Which US airports are the best?
As one of the world’s biggest countries by area, it may come as no surprise that America is home to over 5,000 public airports. Providing flights for millions of passengers every year, these airports have a duty to deliver a good service.
In addition to this, planes are large contributors to air pollution, and the evergrowing effects of climate change have made people more eco-conscious than ever. Although the aviation industry is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint, some areas are making more of an effort than others.
Bearing this in mind, the team here at Travel Lens has pitted the 50 busiest US airports against each other to reveal the best in the country based on a range of factors, including wait times, passenger satisfaction levels, and CO2 emissions.
Southwest Florida International Crowned Best Airport With a Rating of 8.06 /10
To kick off this airport report we have combined a range of factors, including passenger satisfaction, wait times, and pollution levels, to determine which US airports are the best - here's what we found.
1.Southwest Florida International (RSW) - Airport Rating of 8.06 /10
Taking the top spot, with an airport rating of 8.06 /10 is Southwest Florida International. As suggested by the name, this airport is located in the bottom half of Florida and boasts a Google review rating of 4.5 /5. Although it may not be the biggest airport in terms of area, it is currently the second-busiest single-runway airport in America. Bearing this in mind, it makes it all the more impressive that they have a short average wait time of just 16 minutes as well as low pollution levels. Spending some time researching the best things to do in Southwest Florida will ensure that the rest of your holiday is as good as the journey!
2. John Wayne (SNA) - Airport Rating of 7.96 /10
With a rating of 7.96 /10, John Wayne airport has been revealed as the second best in the US. Originally called Orange County, but later renamed after the Western movie star, John Wayne, this airport is famous for its characteristically short runways and wait times averaging at just 6 minutes. As well as this, they have a very high customer satisfaction score (826 /1000), so if you are flying from this Californian airport then you will be in excellent hands!
3. Portland International (PDX) - Airport Rating of 7.86 /10
Last, but by no means least, is Portland International airport which completes this top three with an overall rating of 7.86 /10. As Oregan’s largest airport, Portland International is no stranger to the hustle and bustle of passengers and flights. Having said this, it hasn't stopped them from providing a top-class service, evidenced by their high satisfaction score of 803 /1000 and Google review rating of 4.5 /5 among others.
With A Score of 846 /1000, Tampa International Has The Most Satisfied Passengers Of Any US Airport
As well as the overall best airports in the US, we wanted to find out which airports are superior in terms of each individual factor. Below is a list of the US airports with the highest passenger satisfaction scores, ranked based on factors such as terminal facilities and baggage claim.
1.Tampa International (TPA) - Passenger Satisfaction score of 846 /1000
Taking the top spot in this list is Tampa International with a satisfaction score of 846 /1000. If you are unsure of where to stay in Tampa then you needn't worry as Tampa’s state of Florida is a popular holiday destination with lots of excellent accommodations to match the high standards set by this airport.
Boasting everything from gift shops to food courts and outdoor smoking patios, Tampa International has got something for everyone! With so much on offer to help keep their passengers entertained, it's no surprise that this airport is the best in the US for passenger satisfaction.
2. Indianapolis International (IND) - Passenger Satisfaction score of 842 /1000
Falling just shy of the top spot, with a passenger satisfaction score of 842 /1000, is Indianapolis International. Despite being categorized as a medium-sized airport in comparison to some of the other entries in this list, it is still able to compete with the biggest aviation destinations in America. Its spacious infrastructure, above-average service, and high levels of cleanliness have all contributed to Indianapolis International becoming a fan favorite amongst passengers.
3. Pittsburgh International (PIT) - Passenger Satisfaction score of 839 /1000
Operating since the 1950s, Pittsburgh International airport has been a hit with passengers for decades, and it appears to show no signs of slowing down as they complete our top three list of airports with the highest levels of passenger satisfaction. Among others, Pittsburgh International has been praised for its variety of affordable dining facilities which is likely one of the reasons that this airport is so popular with passengers. When you eventually manage to pull yourself away from this airport, there are many attractions and eateries in the city that make up some of the best things to do in Pittsburgh.
John Wayne & Kahului Airports Have An Average Wait Time of 6 Minutes - Less Than Any Other US Airport
When it comes to traveling by plane, many passengers like to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare so that they can get through security in good time. Because of this, we wanted to find out which airports have the shortest average wait time.
