America’s 10 Best Airports for Summer Travel
Well summer is almost over, but if you’re trying to sneak in one last trip before school starts, Nerdwallet has done some research for you. Long lines, flight delays or — worse — cancellations can turn a vacation into a nightmare. So check out where it is you should plan your next flight.
Adding to the stress: 231 million passengers are expected to fly in summer 2016, according to Airlines for America, an airline trade group. If that estimate holds up, this will be the busiest flying season ever.
The good news is there are airports that consistently get travelers to their destination on time and with minimal unpleasantness. To find the nation’s best airports, NerdWallet examined recent data on flight delays and customs lines wait times from the federal government, details on wait times in security lines from a crowd-sourced travel app and ratings on dining options from Yelp reviews. See the analysis for a detailed methodology and the full list of worst and best airports.
10 best airports in the U.S. for summer travel
- Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
- John Wayne Airport, Orange County, California (SNA)
- Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- San Diego International Airport (SAN)
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
- San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
- Portland International Airport (PDX)
- Oakland International Airport (OAK)
Why these airports are the best
On-time departures. Salt Lake City International, Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Seattle-Tacoma International stand out for having a very low percentage of flights delayed — a metric that makes up 30% of an airport’s score. But it’s Honolulu International that either wins or ties for the lowest percentage of delays in each of the lengths measured: delays over 30 minutes, one hour or more and over two hours. For example, an average of 14% of flights were delayed more than 30 minutes among the 50 U.S. airports we analyzed, compared with only 5% at Honolulu.
Few canceled flights. Honolulu ranks No. 1 for the lowest percentage, 0.10%, of flights canceled. Oakland, with 0.17% of flights canceled, and San Jose, 0.19%, follow close behind. The average percentage of flights canceled at all airports analyzed is 0.3%.
Good food. Even if your planes are taking off as scheduled, there’s often time to kill at the airport or the need for a quick bite between flights. The restaurants at John Wayne Airport and San Antonio International have the highest Yelp ratings in the analysis, with 4.3 out of 5 and 4.2 out of 5, respectively. Phoenix and San Diego land near the top of the list, too, with each earning a rating of 4 out of 5. The average star rating among the 50 airports analyzed is 3.6 out of 5.
How to make your airport experience smoother
A few tactics can help you improve your experience at the best airports as well as the worst, which include Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia Airport and Chicago O’Hare International. Some tips to try:
- Join TSA PreCheck to expedite security screening.
- If traveling abroad, enroll in Global Entry to help speed the process in customs lines.
- Visit airport lounges, which typically offer free Wi-Fi, beverages and other perks.
original article by Laura McMullen and Courtney Miller