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10 Reasons to Avoid Newark Airport at All Costs

Newark Airport

Newark Liberty International Airport is located just west of Manhattan, across the Hudson River along the New Jersey Turnpike/I-95 corridor. The airport serves both the greater New York metro area and the greater Philadelphia metro area to its south.

Newark Liberty Airport was originally known as Newark Metropolitan Airport. And until 1939, when LaGuardia Airport was constructed just east of Manhattan, Newark Airport was the only available commercial airfield for New York City. The tragic hijacking/crash of United Airlines #93 on 9/11/01 led to the renaming of the airport to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

Newark Liberty Airport ranks among the busiest airports in the nation, serving 20+ million passengers in 2022 alone, based on the most recently announced passenger numbers released from the U.S. Dept of Transportation. In addition -

  • The airport covers 2,000+ acres and employs multiple runways, making it a vital gateway for the global air travel industry.
  • On average, about 1,200 domestic and international flights (offered by more than 30 different airlines) are scheduled to land and take off from Newark Liberty International Airport.
  • The airport features three terminals (A-C) and around 121 gates – with the addition of a new $2.5+ billion Terminal A that opened in 2023.

Newark Liberty Airport consistently ranks at the bottom of consumer surveys and brings up the rear when it comes to industry performance metrics. Passengers dread landing or leaving from Newark Liberty Airport, even with the addition of specialized amenities like pet relief areas and nursing suites - but why?

Why is Newark Airport So Bad?

According to the J.D. Power 2023 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, Newark Liberty International Airport landed at the bottom of the list of nearly two dozen North American airports with regard to overall traveler/consumer satisfaction. With a final score of 732 (out of a possible 1,000 customer satisfaction points), it was, by far, the lowest customer satisfaction ranking.

J.D. Power’s analysis ranked airports on six factors –

  • Arrivals/Departure.
  • Terminal Facilities.
  • Baggage Claim.
  • Security Check.
  • Check-In/Baggage-Check, and,
  • Food/Beverage/Retail Services.

Newark Airport’s reputation will likely need some time to start climbing out of the rankings’ basement, but it is important to give credit where credit is due. Despite coming in last in the rankings, Newark Liberty International Airport showed marginal improvement in its scores this year due to improved terminals, baggage claims services, and food/beverage options when compared to the previous year.

Kudos to Detroit Metro/Wayne County Airport (DFW) and Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP), who pulled in top honors on J.D. Power’s recent list.

The 10 Reasons to Avoid Newark Airport at All Costs

While opinions about airports can vary, most people who have had the experience of leaving, landing, or connecting through Newark Liberty Airport would have a hard time arguing with these valid reasons why Newark Airport is so bad -

10. Newark is Located in the Garden State – Affectionately Known as The Armpit of America.

The drive to, from, or even passing by the airport - along the turnpike includes unsightly oil refineries, factories, and the Port Authority of NY/NJ’s shipping ports. What’s worse is the giant smokestacks lining the turnpike near the airport that give off difficult-to-ignore, horrible odors that help make it hard to consider any other nickname for New Jersey.

It doesn’t help that if you look at a map, the location of New Jersey is truly shaped like the armpit of the lower 48 states.

9. Newark Airport is a Busy Hub, Which Causes Excessive Air Traffic Delays.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released current data from 2022 regarding air travelers who boarded planes at U.S. airports. The FAA notes that passenger levels were near all-time highs, with Newark Liberty Airport ranking as the 13th busiest in the nation, up one place from the previous year.

Lots of air traffic in one of the most densely populated locations in the country inevitably causes delays. To help with performance data, many planes at Newark Airport push off from the gate at their scheduled time so the flight can be marked ‘officially – on time, ‘only to sit and wait for departure on the tarmac.’ In addition, congestion causes frustrating delays when landing, as many planes and passengers are forced to ‘wait for a plane to clear the gate’ – in other words, several hundred people, especially during peak travel times, must wait for a parking space

Recently, Newark's primary landing runway (4R-22L) – which handles about 47% of the flight activity at Newark, reopened five days after a major$84+ million facelift, which should begin to help

8. Poorly Performing United Airlines is Newark Liberty Airport’s Primary Airline.

According to recently released data from the NY/NJ Port Authority, United Airlines accounts for 68% of flights at Newark Liberty Airport, with operations in each of the airport’s three terminals and solely occupying Newark Airport’s Terminal C. So, Newark Airport’s overall performance is inextricably tied to the performance of its main airline tenant.

While United Airlines points the finger of blame at the airport’s management, the airport does the same. However, it is noted that no other airline has chronic, time-sensitive delays at Newark Airport that come close to the level of United Airlines. So, it is hard to blame the airport’s air traffic controllers or weather conditions, with rumors flying about United Airlines’ inadequate crew scheduling and the company’s poor response to staff shortages and thunderstorms.

Three of the four nationwide airports with significant delays are United Airline hubs.

7. Free Wi-Fi Provided by Newark Liberty Airport is Helpful But Can Be Dangerous.

Newark Airport provides free Wi-Fi throughout its terminals to those waiting for flights and passengers. However, it is important to recognize that public networks, like free networks at airports, are far less secure than your home network and, therefore, should be used cautiously.

