New York Area Has the Nation’s 3 Worst Airports, Study Says


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Delayed plane passengers at La Guardia Airport in Queens in 2014.

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Joshua Lott/Reuters

Those who fly to or from New York are fully accustomed to long security lines, labyrinthine paths to the terminal, flight delays, cancellations and other unpleasant happenings, not to mention the arduous or expensive journey to the airport itself.

According to a study by The Points Guy, a travel publication, those customers have the right to complain. The three New York-area airports are the three worst among the nation’s 30 busiest airports, based on a study that considered timeliness, accessibility and amenities.

La Guardia Airport, famously described by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2014 as akin to what one would find “in a third world country,” ranked as the worst. Right behind it were John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International.

“People don’t realize what we have is a lot worse than what other people deal with,” said Brian Kelly, a New Yorker and the founder and chief executive of The Points Guy.

The list of faults at the New York-area airports was long. La Guardia had the highest rate of flight delays and cancellations, the second-longest drive time to the center of the city and steep parking rates. J.F.K. had the longest drive time — over an hour — and the longest waits to get through security. Newark was dinged for a long drive time and “lackluster ratings across the board.”

The best airport in the rankings was the one in Phoenix, which received high marks for reliability, convenient light rail, food options and free Wi-Fi. It’s not a sleek airport, Mr. Kelly said, but it was consistently good across the board.

The rankings were weighted most heavily toward timeliness, with 50 percent of the rating measuring performance in flight delays, cancellations and wait times at security.

The study also considered public transportation options, how long it takes to get to the city center, Wi-Fi fees, parking rates and the availability of restaurants and lounges. It used data from a variety of sources, including government statistics, market research firms, airport websites and Google Maps.

Phoenix was followed in the top 10 by the airports in Portland, Ore., San Diego, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Seattle-Tacoma, Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C., Las Vegas and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

At the bottom of the list, the New York airports finished just ahead of Chicago O’Hare International, Detroit Metro, Orlando International, Washington Dulles International, Denver International, Los Angeles International, Houston George Bush Intercontinental and Miami International.

Few people disagreed with Mr. Biden’s bleak assessment of La Guardia. In July, Mr. Biden and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced an $8 billion overhaul of the airport that will essentially tear it down and replace it by 2021. The plan calls for a rail link between the airport and a subway station in the Willets Point section of Queens, along with re-establishing ferry service to the airport.

A spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the three airports, declined to comment on the study and referred questions to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Port Authority plans a runway reconstruction at J.F.K. in 2017 and 2018 that it hopes will increase capacity, according to the F.A.A.

In April, the Federal Aviation Administration said analysis showed “significant improvements in on-time performance and delay metrics during peak periods of demand” at Newark. The F.A.A. said it was making changes in Newark that would allow “more efficient use of the airport terminal and runway capacity” as of Oct. 30.

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