Americans are expected to spend more this year when they travel, but that doesn't mean they want the extra money to go to airfare. Here are 8 airports travelers might want to avoid this winter if they want to save time and money.
As cold weather takes hold in many parts of the country, the lure of a warmer climate becomes ever stronger.
Winter is a popular travel time in the United States, as Americans head out to visit family in other parts of the country or enjoy a winter vacation overseas. According to the State of the American Traveler survey, 32% of Americans plan to increase their travel expenditures this year.
Still, a willingness to spend more doesn’t mean Americans want that extra money to go to airfare.
The finance website WalletHub recently looked at air travel data for 50 top US metropolitan regions. The site compiled a list of the best and worst airports to fly out of this winter, using data such as the cost and duration of the airport’s cheapest and shortest flights, the number of connections on the cheapest and shortest flights, and on-time percentage.
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport won out, coming in first place for domestic winter travel, and second place for international winter travel. The Metrolina area around Charlotte, NC, came in second place overall, followed by Miami. Miami was the top point of departure for international winter travel, likely due to its proximity to several top Caribbean destinations.
What follows is a list of the 8 cities deemed the worst places to fly out of this winter. Cities are identified by the US’ metropolitan statistical areas, so some listings (such as Metrolina) refer to a region rather than an individual city.
Domestic Departures Rank: 41
International Departures Rank: 40
Despite its central location, Columbus isn’t the easiest airport when it comes to airfare or number of connections for popular winter travel destinations. The Port Columbus International Airport has 7 airlines, with 147 regular nonstop flights to 27 cities. However, its only nonstop international offerings are seasonal flights to Cancun and the Bahamas, as well as 3 nonstop flights to Toronto, operated by Air Canada.
Image: Columbus, OH
Domestic Departures Rank: 29
International Departures Rank: 48
Sacramento is one of 3 California cities on the list. WalletHub notes that this is largely because more international winter travelers seem to prefer places like Europe or the Caribbean, which tend to be more expensive destinations when flying from California. Sacramento International Airport is in the middle of the pack when it comes to domestic flights.
Image: Sacramento, CA
Domestic Departures Rank: 49
International Departures Rank: 32
The largest airport in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia is the Norfolk International Airport, though a number of smaller airports are also available. The Norfolk airport served 3.1 million passengers and 82,000 flights in 2013. The airport is home to 5 airlines, meaning travelers who want a lot of choice might be better served by driving to a larger airport.
Image: Williamsburg, VA
Domestic Departures Rank: 39
International Departures Rank: 47
Will Rogers World Airport served as a transit point for 3.6 million passengers last year. The airport’s 7 airlines provide non-stop service to just 21 cities, though the city gets its lowest marks on the international side. Despite the name, none of the 21 non-stop destinations involve crossing a border.
Image: Oklahoma City, OK
Domestic Departures Rank: 48
International Departures Rank: 35
Buffalo International Airport served about 5.1 million passengers last year, making it the busiest airport in upstate New York. However, the airport’s website lists just 7 airlines, with most of their nonstop flights limited to destinations in the eastern half of the US.
Image: Buffalo, NY
Domestic Departures Rank: 31
International Departures Rank: 49
There are 3 major airports in Southern California’s Inland Empire region — Los Angeles/Ontario International Airport, Palm Springs International Airport, and San Bernardino International Airport. The airlines are billed as a more convenient alternative to larger airports like LAX. However, WalletHub’s data suggests that convenience comes at a cost.
Image: San Bernardino, CA
Domestic Departures Rank: 50
International Departures Rank: 34
Providence is the last place someone traveling domestically would want to fly from this winter, according to WalletHub’s survey. The city’s T. F. Green Airport was named the fourth-best airport in the country by Travel + Leisure magazine, but while the airport may be full of amenities, WalletHub found it doesn’t compare so well when it comes to things like flight cost, number of connections on its flights, and on-time percentage.
Image: Providence, RI
Domestic Departures Rank: 33
International Departures Rank: 50
Mineta San Jose International Airport served 8.8 million passengers in 2013, and while it bills itself as “Silicon Valley’s Airport,” WalletHub found it lacks the speed and efficiencies associated with the technology industry. The airport is subject to a noise curfew prohibiting takeoffs and landings between 11:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. On the brighter side, the airport underwent a $1.3 billion modernization in 2010. Like other California cities, it’s generally a better airport for domestic flights than international flights.
Image: San Jose, CA