My main airport is a major airport but not as busy as the nearest hubs in YYZ or JFK, some busy routes to Europe and the US have direct flights but a lot of other flights (Asia, Latin America, Africa) have to transit through YYZ or some other US airport.

Flying directly out of a hub doesn't always seem to be cheaper than transiting through it and I would assume getting in and out of those takes longer because of their size and the amount of traffic they process.

For international flights, apart from the availability of direct flights and destinations, are there any significant advantages to living near a major airline hub ?

  • 5
    It would seem to me that the only difference between a major hub and a smaller regional airport is the availability of flights and destinations.
    – fkraiem
    Jul 15, 2016 at 13:54
  • 1
    There's a big advantage to flying out of a smaller airport: generally shorter waits! Jul 15, 2016 at 13:57
  • 5
    You get home straightaway without that excruciating last layover at the nearest hub and that (often) more cramped final flight. Jul 15, 2016 at 14:01
  • 2
    What is the problem that you want to solve here? Choosing a city to live or something else?
    – JonathanReez
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:33
  • @JonathanReez I'd try to find other ways to get closer to that hub instead of transiting which I find to be a pain, maybe taking the train instead and spending a couple of nights there
    – blackbird
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:39

3 Answers 3


As with most things there are things that are good and things that are bad about a hub.

  1. Hub airports offer more non-stops but they also tend to be significantly more expensive. In fact, a non-stop alone is often much pricier than the exact same flight as part of a connecting itinerary. Google "Hidden City Ticketing" for details. The difference can be substantial: For example I've seen AMS->BOS for about $1000 whereas DUS->AMS->BOS for about half of that, using the exact same flight for the AMS->BOS leg.
  2. You can focus on one airline and gain more status and frequent flyer benefits
  3. Hub airports tend to be bigger and have good infrastructure. However, that also means they can be slower and more clogged up with flight delays and security lines
  4. Hub airports tend to get priority when the airline has to deal with IROPS (irregular operations). Flights from/to very small airports are the first to be cancelled if there aren't enough starting or landing slots, gates, or crews.

It depends on what you consider 'advantageous'.

If you travel a lot on business, then living near a hub is is good because you're more likely to get a direct flight or at least fewer connections.

It's also easier to concentrate your flying to a single program to enhance your status and benefits.

O&D (Origin & Destination) at a hub really don't take much longer. Sure, the terminal might be more crowded but you learn to deal with that quickly enough.

An advantage of using a large, but non-hub, airport is you more free to choose the best routing, service and price from multiple carriers.

  • more likely to get a direct flight This leads to other benefits. (1) less chance of losing your luggage, (2) if your flight is delayed, there's no chance you'll miss subsequent flights since there are no subsequent flights, (3) if you're sick, flying is awful. The fewer flights the better. Jul 15, 2016 at 17:04
  • As far as status is concerned, why is it easier to concentrate on one airline at a hub? All I see that doing is limiting your choices of which airline to concentrate on (typically to 1, though sometimes to 2 in cases like ORD.) In fact, I'd say it's easier to earn status at a non-hub airport because you earn extra elite-qualifying miles for the extra flights to/from the hub, plus you have more choices regarding which airline you want to earn status with (assuming the airport is still large enough to have reasonable service from multiple carriers.)
    – reirab
    Jul 15, 2016 at 19:02
  • In the case of U.S. airlines, there is also typically a minimum number of elite-qualifying miles earned per segment (500 economy/750 premium cabin in the case of Delta, for example,) so you'd still earn at least 1,000 extra qualifying miles (and 2 extra qualifying segments) per round-trip, even if the hop to the hub is only a couple hundred miles.
    – reirab
    Jul 15, 2016 at 19:06

The waits are generally shorter in smaller airports, but when you want to go somewhere where flights only go from the larger airports you get an extra leg on your journey. Then it comes down to a matter of personal preference, will you rather spend more time in queues at the airport or more time in a plane (and waiting in an airport).

There are multiple factors and the answer might no be constant, one example: I know several people here in Denmark who have told about being rather annoyed going back from Asia because the plane flew over Denmark to LHR and then back, I don't think any of them ever complained about doing the same on the way out.

  • 3
    Surely every frequent traveller has on occasion noticed that the return route passes over or close to their home town or even their specific house, and wished for a parachute to save them the drive/bus/train/connection/whatever? ;-) Being close to the "wrong" airport is just a special case of not being close to the "right" one. Jul 15, 2016 at 15:56

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