CardHub.com has come up with its summer 2013 list of the best and worst travel cities, and Denver finished first in the domestic category when it comes to the combo of inexpensive flights, short travel times to popular destinations and accessibility, both logistically and financially. The methodology's below.
What about the ten worst for domestic travelers? We count them down, complete with photos and fun facts about each one whose figurative asses were kicked by the mighty blue Mustang. Here they are.
Tenth worst domestic travel city: Boston
Main airport: Logan International Airport
Fun fact: "A scene from the 2006 film The Departed was filmed at Logan, inside the connector bridge between Terminal E and the Central Parking Garage. Terminal C and several United Airlines aircraft can be seen in the background. Parts of the Delta Air Lines 2007 'Anthem' commercial were filmed in Terminal A as well as the connector bridge between Terminal A and Central Parking."
Ninth worst domestic travel city: Orlando, Florida
Main airport: Orlando International Airport
Fun fact: "A complimentary motor coach transportation service for guests staying at Walt Disney World resort hotels. The motor coach service is operated by Mears Transportation. Guests book advance reservations and receive a transportation packet with travel details and luggage tags prior to arrival at Orlando International. Checked luggage marked with the Disney luggage tags are retrieved by representatives of BAGS Incorporated and are transported to the guest's Disney resort."
Main airport: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Fun fact: "Residents of the surrounding area filed lawsuits against the Port in the early 1970s, complaining of noise, vibration, smoke, and other problems. The Port and the government of King County adopted the Sea-Tac Communities Plan in 1976 to address problems and guide future development. The Port spent more than $100 million over the next decade to buy homes and school buildings in the vicinity, and soundproof others nearby."
Seventh worst domestic travel city: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Main airport: Pittsburgh International Airport
Fun fact: "In 1985 the first Transatlantic flight service on a foreign airline came to Pittsburgh: British Airways started service using Boeing 747-200 aircraft. The initial route was Pittsburgh to London-Heathrow with a stop in Washington, D.C.. The stop point was later changed to Philadelphia. Later, British Airways moved the non-stop flight to London-Gatwick, with a change to London-Heathrow again with a stop in Montreal during the winter season. The airline ended service at the airport completely on October 31, 1999. In 2000, US Airways picked up the route to London-Gatwick but canceled it in 2004 due to extensive downsizing of the airport."
Main airport: Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Fun fact: "The airport is the second smallest hub out of the ten hubs operated by United Airlines (busier only than Guam) and its regional carriers, connecting passengers to destinations across North America."
Fifth worst domestic travel city: Sacramento, California
Main airport: Sacramento International Airport
Fun fact: "Between 1990 and 2007, Sacramento International Airport had a high incidence of bird strikes due to its location in an avian migratory route."
Main airport: Tampa International Airport
Fun fact: "Since its opening on April 15, 1971, Tampa International Airport has used a special color-coding system throughout the terminal complex. The Baggage Claim Areas and Ticket Counters are color-coded Blue and Red. Airlines are assigned a color depending on their location within the Landside Terminal Building. The airlines found in the south side of the terminal are color-coded blue. The carriers located in the north side are color-coded red. The codes were also assigned names to assist color-blind patrons. The Blue side names are Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. The Red side names are Igor Sikorsky and Chuck Yeager. The Long Term Parking Garage also uses the special color-coding system. The four elevator cores have names and colors to make it easier for customers to remember where they've parked. Wright Brothers -- Orange, Tony Jannus -- Purple, Robert Goddard -- Green and Charles Lindbergh -- Brown."
Third worst domestic travel city: Miami, Florida
Main airport: Miami International Airport
Fun fact: "American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta Air Lines, Miami Air, Sky King Airlines, and United Airlines all operate regular flights between MIA and several airports in Cuba, one of a few airports with direct airlink between the two nations. However, these flights must be booked through agents with special authorization from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and are only generally available to government officials, journalists, researchers, professionals attending conferences, or expatriates visiting Cuban family."
Main airport: San Antonio International Airport
Fun fact: "San Antonio International Airport was founded in 1941 when the City of San Antonio purchased 1,200 acres of undeveloped land north of the city limits (now part of the city's Uptown District) for a project to be called 'San Antonio Municipal Airport.' World War II Wartime needs meant the unfinished airport was pressed into government service. The airport opened in July 1942 as Alamo Field and was used by the United States Army Air Forces as a training base."
Worst domestic travel city: Riverside, California
Main airport: Riverside Municipal Airport
Fun fact: "FedEx Express has donated a Boeing 727-200F to California Baptist University for use by its new aviation science program. The aircraft will be on permanent display at the airport and will provide a working laboratory for aviation science students."
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CardHub used booking data from the Travel Leaders Group to determine the most popular domestic and international vacation destinations for summer 2013 and data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. We then used more than 3,600 data points from Kayak.com to compare airfare costs, flight times, and the number of connections for round-trip flights from each MSA to the airport(s) serving each popular vacation destination.
We used July 13 and July 21 as the departure and return dates, respectively, since July was the most popular date for travel last summer, according to a Morpace Omnibus survey, and while the average American considers 12 days to be the perfect length for a vacation, according to American Express data, most of us can neither afford such a long getaway, nor spare the vacation time.
In determining ultimate rankings, CardHub analyzed and weighted the following metrics for round-trip flights between each MSA and each popular vacation destination:
Cost of the cheapest flight: 30% Duration of the cheapest flight: 15% Number of connections on the cheapest flight: 5% Cost of the shortest flight: 30% Duration of the cheapest flight: 15% Number of connections on the cheapest flight: 5%
For simplicity sake, we recorded only the longest leg for a flight's duration. Given the often stark disparities in flight costs and travel times, we also chose the best deals for each metric within a $20 range and/or one hour window. For example, if the cheapest round-trip flight between Washington, D.C. and Rome, Italy cost $1,000 and the second cheapest fight only cost $15 more yet would save you two hours in total travel time, we chose the latter. Similarly, if the shortest round-trip flight between Washington, D.C. and Rome, Italy took six hours each way and the second-shortest took only 25 minutes longer yet saved you $200, we chose the latter.
More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "'Mustang,' aka Blucifer, marks fifth birthday with debate about its fate at DIA."