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The 10 Most (and Least) Connected U.S. Airports

The 10 Most (and Least) Connected U.S. Airports

Gogo is by far the largest supplier of inflight Wi-Fi to U.S. airlines, counting among their clients American, Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Delta, Frontier, United, US Airways, and Virgin America. So the company has plenty of data concerning Wi-Fi use.

Its most recent parsing of its own business data shows which airports were used by the most and least flyers who, after take off, used Gogo inflight Wi-Fi on their flights. To rank the airports, Gogo calculated the percentage of flyers using their service, not the absolute numbers, which would favor busier airports.

The 10 most connected airports were as follows:

  • 1. San Francisco
  • 2. New York JFK
  • 3. John Wayne
  • 4. Los Angeles
  • 5. Washington Dulles
  • 6. Newark
  • 7. New York LaGuardia
  • 8. Chicago O’Hare
  • 9. Seattle-Tacoma
  • 10. San Jose

At the other end of the spectrum, the airports with the least Wi-Fi usage were:

  • 1. Pensacola
  • 2. Savannah/Hilton Head
  • 3. Akron-Canton
  • 4. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth
  • 5. Buffalo Niagara
  • 6. Wichita Mid-Continent
  • 7. Colorado Springs
  • 8. Piedmont Triad
  • 9. Greater Rochester
  • 10. Charleston

The disparity between the high- and low-usage airports breaks down along two axes. The first is geographic: The most connected airports, with the exception of Chicago, all serve coastal cities. The less connected airports tended to be inland.

The other noteworthy difference is in the airports’ size. The connected airports are among the nation’s busiest, serving major metro areas. The others are smaller airports in less populated areas.

The most likely common denominator among these factors is business travelers. In addition to their size and location, the connected airports also carry a higher percentage of business travelers than the other group of airports.

The correlation of inflight Wi-Fi use with business traveler is a good news-bad news indicator.

On the one hand, it all but guarantees that airlines will continue to aggressively outfit their planes with inflight connectivity, until they achieve 100 percent coverage. That’s because business travelers are the airlines’ most profitable customers, and catering to their needs will always be a priority.

On the other hand, business travelers are less price-sensitive than other categories of traveler, because many of their travel-related expenses are reimbursed by their companies. That suggests that prices for inflight Wi-Fi will probably remain on the high side.

Free inflight Internet? Only in your dreams.

Reader Reality Check

How much are you willing to pay for inflight Internet access?

  • zpaul

    I seem to be in the minority on this issue – I would love for airplanes to check the WiFi at the door. Luckily when I travel for work I can usually get my work done someplace else or in the lounge and use my flights for downtime and relaxation. So…I’m not willing to pay anything for inflight internet access. When I absolutely, positively have to be connected, it gets billed back to the company, so I’m not very cost-sensitive-

  • peterknight

    Duh! Is this a revelation? Obviously you have more businesses in bigger cities than in a backwater town.

  • John

    Except SNA (John Wayne Airport) is not in a major city that has a ton of business like SF or NY

  • Loren Koeman

    I think this analysis completely misses one factor…flight length. Say I fly from GRR to SEA. Will I get on the internet during my GRR-DTW segment that is ~30m wheels up to down and probably 10m above 10K feet? NO. Will I get on for the DTW-SEA segment when I have a couple hours above 10K feet? YES

    The big hub airports tend to have longer flights than the small airports that always connect through a nearby hub…thus more internet use on the longer flights.

  • satiricalpete

    Have you ever been to Orange County? Tons of office towers everywhere , especially right around the airport. From Wikipedia:
    Orange County is the headquarters of many Fortune 500 companies including Ingram Micro (#69) and First American Corporation (#312) in Santa Ana, Broadcom (#343) in Irvine, Western Digital (#439) in Lake Forest and Pacific Life (#452) in Newport Beach. Irvine is the home of numerous start-up companies and also is the home of Fortune 1000 headquarters for Allergan, Edwards Lifesciences, Epicor, Standard Pacific and Sun Healthcare Group. Other Fortune 1000 companies in Orange County include Beckman Coulter in Brea, Quiksilver in Huntington Beach and Apria Healthcare Group in Lake Forest. Irvine is also the home of notable technology companies like PC-manufacturer Gateway Inc., router manufacturer Linksys, and video/computer game creator Blizzard Entertainment. Also, the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA is located in the City of Irvine. Online Trading Academy, a professional trader education company, is also based in Irvine.[25] Many regional headquarters for international businesses reside in Orange County like Mazda, Toshiba, Toyota, Samsung, Kia Motors, in the City of Irvine, Mitsubishi in the City of Cypress, and Hyundai in the City of Fountain Valley. Fashion is another important industry to Orange County. Oakley, Inc. and Del Taco are headquartered in Lake Forest. Hurley International is headquartered in Costa Mesa. The shoe company Pleaser USA, Inc. is located in Fullerton. St. John is headquartered in Irvine. Wet Seal is headquartered in Lake Forest. PacSun is headquartered in Anaheim.[26] Restaurants such as Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco, In-N-Out Burger, Claim Jumper, Marie Callender’s, Wienerschnitzel, have headquarters in the City of Irvine as well. Gaikai also holds its headquarters in the Orange County

  • peterknight

    Well said. I was going to respond to John but you beat me to it.

  • joaneisenstodt

    And yet, “backwater” towns – what those of us in the hospitality industry call “third tier cities” (ok.. maybe fourth tier) are still soliciting convention biz and some have to use these cities. It becomes a pain in the tush to have to use the cities w/ limited air access.

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