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Frequent fliers rank Salt Lake City International Airport as the third-best in the nation —┬ábehind only airports in Portland, Ore. and Tampa, Fla.

On the other end of the spectrum, 8,000 frequent fliers polled by the annual Zagat Airline Survey rank New York City's LaGuardia Airport as the worst, followed closely by Miami and Los Angeles international airports.

The New York-based Zagat publishes travel, restaurant and hotel guides, and posts rankings on zagat.com. Each year it also conducts a survey on airlines, and as part of that ranks the nation's 30 largest airports.

Salt Lake City International jumped from a mediocre No. 18 last year to a lofty No. 3 this year.

"Nothing has really changed of a dramatic nature, or even minor," said airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann, adding that airport officials were scratching their heads at why its ranking jumped.

"It is an efficient hub airport, and almost 50 percent of the traffic here does connect to another flight. So maybe making an efficient connection is in the forefront of people's minds," Gann said.

"It's also convenient and accessible" to downtown Salt Lake City, whereas many airports are far from or require expensive commutes to the cities that they serve. Gann adds that the Salt Lake City airport also has high ratings for on-time performance compared to most cities.

The highest possible score for an airport in the Zagat survey is 30. Portland received a 22.47, followed by Tampa at 20.71 and Salt Lake City at 18.5.

Last year, Salt Lake City was much lower at 14.36.

Meanwhile, LaGuardia received a mere 6.18, Miami International scored a 7.77 and Los Angeles International had an 8.2.

The survey also ranked 90 international airlines. Continental Airlines won the top overall ranking for large, domestic premium class airlines. Delta Air Lines, which has a hub in Salt Lake City, was ranked third.

For domestic economy class airlines, JetBlue (which houses many of its administrative functions in Salt Lake City) won top ranking and Southwest (which has extensive flight service in Salt Lake City) was second.

In individual subcategories, Southwest was rated tops in value, check-in experience, luggage policy, website and consumer-estimated, on-time performance for domestic airlines. JetBlue was rated tops for in-flight entertainment.

Delta was rated fourth in in-flight entertainment; second in value for international flights; and third for check-in experience.

The survey included 8,007 frequent fliers who took a combined 139,300 flights last year. Results were released Tuesday.