Clinton National Airport: 'Worst' Ranking Came Amid Construction, Renovations

Bad timing for the Clinton National Airport. At least that's what an airport spokesman is saying about a recent survey by Travel + Leisure magazine, first noted by the Arkansas Times, that named it the worst in the country.

In short, the airport says the magazine conducted the survey while Clinton National was in the middle of a $67 million renovation project, so conditions obviously weren't optimal. Also: a city the size of Little Rock doesn't muster the demand to justify an airport with more and better shopping and restaurant options that the magazine apparently wants to see.

Here's the full statement from airport spokesman Shane Carter:

Travel and Leisure magazine hasn't released many details to us about the survey. However, we feel like we've had some bad luck as the survey was done between December of last year and April of this year during our massive construction project. It was pretty messy out here as the terminal was in operation during construction so there were times unfortunately when passengers were inconvenienced and not as comfortable as we would have liked. Overall, it's a different place now as we've finished our $67 million construction project. We'd love to have Travel and Leisure readers to be able to survey us again.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been reducing security wait times. It has implemented Pre-Check, a new expedited screening process, and is seeing results. The Airport Commission has also invested in technology to measure and track wait times, which has helped TSA in its efforts.

We'd love to see more shops and restaurants here, too. We contract with HMS Host, who works with airports across the country to provide a mix of local and national options. Whole Hog is a local favorite doing business here at the airport and Starbucks is a national favorite among the many other choices we have. Overall, the amount of offerings is based on demand. We'd like to have more airlines, more customers and connecting flights. Right now, passengers don't have the need to spend long amounts of time in the airport like they do in much larger ones, which affects the amount of services offered.

Customer service is a huge priority and the Airport Commission wants passengers to have an excellent experience. That's why we're currently renovating all restrooms and baggage claim; we've added a new baggage screening system and for the first time in our history added curbside check-in. That's just the beginning as the Commission plans to build a replacement concourse within the next few years and transform us into an international airport.

Feedback is very important to us. We want to stay connected to our customers and will be launching a new website within the next few months to help with that. This survey put us up against the largest airports in the country, which can offer more choices. For our size, we want to be the best that we can be and would love to have those who participated in the survey be able to see us again now that phase one of our major construction plan has been completed.

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