Airports That Are Unreasonably Far From City Centres

On a journey home from the airport last year I shared a cab with a fellow passenger heading in the same direction. In the awkward small talk between two strangers he asked if I had heard of London Oxford Airport (OXF). “Oxford, in the UK?”, I asked in clarification. “Yes”, he chuckled.

For those not familiar with UK geography, Oxford is over 100km outside of London. A bold, if a little questionable, effort by the airports marketing team.

It would appear Oxford is not alone. See: Paris Vatry (XCR)¬†– 161km to Paris, Oslo Torp (TRF) – 119km to Oslo, or¬†Munich West (FMM) – 115km to Munich, as examples. Arguably none of these are considered their cities “main” airport, however.

Such extreme journeys got me thinking; where are the shortest and longest transfer distances from airports to the cities they serve?

Methodology

To obtain a list of cities for analysis I used¬†Euromonitors’ “Top 100 City Destinations Ranking“. I chose such a list¬†because passengers will expect good infrastructure from heavily travelled destinations and many will be places readers¬†have, or are intending to, visit.

Using EuroMonitors list of cities I then found the closest major airport using a Google search. If there are multiple main airports in a city, airports with the highest yearly passenger volume were selected.

I then used the reported co-ordinates of the geographical centre of each city using a WorldMaps dataset. Similarly, I used the geographical centre of a cities corresponding airport from the OpenFlights dataset to calculate the shortest route by distance on Google Maps using a car from airport to city.

Regional Distribution of Euromonitor Top 100 Cities 2014

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It is important to note we are only considering the Top 100 tourist destinations as reported by Euromonitor. This does add some bias to the analysis with 70% of the cities considered located in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Analysis

All airports by distance to their cities

km to City Centre by Road Euromonitor Top 100 2014

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km to City Centre by Road Euromonitor 100

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km to City Centre by Road Euromonitor Top 100 2014 histogram

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Did you know? The large majority of Top 100 cities are served by airports within 50km by road to their closest main airport.

Based on the shortest road journey by distance (not time) you will need to travel a median distance of 20km from a main airport to its city (50 of the 100 cities are within 20km of their main airports).

Not all¬†cities¬†on this top 100 list had their own¬†airport.¬†The two cities with the longest connection between airport and city — Andorra la Vella, Andorra (TLS) (194km) and Edirne, Turkey (BOJ) (177km) — are both served by airports¬†from other cities. These two destinations received¬†2.4MM, and 3.1MM tourists respectively, with visitors¬†having to endure connections of around 3-4 hours by car (assuming a 50km/h average speed)!

Best airports by distance to their cities

km to centre (road) rank City Main Airport km to centre (road)
1 Jeju CJU 2.5
2 Heraklion HER 2.9
3 Mexico City MEX 5.3
4 Lisbon LIS 5.9
5 Mumbai BOM 6.5
5 Punta Cana PUJ 6.5
7 Ho Chi Minh City SGN 7.4
7 Nice NCE 7.4
9 Sofia SOF 7.5
10 Florence FLR 8.5

Full table.

Did you know? The airports closest to the main cities they serve are: 3. MEX (5.3 km to Mexico City), 2. HER (2.9km to Heraklion), 1. CJU (2.5km to Jeju).

Worst airports by distance to their cities

km to centre (road) rank City Main Airport km to centre (road)
91 Seoul ICN 48.8
92 Milan MXP 50.3
93 Jerusalem TLV 54.2
94 Kuala Lumpur KUL 66.4
95 Halong HPH 69.8
96 Artvin BUS 77.4
97 Mugla DLM 94.4
98 Makkah JED 103
99 Edirne BOJ 177
100 Andorra la Vella TLS 194

Full table.

Did you know? The airports furthest away from the main cities they serve are: 3. JED (103km to Mekkah), 2. BOJ (177km to Edirne), TLS (194km to Andorra la Vella).

