What are the best and worst airports in the US right now? And why is this analysis important for DMOs?

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What are the best and worst airports in the US right now?

We looked at answering this question using review data pulled from Google Maps. The second significant question is why is this sentiment analysis important for DMOs? The goal of this analysis is:

  1. showcase the possibilities behind NLP (natural language processing) on top of google maps review data

  2. demonstrate the potential advantages for Tourism Organizations and DMOs to start measuring sentiment through review data.

About this analysis:

With this short analysis, Lighthouse would like to attract the attention of Tourism Organizations and DMOs towards the opportunity to estimate traveller sentiment by analysing reviews from Google Maps. In particular, we have identified 4 key advantages:

  1. Authenticity: Google Maps’ reviews are typically written by people who have actually visited the destination and have experienced its offerings firsthand. This means that the reviews are likely to be more authentic and representative of the actual visitor experience than reviews gathered through a survey or other methods.

  2. Large sample size: Google Maps has a massive user base, and the number of reviews for popular destinations can be in the thousands or even tens of thousands. This means that DMOs can gather a large amount of data on visitor satisfaction levels from specific points of interest without having to conduct costly and time-consuming surveys.

  3. Real-time feedback: Google Maps reviews are updated in real-time, meaning that destination marketing organizations can quickly see changes in visitor satisfaction levels and respond accordingly. This is particularly useful for identifying and addressing issues as they arise, rather than waiting for the results of a survey that may take weeks or even months to complete.

  4. Cost-effective: Gathering data through Google Maps’ reviews is typically inexpensive, whereas running a survey can be expensive and time-consuming. This means that destination marketing organizations can gather valuable insights without having to allocate significant resources to the process.

Overall, while surveys and other sources of sentiment can provide valuable insight, utilizing reviews from Google Maps offers several unique advantages, including authenticity, large sample sizes, real-time feedback, and cost-effectiveness.

If you want to check out what Lighthouse can do for your destination in terms of traveller sentiment tracking and benchmarking, click here

About our methodology:

Lighthouse can pull data for key local tourists spots and points of interest. In the case of this example, we have analysed the top 65 airports in the US (ranking based on this Wikipedia Article).

Firstly, Lighthouse extracts all the reviews for the locations of interests within a selected timeframe. In this report we looked at more than 43K reviews posted from January to March 2023.

Secondly, Lighthouse cleans the data and prepares it to be processed by a Natural Language Processing model that will help understand sentiment as well as identify key topics discussed in each review.

Finally, our system puts together insights around 4 core areas:

  1. Evolution: Traveller sentiment over time

  2. Benchmark: comparing your destination with others over time

  3. Feedback: Top reasons for satisfaction and dissatisfaction with a destination’s POIs

  4. Ranking: Top / worst points of interests in terms of traveller feedback

The Case Study: The Best and Worst Airports in the US:

So, the list of the best and worst airports in the US right now based on reviews pulled in the first quarter of 2023:


Airport Name Score (1 to 5)
John Wayne Airport4.62
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport4.62
Indianapolis International Airport 4.61
Southwest Florida International Airport 4.60
Tampa International Airport 4.60


Airport Name Score (1 to 5)
Chicago Midway International Airport 3.66
Newark Liberty International Airport 3.72
Miami International Airport 3.76
Orlando International Airport 3.83
John F. Kennedy International Airport 3.87

Feedback Points for the Best and Worst Airports in the US

What are the top keywords that make a well appreciated airport?:

Keywords for Best Airports in the USBased on those categories, we can look at the best airport in a few of them:

Category Best Airport as of Q1 2023
Cleanest Airport Tampa International Airport
Staff Friendliness & helpfulness Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Food & Restaurants Charlotte Douglas International Airport

On the other hand, the top keywords for negatively reviewed airports:

Top keywords for negatively reviewed US airports

Similarly, we can look at the worst airport in some of those categories:

CategoryWorst Airport as of Q1 2023
Dirtiest Airport Orlando International Airport
Parking traffic Los Angeles International Airport
Security Line Orlando International Airport

The following charts shows the frequency of keywords per review score:

Frequency of keywords per review score for US airportsHere goes the distribution of reviews for the entire database of 65 airports:

Distribution of reviews for database of 65 USA airportsOverall, only 13% are dissatisfied travellers with 1 or 2 stars reviews.

Evolution of Traveller Sentiment over time

We can can look at the evolution of dissatisfaction (% of reviews rated 1 or 2 stars over total) for a few selected airports per month:

Overall, Orlando and Miami worsened their “dissatisfaction ratio” at the end of 1Q 2023 while Dallas and JFK both improved theirs.

Evolution of traveller sentiment over time in US airports

The Complete Ranking of Best and Worst Airports in the US

Finally, below is the complete ranking if you want to check your airport. Now, if you are curious to see how these insights look in your market when applied over time to parks, museums, tourist attractions and other touristic key points of interest:

NumberAirport NameScore (1 to 5)
1 John Wayne Airport 4.62
2 Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport 4.62
3 Indianapolis International Airport 4.61
4 Southwest Florida International Airport 4.60
5 Tampa International Airport 4.60
6 Sacramento International Airport 4.55
7 Dallas Love Field Airport 4.53
8 Ontario International Airport 4.52
9 Portland International Airport 4.49
10 Jacksonville International Airport 4.47
11 Norfolk International Airport 4.47
12 William P. Hobby Airport 4.47
13 Boise Airport 4.46
14 Charleston International Airport 4.46
15 Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport 4.46
16 LaGuardia Airport 4.45
17 Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport 4.44
18 Albuquerque International Sunport 4.43
19 Raleigh-Durham International Airport 4.43
20 Hollywood Burbank Airport 4.43
21 Palm Beach International Airport 4.43
22 San Francisco International Airport 4.42
23 Pittsburgh International Airport 4.42
24 Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport 4.41
25 General Mitchell International Airport 4.41
26 San José Mineta International Airport 4.41
27 Austin-Bergstrom International Airport 4.38
28 Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport 4.36
29 Memphis International Airport 4.36
30 John Glenn Columbus International Airport 4.36
31 Bradley International Airport 4.36
32 Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport 4.35
33 Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport 4.33
34 Nashville International Airport 4.33
35 Reno-Tahoe International Airport 4.32
36 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport 4.26
37 Oakland International Airport 4.26
38 Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport 4.24
39 Eppley Airfield 4.18
40 Boston Logan International Airport 4.17
41 Harry Reid International Airport 4.17
42 San Diego International Airport 4.16
43 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport 4.15
44 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 4.13
45 Seattle-Tacoma International Airport 4.12
46 Dulles International Airport 4.11
47 O’Hare International Airport 4.10
48 Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport 4.08
49 Salt Lake City International Airport 4.08
50 Charlotte Douglas International Airport 4.08
51 George Bush Intercontinental Airport 4.06
52 Daniel K. Inouye International Airport 4.05
53 San Antonio International Airport 4.05
54 Kahului Airport 4.04
55 St. Louis Lambert International Airport 4.03
56 Denver International Airport 4.02
57 Los Angeles International Airport 3.99
58 Kansas City International Airport 3.94
59 Philadelphia International Airport 3.91
60 Cleveland Hopkins International Airport 3.91
61 John F. Kennedy International Airport 3.87
62 Orlando International Airport 3.83
63 Miami International Airport 3.76
64 Newark Liberty International Airport 3.72
65 Chicago Midway International Airport 3.66

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