1.John Wayne (SNA), Kahului (OGG) - 6min average wait time
Sharing the top spot is the John Wayne Airport and Kahului Airport which both have an average wait time of just 6 minutes. These airports are responsible for transporting millions of passengers a year, therefore it is crucial for them to carry out their service in a timely manner. Having said this, it appears that these two airports have got it down to a fine art! In particular, John Wayne is classified under the ‘large’ airport category, making their short wait time all the more impressive.
2. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International (CVG) - 7min average wait time
With a wait time of 7 minutes on average, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International has the third shortest wait time of all US airports in this list. As the name suggests, this airport is based in the state of Kentucky. In addition to this, it is among the largest cargo airports in North America - these services are provided alongside a large number of passenger flights. Despite this influx of airport traffic, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International still provide one of the shortest average wait times in the US.
John Wayne, Indianapolis International & Tampa International Share The Title Of Most Highly Regarded Airport - With A 4.6 /5 Rating On Google
Over the years, US airports have garnered hundreds of thousands of reviews on Google, with passengers revealing the good, the bad and the ugly - but which airports have the best overall rating on Google?
1.John Wayne (SNA), Indianapolis International (IND), Tampa International (TPA) - 4.6 /5 Google Rating
All of the airports in this top three, namely John Wayne, Indianapolis International, and Tampa International, share the same Google review rating of 4.6 /5.
You may recognize the John Wayne Airport as it has already made two appearances in this report! There seems to be a lot to like about this airport, with many passengers praising the practical aspects, including the transportation system, and others favoring the more novelty features such as the airport’s piano.
Joining the John Wayne Airport in this top spot is Indianapolis International. After ranking as the airport with the highest passenger satisfaction earlier in this report, it may come as no surprise that they also have a high Google review rating. One of the stand-out features of this airport is the numerous pieces of artwork scattered throughout, adding ambiance to an otherwise forgettable terminal.
The third and final airport in this top spot is Tampa International which, like the other airports, has been featured previously in this report. The easy navigation of this airport’s terminals has been expressed by a lot of the passengers who have submitted reviews of this airport.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Produces 79g/km Of CO2 Emissions Per Passenger - Lower Pollution Levels Than Every Other US Airport
With many people taking steps to reduce the effects of climate change, many industries are also doing their bit. With this in mind, we were curious to find out which airports are currently producing the least amount of CO2 emissions.
1.Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL) - 79g/km of CO2 emissions per passenger
At just 79g/km CO2 emissions per passenger, it is Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International that takes the top spot in this list of airports with the lowest pollution levels. Despite being categorized as a mega airport based on the fact that it facilitates a large number of passengers, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International has done everything it can to reduce its carbon footprint. This airport’s sustainability efforts include energy conservation and water reuse which have proved to be successful, evidenced by their position in this list.
2. Southwest Florida International (RSW) - 82g/km of CO2 emissions per passenger
Making its second appearance in this airport report is Southwest Florida International, with the second lowest level of CO2 emissions per passenger (82g/km). This airport has been practicing sustainability for years, including the use of LED light fixtures and solar panels throughout its terminals. As well as this, Southwest Florida International have put initiatives in place to encourage passengers to adopt more eco-conscious lifestyle choices, including water refill stations in an attempt to reduce the purchase of plastic bottles.
3. Orlando International (MCO) - 83g/km of CO2 emissions per passenger
With 83g/km of CO2 emissions per passenger, Orlando International completes this top three list of US airports with the lowest pollution levels. The Orlando Aviation Authority has thought outside the box with its sustainability efforts, including the introduction of more than 200 hives which are responsible for homing millions of bees. This initiative has helped to improve plant diversity and the local environment.
We used FAA data to create a list of the 50 busiest airports in the US based on the number of passengers.
We used J.D Power to find the passenger satisfaction rating for each airport. The passenger satisfaction score was on a 1000-point scale (with 1000 being the highest satisfaction).
Using AWT, we gathered the average wait times for each airport from the 15th of January 2023.
We searched each airport on Google Maps and took the average star rating (out of 5) for each airport to find those with the best reviews.
We used Airport Tracker to reveal the CO2 emissions produced by each airport per passenger (grams CO2 per passenger km).
Using all of the aforementioned factors (passenger satisfaction, wait time, Google review scores and CO2 emissions), we were able to give each airport an overall rating by normalizing each factor out of 10 and taking an average of these scores.