Best regions for airports by distance to their cities

Min, max, median km from main airport to city by region Euromonitor Top 100 Cities 2014

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The median distance from a main airport to the city its serves for each world region is less than 40km. If a short car journey is important, a destination in Australia and New Zealand, Central and South America, or Africa would be a good choice (median distance = 15km from main airport to city).

Secondary ‘airports’

Many budget airlines also use secondary airports, London Luton (LUT) or London Oxford Airport (OXF) around London for example. Secondary airports offer airlines lower operational costs compared to more central, main, airports thus ensuring they can maintain the cheapest fare. Consequently they are typically even further away from the city increasing travel times to and from the airport.

Improvements

To get a wider view I downloaded a dataset from OpenFlights listing 8108 airports and their latitude and longitude. I cross reference the cities listed in this dataset for each airport with cities listed in the WorldMaps dataset used earlier. 2231 cities matched between the two datasets.

I then looked at the point-to-point (as the crow flies) distance between two co-ordinates (city and airport) using a Haversine calculation for these 2231 cities and airports. Obviously the resulting distance from this calculation will be much less than actual road distance.

From these 2231 cities and airports I¬†get a median point-to-point distance¬†of¬†just over 7.1km from airport to city — about 13km less than the median distance by road for the Top 100 cities.

There are a number of different factors that could explain for this, in addition to the difference in calculation. Smaller cities often have more centrally located airports because of low building density, for example.

tl;dr

  • 3 airports are over 100km by car from the cities they serve: 3.¬†JED (103km to Mekkah), 2. BOJ (177km to Edirne), TLS (194km to Andorra la Vella).
  • If you’re visiting a top 100 destination, the median¬†distance from a cities main airport to the city centre is about 20km.
  • A¬†destination in Australia and New Zealand, Central and South America, or Africa would be a good choice if a short journey to and from the airport is important (median distance =¬†15km¬†from main airport to city).

Acknowledgements

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Passport Power Rank 2016

If you have a visa or visa-free access to enter a country your journey through a border is often much easier.

As the modern world becomes ever more interconnected one would expect an increase of visa-free travel relationships between countries. But with the seemingly growing list of conflicts such freedoms can vary significantly depending on nationality.

So which country has the most powerful passport for visa-free travel?

Methodology

Each year Henley & Partners¬†publishes a “Visa Restriction Index”,¬†a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy.

Points are awarded to countries for the number of destinations that offer visa-free travel to their citizens. e-Visas are treated the same as visas on arrival. Where the conditions for obtaining an e-visa are straightforward (fee, return ticket, hotel reservation), a visa-free point was assigned.

Analysis

Best and worst passports for travel

Country visa free count 2016 map

Full-size map.

Visa-free Rank Country Visa-free Destinations for Citizens
1 Germany 177
2 Sweden 176
3 Italy 175
3 France 175
3 Spain 175
3 Finland 175
3 United Kingdom 175
8 United States 174
8 Denmark 174
8 Belgium 174
8 Netherlands 174

Visa-free Rank Country Visa-free Destinations for Citizens
188 Palestine, State of 37
188 Sudan 37
188 Eritrea 37
188 Nepal 37
188 Ethiopia 37
188 Iran, Islamic Republic of 37
194 Libya 36
195 Syrian Arab Republic 32
196 Somalia 31
197 Iraq 30
198 Pakistan 29
199 Afghanistan 25

Full list.

Citizens in Western countries enjoy the most freedoms to travel. The top 10 countries by number of visa-free destinations for passport holders consists mostly of European nations.

No European countries in the bottom 10 list of countries for visa-free travel, however. Sadly, many Middle Eastern and African countries that have suffered war and poor international relationships make up most of this list.

Did you know? Citizens of North Korea can travel to 42 countries without a visa (should they be granted permission to travel). Surprisingly, 20 other countries have fewer visa-free destinations than North Korea.

