The Ultimate List of Best-to-Worst Pennsylvania Airports

Written by Justin Sexton
Updated: October 20, 2023
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Photo of The Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania USA. Photo shot from the roof of a nearby parking garage.

Pennsylvania is a state with a rich history.

©Walt Bilous/Shutterstock.com

Pennsylvania is a state rich in history. Pennsylvania is called “The Keystone State” for being in the middle of the original thirteen colonies. It’s home to one of the largest sports stadiums in the world, Beaver Stadium at Penn State. Pennsylvania is also home to the first gas station and was once the world’s main oil provider in the late 1800s. People often visit Pennsylvania for the music scene, its grand sports, the famous Hershey Chocolate Factory, and their majestic history in the United States.

With so many different places to visit in the State of Independence, finding a good airport can be easier than people would think. This article is the ultimate list of best-to-worst Pennsylvania airports. At the end of the article, the airports will be ranked from best to worst.

Philadelphia International Airport

A tour of the Philadelphia International Airport from arrival to the different features of the airport.

The Philadelphia International Airport primarily serves the greater Philadelphia area. Philadelphia International Airport serves 8.1 million passengers annually. It’s the 21st busiest airport in the world. The airport is also the largest in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia International is the largest airport in the Northeastern United States. It is also recognized as the primary European and Transatlantic gateway. PHL covers 2,302 acres and has four runways.

It plays an important part in Philadelphia’s economy. In 2004, it garnered over twenty-two billion dollars in revenue. A more recent economic report found that the airport accounted for $15.4 billion in airport activities and provided ninety-six thousand jobs for Pennsylvania citizens. The jobs created $5.4 billion in total earnings.

In 1925, the airport was used as a training airfield. It didn’t have an official terminal until 1940. After World War II, the Philadelphia Airport shifted to airline use in 1945. Nowadays, the airport has six terminals with one-hundred-twenty-six gates.

The Positives

PHL is a relatively large airport. Due to the six terminals and one-hundred-twenty-six gates, there are many different airlines people can fly on. Some of the airlines available are American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Discover Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, American Eagle, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. They provide different international flights to England, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Canada.

Philadelphia International Airport has free Wi-Fi and an EV charging station on site. The TSA check-in location is at the center of the airport. It makes it easier for people to only go through one check-in process compared to other airports like Miami International which has TSA at every airline. Passengers have loved the TSA for their efficient service.

They have a shuttle to help people get from Terminal A to Terminal F with ease. People can get to the airport via bus which makes it a very accessible airport to reach. It’s also off of Interstate 95 (exit 12 northbound and 12A southbound). Not only that, but people can ride the train to and from Center City Philadelphia to the airport in 25 minutes. The trains run every thirty minutes from 5 AM to midnight daily.

When people are waiting for their flights, they can go through the special art exhibits the airport has to offer. Check out this booklet that celebrates the 25th anniversary of the airport having art in their facility. Philadelphia also has a Lego vending machine for the kids to express their creativity on the go or waiting for flights.

They have a lot of food options. The airport also has a LIDS store for people to get custom hats.

Room For Improvement

A major complaint from travelers has been the cleanliness of the airport. Some travelers would prefer to have cleaner bathrooms to use and furniture to sit on while waiting for their flight. The look of Philadephia International Airport can appear to be outdated for incoming and outgoing passengers. An airport’s appearance can alter someone’s experience based on how clean and updated the airport appears.

Although the airport has a shuttle, it doesn’t have a train system like other larger airports such as Dallas-Fort Worth. They’re still installing more charging port stations for people. They have heard about that complaint for the past two years and have worked on it some.

Pittsburgh International Airport

A full tour of the Pittsburgh International Airport

This airport serves the western part of Pennsylvania and serves a great role as an international airport for Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. Pittsburgh International Airport first opened in 1952 and grew exponentially. It gets 8.1 million passengers annually. Pittsburgh International Airport was the first Airport Of The Year by Air Transport World. It’s a larger airport than Philadelphia International as it takes up 10,000 acres.

