Preparing to Travel? Know Which Airports are the Best

Airports can be challenging places. The long lines, the removal of items from your carry-ons, the uncomfortable seats and undesirable food. But, they do get us where we need to go, and the fact that we can now get from Los Angeles to New York City in five hours (not including delays or layovers) in a flying metal cylinder is still pretty astounding.

However, some airports are more awe-inspiring—and efficient—than others. In a recent study, the research company J.D. Power released its rankings of airports, from mega to medium, across the country based on factors including airport accessibility, terminal facilities, food and beverage and baggage claim. While some may come as a surprise, frequent travelers may say “I knew it!”

The Good

Landing in first place for mega airports was Orlando International Airport (MCO), with an overall satisfaction rating of five out of five. It only slightly beat out Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), which had an overall rating of four out of five, as did McCarran International Airport (LAS).

Large airports competed for a five-way first-place tie, though the award eventually went to John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County, California. Tampa International Airport, Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL), Nashville International Airport (BNA) and Portland International Airport (PDX) all received ratings of five as well.

Medium-size airports also came up with a tie. While Sacramento International Airport (SMF) received the award, Indianapolis International Airport (IND) and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) were also close to nabbing the gold.

The Ugly

With every “best of” list comes the worst of, and this study is no exception.

Coming in dead last for mega airports was Newark International Airport (EWR). Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and O’Hare International Airport (ORD) rounded out the bottom three, with low ratings for terminal facilities and check-in/baggage check.

LaGuardia Airport (LGA) was the least popular of large airports, with its two-out-of-five-rating clinching the bottom spot. Slumming it alongside LGA was Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Connecticut took last place for medium airports. While many may think of it as paradise, the magic of Hawaii does not extend to Kahului Airport (OGG), which slipped into the bottom three. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) was also low on the list, with poor ratings for its terminal facilities and baggage claim, among other categories.

Magnify Money Analyzes Flight Delays

Magnify Money recently released their own rankings of the best and worst airports. The main focus of their study, however, was flight delays. They determined the rankings by studying the 50 busiest U.S. airports and analyzing flight delays during summertime from 2008-2017.

Their best airports included Honolulu International Airport (HNL), Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and SNA—which echoes its first-place ranking in the J.D. Power study. This is great news for Orange County meetings.

Surprisingly—or, perhaps, unsurprisingly—Magnify Money’s findings for the worst airports practically mirrored J.D. Power’s study. In last place, with a rating of 67 percent for its multiple and constant delays, was Newark, followed closely by LaGuardia at 68 percent. ORD and PHL also rated toward the bottom, with almost one out of four flights experiencing delays of some sort at each airport.

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