Year-on-year changes

Total of Visa Free Relationships by Year

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Visa-free travel between countries has increased from 18,003 in 2013 to 19,072 in 2016, with a slight dip between 2014 and 2015.

2016 - 2013 Change in Visa Free Destinations for Citizens by Country

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Of 199 countries between 2013 – 2016, 25 countries saw places their citizens can visit without a visa decrease, 13 had no change, and 161 saw an increase.

Out of the 25 of the countries that saw visa-free travel reduce, 16 were African. Comparing all African countries, it is the only region to see a decrease between 2013 Р2016 for visa-free travel.

Regional differences

Cumulative total of visa-free destinations by region by year

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Citizens of the 27 EU member states automatically qualify for the largest freedom of movement anywhere in the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, cumulatively European citizens enjoy the fewest travel visa requirements to travel worldwide (note, the European region includes 22 non EU nations).

Region Count of countries
Middle East 13
Africa 53
Americas 35
Asia and the Pacific 50
Europe 49

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However, the cumulative number of visa-free destinations does not take into account region size. Europe has the largest cumulative count of visa-free destinations, but it also contains the second largest number of countries.

Average adjusted visa-free destinations per country by region year

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Adjusting for countries in each region (cumulative visa free destinations per region / count of countries), European citizens still fare best in 2016, and all years post 2012 for that matter.

This adjustment also highlights¬†the fact large differences in visa restrictions between regions. On average in 2016, African citizens could travel to about 53 countries without a visa. In contrast European citizens could visit 146 destinations without a visa — a massive difference even when you ignore the EU freedom of movement area.

Improvements

Visa-free travel represents only part of the movement of people around the world. Consequently, numbers on all types of entries by country would be very interesting to compare, for example; what countries issue the most business / tourism / long-term visas etc?

tl;dr

  • The passports that have the most¬†visa-free destinations¬†for holders in 2016 from a total of 199 countries: 1. Germany (177), 2. Sweden (176), 3. Italy, France, Finland, UK (175).
  • The passports that have the least visa-free destinations¬†for holders in 2016 from a total of 199 countries: 197. Iraq (30), 198. Pakistan (29), 199. Afghanistan (25).
  • European citizens enjoy the least travel restrictions being allowed to travel, on average, to 146 countries without requiring a visa. Citizens of African nations on the other hand fare the worst, with only 53 countries welcoming them without a visa.

    Acknowledgements

Check If A Hotels WiFi Sucks Before It’s Too Late

Heated pool? Cable TV? Ghosts in the reception hall?

There are lots of factors you can use to rank hotels thanks to online reviews, but for both business and leisure travellers alike WiFi download speed is often one of the most important.

The problem is that many hotels don’t really seem to care about connection quality. Slow WiFi is arguably worse than no WiFi.¬†As long as a hotel can display¬†that little ‚ÄúWiFi Available‚ÄĚ box on the amenities list, they‚Äôre happy. And travellers think they will be too… until they arrive and realise that anything more than checking email is going to be a problem.

Thankfully HotelWiFiTest is continually crowdsourcing data on hotel WiFi speeds so you can be confident you’ll be able to stream the latest TV series from your room.

So which hotels should you avoid?

Methodology

Using a Python script I scraped data from HotelWiFiTest. Data was collected for the following cities: London (384 hotels), New York (321), Bangkok (242), Paris (240), Berlin, Barcelona (196), Singapore (136), and San Francisco (134). In total WiFi data from 1890 hotels was collected.

HotelWiFiTest provides an expected speed in Mbps for each hotel. This indicates the speed you would likely get at a randomly chosen time of the day.

Hotel WiFi Speed Confidence Percentage Distribution May 2016

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The site allocates a confidence score to each result, that is a value showing how thoroughly the WiFi has been tested at the hotel. The confidence value depends on several factors, including the number of speed tests taken, how recently the tests occurred, and the diversity of tests in terms of the time of day, day of the week, and point within the travel season.

