A key difference exists between nearly all big US airports’ sites and those of some smaller US airports and many big airports in other countries – namely, that the non-US airports and smaller US airports allow you to book flights, cars, hotels, public transportation and even vacations on their sites, but big US airports don’t have any booking options.
There’s a good reason for this, says Eileen Denne, senior vice president of marketing and communications for the Airports Council International – North America. Most US airports are run by municipal or county government agencies and are non-profit organizations, so by law they do not have the same revenue-generating abilities as privatized airports in other parts of the world. (For the same reason, city-owned US airport sites aren’t allowed to accept advertising.)
That said, many smaller US airports have to compete for passengers and flights with other small airports nearby and also with larger hubs in their regions, so some – such as Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and Knoxville, Tennessee’s McGhee Tyson Airport – do offer booking of flights, cars and hotels. (Both of these airports use the secure ‘Skyharbors’ Travel Center booking service, which you need to join if you want to use it.)
One other trend is worth mentioning. Increasingly, busy airports – New York LaGuardia and Minneapolis-St. Paul are two US examples – have created separate web sites in order to provide more extensive detail about the shopping and dining options they have available. They even provide coupons on occasion to encourage you to shop there. The airports’ main sites usually feature prominent links to these more retail-oriented sites.