The following is a list of the 20 smallest major airports in the USA ranked by their total land area. A minimum of 500,000 passenger enplanements was required to be included. As can be seen, some very busy and important airports are identified in the list. Please keep in mind that enplanements are just those flying from the airport – typically, total passengers arriving and departing is roughly double enplanements.
Five of the airports listed are in Southern California (Costa Mesa, Burbank, San Diego, Palm Springs, and Long Beach) and three are situated in the Greater New York City region (La Guardia, White Plains, and Long Island).
As is evident from the aerial photos included with the post, most of these airports have been surrounded by development, which limits their long-term growth potential and ability to adapt to new aircraft. It also can lead to friction between the airport authority and neighbors due to aircraft noise, traffic, and hours of operation. This can lead to costly litigation, noise abatement, or land acquisition.
While not every city has oodles of excess land available to construct a new airport (a la Denver or Dallas-Fort Worth), early and proactive regional planning efforts to properly channel and regulate development surrounding the airport in a manner which allows for increased aviation traffic is paramount to the long-term viability of the facility. Granted, in most of the cases listed in this post, hindsight is 20/20. Environmental, aviation, and land use restrictions can and will negatively the potential for future passenger and cargo growth. In some cases this limits the facility to serve only domestic flights, limited-distance flights, or in multiple airport metropolitan regions as a reliever or secondary airport.
- Costa Mesa/Orange County (John Wayne), California: 500 acres = 4,584,147 enplanements (2014)
- Burbank (Bob Hope), California: 610 acres = 1,928,491 enplanements (2014)
- Chicago (Midway), Illinois: 640 acres =10,318,311 enplanements (2014)
- San Diego (Lindbergh), California: 661 acres = 9,333,152 enplanements (2013)
- New York City (La Guardia), New York: 680 acres = 13,415,797 enplanements (2014)
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: 680 acres = 657,650 enplanements (2013)
- White Plains (Westchester County), New York: 702 acres = 770,550 enplanements (2013)
- Washington (Reagan National), DC: 733 acres = 10,057,794 enplanements (2014)
- Lihue, Hawaii: 879 acres = 1,315,141 enplanements (2013)
- Lexington (Blue Grass), Kentucky: 911 acres = 604,091 enplanements (2013)
- Palm Springs, California: 940 acres = 876,428 enplanements (2013)
- Burlington, Vermont: 942 acres = 640,790 enplanements (2013)
- San Jose (Mineta), California: 1,050 acres = 4,621,003 enplanements (2014)
- Long Beach, California: 1,166 acres = 1,438,948 enplanements (2013)
- Norfolk, Virginia: 1,300 acres = 1,663,294 enplanements (2013)
- Dallas (Love Field), Texas: 1310 acres = 3,783,407 enplanements (2013)
- Islip/Long Island (MacArthur), New York: 1,311 acres = 662,612 enplanements (2013)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Florida: 1,380 acres = 11,987,607 enplanements (2014)
- Cleveland (Hopkins), Ohio: 1,402 acres = 3,686,315 enplanements (2014)
- Manchester, New Hampshire: 1,500 acres = 1,190,082 enplanements (2013)