Out of the 1890 hotels, the mean confidence score was slightly less than 25%. Only 828 hotels had a confidence score above 25%. More than¬†450 hotels had a confidence score less than 7.5%. For the purpose of this analysis we only considered hotels with a confidence score greater than 30% — 644 hotels in total.

Hotel Wifi Speed Expected dl Mbps Distribution May 2016

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Of the remaining 644 hotels, 412 had download speeds slower than 10 Mbps.

In addition to HotelWifiTest data I used Akamai’s, “Q4 2015 State of the Internet” report, that contained average¬†internet download speeds by country for comparison.

Hotel room rates used are the cheapest available based on average rates for a standard room on Tripadvisor.

Analysis

Cities with best hotel Wifi Speeds

Rank (Mean d/l speed) City Mean Hotel WiFi Download Speed Mbps Median Hotel WiFi Download Speed Mbps Country Mean Download Speed Mbps Q4 2015 Hotels Tested
1 London 20.88 11.30 13.90 384
2 Barcelona 17.23 11.85 12.10 196
3 Berlin 12.02 6.95 12.90 237
4 New York 11.67 5.60 14.20 321
5 Paris 10.56 4.40 8.90 240
6 Singapore 9.06 6.70 13.90 136
7 Bangkok 8.91 6.50 9.30 242
8 San Francisco 6.88 4.30 14.20 134

See calculations.

London comes out as the best city for hotel download speeds (by mean d/l speed) of those considered with a mean figure of 20.88 Mbps (median of 11.30 Mbps) for the 384 hotels considered.

San Francisco, a city bubbling with some of the latest and greatest internet technologies fares worst with a mean download speed of only 6.88 Mbps. To put that into comparison, the average download speed within the United States is 14.20 Mbps.

Did you know? The country with the fastest average download speed can be found in South Korea — 26.7 Mbps (Akamai Q4 2015).

Best hotels for Wifi download speeds

Rank (Hotel WiFi Speed Expected d/l Mbps) Hotel Name Hotel City Hotel WiFi Speed Expected d/l Mbps Hotel WiFi Speed Confidence Percentage
1 The Mark New York 235.00 59.70%
2 every hotel Piccadilly London 201.00 57.30%
3 Amba Hotel Charing Cross London 178.00 58.50%
4 Thistle Marble Arch London 145.00 53.00%
5 Sofitel London St James London 119.00 58.80%
6 Hotel Costes Paris 112.00 53.90%
7 Ham Yard Hotel London 88.70 60.00%
8 Hotel Crowne Plaza Berlin City Center Berlin 80.50 51.00%
9 Barcelona City Centre Hostal Barcelona 71.30 54.40%
10 San Francisco Marriott Marquis San Francisco 67.10 57.90%

Full table.

Confidence is relatively high for the top 10 hotels, all above 50%. 6 hotels have reported speeds of above 100 Mbps, 4 of which are in London, UK.

The Mark, New York and every hotel Piccadilly, London have estimated download speeds of over 200 Mbps — plenty of bandwidth to stream video (even at 4K resolutions).

Download speeds drop off quickly though¬†—¬†for hotels ranked below 25th¬†speeds are below 50 Mbps.

Worst hotels for download speeds

Rank (Hotel WiFi Speed Expected d/l Mbps) Hotel Name Hotel City Hotel WiFi Speed Expected d/l Mbps Hotel WiFi Speed Confidence Percentage
635 Hotel Observatoire Luxembourg Paris 0.37 37.30%
636 Hotel Xenia London 0.35 31.90%
637 Hotel Paris Louis Blanc Paris 0.32 30.50%
638 Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum London 0.31 41.00%
638 Journeys London King’s Cross Hostel London 0.31 35.50%
640 Park Plaza Wallstreet Berlin Mitte Berlin 0.30 41.60%
641 Novotel London City South London 0.29 33.00%
642 Victor’s Residenz Hotel Berlin Berlin 0.21 30.40%
643 Hotel Air in Berlin Berlin 0.15 33.50%
644 InterCityHotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof Berlin 0.08 36.90%

Full table.

