While it’s nice to celebrate the best airports in the world, it’s equally important to call attention to the terrible airports, too. Jalopnik, the transportation-obsessed brother of Gawker, just released their list of “Ten of the Most Garbage Airports in the World” and it’s pretty much guaranteed to remind you of the time you went to LaGuardia and thought you got sucked into a timewarp back to 1986. The reasons range from the reasonable (signs in the Frankfurt airport are less than helpful) to the sensational (if you go to the Lagos airport after 9pm, you’ll be murdered), but all in all, it’s a decent list. I’ve added my own commentary for each entry.
10.) Washington-Dulles International Airport
They say: “It’s way out of the way, the terminals are spread far apart, and everyone’s rude.”
I say: At least there are Potbelly’s there. Dulles isn’t great, but it’s not the tenth worst airport in the world by any stretch of the imagination.
9.) Philadelphia International Airport
They say: “How bad is Philly’s airport? Let BigBlock440 put it in perspective for you: ‘My parents fly out of Newark so they don’t have to fly out of Philly.’ Yikes. That’s bad.”
I say: When I landed in Philly last year, I found out I had my first kidney stone. While the destination obviously didn’t create the stone, I’m not going to pretend like it’s completely unrelated*.
*It’s completely unrelated.
8.) Frankfurt Airport
“’Just follow the signs. Don’t think. Don’t apply logic. Just follow the sign. You will get to your destination. You might have to go through security 2-3 times, customs, passport control, tunnels, escalators, elevators, stairs and you feel that you have just walked to your final destination. But under no circumstances try to make sense of it. You will only get lost.’”
I say: Frankfurt is just jealous of Stuttgardt because their airport has an actual Michelin-starred restaurant in it. Don’t hate, Frankfurt. Innovate!
7.) LaGuardia Airport
They say: “Like its fellow NYC-area airports, LaGuardia is hard to get to but not only that, it’s tiny. It was built in the 1930s and is way too small to handle modern aircraft and modern traffic.”
I say: Preach, brothers. I hate LGA. While Newark is getting massive upgrades, LaGuardia is languishing.
They say: “One of the busiest airports in the world, in one of the most chronically congested areas in the world, with an incredibly rude staff. To its defense, there’s no way things aren’t going to be crazy there given the circumstances, but that still doesn’t mean I want to fly there.”
I say: LAX is my home airport. I fly in and out of there all the time. While the staff may not be as generally friendly as you find somewhere else, I find that it varies greatly by terminal. I think the AA staff does a great job while the Southwest and United staffs are a little more surly. Overall, I think LAX is a great airport and they’re doing even better now that they’ve upgraded so much of their food and beverage offerings.
5.) Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila
They say: A lot of things. The Jalopnik article cites a “departure tax” just for entering the airport, virtually non-existent concessions, very few outlets, and a phantom internet before describing some of the most stringest security practices in the world.
I say: The Philippines have never been too high on my list and I don’t plan to hit Ninoy Aquino International any time soon.
4.) Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya
They say: Due to a fire in the main international terminal a few years back, all of the flights now go through the old domestic terminal causing major delays and very limited access to bathrooms.
I say: Kenyans deserve better. Seems like hope is on the horizon, though, with a new terminal being built as we speak.
3.) O’Hare International Airport
They say: “O’Hare is easily the most hated airport in the US. If you’re traveling through here, plan for delays.
I say: Poppycock. I fly ORD all the time and while it has a bad reputation, I think it’s largely undeserved. With the best airport restaurant in the country and a mostly convenient layout once you’re in the terminals, this is an airport that does the best it can under highly strenuous circumstances.
2.) Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
They say: “After reading MD-GTI’s story about the airport in Lagos, you won’t ever complain about a reckless cab driver speeding their way to JFK:
“My parents worked for an embassy in Lagos over the course of 3 years. I would visit 1-2x per year and the experience never changed. Land and you are immediately greeted by chaos, humidity and the recognition that you are a very small minority is a sizable nation. The last point is made clear to you when you start hearing cat calls of Oyibo (loosely translated as skinless person/leper) echo down the hall as you walk to immigration. Where because we were diplomatic we bypassed the clusterfuck of bribery and outright robbery that happens before you even leave the airport.
Once out of the airport you are escorted by 4-6 armed men to a convoy of 3 bullet proof vehicles (usually Toyota/Nissan or US SUVs). PS the guys carrying the guns do not give you even the slightest sense of security as they are in their late teens/early 20s with no formal training. Once in the vehicle you rocket into the city going the wrong way on highways, driving on sidewalks and with your escort pointing their weapons at any car that approaches us.
The way out is even better with the scenario described above and the following two tidbits:
- You get dropped off before 9pm, no matter when your flight leaves because it is too dangerous to go to the airport at night.
- The 4 lane highway to the airport has purposely been destroyed to reduce traffic to a bottle neck where armed gangs pull over cars at their whim and, if you are lucky, rob you…if you are unlucky a lot worse happens fairly regularly.”
I say: I think I’ll stay away from Lagos for a while…
1.) Charles De Gaulle
They say: “Don’t try to catch a connecting flight at CDG. It won’t happen. Stop trying to make it happen. Also, good luck if you don’t speak French.”
I say: Just connected through CDG on my way to and from Lyon and I didn’t find it nearly this bad. Yes, going from gate to gate does take a considerable amount of time with a shuttle train and tons of walking, but it’s the biggest airport in a major transportation hub. What do you expect?
What are your least favorite airports in the world? I want to hear about them in the comments.