PHL Airport among best, cheapest for food

The Philadelphia International Airport has been elevating its food-and-beverage game, and it hasn't gone unnoticed. It's been named one of the best among the top trafficked U.S. airports as well as the best for cheap eats. compiled nearly 75,000 restaurant reviews from the top 20 most trafficked U.S. airports, and gathered menu and pricing options to determine the best airport in terms of overall restaurant quality and variety, among others.

Along with its overall ranking, PHL Airport got the top overall ranking for "cheap eats" for being the least-expensive airport out of the top 20.

"Nearly 20 percent less expensive on average than the most expensive airport to eat at in the top 20, ... Philly offers a variety of quick-service local delicacies, like cheesesteaks and soft pretzels, at low prices," RewardExpert said.

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PHL Airport is amid an evolution to make it an even more competitive and attractive airport, including more food-and-beverage amenities, which would be a boon since it has lagged in customer satisfaction over the years, according to J.D. Power.

Large and midsize airports saw year-over-year improvements in satisfaction in large part because properties "are focusing on things they can control, like food and beverage and retail options and using technology to make the check-in experience better, as infrastructure improvements are completed," according to J.D. Power.

Operating an airport restaurant, however, comes with challenges — including higher menu prices due to complicated procedures needed to operate a business in a high-security area — but airport restaurants can also be a "valuable marketing opportunity," said Roman Shteyn, RewardExpert CEO and co-founder. 

"Restaurant owners know that terminals offer a captive audience," Shteyn said. "Dining at an airport can often be the first time a traveler will experience the cuisine of the city they are visiting."

Airport dining locations are opportunities for a brand to make a "great first impression, which can foster a lifetime of loyalty," Shteyn said, which is why "striking a balance between quality menu items at reasonable prices can pay off for both travelers and operators in the long run."

Report methodology

The top 20 most trafficked U.S. airports were determined using 2015 North American Passenger data from the Airports Council International. RewardExpert then created an overall weighted score using Yelp ratings and pricing data, Zagat ratings, JD Power ratings and healthiness scores from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.

RewardExpert determined the final rankings using three indicators: satisfaction, price and quality.

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