The Best Airports in the U.S. for Connecting Flights

NEWS & TRENDING - TRAVEL NEWS
FinanceBuzz looked at how long it takes to walk terminals end to end at dozens of America’s busiest airports to find out which ones are the best for flight changes.
Updated May 24, 2024
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There aren't many things more stressful than trying to make a connecting flight on a tight deadline, especially if your connecting gate is across the terminal — or worse, across the airport.

So what are the best places to get stuck with a tight connection? The following list might make it easy for you to save time while you step up your travel game to a better experience on the move. 

Our team looked at airport maps and measured distances between gates at 50 of the busiest airports in the country to find out where you’ll have a better chance at making your next flight.

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Richmond International Airport (RIC)

Courtesy of Richmond International Airport richmond international airport with sunset in background
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 8 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 4 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 4 minutes

It takes just two minutes to walk from one side of an average-sized terminal at Richmond International Airport to the other side, and only four minutes to do the same in the airport’s largest terminal, both of which are among the shortest walks of those types in the country.


Tampa International Airport (TPA)

Courtesy of Tampa International Airport passengers walking in tampa international airport main terminal
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 13 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 5 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 2 minutes

The terminals at Tampa International are set up so that travelers are very near their departure gate once they are through security. 

As a result, it only takes 2 minutes to walk from a security checkpoint to the gate situated farthest away in the terminal, the shortest walk in the nation.

Boise Airport (BOI)

Adobe/knowlesgallery welcome to bpise sign at boise airport
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 3 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 3 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 6 minutes

The longest walk between any two gates and how long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal at Boise Airport are the same walk, one that takes just 3 minutes. 

In both of those metrics, that walk time ranks as the best in the country.

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Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)

Courtesy of Jacksonville International Airport passengers walking inside jacksonville international airport
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 8 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 3 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 6 minutes

Jacksonville International scores highly in multiple categories, as walking between any two points after security will take less than 10 minutes.


Bradley International Airport (BDL)

Courtesy of Bradley International Airport passengers walking inside bradley international airport in hartford, connecticut
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 9 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 3 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 6 minutes

Walking from one side to the other in the largest terminal at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport takes just 3 minutes, tied for the shortest walk of that kind in any of America’s busiest airports.

Ontario International Airport (ONT)

Courtesy of Ontario International Airport Ontario International Airport (ONT) in California
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 15 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 7 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 4 minutes

In addition to gates that are located near security, the largest terminal at Ontario International Airport in California takes less than 10 minutes to fully traverse from one end to the other.


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

Adobe/Kyo46 airplane and hanger at Seattle-Tacoma international airport
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 19 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 5 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 6 minutes

Small terminals and security checkpoints that afford relatively quick access to departure gates help make SeaTac one of the 10 best airports for connecting flights.

San Antonio International Airport (SAT)

Courtesy of San-Antonio International Airport outside of San-Antonio international airport
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 19 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 8 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 5 minutes

San Antonio International Airport’s average terminal takes 50% less time to walk end-to-end than average.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)

Courtesy of Raleigh-Durham International Airport rdu welcome sign at Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 11 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 11 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 6 minutes

RDU is another airport where passengers can quickly get to their departure gate through security, as the farthest gate from the checkpoint is just a 6-minute walk.

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)

Adobe/Grandbrothers Panoramic view of Ronald Reagan National Airport across Potomac River at sunset
  • Longest walk between any two gates in the airport: 18 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk end-to-end in the largest terminal: 5 minutes
  • How long it takes to walk from security to the farthest away gate: 7 minutes

Ronald Reagan Airport has some of the smallest terminals in the country, as it takes just 5 minutes to go from one side to the other in the airport’s largest terminal, and just 2 minutes to do the same in an average-sized terminal.

Bottom line

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Ultimately, the next time you travel you may want to make sure you plan your trip with these airports in mind. Not only can making the right connection save you time and money but it can help you enjoy the experience.

Not making your connection can cause havoc with your schedule and you might end up missing out on something important. Plus, it can just be frustrating and cost you more money staying in the airport longer. 

So if you're looking to keep more cash in your wallet and want to enjoy your overall experience, consider these airports for your next layover. 


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Josh Koebert Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how personal finance overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.