in the Portland area from here. Coming from LA, where our airports have some of the worst public transit connectivity around, this makes me very jealous.

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19 Comments on "Five Great Things About Portland Airport"

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I think here at PVD we have the benches after they renovated the security checkpoint but I’m not sure. It is a nice feature for sure.

Always wanted to go to PDX. Looks like a nice city, too.

eponymous coward

Yeah, PDX is one of the best airports in the country, IMO.


Of course the one-up from the dual flush toilet would be the touch-less dual flush, for all of the germophobes (there actually is at least one out there).

Brian in Toronto

Wait. People take public transit in LA?


See, this is why I love PDX and am eternally glad that it is the main airport I fly out of (though that very well my change depending on what happens when I graduate). It almost makes me sad that lately I’m mainly there late at night for the 12am Jetblue PDX-JFK flight because PDX also has (wait for it…) real food.

Jeff K
You forgot the part about when you go to pick someone up at the airport you can *leave* your card in the pick up area and walk inside to meet the person at baggage claim! Don’t believe it? My sister has done this twice when picking me up. Compare that to the draconian parking cops at SFO,etc. that yell at you if you slow down in your car while looking to locate the person you are trying to pick up. Also, the music is sweet. Last time I was there it was a classical guitarist sending out the nice musical… Read more »
Is the MAX train at PDX a new(ish) thing? Last time I flew there the train didn’t make it out there and was a common complaint of my friends living there. And isn’t PDX relatively small in terms of traffic volume? I use PVD in lieu of BOS just to avoid the big airport hassle. My biggest complaint about airports is the lack of food. When in unfamiliar cities I never like to risk eating a good meal before hitting the airport in fear of not knowing the time it takes to drop a rental car and get through security.… Read more »

Just arrived in PDX a few days ago, and I think it’s the only airport in the US I really like. Now if only LH could build a real lounge here instead of using the dreadful UA RCC. I’m not even using it anymore when flying back home because I can at least get free wifi down in the concourse while I’d have to pay in the lounge :(

ric garrido

Last time I was in PDX (August 2007) there was a great pub with happy hour beer prices of $2/pint. That made all the difference in the layover. Sorry can’t remember the name of the pub.


By default I would bet most guys push down on the handle rather than up. They should have made it down for less water instead of up.


You might not have noticed during your visit, but one of my favorite things about PDX is that the shops/restaurants/concessions are not allowed to overprice simply because they have you trapped at the airport. You’ll pay the same prices at the Powell’s Books at the airport as you will at the main branch downtown–and that applies to everyone doing business in the airport.

David SF eastbay

I can’t believe they still haven’t extended the green line to LAX, I thought it was dumb not to have it go there when it was first built. But give it time, look how long it took BART in the San Francisco area to get extended to SFO.


Terminal E at Boston-Logan-International has the same benches after security.


Here are a few more: Sushi and wine bar before and after you fly, and no sales tax!


Terminal A at BOS has the Same Benches too

The TSA in Portland also is out in the open. You can watch them inspect the bags if you want to. Compare that to Washington DC. Several years ago the Washington Post reported that thefts from bags were rapidly increasing, and TSA was the main reason why. So how did the TSA respond in Washington? To move the TSA inspection behind closed doors where the public wouldn’t be able to watch. That prompted me to write a letter to the Post citing the case of PDX where the public can watch their bag opened, inspected and then closed. The ultimate… Read more »

[…] nonstop to Long Beach. So, I took the 430p flight down to Orange County. As I mentioned before, the Portland airport is a great one. I wandered around awhile and then came to the close-in gate for boarding. Once we were all boarded […]