It’s official: California has the best airports, while New York and New Jersey have the worst. Boom!
Well, that’s mostly true, as The Wall Street Journal has noted, but we need to narrow the focus a bit: San Francisco and Sacramento have the best large and mid-size airports, respectively, while on the east coast Newark and LaGuardia are the respective culprits of the bad airport.
The Journal examined the 50 busiest airports in the US across 19 criteria across three main categories (reliability, value, and convenience) to create its ranking. San Francisco has highlights for limiting overhead announcements (which really are the bane of one’s spiritual existence: We promise we won’t let strangers stay with us), yoga rooms and pastime artworks, touch-free water bottle filling stations, to keep both germs and single-use plastics at bay to avoid, and multiple security checkpoints to regulate passenger flow. The best? Its flights are more than 80 percent on-time, thanks in part to a $10 million investment in new GPS landing technology to help pilots in inclement weather and poor visibility.
In second place among major airports was Atlanta, just two points behind San Francisco, and in third place was Minneapolis, two points behind Atlanta. The only other Californian airport in this category, Los Angeles, came in 6th.
Sacramento’s good weather, runway space, and customer service put it at the top of the list of mid-sized airports. His overall score of 70 was significantly higher than San Francisco’s 61 in the other category. Second place went to San Diego with 67 points and third place to San Jose with 66 points. This means that California has captured the top 3 in this smaller airport category. Two other California cities, Santa Ana and Oakland, ranked 9th (61 points, same as San Francisco) and 10th (60 points), respectively.
At the other end of the spectrum, LaGuardia was last on this mid-range list with a score of 38, apparently in large part because its comfort is uncomfortable. It has seen its fair share of flight delays, but will undergo an $8 billion renovation that will make the concourses more attractive and provide more runway space for planes. The gate redesign will also allow for the accommodation of larger aircraft. LaGuardia tied for last place with Puerto Rico’s San Juan Airport, which had an overall score of 39 but was placed in the same position.
It’s often a no-brainer what you get at the airport, but if you check your specific flight on this US Department of Transportation website by entering the airline and flight number, you’ll get the percentage of time the flight is delayed or canceled is, with the reason for this issue.