The Impact of Hubs on the 10 Best Airports For Holiday Travel


NerdWallet released a study on the 10 best airports for holiday travel yesterday, and it presents an interesting insight.

First, about the methodology

The Nerdwallet team analyzed US Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), for November and December of 2013-2015 of the top 50 airports. From this, they then added in Yelp reviews for restaurant quality. As far as their scoring:

  • Delayed Flights accounted for 40%
  • Cancelled Flights accounted for 40%
  • Restaurant Quality accounted for 20%

The conclusions, based on the above scoring aren’t terribly surprising, so lets get to them:

The 10 best airports for holiday travel

As you read through the below list, think about what these airports have in common:

  1. Honolulu International, Honolulu, HI
  2. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta, GA
  3. Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Phoenix, AZ
  4. Seattle-Tacoma International, Seattle, WA
  5. Miami International, Miami, FL
  6. Tampa International, Tampa, FL
  7. Portland International, Portland, OR
  8. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International, New Orleans, LA
  9. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  10. Logan International, Boston, MA

The first thing you might notice, is that the top 5 airports for holiday travel all happen to be airline hubs. This isn’t terribly surprising, an airline can wield more influence to ensure that their aircraft gets out on time, they also might have aircraft available to “swap out” in the event of mechanical or other delays. The hub and spoke network is still very much alive for many airlines, and you can see how that is a strength.

Of course what you will also notice is that not all of the “major” hubs are in the list of the top 10. In fact Philadelphia was ranked 32, JFK was ranked 34, Denver was ranked 44; Chicago O’Hare was ranked 47, and DFW was ranked at the bottom of the list at 50. 

Its not terribly surprising, many of these airports are in the north, susceptible to winter weather.

You can read the full report here

Wrapping Up

 How can this data help, if you are still planning your holiday travel? Well, it might inform your choice of destination, unless going home for the holidays chooses that for you. This data can also help in your choice of connections. If you’re flying on American Airlines, you might choose to connect in Miami rather than Dallas, or if you’re open to a variety of airlines, you might give preference to Delta Airlines. 

Does data like this sway your opinion one way or the other when making travel decisions?

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