Why Small Airports Can Work

For debating purposes, many people say that small airports are not as efficient. I loved my former local airport in Hibbing, Minnesota. There is one restaurant, one security check, and around 70 seats in the terminal. The airport has one small jetbridge and Delta serves it with a twice-daily service to and from MSP. The inside is very clean, and it shows that small airports work. Feel free to debate/comment!

Airport Requirements
Less than 7 gates
No more than 30,000 pax/year
No more than 10 daily flights
No more than two restaurants
No more than 2 security checkpoints

2 Gates
8900 pax/year
2 daily departures/arrivals
No restaurants
1 security check


Who says this?


I saw another post that said Hilton Head wasn’t efficient and it was a cluster.

Small airports are not so efficient because they are small.

Edit: I know what efficient means… maybe you don’t know what efficient is… think about it a little bit.

I work at a General Aviation airport, it works very well


I think that both large and small airports are efficient in their unique ways. Small airports have less passenger traffic which means less crowds. Large airports are of great size and can handle many passengers, and if the layout is right, they too can be very efficient.

KISP can be coined a “small airport” and it is very efficient. I’ve clocked curbside to airside in 9 minutes at that airport. KJFK too has efficient spots, especially T5 where I’ve clocked 7 minutes. Terminal 4, on the other hand, took me 1 hour 17 minutes once while at LGA, 48 minutes.

Both small and large airports have potential to be very efficient, but it boils down primarily to flight count, flight capacity, and staffing.


What airports do you count as a small one?

  1. 1 runway maximum
  2. Passengers capacity around 100,000 per year or less?
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I personally love smaller airports. Think about it, you can’t build a huge international airport in a mountain range, only small airports can give you the experience of flying to unique places.

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I’d say minimal Gates, only regional traffic, one RWY, etc.


Can you elaborate more? What are some facts or examples that show your claim is true?

  • Amount of Flights/Gates?

  • Layout?

  • Security Lines/Crowds of People?

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Well, then for example you can see how mountain countries use air traffic. It is more convenient and faster to travel straight by plane instead of driving hours around mountains.

How much road in the mountains will cost? Millions dollars I guess. You must clean the place first, deliver build materials, provide lighting and pay for annual repair.

And what about price of a small airport? Sometimes you just need to build only hangar and office building (2 floors maximum). And it will be much cheaper, more efficient and faster!

I don’t count the price of GA planes actually, but it can be pay off pretty soon.


At some places, you could arrive at the airport 15 mins before departure, and still make it on time. Security lines are amazingly fast and short at smaller airports.


I think some people don’t really understand what efficient means.

Could you elaborate on that?

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I think smaller airports are great!!. It’s feels way more private and checking in and security you fly through! I think there great!


Hibbing is part of the MN Delta network. They fly around Minnesota to and from MSP. I was possibly going to fly DEN-MSP-BRD but the times didn’t work so I’m flying to MSP and getting picked up by some family. Heading to opener fishing on Leech Lake. I bet you know where that is.

The small airports work well because there is a handful of people helping the airport work when there is only a few flights. The security is only open for the two flights which is not that long.

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Thanks for the feedback! I put guidelines above:)

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Yeah, the iron mines are always a fun site.

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Any airport can be efficient. At Terminal 1 (Southwest) at KLAX I got there at around 5:00am and got through security in under 5 mins.

Well, if it’s at 5am, the line is usually quick no matter where you go. But any time of the day, small airports typically have very minimal security times.