TravelBank Rank: The Best & Worst Airports for Business Travelers—U.S. 2018 Rankings

By Cecilia King

When you’re on a business trip, it’s obviously very different than when you travel for pleasure. You’re less worried about how good the restaurants and bars are in the terminal or how comfy the seats are at the gate — and you’re more concerned with getting in an out as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Here at TravelBank, we understand better than anyone that every minute counts when it comes to traveling for work, so we decided to analyze the best and worst airports in the nation for business travelers.

In the inaugural TravelBank Rank study, we looked at the following five factors that are most important for road warriors:

1. On-time arrival performance (BTS) – Data published by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics for the full year of 2017 from January 1st to December 31st that evaluates departure and arrival statistics by airport and airline, including frequency of delays and cancellations.

2. Airport transit – TravelBank analyzed four factors in order to score airport transit services to and from specific downtown locations. The four factors are: average public transport travel time (assessed using Google Maps), average drive time (also assessed using Google Maps), public transportation fare price, and the cost of pre-booked UberX rides.

3. Airport parking prices – TravelBank sourced parking rates from each airport’s website in Q4 2017.

4. Quality and service (J.D. Power Ratings) – Based on responses from 34,695 North American travelers, J.D. Power measures overall traveler satisfaction by examining six factors (in order of importance): terminal facilities; airport accessibility; security check; baggage claim; check-in/baggage check; food, beverage, and retail.

5. Average hotel price – Determined using proprietary data from the new TravelBank Travelator tool that helps users book hotel rooms. The average price was calculated during Q1 2018 from the rates of hotels within a 15-mile vicinity of each airport.

Out of the 30 largest U.S. airports by passenger volume, here are the best and worst airports for business travel:

The 5 Best Airports for Business Travelers

TravelBank ranks best airports for business travel

#1 Las Vegas McCarran International (LAS)

The Southwestern U.S. is home to four out the top five best airports for business travelers, but it’s Las Vegas McCarran that takes the #1 spot on this year’s TravelBank Rank. Thanks to McCarran’s close proximity to downtown, the airport ranked as the overall best airport for transit. On top of that, Las Vegas airport’s high JD Power score of 765 and lowest average hotel price of $143 are all reasons why LAS is the top airport in the country for business travelers. For those road warriors who need some respite from their on-the-go lifestyle, make sure to check out the Las Vegas American Express Centurion lounge, which was ranked as the best Centurion lounge in the U.S. last year by our friends over at The Points Guy.

#2 Charlotte Douglas International (CLT)

Charlotte Douglas International is a favorite among travelers for both business and pleasure, so it’s no surprise to see it rank as the second best in the nation on the TravelBank Rank. Charlotte’s high J.D. Power score of 762 helped it edge out the competition, along with it ranking as the #1 overall best airport for parking in our study. Travelers will also be happy to know that 84.22% of all flights arriving at CLT last year were on time, which is one of the highest in the country. Seeing as Charlotte is one of American Airlines’ major hubs, if you find yourself passing through in the near future don’t miss the opportunity for some of the South’s best barbecue and visit Brookwood Farms BBQ located in between Concourse B and C.

#3 Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX)

The Southwest dominates this year’s TravelBank Rank, with Phoenix Sky Harbor International coming in at #3 on our list. Phoenix is in the top 3 for transit and also scored a high J.D. Power ranking of 765, the same as Las Vegas. Another American Airlines hub like Charlotte, Sky Harbor also had a high on-time arrival performance of just over 83%. With a reasonable average hotel price of $223 — along with the fact that PHX was ranked second best major U.S. airport last year for dining — you should be able to splurge on a good meal before your flight, since you’ll probably come in under budget on your hotel spend here.

