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CompareCards Ranks Airports with the Most and Least Crowded Flights
Study finds airports in Denver, Orlando and Colorado Springs have the fullest flights
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — One of life’s underappreciated joys of flying is arriving at your assigned seat and discovering that no one is sitting next to you. It’s almost like getting an instant – and free – flight upgrade to a seat with more space. Sadly, departing from an airport on a congested flight means you’re less likely to land one of these coveted seating arrangements.
CompareCards.com looked at 2018 data for 100 of the largest airports and compared the number of passengers to the number of available seats on departing flights. Here are the airports that had the most and least crowded flights.
Most Crowded Flights:
The airport with the most crowded flights is Denver International Airport. In 2018, there were 36.7 million available seats on flights departing from Denver International and about 31.7 million of those seats were occupied. That means Denver International had an occupancy rate of 86.4%.
Coming in second is Orlando International Airport. This airport saw overall less traffic than Denver with just 27.3 million available seats. But flights out of Orlando International were still quite full. The average flight was filled to 85.6% of capacity.
Hovering around 85% capacity is another Colorado Airport: Colorado Springs Airport. Flights departing this airport had 1.05 million available seats and 890,000 people filled them.
Least Crowded Flights:
At the bottom of the list where you are most likely to have some elbow room are smaller airports. Dayton International Airport in Ohio for example, filled just 72.6% of its possible 1.2 million seats.
Flights out of Kona International Airport in Hawaii, were filled to just 73.6% of capacity, the second-lowest rate in the study.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska, was the third least-crowded airport in our study. Just 73.9% of the available seats on flights out of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport were filled.
One outlier at the bottom of the list is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. This Washington, D.C.-area airport was one of the larger ones in the study to rank in the bottom 20. Reagan National Airport had 14.47 million seats available in 2018 and 11.4 million passengers. Only 78.8% of seats on flights out of Reagan National were occupied.
20 Airports with the Most Crowded Flights
Las Vegas, NV
Fort Myers, FL
San Diego, CA
Santa Ana, CA
Salt Lake City,
20 Airports with the Least Crowded Flights
El Paso, TX
Little Rock, AR
San Jose, CA
Preparation is key when headed to an airport with a full flight
Arrive early. The minimum amount of time you need to check-in before departure varies from one airline to the next and from airport to airport. Following these guidelines (or arriving even a bit earlier) and checking your airport’s website before a flight can help you determine how much time you’ll need to check-in, go through security and relax at the gate before your flight departs.
Pack light. Traveling without a checked bag can help you avoid baggage fees and a long line at the baggage check-in desk or kiosk.
Scout out the airport lounges. Airport lounges can offer some peace away from the chaos of a crowded airport.
The bottom line
Flying from a busy airport may be unavoidable, but knowing which airports are the most crowded can help you prepare accordingly. Arriving early and packing light can make flying less of a hassle. Keeping a few travel credit cards in your wallet may unlock access to additional perks, amenities and upgrades that can make for a more enjoyable travel experience. If you’re on the hunt for a travel credit card, take a look at our roundup of the best travel cards.
To view the full report and for more information, visit
CompareCards’ mission is to help people make smarter, more informed, healthier financial decisions based on deeper knowledge of financial offers. Each month, over 2.9 million visitors come to CompareCards’ website to independently compare credit cards side-by-side and choose a credit card based on interest rate, reward benefit, cost savings, and other factors that are important to each person. CompareCards provides easy-to-use, objective tools and educational resources that help people do everything from making credit card comparisons to managing their credit health. For more information, please visit http://www.comparecards.com.