The 10 Best and 11 Worst Airports in the U.S.

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Happy friends or smiling family meeting at the airport
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If you think you’re having the worst possible experience at the airport, you might be right.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal ranked the busiest airports in the country, looking at everything from on-time performance to customer satisfaction ratings.

Here’s a look at what was found about the best and worst airports in America. Note that while The Wall Street Journal made a distinction between midsized and large airports, we’ve ignored that and highlighted the airports with the highest and lowest overall scores. We’ll start with the top-rated airports in the country.

1. San Jose International Airport

San Jose Mineta International Airport
Michael Vi /

WSJ Score: 71.2

Airport code: SJC

San Jose, California, is one of “The 15 Happiest Cities in America.” A hassle-free departure for vacation from this Silicon Valley hub is a pretty good reason to smile.

2. San Antonio International Airport

Airplanes at San Antonio International Airport
Austin Deppe /

WSJ Score: 70.4

Airport code: SAT

Next down the list is another “San” city, though not in California. The midsize airport that serves the south-central Texas city of San Antonio scored 71 for reliability and 69.9 for value and convenience, according to The Wall Street Journal.

3. Sacramento International Airport

Sacramento International Airport
Matthew Corley /

WSJ Score: 70

Airport code: SMF

California’s capital is home to one of the best airports in the U.S., a fact attributable to “good weather, plenty of runway space and customer service,” airport director Cindy Nichol told the Journal in 2022. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Sacramento is also one of the best-paying cities for civil engineers.

4. Indianapolis International Airport

Indianapolis International Airport
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WSJ Score: 69.9

Airport code: IND

At the Indianapolis International Airport, you can get in a little preflight workout. In partnership with the American Heart Association, the airport has created a designated quarter-mile walking path around the Ticketing Hall. In addition, once you have gone through security, you can walk a half-mile path around either concourse or a 1.1-mile lap around both concourses.

5. William P. Hobby Airport

William P. Hobby Airport
University of College /

WSJ Score: 69

Airport code: HOU

Houston is one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S., so it’s no surprise it has a nice airport. Among its amenities: a beauty spa, massage chairs and daily musical performances “featuring a diverse repertoire of classical, contemporary classical, smooth jazz and international music.”

6. Portland International Airport

Portland International Airport
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WSJ Score: 68.4

Airport code: PDX

The city where this airport is located may not be the Portland you want to retire in, but it’s a nice place to visit if you enjoy the mountains and evergreens of the Pacific Northwest.

7. John Wayne Airport (tie)

John Wayne Airport
Markus Mainka /

WSJ Score: 66.9

Airport code: SNA

At John Wayne Airport, located in California’s Orange County, four-legged ambassadors greet two-legged travelers. The AirPAWS Therapy Dog Program features more than a dozen trained therapy dogs who “roam throughout the Airport greeting interested guests and providing joy to those who want to hug, smooch or photograph them,” according to the airport.

7. Oakland International Airport (tie)

Oakland International Airport
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WSJ Score: 66.9

Airport code: OAK

California’s fourth-largest airport is also the fourth-best from the state. Many people flying into the Bay Area find it more convenient than flying into the busier San Francisco airport.

9. Kahului Airport

Kahului Airport
EQRoy /

WSJ Score: 66.2

Airport code: OGG

Kahului Airport, the main airport on the island of Maui, is Hawaii’s second-busiest. Its staff also operate five other airports across the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

10. Tampa International Airport

Tampa International Airport

WSJ Score: 66.1

Airport code: TPA

Tampa International Airport has made a strong push to become more sustainable. Nearly half of the Florida airport’s fleet is made up of alternative-fuel vehicles. Preferred parking spaces are available for those who drive alternative-fuel vehicles, and the lot has electric vehicle charging stations for public use.

The worst airports

man upset at airport
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Up next are the worst airports in the United States — and it’s probably no coincidence that they’re nearly all large ones.

1. Newark Liberty International Airport

Newark International Airport, New Jersey
EQRoy /

WSJ Score: 37.6

Airport code: EWR

The most abysmal score in The Wall Street Journal’s rankings goes to the airport for Newark, New Jersey, a place that just can’t seem to catch a break. The city was also called out for being among the country’s dirtiest in 2023.

If you’re expecting an on-time flight, you can expect the city to do you dirty too: Newark’s airport received an extremely low reliability score of 18.6 for on-time flights in the WSJ report.

2. John F. Kennedy International Airport

JFK Airport in New York
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WSJ Score: 43.6

Airport code: JFK

New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) was once called Idlewild, which was perhaps a more fitting name. Travelers spend significant time idling for its chronically delayed flights. That helps explain JFK’s low reliability score of 24.4.

3. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Rental car area in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Texas
Lost_in_the_Midwest /

WSJ Score: 48

Airport code: DFW

Texas has one of the country’s best airports in San Antonio, but sadly, also one of the worst with DFW, located at the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The air itself is bad in the metro area, which ranks among “15 Expensive U.S. Cities With the Worst Air Quality.”

4. Orlando International Airport

Orlando International Airport

WSJ Score: 49.1

Airport code: MCO

Before you can make it to the Magic Kingdom, you’ll have to navigate the chaotic hub that comes with being an international tourist destination. With a recently opened terminal housing nearly a dozen international airlines and adding capacity for an estimated 12 million passengers per year, don’t expect things to get less busy at Orlando’s biggest airport.

5. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Fort Lauderdale International Airport, Florida
Gabriele Maltinti /

WSJ Score: 51.3

Airport code: FLL

We included Fort Lauderdale as one of “7 of the Best Places to Retire on the East Coast” but — if you’re not from the area — a scenic drive down State Road A1A, which runs the length of Florida’s Atlantic coast, might be less stressful than flying in to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

6. LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia Airport
quiggyt4 /

WSJ Score: 51.9

Airport code: LGA

LaGuardia recently got an $8 billion makeover that included a graphic water curtain, but money isn’t everything. The airport is named for Fiorello La Guardia, who served as mayor of New York City for 12 years, including during both the Great Depression and World War II.

7. Miami International Airport

Miami International Airport
EQRoy /

WSJ Score: 52

Airport code: MIA

Miami has the next major airport south of Fort Lauderdale’s, and it’s only slightly less frustrating. If you’re headed to the Caribbean or Latin America, however, brace yourself — you may not be able to avoid passing through here since Miami International Airport offers the most flights to those destinations.

8. Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport

Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
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WSJ Score: 53.3

Airport code: SJU

Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico, the only midsized airport in The Wall Street Journal’s “worst” end of the list, is named for the former and first elected governor of Puerto Rico. It’s the main airport of the U.S. territory, and no, you don’t need a passport to fly there.

9. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (tie)

Charlotte Douglas International Airport
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WSJ Score: 54.6

Airport code: CLT

Feeling overwhelmed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport? You might run into one of its therapy dogs, all of whom are highly experienced professionals. (They each have a minimum of six months on the job, which is a lot in dog years.)

9. Denver International Airport (tie)

TSA security checkpoint lines
Jim Lambert /

WSJ Score: 54.6

Airport code: DEN

Despite only opening in 1995, Denver International is one of the world’s busiest airports. It’s also massive — on an area of land large enough to fit the international airports of Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas combined.

11. Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Chicago O'Hare International Airport
EQRoy /

WSJ Score: 55

Airport code: ORD

Chicago’s O’Hare is named after World War II Navy pilot Butch O’Hare, who single-handedly defended the USS Lexington from nine Japanese bombers in 1942 and received the Medal of Honor for “one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation,” according to the medal citation.

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