#4 Salt Lake City International (SLC)

With the third best on-time arrival performance of 85.91%, Salt Lake City International takes the #4 spot on the TravelBank Rank this year. Helping to bump SLC into the top three is its high J.D. Power rating of 754. If you’re looking to enjoy some bleisure time on your next business trip, then SLC offers free city tours to passengers with a two hour plus layover. With a $3.6 billion dollar revamp in the works that’s planned to debut in 2020, it’s easy to say that Salt Lake City International will continue to be a business traveler favorite for many years to come.

#5 San Diego International (SAN)

Coming in as the second best airport for transit and with a high J.D. Power rating of 757, San Diego International is the fifth top airport on the 2018 TravelBank Rank. Beloved by business and leisure travelers alike — who doesn’t love SD’s sunny, warm weather, great convention and tourist facilities, and vibrant culture? — if you happen to be passing through then keep in mind that San Diego’s airport was recently included in a roundup of the best airports for beer drinkers as well.

The 5 Worst Airports for Business Travelers

TravelBank ranks worst airports for business travel

#1 New York LaGuardia (LGA)

The tri-state area is home to the top three worst airports for business travelers on this year’s TravelBank Rank, but New York LaGuardia lands at the very bottom of our list. Regarded as the worst airport in the nation in other studies as well, LaGuardia’s JD Power ranking is the lowest of all airports surveyed at only 654, while LGA also has one of the poorest on-time arrival performances of just over 72%. On top of this, LaGuardia is the most expensive airport for parking, and the most expensive for hotels as well with prices topping over $530 a night. Thankfully for business travelers, LGA is in the process of undergoing a massive $4 billion renovation, and has plans for its own AirTrain to finally link the airport with NYC subway transit.

#2 Newark Liberty International (EWR)

Just on the other side of Manhattan, Newark Liberty International comes in as the second worst airport for business travelers on this year’s TravelBank Rank. Newark had the lowest on-time arrival performance of all the airports surveyed, with just 67.74% of all flights arriving on time. In addition, EWR also ranked as the overall worst airport for airport transit. The airport also had the second lowest JD Power rating of 686, the second most expensive hotel room per night of over $425, and the fifth most expensive for airport parking. All that being said, Newark is currently starting a three-year, $1.4 billion renovation, which has been described as “the largest transportation infrastructure design-build contract in New Jersey state history.

#3 New York John F. Kennedy International (JFK)

Not scoring quite as low as its neighbors in Queens and New Jersey, New York JFK ranks as the third worst airport for business travelers on our list. JFK ties with LaGuardia as the most expensive for hotel prices, which costs a whopping $530 a night. On top of this, JFK is the second worst for airport transit and also the fifth most expensive for airport parking. A proposed $10 billion overhaul of multiple terminals is being reviewed by government officials this year, but in the meantime bleisure travelers should check out the incredible renovation of the on-site TWA terminal that’s opening up next year as a hotel.

#4 San Francisco International (SFO)

Although the New York City area is home to the top three worst airports for business travelers, on the opposite side of the country in California is where the remaining bottom two airports are located. San Francisco International is the second lowest on-time arrival performance of only 69.51% of flights arriving on time, is the third most expensive hotel rate of over $410 a night, and SFO is the fourth most expensive overall for airport parking. On the bright side though, the airport is in the middle of a $2.4 billion renovation and recently voted to rename Terminal 1 after previous board member Harvey Milk. SFO was also ranked as the #3 most popular airport on Instagram last year, but might be sinking into the bay, which is problematic for travelers looking to take the perfect Insta selfie.

#5 Los Angeles International (LAX)

Los Angeles International may be located in the city of angels and cater to Hollywood royalty, but it still ranks as the fifth worst for business travelers on this year’s TravelBank Rank. LAX came in second-to-last among the “mega” airports ranked by JD Power scoring only 712, and it also ranked as the #3 worst for airport transit in our study. Currently undergoing an unprecedented $5 billion renovation, the airport also just got approval for a $4.8 billion people mover project, which could help it keep its #1 spot as the most Instagrammable U.S. airport.

