These are the best and worst airports in America to get stranded at over the holiday season

ESBProfessional/shutterstockThe main hall inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
  • Orbitz.com recently completed a study where they published findings on the best and worst airports to be stranded in during the holiday season.
  • Using only the 15 busiest airports in the U.S. included a 2017 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Airport Traffic Report, Orbitz then studied certain aspects about each travel hub to determine how attractive each one is to be stuck in.
  • Metrics included the number of shopping outlets, number of dining outlets, WiFi speed, the percentage on flights leaving on time, and the percentage of flights canceled.
  • Charlotte Douglass International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina came in last while the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia came in first.

When travelling during the holiday season, there’s always a risk for weather disruptions and flight cancellations. Knowing which airports would be the best and the worst to be stranded in for an extended period of time seems like helpful information.

Luckily, one travel aggregator decided to study this scenario and make a definitive ranking.

Orbitz.com, a top travel website featuring searches and booking data for hotels, flights, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages, recently completed a study where they published findings on the best and worst airports to be stranded in during the holiday season.

Using only the 15 busiest airports in the U.S. included in a 2017 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Airport Traffic Report, Orbitz then studied certain aspects about each travel hub to determine how attractive each one is to be stuck in.

Orbitz’s methodology included nine specific metrics: number of shopping outlets, number of dining outlets, WiFi speed, number of members-only lounges, the price of members-only lounges, the number of public lounges, the price of public lounges, the percentage on flights leaving on time, and the percentage of flights canceled.

They applied points to each metric on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest, and then divided the difference of the highest and lowest number within each metric in order to grant points where other airports sat relatively on the scale.


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The study used over 18 separate websites and included information from the Bureau of Transportation.

“We know most travellers can’t realistically pick and choose which airports to avoid this holiday season,” said Carey Malloy, brand director at Orbitz brand in a public statement. “But even if you’re travelling to an airport near the bottom of the list, this information can help you plan a more rewarding trip. Whether that’s peace of mind knowing you can quickly download a last-minute movie for the kids at Sea-Tac or as extravagant as ice skating at the Denver airport before takeoff, this list is here to help.”

Take a look below at how each of the 15 busiest airports in the country scored, ranked from lowest to highest.


15. Charlotte Douglass International Airport (Charlotte, North Carolina):

Phyllis Peterson/shutterstockView of Charlotte Douglas airport as seen from Airport Overlook with the cityscape of Charlotte, NC in the background.

Charlotte Douglas International is not the best place for holiday travellers, as it lacks many amenities (only 21 bars and 36 shopping outlets) and has the second worst download speed for its WiFi networks.

Source: Orbitz


14. Newark Liberty International Airport (Newark, New Jersey):

John Moore/GettyNewark Liberty International Airport is seen from a Customs and Border Protection (CBP), helicopter

Simply put, Newark Liberty International Airport has some issues. Only 68.4% of flights leave on time (the worst number on this list), and it experiences more cancellations than any other airport, with 3.11% of flights being canceled.

Also, the airport only has 17 shops and 22 restaurants.

Source: Orbitz


13. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston, Texas):

Eblis/shutterstockView of George Bush Intercontinental Airport Terminal E at night

George Bush International Airport may have third-best percentage of flights that leave on time (83.22%) and 112 shopping options, but 2.96% flights are canceled meaning this isn’t exactly the place you want to be flying out of on the holidays.

Source: Orbitz


12. Miami International Airport (Miami, Florida):

Miami International Airport may boast 70 shops, 65 dining options, and 22 bars, but the airport is plagued by a 2.54% cancellation rate, one of the highest in the nation.

Source: Orbitz


11. Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport (Phoenix, Arizona):

BCFC/shutterstockPhoenix Sky Harbour International Airport

Phoenix’s airport features two unique elements not found at other hubs. First, there is the Walk the Sky Harbour Fitness Trail, which showcases views of Arizona’s famous mountain landscapes. Then there’s a walk-in medical clinic called US Careways that treats patients six-years-old and older.

Unfortunately the airport has the slowest WiFi service of all major U.S. airports.

Source: Orbitz


10. Los Angeles International Airport (Los Angeles, California):

David McNew/Getty ImagesA jet comes in for landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

As the world’s fourth busiest airport with 85 million passengers in 2017, LAX is a major international gateway. The airport is a reliable holiday season takeoff point as 80% of its flight leave on time and only 0.91% are ever canceled.

Source: Orbitz


9. Orlando International Airport (Orlando, Florida):

Sean Pavone/shutterstockInterior atrium of Orlando International Airport

With 45 million passengers handled in 2017, Orlando International is actually the busiest airport in Florida. It features an impressive art collection and over 70 shopping options.

Source: Orbitz


8. Denver International Airport (Denver, Colorado):

Kit Leong/shutterstockThe famous tent-like roof of the Denver International Airport

Denver International has a second-best rating of 83.88% flights leaving on time and 0.66% cancelation rate. The airport includes an outdoor ice-skating plaza during the winter season, free Wi-Fi, and 73 dining options.

Source: Orbitz


7. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (Dallas, Texas)

EQRoy/shutterstockInside view of the terminal at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), the largest hub for American Airlines

At over 17,207 acres, the Dallas/Fortworth Airport is larger than the island of Manhattan and features a multitude of activities within the impressive space. There are free yoga studios, a public art program, 64 shopping outlets, and 72 different restaurants to dine at.

Not a bad place to be stranded in.

Source: Orbitz


6. John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York, New York)

EQRoy/shutterstockInterior view of Terminal 1 at the John F. Kennedy International Airport

As the busiest international air passenger gateway into the U.S., JFK Airport might struggle with cancellations (2.84%), but makes up for it with 148 dining outlets, 29 members-only lounges, and 34 bars.

Source: Orbitz


5. San Francisco International Airport (San Francisco, California)

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA view of the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport

While San Francisco International features 16 bars, 19 coffee shops, an Arts Center, and an aviation library and museum, by far the most unique feature is the airport’s therapy pig, Lilou.

As the only airport therapy pig in the country, Lilou wears costumes to cheer up passengers who are feeling anxious before a flight.

Source: Orbitz


4. O’Hare International Airport (Chicago, Illinois)

EQRoy/shutterstockView of the Hall of Flags in Terminal 3 from American Airlines at Chicago O’Hare International Airport

With more than 80 million passengers passing through in 2017, O’Hare International is one of the world’s busiest airports. Luckily the airport is not without options for its travellers, as the O’Hare boasts an 8,000 square foot athletic club and an aviation-themed interactive playground

Source: Orbitz


3. McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas, Nevada)

littleNY/shutterstockMcCarran International Airport in Las Vegas NV

Located right outside town nicknamed Sin City, McCarran International has 52 retail and a 104 dining options. As an added bonus, an impressive 81.4% of all flights out of this airport leave on time.

Source: Orbitz


2. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Seattle, Washington)

EQRoy/shutterstockThe Sea-Tac Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is the largest airport in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

According to Orbitz, 82.1% of all flights from Seattle-Tacoma International leave on time and only 0.61% of flights are ever canceled, the lowest cancellation rate among the 15 airports on this list.

Located right by Microsoft Headquarters, the airport offers free WiFi with the fastest download speed of any airport in the entire country.

Source: Orbitz


1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Atlanta, Georgia)

ESBProfessional/shutterstockThe main hall inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The busiest airport in the word since 1998, Hartsfield-Jackson International is simply the best place to be stranded during the holiday season. There’s a 1,000 square foot dog park, virtual forest underground walkway, 26 bars, 90 retail outlets, and 23 coffee shops.

Source: Orbitz

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