Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The 10 major US airports with the fastest free Wi-Fi

Airalo ranked the 10 major U.S. airports with the fastest free Wi-Fi, using Ookla data released in November 2023.

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Female passenger on phone and laptop sitting in terminal waiting for her flight.

Vlad Teodor // Shutterstock

About 200,000 travelers board, depart, wait, dine, shop, and walk through Dallas Forth Worth International Airport each day. Between smartphones, laptops, and the many other devices connecting to the airport's free Wi-Fi, there's a lot of sharing going on—and when it comes to Wi-Fi speed, the numbers matter.

As of March 2024, the Federal Communications Commission officially raised the requirement for minimum broadband download speeds, which is the rate of data transferred from the Internet to the device, to 100 Mbps. Airalo analyzed data from Ookla's Speedtest Intelligence during the third quarter of 2023, testing the Wi-Fi speeds of the 50 busiest airports across the United States, and determined the three locations with the fastest free airport Wi-Fi have download speeds over 200 Mbps. 

Most airports have a WiFi network made up of multiple access points. Factors such as how close you are to the access point, how many devices are connected to the same hotspot, and physical objects can interfere with signal strength and speed. It's not just travelers accessing these networks. Entire airport systems run on Wi-Fi networks, from safety and security to baggage handlers and air traffic controllers to airport vendors needing to process transactions smoothly and manage inventory. Well-regulated high-speed networks keep the flow of an airport efficient, which keeps travelers happy and wanting to spend money in terminals.

Airport Wi-Fi Safety and Accessibility

Because connectivity is an important factor in a traveler's overall impression of an airport, transportation authorities continue to work on improving their speeds. This might include increasing Wi-Fi access points, airport IT teams deciding how access points will interact, and encouraging travelers to favor airport Wi-Fi over personal hotspots, which can interfere with the quality of airport Wi-Fi networks.

While it is a common notion that public Wi-Fi is unsafe, experts suggest you are less likely to be affected by a major hack unless you are a public figure or a government entity. What's more, most websites and apps now have features to add another layer of security for their users, Chester Wisniewski, a digital security specialist, told The Washington Post.

Still, there are many things you can do to make web browsing on public airport Wi-Fi as safe as possible: use strong passwords; consider opting for a virtual private network, or VPN; only visit sites with an HTTPS address; use a privacy screen in public; use two-factor authentication; keep your operating system up to date; and log out of apps, websites, and public Wi-Fi when you're finished browsing.

If you have the need for (high) speed, these airports are the way to fly.

#10. Pittsburgh International Airport

The interior of Pittsburgh International Airport.

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

- Location: Pittsburgh
- Wi-Fi speed: 126.63 Mbps

#9. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

Inside view of the terminal at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

EQRoy // Shutterstock

- Location: Dallas
- Wi-Fi speed: 127.26 Mbps

#8. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

Departure Gates at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

4kclips // Shutterstock

- Location: Kenner, Louisiana
- Wi-Fi speed: 152.47 Mbps

#7. San Francisco International Airport

People seated waiting at San Francisco International Airport.

Anton_Ivanov // Shutterstock

- Location: San Francisco
- Wi-Fi speed: 155.59 Mbps

#6. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (Terminal 3)

Logo of Fort Lauderdale airport (FLL) in Florida.

Markus Mainka // Shutterstock

- Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Wi-Fi speed: 162.53 Mbps

#5. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Terminal 3 of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport (PHX).

Markus Mainka // Shutterstock

- Location: Phoenix
- Wi-Fi speed: 178.32 Mbps

#4. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport

Shops and passengers inside Honolulu Airport.

Sandra Foyt // Shutterstock

- Location: Honolulu
- Wi-Fi speed: 187.58 Mbps

#3. Oakland International Airport

Aerial view of Oakland International Airport.

TierneyMJ // Shutterstock

- Location: Oakland, California
- Wi-Fi speed: 206.25 Mbps

#2. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

Interior view of Cincinnati International Airport.

Lost_in_the_Midwest // Shutterstock

- Location: Hebron, Kentucky
- Wi-Fi speed: 210.09 Mbps

#1. Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport

Travelers walking the aisles of Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Sundry Photography // Shutterstock

- Location: San Jose, California
- Wi-Fi speed: 259.37 Mbps

Data reporting by Luke Hicks. Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

This story originally appeared on Airalo and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.