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New report ranks the 10 most stressful airports in the US

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While traveling can be fun and rewarding, it can also be stressful. Sometimes the stress starts even before you start your trip: at the airport.

Due to the crowds and frequent flight delays, airports have become a particular source of anxiety for travelers. Encountering traffic on the way to the airport or in the parking garage can fuel your frustration, and encountering seemingly endless security lines adds another layer of stress to the travel experience.

However, not all airports are equal when it comes to smooth travel.

StressFreeCarRental.com recently released the 2024 USA Stressful Airport Index, which ranks the most stressful airports in the US, from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

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To determine the rankings, the car rental platform analyzed five stress-causing factors at the 15 most popular domestic airports: passenger numbers from 2022, the cost of a week’s parking, the number of destinations served, airport passenger reviews from Flightradar24 and the distance to the city center.

“A stressful airport experience can make or break your vacation, so we gathered the data to determine which destinations travelers should avoid if they want a peaceful airport experience,” John Charnock, CEO of StressFreeCarRental.com, said in a statement.

If you’re headed to one of the most stressful airports, Charnock recommends people “allow plenty of time to check in and go through security before your flight. Whenever possible, try to check in online to save time.”

“It’s also worth arranging transport to the airport to avoid paying staggering parking fees. Parking at Chicago O’Hare International Airport for just a week can cost you around $280, so you may want to check taxi rates or ask a friend or family member to drop you off.”

Read below to learn more about the most stressful US airports.

15. Phoenix International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix International Airport serves 44.3 million passengers annually and flies to 145 destinations and is ranked as the least stressful airport on the 2024 USA Stressful Airport Index with a score of 16. The airport has a high satisfaction score of 83% on Flightradar24, using passenger reviews mentioning that it is small yet efficient and clean. PHX also has affordable parking, which costs about $72 per week, compared to $376 per week at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

14. San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California

SFO sees 20.4 million passengers annually who can fly to 142 destinations. The airport scored 24 on the index due to its proximity to the city center and its high satisfaction score on Flightradar24. However, the airport has expensive parking rates, around $175 for a week.

13. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas

Approximately 19.8 million passengers pass through IAH’s terminals to fly to 184 destinations, and fortunately the airport is one of the least stressful on the USA Stressful Airport Index. The sprawling 10,000-acre airport has an 80% satisfaction score on Flightradar24, with people commenting on how long it takes to navigate through. Those who drive to the airport can feel good that it has the cheapest weekly parking costs on the index.

12. Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina

Just 7.5 miles from downtown Charlotte and with affordable parking costs of $93.99 for a week, CLT ranks low on the list as a stressful airport with a score of 33. On Flightradar24, passengers said the airport is easy to navigate. About 21.1 passengers use the airport to travel to 187 destinations, such as San Juan, Rome and Tulum.

11. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington

Serving the Seattle area, SEA is conveniently located 12 miles from the city center and accessible by a 20-minute drive or the Link light rail. The airport also has a high Flightradar24 satisfaction score of 82%. Unfortunately, airport parking is expensive, costing $376 for a week – the highest cost in the index. It also has the fewest number of destinations that passengers can fly to among the 15 domestic airports analyzed in the index.

10. Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada

Those flying to and from Sin City at LAS can rest assured that the airport scored 36 on the 2024 USA Stressful Airport Index. The index shows that LAS is the closest airport to the city center, allowing for a quick 10-minute ride to and from the Strip. LAS also has a high satisfaction score of 82% on Flightradar24. Unfortunately, it’s pricey to park your car there – a week costs about $252.

9. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia

As the country’s busiest airport, serving approximately 45.4 million passengers annually to 187 destinations, ATL can be a hectic place. However, with one of Flightradar24’s highest scores for consumer satisfaction – passengers commented on the number of amenities and options available – ATL ranked as the ninth most stressful airport on the index.

8. Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey

With the lowest Flightradar24 rating of 71%, EWR earned the spot for the eighth most stressful airport in the US. Passenger reviews noted that while recent renovations helped improve the airport, the WiFi, TSA, and food options were lacking. Although located in New Jersey, the airport also serves the New York City area, making it a trek to get there.

7. Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida

Travelers from Disney World and Universal Studios are most likely flying in or out of MCO, which earned a score of 43 on the USA Stressful Airport Index. The airport, which receives approximately 24.4 million passengers annually, is located 23.47 kilometers from the city center, or a 20-minute drive. It also has a high satisfaction score of 82% on Flightradar24 and is pricey for parking.

6. Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida

With 23.7 million passengers flying to 192 destinations, MIA ranks as the sixth most stressful airport in the country. The Florida airport achieved one of the lower satisfaction scores on Flightradar24 at 78%, with passengers saying WiFi, TSA and lounges were inadequate. The airport is about a 30-minute drive from Miami’s South Beach, and if you drive, you’ll need to pay about $175 for the week.

5. Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California

LAX, one of the busier airports on the index, with 32.3 million passengers in 2022, scored 47 on the 2024 USA Stressful Airport Index. The fifth most stressful airport in the US flies to 189 destinations, so while that’s useful for travelers, it’s also difficult to get to, especially given Los Angeles’ infamous traffic jams. The airport also has one of Flightradar24’s lowest satisfaction ratings for immigration, customs and food options, comparable to New York’s JFK.

4. Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado

As the largest airport in the US, DEN is also the third busiest and fourth most stressful, with 33.7 million passengers passing through its terminals in 2022. The high number of passengers makes sense since the airport flies to 219 destinations, but it adds to the stress at the airport. Fortunately, parking at DEN is relatively cheap, costing about $54 per week. Travelers can drive to downtown Denver in about 45 minutes or take the airport train to Denver Union Station for 37 minutes.

3. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas

DFW, the second busiest and largest airport in the U.S., saw 33.7 million passengers in 2022 and serves 258 destinations, adding to the stress and chaos of the traveler experience. However, on Flightradar24 the airport has a high rating of 84%, with passengers saying it is easy to get to and pass through TSA, although the airport is busy and congested. There are also many lounges and dining options to choose from.

2. John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York

JFK flies to 193 destinations and will serve 26.9 million passengers in 2022 and ranks second as the most stressful airport in the US in the index due to expensive parking and the difficulty of getting there. The airport’s Flightradar24 rating is one of the lowest in the index due to poor WiFi, TSA, and Immigration and Customs experiences.

1. Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois

ORD scored the spot for most stressful airport on the USA Stressful Airport Index. The airport, which served 33.1 million passengers in 2022 and flies to as many as 249 destinations, stresses travelers with its expensive parking fees of $281.21 for a week and far from the city center. It’s about an hour’s drive or 45-minute train ride to the airport from downtown Chicago.

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected].