November 28, 2022

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been named the best major airport in the United States by the United States Wall Street Journal. In the newspaper’s “Best and Worst Airports of 2022” report, SFO topped the ranking for major airports with an overall score of 61, with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) coming in second with a score of 59.

A total of twenty major airports are included in the report, along with a separate ranking of the thirty ‘Best Midsize US Airports’. California airports also came out on top there, with Sacramento (SMF), San Diego (SAN) and San Jose (SJC) respectively.

But while California airports performed well across the board – LAX was ranked 6th among the best large airports, while Santa Ana (SNA) and Oakland (OAK) were both in the top 10 mid-sized airports – the same cannot be said for airports on the East Coast.

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) was ranked the worst major airport in the US, with an overall score of only 19, while New York-JFK was named the second worst, with a slightly better score of 24. New York residents can also claim to have the worst mid-sized airport in the country, with New York LaGuardia (LGA) topping that ranking.

According to the Wall Street Journalairports were ranked based on 19 factors, divided into three categories: reliability, value and convenience. The factors considered for reliability were on-time arrival rate, average arrival delays, on-time departure rate, average departure delays, flight cancellation rate, average taxi time, average taxi time, and fast security clearance.

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Discenza/Unsplash

San Francisco International Airport had the highest percentage of on-time departing passengers at 84%, while also having the fastest taxi time at just 6 minutes. Unsurprisingly, the airport scored less well on value, based on average domestic fares, airline market share, on-site parking costs, car rental costs, UberX to the city center, and the cost of a bottle of water. The only factor for which SFO was in the top 10 was the cost of an UberX to the city center, which costs $36 – the 9th cheapest of the 20 largest airports.

For the last category – convenience – SFO again outperformed. It had the best average rating of Yelp restaurants at 2.82, the second best customer satisfaction score, and the fourth shortest maximum walking distance at 2030 feet. However, it was somewhat let down by the number of non-stop destinations, which was the lowest of the top 20 airports at 114.

SFO is a major airport on the west coast and serves as a hub for both United Airlines and Alaska airlines. At the same time, it is also the main US destination for international carriers such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. However, the fact that it flies to fewer destinations than LAX and Seattle-Tacoma means it’s less crowded and easier to navigate, which probably helped it earn the title of “best major airport in the US.”

“Our entire team has worked hard to create a world-class airport experience for our guests, and this achievement is the ultimate testament to our efforts,” said Ivar C. Satero, airport director at SFO. “During a year of turbulent air travel, we are proud to know that SFO has provided our valued travelers with the most consistent, reliable experience.”

The full rankings for the 20 largest US airports, according to the Wall Street Journal, are as follows:

  1. San Francisco (SFO)
  2. Atlanta (ATL)
  3. Minneapolis (MSP)
  4. Detroit (DTW)
  5. Phoenix (PHX)
  6. Los Angeles (LAX)
  7. Houston (IAH)
  8. Las Vegas (LAS)
  9. Charlotte (CLT)
  10. Seattle (SEA)
  11. Denver (DEN)
  12. Boston (BOS)
  13. Philadelphia (PHL)
  14. Chicago (ORD)
  15. Orlando (MCO)
  16. Miami (MIA)
  17. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
  18. Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  19. New York (JFK)
  20. Newark (EWR)

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