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America’s Best and Worst Airports

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
Just in time for the busy holiday travel season, the Daily Beast is out with its second annual list of America’s best and worst airports. There’s good news for those who fly from Phoenix but bad news for those who use Newark.
The Daily Beast ranked the 27 largest airports in seven categories, including how quickly travelers get in and out, the number of incidents and accidents, and amenities. Each of these categories was weighed accordingly, with the largest components being on-time departures and arrivals.
Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix gets the top spot with on-time departures 84 percent of the time in 2010, on-time arrivals at 86 percent, on-time holiday departures at 85 percent and on-time holiday arrivals at 84 percent. The average time spent waiting in a security line at Phoenix was only 10 minutes.  The website also ranks Phoenix high in categories including safety and airport amenities.

Other airports getting accolades include Seattle-Tacoma International in the second spot and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in third. Los Angeles Airport and Orlando International Airport rounded out the top five.

But the picture wasn’t so cheery for passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport, which ranked at the bottom of the list for the second year in a row. The Daily Beast says on-time departures were only 76 percent, on-time arrivals 73 percent, on-time holiday departures 77 percent, and on-time holiday arrivals 76 percent at the New Jersey airport, though average security wait time was only 7 minutes. Newark also ranked 24th in terms of safety and 26th in terms of airport amenities.

John F. Kennedy International in New York also ranked at the bottom of the list.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (I said “airport” – not the man himself!) in Houston was ranked number one in 2009, but fell all the way to the number nine spot this year. The airport lost points for having a 77 percent on-time arrival rate during the holidays, as well as being near the bottom of the list in the “tarmac nightmares” category.

Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, however, was one of the biggest rank gainers since last year. The airport came in at number eight, a seven-spot jump from last year.

To pull together their list, the Daily Beast used data from groups such as the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Flight Explorer and the JD Power and Associates 2009 North American Airport Satisfaction study.