Top 15 Destinations New Yorkers Fly To in North America

Patrick Surry - Jan. 31, 2016

The New York metropolitan area has almost 20 million residents, which means its three major airports – JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty – have a lot of travelers passing through their halls each year. This year alone, New Yorkers searched for flights 119 million times!

At Hopper we can see these flight searches, and we’re using our data to develop useful insights for travelers. With that in mind, we wanted to share the 15 most popular destinations that New Yorkers are searching for in North America and the Caribbean. The destinations on this list are ranked by the number of flight search queries that we’ve seen to their airports from New York in 2013. What makes our numbers a little more interesting than simple passenger traffic between airports is that we actually know the end destinations of these travelers and not just their connecting airports. So we can look past the first leg of a traveler’s journey, that flight to Atlanta, to see that they actually planned to travel to Cancun, which lets us find the truly popular destinations and not just the busiest airports. The following information is crowdsourced from more than 8 billion flight prices in 119 million flight searches in 2013 from travelers flying out of New York City airports (JFK, LGA and EWR).

Here’s a look at the 15 most popular destinations from New York airports

Overview of travel out of New York airports

JFK is by far the most popular starting point for journeys starting in New York, capturing a 48% share of flight searches out of the city. Newark’s Liberty International comes in second with 34% of the market, while the largely domestic-serving LaGuardia rounds it out with 18% of the market.

One thing all three airports have in common, besides serving New York, is that they’re all well below the national average of 79% when it comes to on-time departures. JFK is the best of the worst, so to speak, with a 73.51% on-time departure rate, while Newark Liberty is the least timely of the three with only a 68.83% on-time departure rate.

15: Atlanta, Georgia (ATL) – 846,000 flight searches

Atlanta may be the world’s busiest airport, with almost 100 million passengers traveling to the airport in 2012, but it’s only the 15th most popular destination for New Yorkers. And while there are a huge number of flights to Atlanta from New York daily, the airport is more of a hub for its passengers than a final destination. Still, 846,000 flight searches in 2013 is nothing to scoff at. It’s a good bet that Delta carried most of those passengers, as 400,000 searches had LaGuardia as their starting point and Delta operates a lot of non-stop flights between LaGuardia and Atlanta. If Atlanta does happen to be your final destination, you’re going to need a rental car to explore this sprawling city. Its keynote attraction is the Georgia Aquarium, which is the world’s largest. But there are other things to see in Atlanta too, like the High Museum of Art or the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Photo: Credit: Girish/Flickr CC BY-SA Caption: See 21 more photos and 2 traveler experiences on the Georgia Aquarium.

14: Aruba (AUA) 852,000 flight searches

Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport is the 14th most popular destination for New Yorkers, with just over one percent of all flight searches from New York looking for fares to the airport. The only direct flights to Aruba from New York are from JFK, but we see that actual travel to Aruba from New York is split pretty evenly between travelers flying directly from JFK and those flying with a connection from Newark’s EWR. With Aruba’s white-sand beaches and certifiably balmy climate, it’s easy to see why the island is such a hit with New Yorkers. When not camped out by the pool or on the beach, visitors can spend their time exploring the colorful shops of Oranjestad, the island’s capital. Photo: Credit: Göran Ingman/Flickr CC BY-SA Caption: See 27 more photos and 6 traveler experiences on Eagle Beach.

13: Kingston, Jamaica (KIN) – 933,000 flight searches

Kingston is another Caribbean destination that’s a big hit with New Yorkers. But though Kingston is where the airport is at, travelers looking for a true Caribbean experience will want to get out of Jamaica’s cluttered capital and instead explore other hot spots in eastern Jamaica, like the resort town of Ocho Rios.

A 1.5-hour drive north of Kingston, Ocho Rios is one of Jamaica’s top tourist destinations. Travelers flock to this former fishing village to see its picturesque bay, lounge on its beaches and to explore the surrounding forested coastline.