The Best and Worst Airports in America for Business Travelers

In the table below, see the full data set on the top 30 major U.S. airports:

Rank Airport Passengers OTAP 2017 OTAP Score Original Transit Score Transit Score Original Parking Score Parking Score JD Power Ranking JD Power Score Avg Hotel Price Hotel Price Score TOTAL SCORE
1 Las Vegas McCarran International (LAS) 22,665,289 80.05 14 13 20 46 12 765 19 $142.69 20 85
2 Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) 21,455,996 84.22 18 23 11 27 20 762 19 $283.99 10 78
3 Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) 20,896,229 83.02 16 18 14 37 15 765 19 $223.05 13 77
4 Salt Lake City International (SLC) 11,141,970 85.91 20 20 13 41 13 754 19 $286.10 10 75
5 San Diego International (SAN) 10,340,164 80.1 14 14 19 45 12 757 19 $257.19 11 75
6 Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International (HNL) 9,656,340 85.93 20 28 9 33 16 727 18 $246.26 12 75
7 Baltimore–Washington International (BWI) 12,340,183 82.23 16 29 9 30 18 753 19 $242.48 12 74
8 Miami International (MIA) 20,796,994 79.1 13 24 11 34 16 749 19 $202.60 14 73
9 Orlando International (MCO) 20,283,479 78.97 13 36 7 27 20 778 20 $215.78 13 73
10 Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) 20,027,073 83.5 17 43 6 28 19 752 19 $245.30 12 73
11 Minneapolis–Saint Paul International (MSP) 18,109,982 86.17 20 26 10 43 13 762 19 $260.88 11 73
12 Tampa International (TPA) 9,194,576 79.59 14 24 11 32 17 795 20 $249.76 11 73
13 Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 50,476,272 84.44 18 22 12 46 12 747 19 $256.93 11 72
14 Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW) 31,274,875 82.43 16 47 6 34 16 758 19 $240.08 12 69
16 Denver International (DEN) 28,246,269 83.47 17 53 5 32 17 763 19 $291.40 10 68
17 Detroit Metropolitan International (DTW) 16,826,287 84.4 18 43 6 44 12 767 19 $223.42 13 68
18 Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL) 14,263,202 76.66 12 21 12 51 11 720 18 $190.33 15 68
18 Portland International (PDX) 9,071,154 81 15 33 8 37 15 783 20 $303.56 9 67
20 Dulles International (IAD) 10,596,883 84.07 17 77 3 40 14 744 19 $292.36 10 63
21 Boston Logan International (BOS) 17,749,202 74.63 11 13 20 96 6 733 18 $379.81 8 63
22 Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) 11,372,460 79.88 14 26 10 42 13 755 19 $384.73 7 63
23 Philadelphia International (PHL) 14,521,408 79.21 13 33 8 55 10 715 18 $261.25 11 60
23 Chicago Midway International (MDW) 11,044,353 81.66 15 34 8 55 10 750 19 $283.27 10 62
24 Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) 37,499,201 80.82 14 51 5 50 11 723 18 $283.27 10 58
25 Seattle–Tacoma International (SEA) 21,887,110 80.43 14 35 7 67 8 754 19 $375.82 8 56
26 Los Angeles International (LAX) 39,635,691 74.53 11 59 4 42 13 712 18 $300.83 9 55
27 San Francisco International (SFO) 25,706,994 69.51 9 49 5 61 9 757 19 $410.86 7 49
28 New York John F. Kennedy International (JFK) 29,224,554 72.8 10 77 3 57 9 727 18 $530.53 5 45
29 Newark Liberty International (EWR) 19,834,792 67.74 9 94 3 57 9 686 17 $425.35 7 45
30 New York LaGuardia (LGA) 14,706,123 72.05 10 47 6 98 6 654 16 $530.53 5 43


TravelBank analyzed the below five factors in order to score and rank the best and worst airports for business travel. Each category was evenly weighted out of a score of zero to 20, giving a highest and best possible total TravelBank Rank score of 100.

