We all have our favorite airports to fly into and out of, and a several hour delay could ruin an airport--and even an entire trip, in some cases--for someone forever.
- San Diego International Airport
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Portland (Oregon) International Airport
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- Sacramento International Airport
But when it comes to airports closer to home, here's a breakdown:
#18 Philadelphia International Airport
"Philadelphia, has according to our rankings, the 18th best ranking of the top 50 airports. That's a pretty good number," Ben Mutzabaugh, senior aviation editor with The Points Guy.
Using 34 factors that are important to travelers, The Points Guy looked at all kinds of things from amenities and accessibility to on-time flights.
"Philadelphia's score, actually wasn't too bad, and they even did really well in one area, which is amenities, and that's everything form restaurants to retail to nursing stations to pet relief areas, and actually, Philadelphia has more pet relief areas than any airport in the country--so that actually helped their score," said Mutzabaugh.
Philadelphia ranked 7th when it came to amenities.
"Of course, you guys are helped by you have a big airline in Philadelphia--American Airlines--so they have really kind of invested in that as a hub, where you have a lot of lounges, and you have some international carriers too that fly there that kind of help beef up the amenities for the airport, so that was a strong area for Philadelphia."
Beyond that, the airport finished in the top half of airports as far as commute time.
"There's a pretty good train connection from the airport into Center City. Traffic, probably dragged down the rating a little bit for the commute time. During rush-hour, I'm sure any Philadelphian would be quick to agree that Center City to Philadelphia Airport at maybe 6 p.m. on a weekday is a little rough.
What dragged the airport down?
"The on-time average of flights and the number of cancellations, and while that's not in the airport's control, necessarily, it is something that affects travelers," he said. "Problems there for Philadelphia, its' an old runway configuration, there's a lot of weather; it's been a bad year for thunderstorms...tend to line up from Washington to New York and block all the flight paths to the west, so that's something that American and all the carriers have had to deal with on and off at Philadelphia That's the one reason that Philadelphia is probably not a little bit higher on the list," he said.
The Points Guy did not factor in average airfare, but Philly isn't the greatest to catch a cheap flight, as we've told you many times on JetSet.
"You've got kind of a dual-edged sword here. You've got this airport that has flights to almost everywhere you could ever want to go with no stops, certainly with one-stop, so that's a great advantage of having an airport that's a hub for a big airline. The flip-side is when you have an airline that is such a big presence--and out-sized presence compared to other airlines at a single airport--it does kind of tip the pricing power in favor of the big guy, and you do see a little bit of that in Philadelphia."
"You can probably go where you need to go most times without a layover, but you're going to pay a little more to do."
You'll find better pricing at JFK or Newark Liberty International Airport, particularly for overseas flights.
"I think that's kind of one of the advantages of being in this region. It's easy to get from Philadelphia to New York, for example, if you find a better option, and as long as you've got the time, maybe the savings will maybe offset the Amtrak ticket, or the bus, or however you're getting to these other airports for a different option. If it cost you $1,500 to fly in coach on a flight from Philadelphia to Europe, but you find the same routes from Newark or JKF for $600, yeah, right, it becomes a fairly easy decision," he noted.
#22 John F. Kennedy Airport, New York - Top International Gateway
JFK's ranking was aided by their amenities.
"They're not dominated by a single airline--that's one thing that makes JFK a little different--but they've got a great international presence, it's one of the top international gateways for the U.S... so what you tend to see there are a lot of lounges," said Mutzabaugh. "There are restaurants; there are spas; there are just just all kinds of amenities for the traveler, and JFK scored very, very well for that."
"By New York standards, they've got a fairly easy connection to Manhattan, if you're willing to take the air-train, it takes about an hour, but it's NY and that's not so bad for where JFK is located."
What dragged down JFK?
"Similar to Philadelphia was on-time performance of the flights is not always super fantastic at JFK."
#34 Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey
Newark Liberty Airport ranked 34th in The Points Guy survey, brought down significantly for being among the worst for on-time flights, according to their survey.
"That certainly hurt their score," said Mutzabaugh. "They actually have a fair number of amenities, and if it weren't for that, Newark probably would've fallen in the bottom 10. Newark has never been super popular among travelers, at least that's what we hear from our readers at The Points Guy."
Mutzabaugh pointed to some upgrades within terminals and concourses.
"Amenities is a strong point for Newark, now if only they could do something about on-time flights," said Mutzabaugh.
#25 Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, Maryland
Baltimore/Washington International Airport remains a great option for folks in the D.C.-area, ranking right in the middle of the pack.
"What BWI has going for it, is it's close to downtown Baltimore--so that helped it--and the commute options are good," he said.
It ranked poorly in amenities in lounges due to the influx of no-frills airlines like Southwest and Spirit.
"Driving from Philadelphia you get more of a mixed bag, the amenities are fairly low at BWI, but if you're coming there for a cheap flight, you're probably willing to make some trade-offs," he said.
The airport also offers limited international options, compared to Philadelphia and New York-area airports.
"But there, if you get a great deal, maybe, on across-country flight to California or Seattle--if that's where you're looking to go--it might be worth the drive," he said.
He also pointed to bargains to be found on British Airways flights to London.
"But otherwise, the international flights are fairly limited at BWI unless you're willing to connect."
While not an option for our area, at all, we had to talk about the airport that gained the number one coveted spot:
#1 San Diego International Airport, California
Its proximity to downtown San Diego boosted this airport's rating, but it also ranked well in amenities in the newly-upgraded Terminal 2.
"They have a lot of these restaurants hat have tried to incorporate a San Diego theme, or menus inspired by local San Diego restaurants, so the proximity to town, the ease of access to town, the availability of Lyft, and Uber, and taxis, that really helped; the amenities helped.
San Diego's gorgeous weather also greatly helped its score.
"There are a low number of cancellations in San Diego. When its' sunny and 70 degrees all the time, it kind of helps with the schedule, so since reliability of flights is one of the things we factored in, San Diego kind of scored well across the board, and that helped them take the best spot overall," said Mutzabaugh.
The Worst Airports: #50 Chicago Midway International Airport, Illinois | #49 Orlando International Airport, Florida
Chicago Midway didn't score the worst in any single categories, but it scored low across all categories.
"Cumulatively, that dragged them down to the #50 spot," said Mutzabaugh.
The airport needs more amenities and commute times are long, he noted.
"Now folks in Chicago may tell you that getting downtown from Midway is easier than O'Hare, but compared to some other airports especially San Diego or Philadelphia, the commute times were a lot closer, a lot shorter from the airport to downtown," he said.
Orlando came in close behind it, ranking #49, faring poorly in the number of amenities and restaurants compared the high number of passengers that fly through the airport.
"It's also kind of far from things, downtown and if you fly there, you're going to have a little bit of a drive to get to Disney...so those are the things that kind of hurt our two worst airports, but there's always room for improvement--more lounges, more restaurants would probably help."
"But the other side, at the end of the day is, if you're going to Disney World, for example, you've got to go to Orlando, so you've just kind of got to make the best of it," he said.