Traveling this holiday season? This study ranks the best (and worst) airports

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport ranked the 12th worst, according to a Forbes Advisor analysis of federal transportation data.
People start to disembark an Allegiant flight arriving at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, Thursday, March 11, 2021 in Clearwater.
People start to disembark an Allegiant flight arriving at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, Thursday, March 11, 2021 in Clearwater. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Dec. 16, 2022|Updated Dec. 16, 2022

As holiday travel closes in, one report doesn’t have great news for those who fly out of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

Forbes Advisor analyzed federal transportation data from November through January to determine which airports and airlines are the worst for holiday travel. Pinellas County’s flagship airport clocked in at 12th.

The study compared the 100 busiest airports across 10 metrics from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, calculating a five-year average using data from 2017 to 2021. Around 7% of St. Pete-Clearwater flights were late during that window, according to the report.

The only Florida airport ranking worse was Orlando Sanford International Airport, which was sixth. About 11% of its flights arrived late on average during the holiday travel season.

Airport spokesperson Michele Routh said St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport’s popularity and growth “is demonstrated in our record-breaking increases, consistently low average airfare and the excellent nonstop service of our airlines to over 60 destinations.”

Routh said that weather delays, cancellations and disruptions in the National Aviation System are “part of air travel and may have ripple effects across the system with no reflection on an airport or airline.”

The study shows St. Pete-Clearwater had 1.67% of flights canceled in the analyzed window. The top airports show just under 1% cancellations.

Tampa International ranked 63rd worst, or 37th best. About 1.2% of flights were canceled during the survey holiday travel season and 5% of flights were delayed, according to the report.

Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., was named the worst airport, partly because it had the highest rate of delays and diverted flights among the airports analyzed.

Six of the top 10 best airports for holiday travel are located in California, including Long Beach Airport, Sacramento International Airport and Oakland International Airport.

The report also scored eight of the nation’s largest airlines on metrics including customer complaints, flight delays and cancellations, mishandled baggage, recent increases in ticket costs and more. JetBlue Airways was the worst airline for holiday travel while Alaska Airlines ranked as the best.

Both St. Pete-Clearwater and Tampa International recommend travelers allow ample time to reach the airport and, if possible, try to get a ride to avoid overflowing parking lots during the holiday season.