Yesterday, I tried to answer the question of what metro area in the United States is most connected to the rest of the US. Specifically, I'm looking at how many states a traveler can reach via a nonstop flight. So far, we have this:
With three major airports in the metro area (JFK, LGA, EWR), New York is a strong candidate to upset our current leader, Chicago. I started by checking JFK, which is the busiest of the three. From JFK, you cannot fly direct to Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire. That's 33, far lower than I expected.
Let's add LaGuardia.
Again, far fewer than I expected. It does add a few states that JFK missed, including Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. That brings New York to 40 between JFK and LGA.
Can Newark get us to the 10 remaining states? At first glance, I see a lot more flights into the plains and mountain states.
Newark has flights to Wyoming and New Hampshire, but nothing to the remaining eight states. That means New York gets a 42, putting it in fifth place behind Minneapolis.
Let's switch coasts and head back to California. The Los Angeles area has five airports, including Los Angeles (LAX), Burbank (BUR), Long Beach (LGB), Ontario (ONT), and Orange County (SNA). I'm not sure it's fair to include all five airports as one metro area, but when I mapped them, they are all within around 50 miles of each other. On the other hand, the drive time between them is huge due to traffic. For purposes of this post, I'm going to remove Ontario (which is more Inland Empire than LA) and just look at LAX and its three closest airports, Burbank, Long Beach, and Orange County.
First, LAX. According to their website, "Los Angeles International Airport is a major international airport, eastern gateway to the United States and one of the few airports with scheduled srvices to all the inhabited continents."
Thought 1: eastern?
Thought 2: srvices?
According to FlightsFrom, LAX does not fly to North Dakota, Wisconsin, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine. Time to check the others.
Burbank and Long Beach both have handy maps, but neither flies nonstop to any of LAX's missing states.
Orange County doesn't have a convenient map, nor does it add any states. So I'm calling it official: LA is 41, currently in sixth place.
While we're on the west coast, let's check Seattle. I don't expect it to be among the top few, but I'm guessing it's similar to San Francisco.
Slightly better than SFO, actually. There are 12 states you can't reach nonstop from Seattle.
I have four more metro areas I think are contenders. First is Orlando.
I did not expect this! Not only can you get to more states nonstop from Orlando than from the three airports in New York, but it's the first I've found with a flight to Delaware! Orlando is tied with Minneapolis.
Miami flies nonstop to 76 cities in the US.
What states are missing? Alaska and Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Mississippi, West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. So Miami has 35.
Let's look at Atlanta. Before I get to a destination count, I have to say that whoever is in charge of the website deserves a dishonorable mention. Not only is there no map or list of destinations, but this is what the home page looks like on my desktop:
Not very inviting to be greeted with big red X's. Speaking of which, I have no idea what I'm supposed not be doing on the airplane or in the terminal based on these photos. Don't look at my phone? Why is that a problem? Why is the guy in the background of the terminal on the floor? Is he charging his phone? Is that a problem? The graphic is cut off by the blue bar, so I'm not sure what I'm not supposed to be doing at baggage claim, nor do I know what the single green checkmark is about.
Rant over. According to FlightsFrom, Atlanta does not have nonstop flights to North Dakota, Delaware, or New Hampshire. At 47, it ties with Dallas!
There's one final metro area I want to explore: Washington, DC. Considering that Senators and Representatives from all 50 states work there, it seems like there might be nonstop flights to all of the states. There are three airports in the DC area (none of which are technically in DC): Reagan (DCA) and Dulles (IAD) are in Virginia and Marshall (BWI) is in Maryland. The largest of the three is Dulles, so let's start there:
There are no nonstop fights to Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Maryland, Delaware, or New Hampshire. Does Reagan fly nonstop to any of those? Yes: Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire.
So now we're at 42. Let's see if Baltimore can help out the DC area and raise that number.
Yes! People in the DC area can also fly nonstop to New Mexico. 43 means they're tied with Minneapolis and Orlando.
Time to update the map!
Chicago wins! You can fly nonstop to 48 of the 50 states from O'Hare and Midway. I feel confident saying that Chicago is the most connected location in the United States for airline travel. I don't think there are any other cities that are likely to beat out the winner, but if you want me to check on any in particular, let me know in the comments.