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The Worst US Airports to Fly Through If You Have a Tight Connection

United States Airports + Flying
by Alex Bresler Mar 26, 2024

There’s an art to connecting flights. On the one hand, nobody wants to spend more time at the airport than they have to. On the other hand, layovers need to budget enough time between landings and takeoffs to ensure that you make it to your final destination on time.

How long you need to make a connecting flight depends on the airport. The sheer size of some airports can make the trek from one gate to another daunting. Take Denver International, the largest airport in the US and the second largest airport in the world, which measures 53 square miles. As one X user pointed out, that makes the Denver airport larger in land area than San Francisco.

KURU Footwear evaluated US airports to determine whose terminals contain the longest and shortest walking distances. The results are as expected: Large, highly trafficked airports have the terminals with the longest distances — over two miles in the case of the farthest stretch — while the shortest walks belong to smaller airports.

Interestingly, the longtime busiest airport in the world, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, eluded the list of the top five airports in the US with the longest walking distances.

The US airports with the longest walking distances

  1. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas — 2.16 miles
  2. Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia — 1.62 miles
  3. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas — 1.52 miles
  4. Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado — 1.45
  5. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, New York — 1.38 miles

The US airports with the shortest walking distances

  1. Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky — 0.11 miles
  2. Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York — 0.12 miles
  3. Harrisburg International Airport in Middleton, Pennsylvania — 0.13 miles
  4. Lihue Airport in Kauai, Hawaii — 0.18 miles
  5. Hollywood Burbank Airport in Burbank, California — 0.20 miles

KURU Footwear framed the data as an examination of how much legwork passengers might have to put in from check-in to boarding, but the results are worth keeping in mind for your next flight connection, too. While there are other factors to consider when it comes to making a connecting flight — such as whether you’re traveling internationally or domestically, if you’ll need to switch terminals, how busy a given airport is, and how efficiently that airport operates — the last thing travelers need when their gate is threatening to close is a two-mile hike.

On the other hand, KURU Footwear also polled 800 Americans on their travel habits, and if you’re anything like the 33 percent who spend an hour walking around the airport before their flight, now you know which airports will help you get your steps in before takeoff.

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