CHICAGO, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- From never-ending security lines and Scrooge-like employees, to howling children and rude cellphone users, holiday travel may fall just behind a visit to the dentist on the list of life's most unpleasant experiences. But it doesn't have to be all bad. Spot the silver lining with the 2009 AXE "Best and Worst Airports to Make a Connection" study, which was announced today.
In 2007, AXE looked at the domestic airports that gave travelers the best chance for meeting someone special, and this year, the study has expanded beyond the U.S. to recognize the best international airports around the world to "make a connection." So whether you're traveling home or jetting off to Paris, you'll be ready to mix and mingle with the good-looking single at Gate E.
AXE, a leader in men's grooming and known commentator on the chemistry between guys and girls, partnered with Sperling's BestPlaces to commission the second undertaking of the study, this year targeting the world's 33 largest metropolitan airports. Criteria for ranking the airports included on-time flight statistics, historical weather conditions, and amenities per capita in each airport such as coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and retails stores, among others.
AXE's Best U.S. and Global Airports to "Make a Connection"
AXE's Worst U.S. and Global Airports to "Make a Connection"
Find Love in a New York Minute (or 65 of Them)
Climbing the charts and overtaking 2007 winner Philadelphia International for the number one and two spots are Newark Liberty International and John F. Kennedy International, two of the busiest airports in the United States, both located in the New York metropolitan area. And, thanks to some of the nation's longest and most frequent delays (average delay time is 65 minutes) and a plethora of amenities, they are also two of the best airports to make a connection. The next time you're stuck in either of these East Coast travel "hubs of love," don't despair. Find a fellow flyer and grab a gingerbread latte in one of JFK's 17 coffee shops, or share a bite to eat in one of Newark's 52 restaurants. If you've got an extra-long layover, treat someone special to a massage at one of Newark's two airport spas (available in Terminals B and C), or show off your cultured side at JFK's art gallery store.
Best Chance for Romance
Other top airports in the AXE "Best and Worst Airports to Make a Connection" study include Minneapolis (with an annual average of 85 days of snow plus 16 bars to kill time), Dallas (30 percent of all flights are delayed) and San Francisco, which has moved up since the 2007 study due to its increase in fog-related delayed flights and abundance of date-inducing amenities, including wine tastings and massage spas. Philadelphia, which received top-honors in 2007, dropped slightly to number three in this year's study thanks to an increase in on-time flights. But Philly flyers shouldn't fear - with an average of 247 days of obscured visibility per year, there should still be plenty of delays to give passengers time to play.
On the global front, Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport ranked eighth overall, but is the top spot for making connections overseas (ooh la la!). Other cities to begin a long-distance romance include Rome (which tops the list in delayed and cancelled flights), London's Heathrow Airport (boasts short-term hotel cabins in case you really hit it off) and Montreal-Pierre Int'l (an average of 92 days of snow to keep you grounded).
On-Time = No Time for Mingling
While you might be excited to get a jump on that winter tan, the worst airports on the list don't leave you much time for first-class flirting. Which airports will leave you out in the cold this season? Steer clear of dead-last Phoenix (80 percent of flights are on time), Charlotte (too few amenities), and Los Angeles (hot weather, cold-shouldered celebs). And while Las Vegas might be lucky for some, McCarran International is the 6th worst airport in the world to score a date.
In addition to the study, AXE commissioned research firm StrategyOne to survey 1,000 adults ages 18-34 about their habits when it comes to travel and romance - and the results show that travelers are getting more out of their flights than just an extra pack of peanuts. Two out of three respondents (66 percent) said they would consider going on a date with someone they met while traveling, and 59 percent have flirted with someone while at the airport or on a plane. Surprisingly (or not?), more than half of respondents would consider joining the Mile High Club if given the opportunity.
Airport "Connection" Tips
Robert Reid, U.S. Travel Editor of Lonely Planet, understands the rigors and rewards of airport travel, and says meeting new people can be one of the biggest perks. "Making connections while traveling isn't difficult, you just have to know what rules to follow" says Reid. "Sitting in an airport lounge or bar isn't exactly the same as bumping into someone at a neighborhood pub." Reid recommends taking advantage of natural opportunities to initiate conversation. "There is tons of on-hand material for small talk: flight delays, funny people-watching, how bad the bagels are - all which could lead to a deeper conversation."
Whether you're stuck at JFK waiting for your (delayed) connecting flight, or trying to comprehend French instructions at Charles de Gaulle, just remember that holiday "connections" can happen when you're least expecting them. So grab a coffee, a comfy seat and check out who's stranded with you; it just might lead to kissing in coach this holiday travel season.
Complete List of International Airport "Connection" Rankings
The AXE "Best and Worst Airports to Make a Connection" study, conducted by Sperling's BestPlaces, was based on the 33 largest international airports in terms of passenger volume and aimed to show which airports provide the best opportunities for "making a connection" with a fellow traveler. The study considered everything from the number of connecting, delayed and missed flights in each airport, to the airport's historical weather conditions, to the number of bars, restaurants and activities per passenger per airport.
AXE, the leader in men's care, is an iconic personal care brand around the world that helps guys look, smell and feel their best. The Unilever-manufactured brand is available in a line of deodorant bodysprays, deodorant and antiperspirant sticks, shower gels and hair care products. AXE is the No. 1 men's grooming brand in the U.S., excluding shaving hardware and achieved this status only seven years after launch. Including deodorant bodysprays, AXE is the largest men's deodorant brand in the U.S. AXE shower gel, launched in 2005, reached No. 1 status five months after hitting shelves.
The brand's mission is to help guys get the girl with grooming products that reflect individual personality and lifestyle. For more information, visit www.theaxeeffect.com.
For over 20 years, Bert Sperling has been helping people find their own "Best Place" to live. His firm, Sperling's BestPlaces, puts facts about cities and quality of life in the hands of the public, so they can make better decisions about best places to live, work, retire, play, or relocate. Sperling's has authored two best-sellers, "Cities Ranked and Rated" and "Best Places to Raise your Family," published by John Wiley. More information about Bert Sperling and Sperling's BestPlaces is available at www.bestplaces.net.
About Lonely Planet:
Lonely Planet started in 1973 and has gone on to become the world's most successful travel information provider. Lonely Planet covers the must-see spots, but also encourages travelers to get off the beaten track and understand more of the nature, culture and environment in each destination. For more information, visit www.lonelyplanet.com