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Sometimes an airport can surprise you.
Using my Chase Sapphire Reserve®, I've been able to take advantage of the included Priority Pass membership and perks, like ducking into an airport lounge and enjoying the amenities. But when I recently planned a family ski trip, Burlington International Airport was the closest airport to our Vermont destination.
As a much smaller airport than larger city hubs, Burlington didn't have any lounges or any restaurants that offered the Priority Pass membership food credit perk. But it also didn't have the hustle and bustle of an urban airport where at peak times you're jostling for a seat and dealing with long lines at concessions. In fact, even though our flight home was delayed by about an hour, it may have been one of my more peaceful airport experiences ever.
Here's why Burlington's airport was an unexpectedly terrific experience.
Easy come, easy go
Because this is a smaller airport, it's pretty easy to get around — and it also means there are far fewer people coming and going at the same time as you. When we landed at the airport, it was an easy two-minute walk to baggage claim. Not only did our luggage arrive quickly, but the car rental counter was also just a few steps away with no one else in line ahead of us. From there it was a short escalator ride to the parking lot to get our rental car. All told, it took us about 20 minutes from landing to hitting the road.
As soon as you step off the jetway, you're likely to spot a set of rocking chairs. These were sprinkled throughout the airport, and it's a whimsical touch that encourages you to slow down. On our return home, those chairs were a huge help when our flight was delayed by an hour. It's hard to feel agitated when you're rocking back and forth.
The airport terminals are also filled with skylights, live trees and artwork made from native maples and inscribed with poetry — all of which made it feel more like a comfortable place to wait and less like a place you're anxious to depart.
» Learn more: How mindfulness can make travel more comfortable
Unlike the usual choice between fast food or concessions, the airport has an outpost of local favorite The Skinny Pancake, known for its farm-fresh ingredients and crepes. We had a delicious lunch there before our flight home. In addition to a huge selection of freshly made crepes, they offered salads, burgers and local delicacies including homemade cheese curds. A selection of Vermont-grown coffees were available, along with about a half-dozen microbrews on tap.
Gateway to Canada
The airport is within two hours of Montreal and just under an hour to the Canadian border, making it a popular option for Canadians who live closer to Burlington than to Montreal's airport. Most gate announcements were made in English, followed by French. And The Skinny Pancake also offered poutine, the gravy-and-cheese-curd-soaked french fry dish that Quebec is known for.
The bottom line
Although time spent at the airport is usually the least enjoyable part of any trip, Burlington International Airport managed to transform the experience into something more appealing.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
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Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you The best days to book a flight and when to fly Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies