Traveling is stressful enough, and when you’re required to fly out of a crummy airport things are just that much worse. Between flight delays, cancelations, and weather interruptions, traveling can be a horrific experience.
Then there are factors like getting through TSA quickly enough, enduring icky bathroom facilities, or sitting for hours on the plane after landing because there are no unoccupied gates available. A disorganized airport is a traveler’s (and pilot’s) worst nightmare. Let’s take a look at some airports that are far from receiving five-star reviews from frequent flyers.
Zzzz… BWI Is A Snore
Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) is one of the worst, especially if you are traveling to/from Washington, D.C. It’s much closer to Baltimore and an entire 45 minutes outside of D.C., making it a major hassle to get to for Washingtonians and tourists alike.
It’s also the least enjoyable. There are few amenities and subpar food and drink options. If you have a long layover here, make sure you have your own entertainment and quality snacks on hand, because there is not a lot to see or do at BWI.
Avoid DFW During the Holidays
Dallas-Fort Worth International airport (DFW) is even more of a snoozefest. Depending on what terminal you are in, there is next to nothing to see or do. It’s also not the most convenient airport to get to from both Dallas and Fort Worth. DFW is almost 20 miles from Dallas and even farther from Fort Worth (30 minutes in low traffic).
DFW ranks as one of the worst to fly out of during holiday season with a reported cancellation rate of 5 percent in 2017.
Coming up: an airport that is far from the happiest place on Earth
At Least There’s A Starbucks… Or 6
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (also known as SeaTac) is small and often crowded because of its size and flight cancellation streaks. Travelers complain about the lack of food options as well. If you need a caffeine fix, however, you can rely on the fact that every other food place in each terminal is a Starbucks. It is Seattle, after all!
What SeaTac does have going for it is its distance from the city center. If you don’t feel like spending any more time than you absolutely have to there, catch a bus or rail downtown.
Up next: the Florida of airports
MCO or MC-No?
It’s not the worst and not the best. Orlando International Airport (MCO) is, well, the Florida of airports. As it is one of the busiest airports in the nation you should expect long lines, disorganized families wandering around wearing sandals and Mickey Mouse ears, and lots of noise.
MCO also ranks among the worst for getting through TSA, with an average waiting duration of 24.43 minutes. If traveling via MCO it’s best to not take any chances: show up at least a couple of hours before your flight to account for security lines.
Next up: an airport with some very interesting artwork
Not only is the Denver International Airport (DIA) one of the worst airports in America because of how far it is from the actual city of Denver (24 miles), it also happens to be the weirdest. The international hub has some, erm, interesting, murals that have sparked many conversations about alien imagery and the apocalypse.
One of the murals, titled “The Children of the World Dream of Peace,” features a sinister-looking soldier in the foreground. Conspiracy theorists propose it was secretly commissioned by the Illuminati and that it symbolizes American children submitting to Germany in WWII.
Pilots hate LaGuardia almost more than passengers do: “There is a reason us pilots refer to it as LaGarbage,” said one via Reddit. Another chimed in, saying, “It’s just a complete pain from 18,000 feet until you’re at the gate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. The airport is packed. The food sucks and it’s insanely expensive. There’s people everywhere. It’s old.”
LaGuardia isn’t fun for anyone. It’s ugly, crowded and an all-around rough experience. Unfortunately, anyone who travels will have to face it once in their lifetime. LGA is a necessary evil.
Next: NYC continues to disappoint
Dissatisfaction in NJ
A study by JD Power in 2018 ranked Newark Liberty International Airport in dead last among “mega airports” in terms of airport satisfaction. Over 40,000 travelers participated in the survey, condemning the airport in terms of terminal facilities, airport accessibility, security, baggage claim, check-in, and food, beverage, and retail.
Pilots hate it too. One reported on Reddit that excessive air traffic in the area causes regular delays: “someone farting in the wind could cause 2-hour delays up there,” said the pilot.
Rounding Out NYC Airports with JFK
New York cannot catch a break when it comes to its airports and JFK is no exception. JFK is the Times Square of airports minus the sparkly lights. It’s overly crowded, chaotic, disorganized and simply miserable. If there are major delays its terminals can get so crowded that travelers have no choice but to sit on the sticky floor.
It also takes an average of 68 minutes to get to from the center of the city. Poor NYC airports… If you can geographically, do yourself a favor and opt for Amtrak.
Reviewers are not happy that Charlotte Douglas International Airport has been a bit of a loud mess lately. This is because it is under construction that is supposed to go on until 2020 (at least it’s not a long-term issue?). Despite having acceptable performance for timely arrival and flight delays, the Charlotte airport also gets dragged for having sub-par amenities, but perhaps this will change once construction is done.
Pilots complain that Charlotte Douglas International has “congested and massive” taxi delays and “incompetent” ramp controllers.
Average In Boston
Like Orlando, Boston Logan International Airport isn’t terrible but it is not great, either. For the third year in a row it has ranked among the nation’s worst airports according to a JD Power survey. Boston Logan placed “above average” in almost every graded category.
Though the airport has been undergoing renovations for nearly a decade in an effort to keep up with traveler’s tastes and accommodate new airlines, the continuous construction earns it a bad rap. Tip: only check a bag if you absolutely have too. Waiting at baggage claim in Arrivals almost always takes forever.
Plagued By Traffic And Construction
The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is detested by travelers and pilots alike. One pilot said of LAX: “LAX is great if you don’t work, drive, or fly there.” Others complain regularly about the construction: “The whole airport has been a construction zone for as long as I can remember, with no end in sight.”
In addition to construction woes, traffic just outside the airport is just as bad as the traffic Los Angeles is notorious for. Because of this your friends probably will not want to give you a ride.
Delays, Delays, Delays
Traveling via San Francisco International Airport (SFO)? Check your flight schedule and be prepared to do some waiting. The Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report ranked SFO at the top of the list for delayed departures AND arrivals (Newark was a close second).
In addition to being one of the busiest airports in the United States, pilots say SFO has very crowded runways and airspace, which contributes to the heightened amount of delayed flights.
Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) is on this list because of how grossly inconvenient it is in terms of location. Unless you are in the area to spend time in Virginia, Dulles is anything but close to actual Washington, D.C.
The local metro has been building a silver line to make getting there from the city a little easier for several years now, but it won’t be ready anytime soon. Expect to pay an exorbitant Uber/Lyft/taxi fee if you are going anywhere north of Dulles.
International travelers beware…
Understaffed at Immigration
If you are traveling internationally you may want to avoid this airport. Two of the biggest complaints about Oakland International Airport in the San Francisco area are the inefficient process at immigration and the long waits at baggage claim.
Because of delays at immigration, passengers are forbidden to deplane after landing until things move forward… only to have to stand in line at immigration for even longer periods of time. Even after all of the time spent getting through immigration, you’re still stuck waiting for your bags for quite a while.
Vacation is Delayed
In 2018 Miami International Airport (MIA) was ranked the fifth worst airport in the country when it comes to flight delays. More than 20 percent of flights from MIA don’t leave on time, so expect your Caribbean vacation to be delayed, too.
One reviewer said MIA is the “worst airport in the modern world.” Other frustrations with this airport include cramped waiting areas, constant construction, broken toilets, dirty floors, and massive lines. As an added blow, travelers have to pay for Wi-Fi.
Even Worse Than MIA?
Like Miami International Airport, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) has a wretched track record for getting planes into the air on time. The two south Florida airports are really neck-in-neck when it comes to which is worse.
In 2018, 20 percent of arrivals and 21 percent of departures were delayed. The consistency of delays only causes a domino effect where every process from check-in to boarding gets delayed as well. All-in-all FLL makes travelers want a vacation from their vacation.
New Orleans Airport Needs Jazzing Up
The main issues travelers have with Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is its size and outdated interior. A Yelp reviewer explained that feels “old, dingy, and in need of some TLC.”
This airport is in dire need of an upgrade. A consistent issue with the New Orleans airport is lack of power outlets and its overall appearance. With some funding and renovations in order to give the airport a much-needed facelift, MSY’s reputation could make a quick turnaround.
Maybe $900 Mil Will Fix PHL’s Problems
No one enjoys Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). It’s rundown, its escalators break regularly, and flights are chronically delayed (the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that 21% of arrivals and 20% of departures have been delayed this year so far). The airport is highly sensitive to even the smallest weather event, earning it a spot on Priceonomics’ list of the worst major airports in the entire world.
There is change on the horizon, hopefully: through the next 15 years the airport is spending $900 million to improve its shabby facilities.
Timing is Everything
While Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) has good shopping and amenities for travelers with long layovers, it is hated for its eternally long security waits, confusing signage, and consistent flight delays. It’s also enormous and you need to take a train to get to further terminals. If you have a short layover, good luck making your connection!
Everyone from TSA to general staff members who work at O’Hare seem to be crabby, too. One passenger explained that they are “people who are clearly irritated working with the public and want you to know.”
A “Gulag Of An Airport”
Kansas City International Airport (MCI) in Missouri is a very small hub with even smaller bathrooms. Overall, travelers complain that it is dismal and unclean, a “gulag of an airport” as stated by one reviewer on Airlinequality.com.
Other reviewers write that the food options are limited and of poor quality. While the city of Kansas City is itself a stellar place to visit, its airport leaves a terrible first impression. As another reviewer put it: “The city is lovely. The airport is a deterrent to wanting to ever come back to the city.”