Pittsburgh International also grew in passenger traffic over the years. Because of that, the airport had to build a new terminal to accompany its growing traffic. The newest terminal is currently under construction and is expected to open its gate in March 2025.

Unlike most airports, the Pittsburgh International Airport is an eco-friendly airport. They installed a microgrid in 2021 which uses natural gas and solar power energy as the primary power source for the facility. It is the first airport to run solely on natural gas and solar power energy. In the first year, it saved the airport one million dollars in energy costs.

The Positives

They have a multitude of different airlines available for travelers to check out. Some of the airlines available are United Airlines, Allegiant Air, Alaska Airlines, Breeze Airways, JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines. Pittsburgh International Airport offers international destinations to Canada and England.

It was also the first airport post 9/11 that allowed non-passengers to enter the airport to eat, shop, and view the terminals. People can do that by signing up for the MyPITPass online. Pittsburgh Airport has an alternate entrance for those who would want to visit the international airport. It is a fantastic way to promote community outreach and tourism within the airport and its surrounding areas. Plus the location can help people drive to the nearby states of West Virginia and Ohio.

They have comfortable furniture for travelers to sleep on, free Wi-Fi, EV charging stations, a 24/7 TSA, and a 24/7 convenience store for their customers. They receive more compliments on their cleanliness compared to Philadelphia International. Pittsburgh International is also fifteen minutes outside of downtown Pittsburgh, so travelers can Uber or catch the bus to and from the airport.

While passengers wait for their flight or if someone is visiting the airport, they can view many different bodies of artwork throughout the airport. Some people might see it as a random science experiment but some people can admire the statues of Steelers greats, dinosaurs, and nature pieces.

Room For Improvement

The food options can be very limited late at night, considering that they have a 24/7 TSA. But, they have a 24/7 convenience store to make up for that. It can be a bit confusing to leave the parking decks, unfortunately. There is only one train that runs between the terminal and the gate areas. There is also a need for more charging stations in the airport. Although the parking lot prices are cheap at seven dollars a day, the maintenance of it during the wintertime could be done better.

Harrisburg International Airport

A tour of the different things at the Harrisburg International Airport

The Harrisburg International Airport is located in Middletown, Pennsylvania. It is only nine miles southeast of Harrisburg. It’s an airport that’s been open for more than one hundred years. The airport’s original purpose in 1898 was a Signals Corp station. The Harrisburg International Airport got its name in 1973 and added new terminals the same year. Harrisburg is one of the smaller airports in the state and is located in the Southern Pennsylvania region. The airport can be accessible either by driving or riding on a train to the location.

The Positives

Harrisburg has a smooth car rental system that can easily provide rentals for visitors. The only complaint about the rental car system would be that their building is across the street from the airport rather than being in or beside the airport. It’s an easy airport to navigate after arriving there. The airport is super clean and has over ten gates and two terminals.

Although it is a smaller airport, they have a good amount of airline carriers there. Some of the airline carriers they have are United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, American Eagle, and American Airlines. They also have direct flights to major cities such as Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, several cities in Florida, Charlotte, and Dallas.

TSA check-ins are relatively short. They also have a Pre-TSA check-in feature to save passengers much-needed time. The gates are also easy to get to as all of them are short walking distances from each other. Many passengers come here so they won’t have to fly out of Philadelphia International Airport or LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Room For Improvement

It’s an international airport that only serves domestic flights… a bit misleading to call the airport an international airport right?

Harrisburg is a small airport, therefore the dinner options are quite limited. People can get their coffee and quick bites there though. Not too many meal options, especially outside of the gates. There are also limited charging ports and stations. Some of the flights can be pricier compared to the other major airlines in the surrounding areas.

