Going to the airport can be a stressful event. There are a ton of people, long lines, waits and not always the best food options. But some of these transport hubs are better than others. That’s why travel news resource website ThePointsGuy.com just released a study to find out which airports make for a pleasant experience — and those that provide a hellish one.
To determine the list, they examined the 30 busiest U.S. airports and used data from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, J.D. Power, Google Maps, iFly.com and the airports’ official websites.
“We started by identifying the 30 busiest airports in the U.S. Then we came up with all the criteria, things that matter to fliers,” James Cury at ThePointsGuy.com told TODAY.com via email. “We organized that into three main categories: timeliness, accessibility and amenities.”
Those main categories include many important factors to travelers, like the number of flight delays and cancellations, security wait time, how long it takes to drive and take public transportation to the airport, number of restaurants and lounges, and Wi-Fi and parking fees.
So, which airport took the top spot on the list? Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport came in at No. 1. Why? It has the shortest driving time from the city center, the second shortest public transit time, the third cheapest parking, the third most bars/restaurants per capita and the fifth fewest flight cancellations. Its only below-average ranking is for lounges per capita, where it came in 19th.
Oregon's Portland International Airport came in a close second, with San Diego International airport taking the No. 3 spot. It seems the western portion of the country knows how to handle their travelers because Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah and Hawaii's Honolulu International Airport rounded out the top five. All of these spots have some pretty incredible views, which doesn’t hurt either.
“We noticed that the top airports tend to cluster on the West Coast,” noted Cury. "Is it because they get consistently better weather? I think that’s part of it, but there are other factors, too, like size of airport, city density, infrastructure, age and location (distance from the city center).”
On the other end of the spectrum, many of the airports in the eastern part of the country topped the list as the worst. Not surprisingly, LaGuardia Airport took the top spot because it has the most flight delays and cancellations, along with the most expensive parking among the 30 surveyed airports.
John F. Kennedy International Airport was the second worst because it has the longest average security wait time and the longest driving time from the city center. Third place, Newark Liberty International Airport, has the second most flight delays and cancellations, plus the third longest average security wait time. Chicago's O’Hare International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport rounded out the bottom five.
“The results surprised us,” added Cury. “We knew some New York airports get a bad rap, but we didn’t realize how quantifiable these flaws would be.”
Check out the full list of airport rankings below.
The 30 busiest U.S. airports, ranked from best to worst
1. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
2. Portland International Airport (Oregon)
3. San Diego International Airport
4. Salt Lake City International Airport
5. Honolulu International Airport
6. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
7. Philadelphia International Airport
8. Charlotte Douglas International Airport
9. McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas)
10. Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Airport
11. Tampa International Airport
12. San Francisco International Airport
13. Reagan National Airport (Washington, D.C.)
14. Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
15. Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport
16. Hartsfield – Jackson Atlanta International Airport
17. Chicago Midway International Airport
18. Boston Logan International Airport
19. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
20. Miami International Airport
21. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport
22. Los Angeles International Airport
23. Denver International Airport
24. Dulles International Airport (Washington, D.C.)
25. Orlando International Airport
26. Detroit Metropolitan Airport
27. O’Hare International Airport (Chicago)
28. Newark Liberty International Airport
29. John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York)
30. LaGuardia Airport (New York)