The 20 best of the largest airports in the US, according to travelers

Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport mariakray/Shutterstock
  • J.D. Power revealed Miami International Airport as the best mega airport in the US in terms of customer satisfaction.

  • The study ranked airports based on six factors, like terminal facilities and vendor availability.

  • The company says customer satisfaction decreased from January to July due to changing expectations among travelers.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

J.D. Power revealed its 2021 North America Airport Satisfaction Study on Wednesday, naming Miami International Airport as the top mega airport in the US, earning 828 out of a possible 1,000 customer satisfaction points. The data analytics company looked at six factors in ranking each airport, including, from most to least important, terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage, and retail.

Overall, mega airports, which J.D. Power defines as having more than 33 million passengers per year, received an average score of 798, up 18 points from 2020. This year saw a record-setting average score of 802 for all US airports, though the highest customer satisfaction occurred in the first half of the study (July 2020 to January 2021) when passenger traffic was still low and dropped in the second half (January 2021 to July 2021) as volume picked up.

"Airport customer satisfaction reached all-time highs when passenger volumes were severely suppressed by the pandemic, but as leisure travel rebounded sharply throughout the spring and summer of 2021, we saw an expected downturn in satisfaction. Ultimately, the data conveys changing expectations among travelers. Early in the pandemic, passengers were satisfied with any shop or restaurant being open, but they now expect full service at the airport," explained Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

While passenger volumes have increased to 75% of pre-pandemic levels, according to J.D. Power, many travelers are arriving at airports with limited food, beverage, and retail options, which are key for a good airport experience. The company says labor shortages are to blame for the lack of vendors.

Here's a closer look at J.D. Power's top 20 airports for customer satisfaction in the US.

20. Chicago O'Hare International Airport: 772 points

Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Chicago O'Hare International Airport dropped one spot from 19 to 20 in this year's list. The airport is the city's largest and acts as a base for United Airlines and American Airlines and as a focus city for Frontier Airlines. Before becoming O'Hare, the land was used as an airfield for Douglas C-54 military production during WWII, but after the closure of Douglas, the building was renamed Orchard Field Airport. O'Hare's "ORD" IATA code is a homage to its original name.

19. Toronto Pearson International Airport: 780 points

Toronto airport

Toronto Pearson International Airport is the only Canadian airport to make the top 20 list, though it fell one spot from 18 in 2020 to 19 in 2021. Toronto is the country's busiest airport and has the largest terminal of any airport in Canada. It serves over 40 commercial, charter, and cargo airlines and is a hub for Air Canada, Sunwing Airlines, WestJet, FedEx Express, Air Georgian, and Air Transat.

18. Boston Logan International Airport: 784 points

Boston Logan International Airport

Boston Logan International Airport dropped six spots from 12 to 18 in this year's rankings. The airport is the largest in New England in terms of passengers traffic and cargo handling and the busiest in the Northeast behind the New York City metropolitan area. Boston is a hub for Delta Air Lines and Cape Air and is a focus city for JetBlue Airways.

17. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport: 789 points

Seattle Tacoma International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport fell one spot from 2020's list to 17. It is the city's largest and primary commercial airport serving over 25 airlines and an average of three million passengers per year. Seattle-Tacoma is one of the US' fasting growing airports and is a hub for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air.

15. Newark Liberty International Airport: 792 points (tie)

United Club Newark Airport
Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport. Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Newark Liberty International Airport jumped five spots to 15 this year, tieing with Los Angeles International Airport. Newark is the country's oldest airfield, having opened in 1928, and home to America's first commercial terminal. Today, the airport serves over 30 airlines and is a hub for United Airlines and FedEx Express.

15. Los Angeles International Airport: 792 points (tie)

Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport OLOS/Shutterstock

Los Angeles International Airport tied with Newark Liberty International Airport for its number 15 spot, up to two from 2020. The airport is the second busiest airport in the US and the fourth busiest in the world serving over 69 airlines. Los Angeles is a hub for Alaska, United, Delta, American, and Southwest, and is a focus city for Allegiant and JetBlue.

13. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: 793 points (tie)

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport YES Market Media/Shutterstock

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport tied with Denver International Airport in this year's rankings, jumping from the number 13 spot in 2020 and expanding from a large to a mega airport in 2021. Fort Lauderdale is one of Florida's busiest airports carrying over 36 million passengers in 2019. The airport serves 19 airlines and is a hub for Silver Airways and Spirit Airlines and is a focus city for JetBlue and Allegiant.

13. Denver International Airport: 793 points (tie)

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport tied with Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, dropping from spot number five to 13 in 2021. Denver is the fifth busiest airport in the US and 20th busiest in the world, having handled 69 million passengers in 2019. The airport is the US' largest airport in terms of size and serves as a hub for United and Frontier.