University Park Airport

The University Park Airport is located in Brenner Township, Pennsylvania. This airport is owned by the University of Pennsylvania. It helps with connecting flights for students and civilians alike. University Park Airport covers 1,500 acres of land and has one active runway.

The Positives

It has free Wi-Fi that traveling college students can use to binge-watch their favorite Netflix show or work on assignments as they head off to their spring break trip. University Park has taxi, limo, and car rental services. They also offer private flight services. TSA is quick and efficient although there can be minor inconveniences from them.

Room For Improvement

Compared to the other airports on this list up to this point, it has the fewest airline carriers with two. Those two are American Eagle and United Express. University Park only has one cafe and no other food options.

Erie International Airport

This airport this located just outside of Erie Lake in Erie County, Pennsylvania. It is three hours driving distance from Toronto, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo. The Erie airport was the third fastest-growing airport in the United States and the fastest-growing airport in Pennsylvania back in 2004.

The Positives

It’s a small and convenient airport with friendly customer service all around. Although the TSA lines can get long since there is only one TSA check-in location, they do a fast and efficient job. The airport makes it easy to get a car rental as travelers can go to a different part of the airport to get it.

Room For Improvement

The only airline carrier they have available is American Airlines. Their only direct flight is to Charlotte. They help in providing customers with some connecting flights to other locations. After TSA check-in, food options are severely limited to vending machines. It doesn’t have any international flights as the name might imply to people.

Lehigh Valley International Airport

Lehigh Valley International Airport is located in Lehigh County Pennsylvania. It’s in the eastern part of Pennsylvania and serves almost one million passengers per year. The airport is also a big cargo airport in the Pennsylvania area as it helps deliver Amazon packages throughout the United States. In the past, the Lehigh Valley International Airport was once a training site for soldiers during World War II. It was a declining airport due to low passenger traffic until sometime in the 2010s as travelers eventually saw Lehigh as an alternative to the highly congested Newark and Philadelphia airports.

The Positives

This small airport provides several different airlines which are also commonly popular. Some of the airlines are American Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines. They fly out to several popular destinations such as Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Miami, Denver, Chicago, and Atlanta. Lehigh Valley has free Wi-Fi and an EV charging station for passengers. Other amenities include a playground for kids and a hydration station.

The airport is very user friendly with clear signs and friendly customer service. The baggage claim is next to the rental car offices, which is a major convenience for visitors. Security and TSA Check-in is easy to get through.

Room For Improvement

There are no international flights available at the airport. The food options are limited to a few restaurants and vending machines. However, the vending machines aren’t the most friendly to customers. Some of the food options are closed earlier than people would think. Parking can be a bit pricey compared to most airports.

Summary Of The Best-To-Worst Airports In Pennsylvania

RankAirportLocation
1Philadelphia, PAPittsburgh, PA
2Philadephia International AirportPhiladeliphia, PA
3Lehigh Valley International AirportPhiladelphia, PA
4Harrisburg International AirportLehigh County, PA
5Erie International AirportErie County, PA
6University Park AirportBrenner Township, PA

The University Park Airport is last due to the lack of airline service. The best small-sized airport on this list has to be the Lehigh Valley International Airport. Yet, the best airport on the list has to be Pittsburgh International Airport. It’s much cleaner than the Philadelphia International Airport and doesn’t have as many downsides as the Philly airport.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tommy Lee Walker/iStock via Getty Images


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About the Author

Justin is an A-Z Animals Writer that loves to cover places, unique natural disasters, and travel. He has eight years of experience as a writer in the medical and media fields. He wrote for the likes of VCU Health, theMSQshop, PayDay LA, and Comic Book Resources under the penname Jay Guevara. Although he's a full time writer, Justin graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2019 with a Bachelors in Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science with a background in Community Engagement. After spending over two decades in Richmond, Virginia, Justin now resides in the suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga, California. He's a dedicated gymrat. He's also a two-time poetry author who's influenced by rappers Joe Budden and IDK along with Dante Alighieri.

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