The slowest hotel tested, the¬†InterCityHotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof (rank 644) in Berlin (ranked 3rd), had a download speed of only 0.08 Mbps — only slightly faster than dial up (0.056 Mbps). At this speed checking (a few) emails is about the best you’ll manage.

41 hotels have an expected download speeds slower than 1Mbps that would make even basic use of many sites frustrating (although YouTube recommends a minimum download speed of 0.5 Mbps).

Speed benchmark

10 Fastest Hotels May 2016 vs Country Download Speeds Q4 2015

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To put this in comparison, you can see how much faster the hotel connection speeds for the top 10 are compared to the average connection download speed for each hotels respective country. The hotel with the fastest expected speed, The Mark (New York), has a download¬†speed that’s over 220 Mbps faster than the average download¬†speed in the US according to Akamai (Q4 2015)!

10 Slowest Hotels May 2016 vs Country Download Speeds Q4 2015

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In contrast, the hotels with the slowest download speeds are in some cases well-over 100 times slower than the hotels with the fastest download speeds (and all significantly slower than their countries average download speeds).

Cost per Mbit

Top 10 Hotels With Fastest Download Speed Cost pMbit May 2016

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Top 10 Hotels With Slowest Download Speed Cost pMbit May 2016

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If you’re paying hundreds of GBP per night for a room you’d likely be expecting good WiFi speed as part of the service. You might even assume a linear relationship between money spent and download speed.

The average nightly room rate for the top 10 hotels with fastest download speeds is £212 GBP (range £62 Р£331 GBP), and £71.50 (range £16 Р£122 GBP) for the bottom 10 hotels. Although a small sample (only 20 hotels), this does indicate a relationship between hotel room rate and WiFi download speed.

At the hotels with the fastest download speeds the cost per Mbit (expected WiFi speed / average cheapest room rate) ranges between £0.83 Р£4.24 GBP. At the slowest hotels the lowest cost per Mbit is, at best, £16 GBP and, at worst, £122 GBP!

Neighbourhoods

Looking at this on a slightly more macro level, I wanted to know if the neighbourhood of a hotel had any bearing on the speed. For instance; would hotels found in business districts typically offer better download speeds?

London

Hotels with Wifi confidence greater than 30pc heatmap London

Download full map.

New York

Hotels with Wifi confidence greater than 30pc heatmap New York

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In the city with the largest number of hotels analysed, London (384 hotels), there is a spread of speeds across the capital. Although some of the fastest speeds are to found in the more traditional tourist areas of the West End, Victoria, and Marble Arch.

Similarly in¬†New York (321) the fastest download speeds can be found in areas with hotels geared mainly towards tourists — around Broadway. However, in New York the hotel spread is more dense when compared to London. This is because the layout of Manhattan being more compact than the urban sprawl of London.

Improvements

HotelWifiTest download speed data points are:¬†“the speed you would likely get at a randomly chosen time of the day”.¬†Clearly more detailed data on WiFi speeds would increase the accuracy of any analysis.

It would also be interesting to compare average room rates for all hotels and see how strong the correlation between room rate and hotel WiFi download speed really is.

tl;dr

  • If you want a blazing fast connection go to The Mark, New York, where the expected WiFi download speed is 235 Mbps. You’ll pay for it though. Prices from ¬£332 per/night (TripAdvisor – checked May 2016).
  • London hotels offer the best average WiFi download speed at¬†20.88 Mbps.
  • Generally you’re probably best staying in hotels located within a cities tourism district for the best WiFi download speeds.

Acknowledgements

  • HotelWiFiTest for putting together a great public resource for checking hotel WiFi speeds (you should contribute when you can)
  • Akamai for their brilliant “State of the Internet” quarterly reports (I used Q4 2015 for this post).
  • …and finally¬†TripAdvisor for hotel room rate figures.

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