JetBlue, Caribbean Airlines and Fly Jamaica Airways all operate direct, four-hour flights to Kingston from JFK. As a result, virtually all flight searches from New York to Kingston (803,000 searches) have JFK as the departure airport.

Photo: Credit: Christopher/Flickr CC BY-SA Caption: See 4 more photos and 1 traveler experience on Ocho Rios.

12: Chicago, Illinois (MDW and ORD) – 951,000 flight searches

New York to Chicago is the busiest air route in America by number of flights scheduled daily, almost 200, but it’s only the 12th most popular end-point for fliers from New York. Like Atlanta, Chicago is another example of a city with a major hub airport, in this case O’Hare, that sees a lot of transit traffic.

Of its two airports, O’Hare and Midway, almost five times the amount of travelers fly to O’Hare from New York, with 43% of travelers departing from LaGuardia. But if Chicago is your final destination, you may want to check on fares to Midway as they can be significantly cheaper and the airport is located closer to The Loop.

Unfortunately, both O’Hare and Midway are pretty terrible when it comes to on-time performance with only 69% and 68% of flights departing on time. Maybe there’s something to that Windy City moniker after all? But when travelers aren’t stranded in its two airports, they have all of America’s Second City to explore. A trip to Chicago could go any number of ways. You could check into the W Chicago - Lakeshore and spend your trip exploring the vast art collection at the nearby Art Institute of Chicago. Or you could go lowbrow, stuff your face with deep-dish pizza, catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and have a brew at a sports bar in Wrigleyville. Photo: Credit: Arnold Gatilao/Flickr Caption: See 3 more photos and 1 traveler experience on the Art Institute of Chicago.

11: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (POP and STI) – 1.12 million flight searches

Puerto Plata gets a lot of visitors from New York – the first destination on this list with over a million searches – and for a good reason, its resorts and beaches are top-notch! Even though the weather is warm throughout the winter, Puerto Plata actually sees as many flight searches by New Yorkers in the summer months as during the winter.

Two airports travelers can choose from when flying to Puerto Plata are the Puerto Plata Airport (POP) and the Santiago Airport (STI), an hour’s drive to the south. Most traffic (879,000 searches) goes to the Santiago Airport, as both JetBlue and Delta operate direct flights to Santiago out of JFK.

From there it’s a one-hour drive north to the sparkling sands and mega resorts of Puerto Plata. If you’re looking for deserted beaches and an authentic Dominican experience, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you’re more of the pool bar and nightlife type, your search is over.

Photo: Credit: Mercedes Ramirez Guerrero/Flickr Caption: Near Riu Bachata and not far from Puerto Plata.

10: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ) – 1.16 million flight searches

On the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. Seriously, with over 30,000 hotel rooms in the area and more than a million airfare searches from New York in 2013 alone, travelers looking for a serene vacation would have better luck in Cancun! But it’s popular for a reason: its coastline packed with resorts, powder-sand beaches and golf courses is pretty spectacular.

Most travelers flying to Punta Cana from New York depart from either JFK or Newark’s Liberty. United has direct flights from Newark, taking approximately four hours, while both JetBlue and Delta offer regular non-stop flights from JFK.

Photo: Credit: Ted Murphy/Flickr Caption: Poolside at Excellence Punta Cana.

9: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ) – 1.25 million flight searches

The third (and last) Dominican destination on this list, Santo Domingo has a air traffic profile very similar to Punta Cana: direct flights by Delta and JetBlue from JFK and by United from Newark. That said, more than twice as many travelers fly to Santo Domingo from JFK as they do from Newark, with JFK accounting for 844,000 of the 1.25 million airfare searches. But while its traffic profile is similar, the city of Santo Domingo itself is a bit different than the other Dominican locales previously featured. For instance, Santo Domingo is known more for its vibrant culture and historic district than for its beaches, and makes for an altogether more authentic experience than either Punta Cana or Puerto Plata. Photo: Credit: Richie Diesterheft/Flickr Caption: Parque Colón in Santo Domingo.

