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Study: These U.S. Airports Have the Shortest and Longest Walks to the Gate

Lexington's Blue Grass Airport has the shortest walk from check-in to the departure gate, while Dallas/Fort Worth International has the longest

by Fergus Cole

March 28, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Rob Wilson / Unsplash

Passenger traffic in the United States is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2025, which means travelers may encounter busier airports and longer TSA lines in the future. However, even after passengers navigate through the crowds and checkpoints, they may be faced with long walks to the gate, particularly at the country’s larger airports.

A recent study by KURU Footwear revealed that airports in the United States have the shortest and longest walks to the gate. The KURU Footwear team analyzed the terminals of the ten largest and ten smallest commercial airports across the country using Google Maps to measure the walking distance from the check-in counters to the gates.

Top 5 airports with the shortest walk:

According to their findings, Blue Grass Airport (LEX) in Lexington, Kentucky, has the shortest walk to the gate, at just 0.11 miles. Unsurprisingly, Blue Grass Airport is quite small, with its single, 911-acre terminal having just 16 gates.

Photo: Blue Grass Airport walk distances. Courtesy of KURU Footwear / Google Maps

The next shortest walk was found to be at Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, New York, at 0.12 miles. Westchester County is even smaller than Blue Grass, with just six gates in its 702-acre terminal building.

Meanwhile, the third shortest walk, at 0.13 miles, is at Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) in Pennsylvania, another single-terminal airport with just 12 gates.

Hawaii’s Lihue Airport (LIH) and California’s Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) have the fourth and fifth shortest walk to the gate, at 0.18 and 0.20 miles, respectively.

RankAirportShortest walk to the gate
1Blue Grass Airport (LEX)0.11 miles
2Westchester County Airport (HPN)0.12 miles
3Harrisburg International Airport (MDT)0.13 miles
4Lihue Airport (LIH)0.18 miles
5Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)0.20 miles

Top 5 airports with the longest walk:

When it comes to the longest walks from check-in to the gate, the country’s larger airports understandably dominate the list. The airport with the longest walk in the country is Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), with a distance of 2.16 miles between the check-in and the gates. With 182 gates across five terminals, DFW is one of the largest airports in the U.S.

Photo: Dallas/Fort Worth walking distances. Courtesy of KURU Footwear / Google Maps

The next longest walk can be found at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), with a distance of 1.62 miles to the gate, followed by Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), with a distance of 1.52 miles. Denver International Airport (DEN) and New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) had the fourth and fifth longest walks, respectively.

So, if you’re flying out of one of these airports in the near future, you may want to think about getting to the airport that little bit earlier so that you’ve got plenty of time to reach your gate once you’ve checked in and passed security.

RankAirportLongest walk to the gate
1Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)2.16 miles
2Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)1.62 miles
3George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)1.52 miles
4Denver International Airport (DEN)1.45 miles
5John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)1.38 miles

In addition to measuring walking distances at various airports nationwide, KURU Footwear also surveyed air passengers to gain insight into current trends.

It found that over half (58 percent) of Americans had plans to travel by air in 2024, compared to 14 percent who have no plans. Of those that travel, vacation is the biggest reason for doing so at 43 percent, followed by visiting family at 21 percent and business or work at 17 percent.

The survey also revealed that 40 percent of Americans get annoyed when faced with a long walk to their departure gate, and 41 percent have specifically booked flights out of a smaller airport to avoid inconvenience.

Photo: Detroit International Airport. Courtesy of Hanson-Lu / Unsplash

However, more Americans (36 percent) prefer to fly out of large airports than small airports (19 percent), while 45 percent say they don’t consider the airport’s size when booking.

Victoria Schmid, a spokesperson for KURU Footwear, told USA Today: “Interestingly, 36 percent of Americans prefer to fly out of a larger airport, while 19 percent prefer smaller airports. Forty-five percent say they don’t care about the size of the airport at all when booking travel but choose it based on convenience to them (i.e., distance from their home or destination).

“Many airports in the U.S. are expanding and under construction to become bigger and accommodate larger crowds as travel continues to boom in a post-pandemic world.”