The 15 Germiest Airports in the U.S., Ranked

Air travel causes a lot of stress. Hectic airports, cramped flights, and long travel days can leave you feeling exhausted before you even reach your destination. Unfortunately, airports also spread a lot of germs — no matter how many times you remember to wash your hands.

An MIT study ranked airports in the United States based on how likely they are to prompt the spread of an infectious epidemic. Researchers based these rankings on traffic, geographic location, average layover times, and connections with other airports.

15. Boston Logan International Airport

Logan International Airport in Boston.

An airport you’ll never see empty.  | PatrickPoendl/iStock/Getty Images

Boston, Massachusetts is home to the Boston Logan International Airport. Over 2 million passengers flew into or out of this airport in January 2016; in December 2016, airlines transported nearly 3 million passengers through BOS.

Next: If you’re landing in Seattle, chances are, you’ll spend time here.

14. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

An airplane at the Seattle Tacoma Airport.

42 million passengers traveled through this airport in 2015. | David_Johnson/iStock/Getty Images

Traffic through this Seattle, Washington-based airport continues to increase from year to year. Just over 42 million passengers traveled through this airport in the year 2015. It was the ninth-busiest airport as of 2016.

Next: This is just one of several Texas-based airports that made this list.

13. George Bush Intercontinental Airport

People walking through the George Bush International Airport.

This Houston airport got plenty of foot traffic. | Lightkey/iStock/Getty Images

The George Bush Intercontinental Airport, part of the Houston Airport System, ranked No. 14 among the busiest airports in 2016. Nearly 42 million passengers traveled through the Houston, Texas-based airport that same year.

Next: In the mood for some hot, dry weather? You might end up in this airport.

12. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Ana airplane flying on a blue day.

You’re likely to have transferred through this airport. | Ep_stock/Getty Images

Like most international airports across the U.S., this location transports millions of people every year. Over 43 million passengers traveled through the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in 2016. This Phoenix, Arizona-based airport was the No. 12 busiest airport that year.

Next: This is one of only two Midwestern airports on this list.

11. Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Travelers passing through the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

About 34 million passengers traveled through this airport in 2016. | Roderickm/Getty Images

More Midwesterners are traveling to and from “The Mitten.” The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport transported just over 34 million passengers throughout 2016. The Detroit, Michigan-based airport was the No. 18 busiest airport that year

Next: Here’s the second Texas-based airport on our list. Have you been there?

10. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

An airplane departing from an airport.

Rated the 4th busiest airport in 2016. | iStock.com

This airport has also grown in terms of passenger traffic over the past several years. As a result, nearly 66 million passengers traveled through the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in 2016, making it the fourth busiest U.S. airport that year.

Next: This is one of the busiest airports on the east coast.

9. Miami International Airport

A family travels through the Miami International Airport.

This airport is full of transfers and arrivals. | Typhoonski/iStock/Getty Images

This Miami, Florida-based airport also made the list of top 10 busiest U.S. airports in 2016. Nearly 45 million travelers passed through its terminals that year, earning it the No. 10 spot in terms of passenger traffic volume.

Next: This was the busiest U.S. airport in 2016.

8. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

A top view of the airport.

You might want to carry some hand sanitizer when traveling through this busy airport. | SeanPavonePhoto

The busier the airport, the more likely you are to get sick. Over 100 million passengers traveled through the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2016, making it the busiest airport that year. It’s held that top spot for 20 years.

Next: If you’re heading toward Washington, D.C., you might fly in through this airport.

7. Washington Dulles International Airport

The Washington Dulles International Airport seen on a bright night.

This busy airport gets millions of travelers each year. | NMelander

This Virginia-based airport was the No. 26 busiest airport in terms of passenger-specific traffic in 2016. That year, approximately 22 million people landed or took off from here. It’s located less than 30 miles from Washington, D.C.

Next: Millions of people pass through this Chicago-based airport annually.

6. O’Hare International Airport

A group of people carrying suitcases walking through the airport.

More and more travelers visit this Chicago airport each year. | Tupungato/Getty Images

This Chicago, Illinois-based airport — one of two in the metropolitan area — was the third busiest airport in the U.S. in 2016. That year, about 78 million passengers traveled through the airport, a 1.3 percent increase from the previous year.

Next: Those heading to or away from New Jersey will probably do so through here.

5. Newark Liberty International Airport

A group of people wait on line at Newark Liberty International Airport.

New Jersey residents often arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport. | Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

About 40 million passengers traveled through Newark Liberty International Airport in 2016, making it the No. 15 busiest U.S. airport that year. This is the airport that primarily serves the state of New Jersey in terms of air travel.

Next: This is one of two California-based airports likely to promote the spread of a deadly epidemic.

4. San Francisco International Airport

The San Francisco International Airport.

You’ll need plenty of time to make it through the lines at this airport. | Laser1987/iStock/Getty Images

Among the top 10 heaviest-traveled airports in the U.S., this San Francisco, California-based airport was the seventh-busiest airport as of 2016. Over 53 million passengers traveled through this airport in the same year.

Next: If you’re heading off to paradise, you’ll likely land at this airport.

3. Daniel K Inouye International Airport

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

This sunny airport gets plenty of travelers. | Mizoula

Formerly known as the Honolulu International Airport, the Daniel K Inouye International Airport was the No. 28 busiest airport in 2016. About 19 million travelers passed through the Honolulu, Hawaii-based airport that same year.

Next: Even if you’ve never been here, you probably recognize this airport by its acronym.

2. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

An Emirates Airbus at the LAX Airport.

Add this airport to your travel bucket list. | Laser1987/iStock/Getty Images

This Los Angeles, California-based airport transported just over 80 million passengers in 2016. That same year, it was ranked No. 2 among the busiest airports in the U.S., right behind the Atlanta International Airport.

Next: Heading into or out of New York City? You’ll likely end up here.

1. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

Don’t be surprised if you catch a cold while traveling through JFK. |  Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

This New York City airport includes nine separate terminals, with over 150 gates divided between them. Over 59 million passengers passed through JFK in 2016. People travel all over the world from these gates, encouraging the potential spread of global infection and disease.

Follow The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!