8: San Francisco Bay Area, California (SFO, OAK and SJC) – 1.4 million flight searches

Travelers are spoiled for choice when flying to the San Francisco Bay Area. Its three major airports – San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose – are served by dozens of airlines. For travelers flying out of New York, however, San Francisco International Airport is by far the most popular choice, as it gets more than ten times the search queries of Oakland or San Jose.

The good news is that all three Bay Area airports have a much better track record than New York’s three airports when it comes to getting planes out on time. Both Oakland and San Jose have managed to attain a more than 80% on-time rate, while SFO clocks in at 75.54% on time. So even if your flight out of New York gets delayed, at least you can expect to get back home on time.

One interesting way to spend your time in the Bay Area is to take a road trip to one of the many charming small towns just north of San Francisco. Point Reyes Station in Marin County is a nature lover’s paradise with its abundant kayaking and hiking opportunities. Another good choice, especially for foodies, is the town of Guerneville in the scenic Russian River Valley, 1.5 hours outside of San Francisco.

Photo: Credit: Joe Parks/Flickr Caption: Read Hopper's travel guide to Point Reyes Station.

7: Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) – 1.45 million flight searches

Key Largo, Montego… you know the rest. Situated on the northwestern coast of Jamaica, on the exact opposite side of the island from Kingston, Montego Bay is Jamaica’s most popular tourist destination. What’s all the fuss about? It must be something in the water. Or what surrounds the water, like beaches, friendly locals and green forested hills.

Though a lot of visitors arrive to MoBay (that’s what the cool kids call it) via cruise ship, there were almost 1.5 million searches for flights from New York in 2013. Approximately 900,000 of these searches had JFK as the origin airport, in large part because Delta, JetBlue and Caribbean Airlines all offer non-stop, four-hour flights from JFK to MoBay.

Photo: Credit: Sarah Ackerman/Flickr Caption: See 31 more photos and 11 traveler experiences on Montego Bay.

6: San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) – 1.76 million flight searches

Over two percent of all flight searches from New York are for flights to San Juan, which makes it the Caribbean destination of choice for New Yorkers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that New York has a large Puerto Rican expat population and Puerto Rico is easily the most accessible Caribbean Island, which makes it difficult to resist during the cold New York winters. Once on the ground in San Juan travelers can either hit the beach or go to historic Old San Juan. Both have ample appeal, but it’s Old San Juan and its colorful architecture that truly makes the city stand out in the crowded Caribbean tourist market. Like many destinations so far, most fliers travel to San Juan from JFK, with the airport accounting for 925,000 of the destination’s total flight searches. Newark Liberty is the second airport of choice with 530,000 searches to San Juan. Photo: Credit: Jeff Gunn/Flickr Caption: See 9 more photos and 1 traveler experience on Old San Juan.

5: Cancun, Mexico (CUN) – 1.87 million flight searches

Though it does see a small uptick during the spring – Spring Break, woo! – Cancun is a popular destination for New Yorkers throughout the year. And why shouldn’t it be? It has everything that travelers could want from a holiday: beaches, all-inclusive resorts and a pumping nightlife.

Those looking for something a bit more authentic and to get away from the crowds and parties of Cancun, however, do have a few options in the area. Chichen Itza and its Mayan pyramids are only a few hours inland, while Playa del Carmen and Cozumel are beachy alternatives to the south that are a bit quieter than Cancun.

Flight searches to Cancun from New York are split pretty evenly between Newark Liberty and JFK, with each airport accounting for roughly 770,000 searches in 2013. JetBlue, American and Aeromexico all fly non-stop from JFK, while United makes the trip from Newark in 4.5 hours.

Photo: Credit: jarnocan/Flickr CC BY-SA Caption: The beach in Cancun’s “Hotel Zone.”

