Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Passenger Frustration Soars: Orange County John Wayne Airport Ranked Angriest

Find out why Orange County's John Wayne Airport ranked highest in causing traveler anger, as revealed by a comprehensive study by Forbes Advisor

by Fergus Cole

May 19, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of CHUTTERSNAP / Unsplash

A recent study by Forbes Advisor unveiled a list of the “angriest” airports in the United States based on an analysis of Twitter data. According to the findings, Orange County’s John Wayne Airport (SNA) topped the charts, leaving passengers more frustrated than any other airport.

The study examined over 37,000 tweets mentioning the official Twitter handles of the 60 busiest U.S. airports over the 12 months leading up to March 2023. By categorizing the language and sentiment used in the tweets, the study shed light on the airports that tended to evoke the most anger among travelers.

The study employed AI technology to analyze tweets and determine the level of anger expressed by passengers toward different airports. The study relied on data from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) regarding the total number of passenger boardings in 2021 to identify the busiest airports nationwide. With this information, the researchers categorized tweets into distinct emotions such as sadness, joy, anger, fear, and surprise.

Photo: Sea-Tac Airport. Courtesy of The Port of Seattle.

According to its analysis, almost two-thirds (65%) of the tweets aimed at John Wayne Airport were classified as ‘angry,’ with the most common words being ‘delays,’ ‘security,’ and ‘hours.’

“Traveling to SNA for vacation or spring break can be challenging for many visitors due to long rental car and TSA lines, unexpected California taxes and fees, limited take-off and landing times, and extended luggage wait times,” said Jeremy Hyatt, a local resident and frequent user of the airport. “These frustrating experiences can make a trip less enjoyable.”

The Southern Californian airport, which serves more than 11 million passengers annually, received more angry tweets than any other airport in the survey. It was followed by Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) in second place with 60% of angry tweets and Omaha’s Eppley Airfield (OMA) in third with 59%.

These were the ten angriest airports in the U.S. last year, according to Forbes Advisor:

Ranking Airport % of angry tweets
1 John Wayne Airport (SNA) 65
2 Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) 60
3 Eppley Airfield (OMA) 59
4 Tampa International Airport (TPA) 57
5 San Antonio International Airport (SAT) 57
6 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 56
7 San Diego International Airport (SAN) 56
8 Nashville International Airport (BNA) 56
9 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) 56
10 Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC) 56

On the other end of the scale, Indianapolis International Airport (IND) received the lowest proportion of angry tweets last year, followed by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Kansas City International Airport (MCI).

It should be noted that these findings should be taken with a pinch of salt, as other recent surveys haven’t painted John Wayne Airport in such a negative light, including being ranked as the second-best large airport in North America in the J.D. Power 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, as well as being ranked as the second best mid-sized airport in the U.S. last year by The Wall Street Journal.

Photo: Courtesy of Paine Field Passenger Terminal

The airport’s own passenger survey in 2022 also suggested high customer satisfaction with its services, with 73% of respondents rating it five stars. These particular results showed the airport’s “commitment to deliver safe and convenient air travel and a superior guest experience travelers can rely on,” according to Charlene Reynolds, director of John Wayne Airport.