Winner: Seattle-Tacoma Airport
Just a few minutes can make or break a successfully connecting to your next flight. So, what is most important when it comes to making a connection at an airport? Distance and ease of transportation between gates? On-time performance for arrivals and departures? Level of security between gates?
In choosing the Best Airport for Connections, all of these factors influenced our selection of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) as the clear winner over all the other domestic airports.
Though it is smaller than some of the bigger contenders, Sea-Tac's size may be one of the reasons it's ideal for tight connections. The airport's four major concourses are connected to one main terminal. All are easily accessible by foot or by the airport's transit system. This shuttle provides a fast option when trying to reach other gates in a hurry, including two of the airport's other concourses, South Satellite and North Satellite.
Security checkpoints also played a major role in this selection. Many airports require passengers to exit and re-enter through security when going to a different terminal, and waiting in security lines can drastically affect time between flights. Since all concourses are accessible from one main terminal, it's possible to reach all gates without dealing with security during a connection.
We also evaluated each airport for on-time arrival and departure performances. Scoring leaps and bounds above other airports in both categories—most airports fell in the 60 and 70 percentile range for on-time performance—Sea-Tac saw 85.3 percent on-time departures and 82.1 percent on-time arrivals in December 2009, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). Having a flight land on time can make all the difference when trying to catch the next flight.
Honorable mention goes to Portland International Airport, which has several of the same qualities as Sea-Tac, including easily accessible concourses without additional security screening. Plus, Portland narrowly beat Sea-Tac with 82.5 percent on-time arrivals, and came in second-place for on-time departures at 76.9 percent.
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