Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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The dreaded pre-9 a.m. flight: many of us aren’t strangers to it, and even if you make early morning flights regularly, does it ever truly get easier? If you’re like the majority of frequent flyers, one of the only things that makes a flight before sunrise possible is a stop at America’s most popular coffee chain, Starbucks. Starbucks isn’t at every airport in the country, however, and even a lot of the major airports vary wildly in the number of Starbucks locations they have. So which airports are the best for someone looking to buy some Starbucks coffee?
In this study, we looked at the top 50 major U.S. airports (based on the total number of passengers in 2020) to find out which ones have the most Starbucks locations overall, most Starbucks locations per square mile of airport space, and least annual passengers per Starbucks. We combined all 3 of these metrics to get a “Starbucks Score” so that you can see which U.S. airports are the most likely to ensure you get your caffeine fix.
The Best U.S. Airports To Get Starbucks
The best airport to take that early flight out of if you want to be sure you’ve got a Starbucks coffee in hand is Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, which has a Starbucks Score of 27.4 out of 30. The second-best airport for frequent-flying Starbucks fanatics, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), is almost a whole 3 points behind Harry Reid International with a 24.8 Starbucks Score. After Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale, third through eighth place consists exclusively of airports that have between a 20 and 24 out of 30 Starbucks Score.
Many know Seattle as the home of Starbucks, yet Seattle’s largest airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), just barely snuck inside the top 10 list. In general, however, the West is definitely the U.S. region that’s best for airport Starbucks, as 9 of the airports that have a top 20 Starbucks Score are out West.
The Worst U.S. Airports To Get Starbucks
With an incredibly low Starbucks Score of just 0.6 out of 30, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the worst of the 50 largest U.S. airports for Starbucks coffee-loving plane passengers (excluding the 4 major U.S. airports with no Starbucks locations, which are Midway International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Nashville International Airport (BNA), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York, and Oakland International Airport (OAK)).
The second worst, Denver International Airport (DEN), is still marginally better than San Fran, with a Starbucks Score that is just over 5 out of 30. The third-worst airport to get your Starbucks, William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) in Houston, is marginally better than Denver, with a Starbucks Score of 10 out of 30. Third through tenth place in our 10 worst airports for Starbucks drinkers have pretty similar Starbucks Scores with all of them falling between 10 and 12 out of 30.
It’s worth noting that 2 of our 10 worst airports for Starbucks drinkers are in Texas, so if you love Starbucks and are flying out of Houston, consider choosing George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) over Hobby and avoid flying out of San Antonio International Airport (SAN).
U.S. Airports With the Most Starbucks Overall
In the simplified numbers game, Chicago’s O’Hare has no competition when each airport’s total number of Starbucks locations are compared, but the next section will elaborate on why that isn’t the only important factor to consider. Las Vegas and Honolulu are the only other airports with a double-digit Starbucks count, and after these 3 airports, we’re left with a bunch of locations that have 7 or 8 Starbucks locations each.
The Best U.S. Airports To Get Starbucks by Category
This is where we go a bit further than simply counting how many Starbucks locations each major airport has. After all, what good are your 14 Starbucks stores when you have over 10 miles of airport they have to serve (looking at you, O’Hare)?
So the airport with the most Starbucks per mile is San Diego International Airport (SAN), which has 2.9 Starbucks locations per square mile of airport. The second- and third-place airports in this category, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and Harry Reid International, also have more than 2.7 Starbucks locations per square mile. Every other airport in the top 10 has somewhere between 1.28 and 1.61 Starbucks per square mile. If you don’t want to have to trek through the entire airport to get your Starbucks fix, flying out of one of these airports is your best bet.
This last data set was also factored into each Starbucks Score and should not be ignored: it’s the airports with the least amount of passengers per Starbucks location. This is basically just as important as Starbucks per square mile as it doesn’t matter if you have 10 coffee shops but each is responsible for serving over 50,000 guests every week. An airport with 3 shops but just 10,000 guests will get coffee in your hands more quickly.
Portland International Airport (PDX), which holds our nineteenth highest Starbucks Score, leads the pack here, as it has 1 Starbucks for every 361,514 annual passengers. For context, passenger numbers in this top 10 list begin to rise very quickly after Portland, as second-place Kansas City International Airport (MCI) has 1 Starbucks for every 561,709 annual passengers, and third-place Daniel K. Inouye Airport (HNL) in Honolulu has 1 Starbucks for every 659,535 annual passengers.
It should come as no surprise that our highest-rated airport to get your Starbucks, Harry Reid International, has a place in the top 10 in both Starbucks locations per mile and least passengers per Starbucks.
You can view our full dataset, featuring each of the 50 busiest U.S. airports in our study, in the table below.
To determine the airports where you’ll have the best luck getting your Starbucks fix, we compared the 50 busiest U.S. airports (based on their enplanements in 2020) on 3 different factors: total number of Starbucks locations, Starbucks locations per square mile, and number of passengers per Starbucks location.
Each factor was graded on a 5-point scale, with a score of 5 representing the best airport for each factor. Each airport’s total score was calculated from the total of its individual scores, which were weighted based on their importance. The sum of the weights is 6, for a total possible score of 30. Each is listed below with its weight and data source:
- Total Number of Starbucks Locations (as of January 2022) — Weight: 1.00
- Source: Individual airport websites
- Starbucks Locations per Mile — Weight: 2.50
- Passengers per Starbucks Location — Weight: 2.50
All data for this study was collected in January 2022, but the passenger data is from 2020. The total number of Starbucks locations at each airport includes those temporarily closed (according to each airport’s individual website).
There are a lot of different things to consider when judging an airport’s ability to serve their passengers Starbucks coffee, like how many Starbucks locations do they have overall, how many Starbucks locations do they have for every square mile of airport, and approximately how many passengers does each Starbucks location serve annually?
We combined all of these factors into one convenient “Starbucks Score” and learned that Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas along with Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and San Diego International Airport are the 3 best airports for Starbucks-loving frequent flyers. Meanwhile, San Francisco International Airport, Denver International Airport, and William P. Hobby Airport in Houston are the 3 worst, unless you count major airports that have 0 Starbucks, in which case Midway International Airport in Chicago, Nashville International Airport, LaGuardia Airport in New York, and Oakland International Airport are actually the worst airports to get your caffeine fix.
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