11. San Francisco International Airport: 796 points (tie)

10 san francisco international airport
San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International Airport tied with Charlotte Douglas International Airport in this year's rankings, jumping four spots. The airport is the second busiest in California after Los Angeles and hosts 59 airlines serving dozens of international and domestic markets. San Francisco is a hub for United and Alaska.

11. Charlotte Douglas International Airport: 796 points (tie)

Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Fang Deng/Shutterstock

Charlotte Douglas International Airport tied with San Francisco International Airport at number 11, jumping one spot from 2020. Charlotte is the 12th busiest airport in North America by passenger traffic, handling nearly 50 million travelers per year. The airport hosts over 30 airlines and is a hub for American Airlines.

9. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 798 points (tie)

Hartsfield Jackson
The main hall inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. ESBProfessional/shutterstock

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ranked number nine this year, jumping up one spot and tieing with Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Atlanta is within a two-hour flight of 80% of the US population and handled over 100 million travelers in 2019. The airport serves over 30 airlines and is the primary hub for Delta Air Lines. The airport held the title of the world's busiest airport for years, but the pandemic plummeted its passenger traffic in 2020.

9. Detroit Metropolitan Airport: 798 points (tie)

Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Detroit Metropolitan Airport afrimu/Shutterstock

Detroit Metropolitan Airport tied with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to take the number nine spot this year, dropping two spots from number seven in 2020. Detroit sees over 36 million passengers per year and serves more than 25 airlines. The airport is a hub for Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines.

8. George Bush Intercontinental Airport: 801 points

George bush
View of George Bush Intercontinental Airport Terminal E at night Eblis/shutterstock

George Bush Intercontinental Airport ranked eighth this year after not making the top 20 list last year. Named after the 41st president, George Bush airport hosts over 30 airlines and acts as a hub for Atlas Air and United Airlines. Houston serves over 30 markets in Mexico, which is more than any other airport in the US.

7. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: 805 points

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Taesik Park/Shutterstock

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport ranked seven this year, dropping two spots from number five in 2020. The airport hosts over 25 airlines and is the second-largest airport in terms of area size behind Denver International Airport. Dallas is American Airlines' primary operating hub and is a key transfer point for US-Latin America travelers.

6. McCarran International Airport: 806 points

McCarran International Airport
McCarran International Airport Tupungato/Shutterstock

McCarran International Airport dropped three spots from three to six in 2021's top 20 list. McCarran is Las Vegas' primary airport handling over 50 million passengers in 2019. The airport hosts over 20 airlines and is a focus city for Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, JSX, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines. McCarran is one of only two airports in the US that have slot machines, the other being Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

5. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: 808 points

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was the top airport in J.D. Power's 2020 list but dropped to number five this year. Sky Harbor is known as the friendliest airport in the US, with 400 volunteers helping travelers navigate the airport. It serves more than 45 million passengers a year and is a major hub for American Airlines.

4. Orlando International Airport: 812 points

Orlando International Airport

Orlando International Airport jumped two spots from six in 2020 to four in 2021. The airport is the second-busiest in Florida serving over 50 million passengers in 2019, though it does not serve as a hub for any airline. However, it is a focus city for Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. Orlando's IATA code "MCO" comes from McCoy Air Force Base, named after Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy, which is what sat on the land before the airport was built.

3. Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport: 815 points

Minneapolis Airport
The atrium at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport Jeffrey J. Coleman/shutterstock

Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport jumped four spots to number three in this year's rankings. The airport is nestled among a few cities in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, and Eagan, and is the busiest airport in the upper Midwest region. Minneapolis-St. Paul serves over 25 airlines and acts as a hub for Sun Country Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

2. John F. Kennedy International Airport: 817 points

John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport is this year's runner-up, jumping two spots from 2020. Named after the 35th president, JFK airport is a major international gateway serving over 60 million passengers in 2019 and operating flights to all six inhabited continents. JFK is a hub for JetBlue Airways, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines.

1. Miami International Airport: 828 points

Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport mariakray/Shutterstock

Miami International Airport took the number one spot in the 2021 J.D. Power top 20 rankings, jumping one spot from 2020. The airport is the US' third-busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic and offers more flights to the Caribbean and Latin America than any other airport in the country. Miami is the top airport for cargo and hosts over 100 air carriers serving more than 140 destinations worldwide. The airport is a hub for American Airlines, FedEx Express, LAN Cargo, and UPS Airlines, and its a focus city for Frontier Airlines, Avianca, and LATAM.

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