4: Orlando, Florida (MCO) – 2 million flight searches

Of course Orlando is a popular destination for fliers – after all, it is the home of Mickey Mouse and Disney World. The world’s premier family travel destination, there’s an almost endless amount of fun to be had in the Orlando area. But after a few tiring days at Universal Studios, Disney World and SeaWorld even the most fun-loving parent may need a break. So leave the kids with the hotel babysitter and go out for a night on the town. Not a real town mind you, but Downtown Disney, an adult-oriented nightlife village that has restaurants, bars and a House of Blues in a theme park setting.

Demand for flights to Orlando from New York is divided evenly among New York’s three airports, with Newark holding a slight edge over LaGuardia. Somewhat impressively, JetBlue flies non-stop to Orlando from all three major New York airports.

Photo: Credit: Doug Kline/Flickr Caption: See 18 more photos and 4 traveler experiences on Universal Studios Orlando.

3: Greater Los Angeles, California (LAX, BUR, LGB, ONT and SNA) – 2.35 million flight searches

When you include Orange County, the Los Angeles area is served by five airports that together account for 2.89% of all flight searches out of New York. Unsurprisingly, LAX is the most popular of these airports by far, accounting for almost 2 million searches by itself. Travelers can fly non-stop to LAX from Newark with Virgin America, United or American, but there are also non-stop flights out of New York to Orange County’s Long Beach and John Wayne airports. As for which Los Angeles airport is better suited for travelers, well, they’re all pretty good when it comes to on-time performance. Each has an on-time departure rate of over 80%. But, because it’s LA, even the most convenient airport is still terribly inconvenient when you don’t have a car. So your first order of business should be to rent one. Photo: Credit: Slices of Light/Flickr Caption: See 2 more photos and 2 traveler experiences on Griffith Park.

2: Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS) – 2.45 million flight searches

Las Vegas takes the number two spot in our ranking of the 15 most popular destinations for New Yorkers, with an astounding 2.45 million flight searches each year from NYC. Travel is split pretty evenly between the three New York airports, though fliers departing from LaGuardia will typically encounter at least one connection on their way to Las Vegas. Fliers out of JFK, on the other hand, have their pick of the litter with JetBlue, American, Virgin America and Delta all offering non-stop flights to Las Vegas from JFK. Of course, everyone knows that the casinos and glitzy glamor of the Strip are the big draws to Las Vegas, but there are also lots of off-the-beaten-path attractions to enliven one’s trip to Sin City as well. For instance, the city has a wonderfully odd collection of offbeat museums that includes an atomic testing museum, a neon sign graveyard and a pinball hall of fame. Another cool idea is to rent a car and explore some of the great national parks near Las Vegas: Death Valley, Zion and the Grand Canyon. Photo: Credit: Gary Bembridge/Flickr Caption: Read Hopper's article on 5 offbeat museums in Las Vegas.

1: Miami, Florida (MIA and FLL) – 3.12 million flight searches

Miami coasts to the number one position on our ranking of the most popular destinations from New York airports with over 3 million flight searches in 2013 alone! That’s 670,000 more searches than Las Vegas!

Two major airports in the Miami metro compete for travelers: Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Miami International (MIA). And they’re pretty evenly matched too. Not only do both airports have a similar on-time departure rate in the high 70s, but each accounts for approximately 1.5 million flight searches from New York to the Miami area.

There’s little doubt that once travelers land in Miami they’ll make a beeline for the beach, with South Beach being the obvious choice. But there’s a lot more to do in South Beach than just lounging on the sand. For instance, travelers could hit the nightclubs on Ocean Drive or check out the Bass Museum of Art, which hosts a wonderful collection of contemporary art in a striking art-deco, postmodernist building.

Photo: Credit: Enesse Bhé/Flickr CC BY-SA Caption: See 16 more photos and 5 traveler experiences on the Bass Museum of Art.

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