Best and Worst Airports in the U.S.

If you fly regularly for business or pleasure, you’re aware of the downside of air travel: the long lines, delayed flights, and security checks, to name a few. Money® Magazine surveyed 80 of the country’s most traveled commercial airports to determine which airports provided a more enjoyable traveling experience. How did the New York area airports rank? Keep reading to find out.

It’s no surprise that getting through the airport is generally the least favorite part of any trip. While every airport experiences delays, cancellations and other inconveniences, some airports are better than others. To find the best airports in the U.S.—those that reduce travel headaches rather than creating them—Money analyzed 80 of the nation’s top airports and ranked them based on customer experience scores from myriad sources, including J.D. Power, reader reviews from Travel + Leisure, on-time arrival rates, security delays, and traveler amenities such as shops and restaurants.

New York’s airports rank last

Below is their list of the top 15 U.S. airports. But first, tri-stare area travelers should be aware that New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark International Airport ranked at the absolute bottom of Money® Magazine’s survey.

New York’s airports’ unfortunate ranking:

78. John F. Kennedy International Airport

79. Newark Liberty International Airport

80. LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia came in last among large airports evaluated by J.D. Power, and its facilities score was the absolute lowest among all airports rated. Newark came in last among the mega airports—and its facilities score was the second-lowest overall. All three airports had some of the lowest customer ratings from Travel + Leisure readers.

Airport facilities a key factor

“The most important factor in airport satisfaction is the terminal facilities themselves—that’s the building, how clean it is, what condition it’s in, the bathrooms,” says Mike Taylor, who leads J.D. Power’s airport research. “If anything is worn, it’s always considered unclean—whether it’s antiseptic or not,” Taylor says. Part of the reason LaGuardia gets such horrible scores may be that the airport is stalling on small maintenance projects while it undergoes a major renovation, Taylor says: “It just isn’t worth re-carpeting or repainting it, because it’s going to be torn down in 18 months.”

Traffic and access also important

Access to the airport is another key factor in airport satisfaction, according to Taylor, and another area where New York falls short. “It’s very hard to get around the New York area; very hard to get to the airport itself,” Taylor says.

Another issue against New York’s airports is the sheer volume of travelers in the greater tri-state area. Last year, New York’s three airports saw more than 132 million passengers, according to data collected by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—compared to just over 10 million at Money® Magazine’s top airport, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif.

New York airports low for on-time departures

The high volume of travelers means more road traffic, more air traffic congestion, and poorer on-time performance. JFK, LaGuardia and Newark consistently ranked in the bottom half of North American airports for on-time departure performance during 2017, according to data collected from FlightStats.

At LaGuardia, for instance, only about 72 percent of the airport’s arriving flights were on time in 2017, according to data from the Department of Transportation. The average among U.S. airports was over 80 percent.

But there’s at least some good news. Renovations underway at both LaGuardia and Newark’s Terminal A should help improve travelers’ experience, says Taylor—and he’s hopeful that, in the future, New York airports’ performance will be much improved.

15 Best Airports in the U.S.

1. John Wayne Airport (SNA)
Santa Ana, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals (as a percent of total): 84.98%
  • Number of restaurants: 24

2. Portland International Airport (PDX)
Portland, Ore.

  • On-time arrivals: 84.46%
  • Number of restaurants: 32

3. Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
Indianapolis, Ind.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.18%
  • Number of restaurants: 25

4. Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
Sacramento, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.15%
  • Number of restaurants: 22

5. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)
Belgrade, Mont.

  • On-time arrivals: 85.75%
  • Number of restaurants: 2

6. T.F. Green Airport (PVD)
Warwick, R.I.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.35%
  • Number of restaurants: 11

7. Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Tampa, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.44%
  • Number of restaurants: 40

8. Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)
Jacksonville, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.59%
  • Number of restaurants: 13

9. Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)
Fort Myers, Fla.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.49%
  • Number of restaurants: 18

10. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV)
Savannah, Ga.

  • On-time arrivals: 81.35%
  • Number of restaurants: 10

11. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Hebron, Ky.

  • On-time arrivals: 83.25%
  • Number of restaurants: 21

12. Long Beach Airport (LGB)
Long Beach, Calif.

  • On-time arrivals: 80.99%
  • Number of restaurants: 7

13. Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
Pittsburgh, Pa.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.13%
  • Number of restaurants: 33

14. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT)
Manchester, N.H.

  • On-time arrivals: 82.63%
  • Number of restaurants: 10

15. Portland International Jetport (PWM)
Portland, Maine

  • On-time arrivals: 78.94%
  • Number of restaurants: 5

Source: Time.com/money