The study analyzed the top 30 U.S. airports by passenger volume according to data from 2016 (Source: Federal Aviation Administration Calendar Year Enplanement Data). Passenger volume did not contribute to the TravelBank Rank score calculated for each airport, however in the event of a tie, the airport with the larger passenger volume was given the better ranking.

On-Time Arrival Performance

Best and worst airports for business travel based on on-time arrivals performance

The on-time arrival performance percentage was taken from the following 2017 Bureau of Transportation Statistics study.

Airport Transit

TravelBank ranks best and worst airports for business travelers based on their transit options

A low transit score is better, because it reflects a lower commuting cost and shorter distance to the airport, measured from the local city center.

TravelBank analyzed four factors in order to score and rank airport transit services to and from downtown locations. The four factors are: transit time (minutes), driving time (minutes), transit fare price and the cost of pre-booked UberX rides.

Transit Time

Using Google Maps, transit time was calculated from a specific central downtown public transportation stop to each airport. An average of the fastest suggested travel route was used in order to provide the most accurate estimate possible if an exact transit time was not stated. The departure for each hypothetical journey was kept consistent, and the “Depart At” scheduling functionality was used for a Monday 8 AM departure in order to determine the exact journey time.

Drive Time

The driving time was also calculated with Google Maps using the same starting and ending point as the “Transit Time” category for consistency. An average of the fastest suggested travel route was used in order to provide the most accurate estimate possible. The departure was also kept consistent and the “Depart At” functionality was used scheduling a hypothetical Monday 8 AM departure just as with the previous category.

Transit Fare Price

A one-way, in-person ticket price was used for this category. Free service was considered the best possible outcome, while $15.75 was the upper limit of the score.

Cost of Pre-booked UberX

In order to compare as accurately as possible with the “Transit Time” and “Driving Time” categories, UberX fares were pre-booked from the same downtown public transportation stop origin point direct to each airport for a hypothetical departure of a future Monday at 8 AM local time. Of note, Charlotte, N.C., did not allow pre-booked Uber fares to be made in the app, so a hypothetical immediate departure of Monday 8 AM was used in order to gather data for the ranking of Charlotte-Douglas International in this category.

Airport Parking

Airport parking prices in comparison

All pricing data was sourced from each airport’s website in Q4 2017. Parking options considered were “short-term/terminal-side” — meaning the garage is closest to the terminal and walkable — and “long-term/economy” — constituting lots or garages requiring shuttle bus or tram transportation to reach the terminal. All rates expressed were on a per-day, drive-up basis (rounded to the nearest dollar). No coupons or advance reservation deals were taken into account, although specials are often available online when booked in advance.

Quality and Service

How airports rank based on JD Power ranking

Quality and service scores for the TravelBank Rank were taken from the J.D. Power 2017 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, which measures overall traveler satisfaction by examining six factors (in order of importance): terminal facilities; airport accessibility; security check; baggage claim; check-in/baggage check; food, beverage and retail.

Now in its 12th year, the study is based on responses from 34,695 North American travelers who traveled through at least one domestic airport with both departure and arrival experiences (including connecting airports) during a specific three month period. Travelers evaluated either a departing or arriving airport from their round-trip experience. The study was fielded from January through August 2017.

Hotel Prices

TravelBank Travelator predicts average hotel prices within 15 mile vicinity of airports

The average hotel price was determined using proprietary data from the TravelBank Travelator tool that predicts how much a trip will cost, including various categories such as airfare, hotel, and ground transportation, based on real-market rates. The average hotel price for the TravelBank Rank study was calculated using the rates of hotels within a 15-mile vicinity of each airport during Q1 2018.

For media enquiries please contact:

Ready to upgrade your business travel?
Save time by simplifying your business travel routine with a modern all-in-one travel & expense management experience.
Try TravelBank today