Skift Take

One might be surprised to find Phoenix Sky Harbor at the top of any analyst's airport ranking, but based on accessibility, amenities, and on-time performance, it appears to deliver the best package in the country.

New data aggregated by The Points Guy (TPG) may suggest the best airports to fly through next year.

Phoenix, Portland, and San Diego were the top three, while all three of New York’s airports took the bottom slots. The full top ten airports according to the study were:

  1. Phoenix Sky Harbor International (Arizona; PHX)
  2. Portland International (Oregon; PDX)
  3. San Diego International (California; SAN)
  4. Salt Lake City International (Utah; SLC)
  5. Honolulu International (Hawaii; HNL)
  6. Seattle-Tacoma International (Washington; SEA)
  7. Philadelphia International (Pennsylvania; PHL)
  8. Charlotte Douglas International (North Carolina; CLT)
  9. Las Vegas McCarran International (Nevada; LAS)
  10. Minneapolis-St. Paul International (Minnesota; MSP)

The bottom ten airports (where #1 is the worst airport in the U.S.) were:

  1. LaGuardia (New York; LGA)
  2. John F. Kennedy International (New York; JFK)
  3. Newark Liberty International (New Jersey; EWR)
  4. Chicago O’Hare International (Illinois; ORD)
  5. Detroit Metro (Michigan; DTW)
  6. Orlando International (Florida; MCO)
  7. Washington Dulles International (Virginia; IAD)
  8. Denver International (Colorado; DEN)
  9. Los Angeles International (California; LAX)
  10. Houston George Bush Intercontinental (Texas; IAH)

The results were published last Thursday in a study commissioned by The Points Guy.

Unlike many similar studies that simply take on-time performance data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and rank airports solely by percentage of on-time flights, TPG added weight for accessibility (public transit options, distance from the city center, etc.) and amenities (number of restaurants, lounges and other services) to build its rankings. In this way, airports with consistently good weather (and hence on time performance) like Honolulu could effectively be balanced out with airports offering a strong host of amenities or decent accessibility — like Seattle Tacoma.

Based on the weights, Phoenix Sky Harbor, which is a hub for American Airlines, was pushed to the top of this year’s rankings even though the airport neither has the best on-time performance, nor volume of amenities or nor accessibility.

On the other side of that equation, New York’s airports generally performed poorly because of poor public transit options, terrible air traffic and weather (hence, poor on-time performance), and crumbling infrastructure — particularly at LaGuardia.

Among the top performing airports, American has hubs in three locations (Phoenix, Philadelphia and Charlotte) while Delta has two (Salt Lake City and Minneapolis). United has none, which may help explain why the carrier has suffered from poor on-time performance numbers for the last years — among the worst airports, United has six hubs, though American and Delta also provide service to a few of the contenders.

It’s also worth noting that an airport’s ranking in this study doesn’t necessarily apply to an entire experience — Los Angeles International, for example, just remodeled its international terminal into a world class experience while a good portion of United’s terminals at Newark have also recently been remodeled.

Still, this year’s airport study from TPG can be used as a good thumbnail to indicate airports potentially prone to difficulty compared to relatively calmer waters. More data on the candidates as well as full methodology is available on The Points Guy.


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: phoenix, rankings

Photo credit: Passengers line up to check in before their flight at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. It was recently ranked first in a new list of the U.S.'s top airports. 183661 / 183661

Up Next

Loading next stories