The Most and Least Stressful Airports

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stressful airports
Air travel is stressful — we all know that. But some airports are more stressful to fly through than others.

Stressful airports are a fact of life these days. While the airport a passenger flies to, from or through can’t do much about some of the most stressful aspects of flying — such as worrying a door plug may blow off mid-flight, as recently happened on an Air Alaska flight — some airports are a bit less stress-inducing than others. A new report from airfare claims company AirHelp has helpfully put together a ranking of airports globally, based on factors including on-time performance, customer service and the quality of dining and retail options available. While no U.S. airports made the top 10, several were not far off the global leaders in their scores.

The top three least-stressful airports overall for 2023 were Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, with a rating of 8.15 out of 10, followed by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (7.96/10) and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (7.91/10).

While it’s too early in the year to predict this year’s top ranked airports, California’s Sacramento International Airport was named as the one that “best handled January’s air travel” and was ranked as the least stressful airport for January, with an on-time rating for more than 82% of its flights last month. San Jose International Airport also did well, ranking in the number-two spot with 82% of its flights being on time, followed by Tucson International Airport in Arizona, Reno/Tahoe International Airport in Nevada, and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia.

While it can’t do much about the weather, which in January included torrential lake-effect snow, upstate New York’s Buffalo Niagara International Airport ended up in last place for January, getting dinged as having “failed to deliver a stress-free experience for their passengers” last month. Other airports that got hit with bad weather in January also were at the bottom of the list, including Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Des Moines International Airport, and Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Stressful Airports — Missed Connections Edition

A missed connection is also a big stressor, so if your attendees likely will have to make connections to get to your event, FinanceBuzz, a personal finance site, came up with its own list of airports that make it difficult to make those connections due to how many gates it has in the outer reaches of its terminals, the distances to the farthest gates in the airport, and if you need to take transportation such as trams to get from gate to gate.

The worst for connections turns out to be Denver International Airport, where it can take up to 34 minutes to walk from gates that are the farthest distances from each other. Chicago’s O’Hare comes in second, and Salt Lake City was ranked as the third worst for connections in the U.S.

The best, according to the site, is Richmond International Airport in Virginia, where you can speed-walk between any two gates in just eight minutes. Also on the top were Tampa International Airport in Florida, Boise Airport in Idaho, and Jacksonville International Airport. Hartford, Conn.’s Bradley International Airport came in fifth.

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