Remember, the airport is located in a city that has a long history associated with crime and corruption– much of it in and around the airport. The best way to stay safe from public Wi-Fi networks is to avoid using them; however, if you need to follow a sensible compromise – do NOT use a Public Wi-Fi that would transmit personal data. Use your cellular data as a viable mobile hotspot to send confidential or personal information instead.

To connect at Newark Liberty International Airport, sign on to the “Free EWR Wi-Fi” network and follow the prompts.

6. Newark Airport is Prone to Having Long Wait Times For Checking In and Passing Through Security.

In addition to a $120 million makeover in 2015 and the opening of a new multi-billion-dollar Terminal A in 2023, many travelers negotiating Newark Liberty Airport continue to be frustrated by incredibly long check-in and security gate lines. Often, to many trying to get on their plane, the traffic flow from check-ins and security lines was never accounted for in the planning stages. More often than not, passengers in line often spilled over to the main areas of the terminal with what appeared to be nothing more than an afterthought of the airport’s planning commission.

The best you can hope for is to be informed, so check with Newark Airport’s online security/customs wait time website or take advantage of TSA PreCheck and Preflight check-in options.

5. Getting to Newark Liberty International Airport can be Challenging.

Although the Airtrain monorail can be helpful in getting to, from, or within the airport when working, there are reports that there are excessive breakdowns, especially in the summer. The AirTrain, which is free to use when moving about the airport, operates all day and provides easy connections to N.J. Transit, PATH Trains, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, and North Jersey Coast Line rail lines.  

The simplest way to get from Newark Airport to downtown Manhattan, or vice versa, is by taking a taxi or rideshare service, although traffic may cause extreme delays depending on the time of day. Alternatively, you can take the AirTrain and transfer to a train or bus to Manhattan.

More good news for Newark Airport travelers – The Airtrain Newark Replacement Program takes a major step forward with the construction of new AirTrain technology and vehicles to replace the current system, which, at 28 years, is about to exceed its life expectancy.

4. Parking Fees At Newark Airport Are Relatively High.

Parking at Newark Liberty Airport has been, and always has been, challenging. Its location – a few miles from downtown Manhattan – within some of the densest population in the country makes the cost/value of any space in this area quite valuable. This, in turn, creates higher than usual fees to park your car at the airport.

Be aware that finding an onsite parking spot in this airport is challenging and expensive. And finding a parking spot becomes nearly impossible when searching during peak hours or in season. Newark Airport offers various parking options that include –

  • Short-Term - Short-term parking is the most expensive at $65 per day.
  • Economy Parking - Economy parking is the cheapest at $29 per day.
  • Daily Parking - Daily Parking is $40 per day. Daily Parking is available on and off-site at airport hotels and nearby commercial parking facilities.

The average cost of parking onsite at Newark Airport is about $44 per day.

Tips for Parking at Newark Liberty Airport

  • Cash payment is not available in short-term and daily lots.
  • All lots near terminal entrances have accessible parking spaces.  
  • Economy lot (P6) is the best option for long-term parking. 
  • Onsite parking rates vary and expect to pay significantly more for onsite than off-site parking fees.
  • Use EZ-Pass Plus to make quick payments while exiting the lots. 
  • To ensure a spot, pre-book a spot when booking your flight ticket and other arrangements.   

3. Newark Liberty International Airport can be Confusing and Time-Consuming to Navigate.

Newark Liberty Airport’s terminals can be overwhelming, as none of the airport’s three terminals are physically connected to each other. There are several ways to transfer between terminals; just follow the signs carefully.

Newark Airport management provides online maps – like the Newark Liberty International Airport Interactive Map - that show the layout of each terminal, as well as the location of available amenities and services throughout each of the terminals. However, it will still take some nifty detective work and time to get to another terminal, so if you have a time crunch to catch a connection, you need to plan carefully.

Remember always to give yourself enough time to navigate Newark Airport to ensure you can reach your departure gate with enough time to spare.

2. Unpredictable Northeast Weather Impacts Air Travel

According to the FAA, weather is the largest air travel disruptor, accounting for ¾ of weather-related delays are – followed by congestion and mechanical problems, respectively.  The Weather Channel analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation — from 9/2022 through 8/2023 — and calculated there were 385,367 weather-delayed arrivals.

The top 10 airports with the most weather-related delays include –

  1. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  2. San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  3. Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
  4. New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  5. Denver International Airport (DEN)

1. Excessive Flight Delays and Cancellations for Newark Liberty International Passengers

Newark is notorious for consistent late flights all year long. According to the New York Post, data shows that only 64% of flights leave Newark Liberty Airport on time.

Other abysmal statistics for Newark Liberty Airport include –

  • The average departure and arrival delays at Newark Liberty Airport rank highest.
  • The airport – at 70%, had the lowest percentage of flights that arrived/departed on time.
  • Newark had the highest percentage of canceled flights.

Arrival land departure information and data can be viewed online.

For travelers who wish to avoid travel delays at Newark Airport, try to select an early morning flight rather than traveling later in the day, when delays tend to build exponentially. Travel experts also suggest booking nonstop flights to avoid the stress created by needing to run through an airport to catch a flight because your incoming flight was delayed.

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Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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