World’s Worst Airports

2011
05.26

Bing Travel did a piece on the world’s worst airports, and since I’ve flown through many of them I wanted to share my thoughts. I also noticed that America has 7 of 15 on the list. I’m not sure whether to be proud of that or not. haha

Worst weather: Chicago O’Hare International

It’s true; O’Hare can get some nasty weather. And being such a big airport, weather makes a big mess. Avoid this by flying through Midway instead. It’s closer to the city, and a much better traveling experience.

Worst delays: London Heathrow International

I’ve only flown through here once, but had the opposite experience. I was flying from Brussels back to ATL. In order to get a reasonable fare, I had to fly through London by going into Heathrow and out of Gatwick. The weather in London was terrible; as foggy as one would guess it to be, and thus there were many delays…but not for us. I’ll never forget looking out the window of the plane as we were descending, with the air so thick I could barely make-out the wing tip. As we were dropping, I kept waiting for us to break-out of the clouds. I looked back inside the cabin for just a split second and SLAM! we were on the ground.  Even as we’re moving down the taxiway, you could hardly see past the wing; no joke…pea soup thick.  The pilots landed using an instrument approch and I heard that the plane had some kind of infrared camera that’s used on planes that make a lot of trips to London. We skipped to the front of the landing line, since lots of planes weren’t equipped with this gear and had to circle. Score! Since I flew out of Gatwick, I don’t have any idea what the departure delays looked like from Heathrow.

Worst delays: Newark Liberty International, N.J.

I travel to Newark a lot, and the delays are legendary. The first problem is air space. You’ve got Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK all within a 10 mile radius. That’s just not enough room for three airports, two of which are major international ports. Plus you’re right on the coast, so you get the weather associated with that. Flight time from EWR-ATL is 1:40, but flights are usually scheduled for 2:30 because everybody knows you’re going to taxi for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Hardest to navigate: Phoenix Sky Harbor International

Sky Harbor was a completely un-memorable experience for me. I went with a pretty big group (Hi, Adrian!), which might lead to issues…but I seem to recall coming and going pretty easily. If you can read a map, you’ll be fine.

Hardest to get to: Beijing Capital International

I’m confused by this one. Yes, PEK is out away from the city a bit, but they have a nice highway that’s a straight shot into the city. It may be time consuming, but it’s not “hard to get to”.

Dirtiest: Jakarta International, Indonesia

“…all the same problems as Moscow’s airport — and it’s in the tropics, so everything festers.” LOL I think I’ll try to avoid that one.

Most crowded: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International

Being my home airport, maybe I’m numb to this. Yes, it’s crowded. But I think the layout works well for managing this. They complain of long lines that I’ve just never experienced.

Ugliest airport: McCarran International, Las Vegas

The slot machines really are a bit insane.

Worst overall runner-up: John F. Kennedy International

You know the stereotype of rude New Yorkers that you see on TV? That’s who runs the airport. Need I say more? OMG What a ridiculous excuse for a modern airport! The layout is terrible, but could be manageable if the employees were helpful or the signs were informative. I fly through JFK because it’s easier to get international upgrades through there than flying directly from Atlanta. But the reason the seats are empty is that nobody else wants to fly through there either!

Worst overall: Paris-Charles de Gaulle

Can I get an “amen”?!?! CDG is indeed terrible. On my first trip to Europe, I was headed to Stockholm, with a connection through Paris. Our Delta flight from Atlanta was running late, but we hit the ground about 30 minutes before the Stockholm flight. Both legs were codeshares with Air France, so they knew we were on-board. There was a group of six of us all on the same itinerary, and we literally ran through the airport and got to the gate 10 minutes before the scheduled departure, only to find that the plane was GONE. They hadn’t just closed the doors. The flight had apparently left 10 minutes before we got there….a full 20 minutes early. Everyone else was there, so they figured they’d just move on along. They knew that six customers were on the way and would be there in time for the scheduled departure, but they left anyway. Thanks for that! So after a 9 hour flight, we had to wait 5 hours for the next flight to Stockholm. The Air France customer no-service people were obnoxious. They would pretend not to speak English so that they didn’t have to talk to us. They refused us access to the Air France lounge, telling us to go sit on the metal benches for 5 hours. And to top it off, they lost my luggage. I got it the next day, but after that experience I vowed to avoid CDG at all cost. So now unless I’m stopping in Paris, I fly through somewhere else. I guess we’re all happy; I don’t want to be there, and they clearly don’t want me there. :)

World's Worst Airports

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