Over the last few decades, airports have undergone significant changes, and not all are good. In fact, the BBC has reported that 67% of people who fly out of the US will land in a better airport. So to help you navigate your flying experience and avoid the worst airports in the US, let’s look at the top contenders.
What Makes a Bad Airport?
There are many factors to assess how bad an airport is and can include:
- Holiday Travel Congestion
Here are the worst airports in the U.S.
20. San Francisco International Airport
This airport has been around since 1954 and is still busy today. Unfortunately, it seems that the airport hasn’t kept up with the times and the demands of today’s fliers. Customers have complained about the charging stations not working, an inadequate announcement system, and few amenities.
Another frequent complaint is that arrivals and departure times leave much to be desired. As such, the terminals tend to be crowded. Being on time and having plenty of space would go a long way in making travel through this airport more enjoyable.
19. Boston Logan Airport
The root cause of this airport making this list is poor customer satisfaction. Flight delays are a big problem, though the weather often plays a role in these hold-ups. Transportation to and from the airport also frustrates many travelers.
Another major complaint has been repeated civil rights violations by security. ACLU.org reports that the “behavioral detection program” used by security is really racial profiling under a different name. Between the security problems and potential delays, Boston Logan Airport isn’t pleasant whether you’re coming or going.
18. Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport
The problems with this airport come down to its size. This airport is too small to handle the traffic it gets daily.
If you visit this airport, make sure to use the facilities before you get there. Fliers find there aren’t enough stalls to handle the volume, few amenities, and general uncleanliness. On the other hand, if you don’t have any other airport options, this airport at least has decent arrival times, delays, and cancellations.
17. Charleston Yeager Airport
This airport is unsafe, but not in the way you might think. It’s situated in the mountains, making it susceptible to mudslides. This can cause problems for pilots, as they can misjudge the runway.
Unfortunately, accidents happen and can be fatal. The aptly named website, FearofLanding.com reports about recent problems for pilots at the airport.
16. Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport
The Cleveland-Hopkins can’t keep up with the demands fliers have when it comes to amenities. Passing the time in this airport is tough as they have outdated equipment. While there are some cool features, like a shrine of Superman and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gift shop, it’s not enough to make visitors happy.
The layout of the airport is also a problem, as well as transportation. Taking the shuttle can seem like it’s on par with the length of a flight. Passengers also struggle to navigate the airport, adding to their frustrations.
15. Denver International Airport
Delays and design keep this airport from being great. While the airport’s arrivals tend to be on time, the departures have a well-known reputation for being chronically late.
The airport’s design can be overwhelming for travelers. If you’re not a frequent flier through this airport, it’s best to ask someone for help. The airport’s layout can be so confusing that you’ll not likely find your terminal without help.
14. Philadelphia International Airport
If you like clean airports, you won’t enjoy this one. It’s well-known to be pretty dirty. While many airports have found the right routine to stay clean, Philadelphia still has no idea how.
This airport is also known to be unorganized and has poor customer service. While Philadelphia may be the only option for some, it’s best to avoid it if possible. Any clean, pleasant, and modern airport alternative should do!
13. Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport
At some point, passengers will have to spend time in this airport. But bring lunch and snacks if you’re flying in or out of it. You’re not likely to find any dining options worth the money or the wait.
Since this airport generally has long wait times, bring a book, game, or other entertainment to get you through until you can leave. If you can, avoid annoying any of the staff there. Financebuzz.com reports that this airport has some of the lowest customer satisfaction rates.
12. San Francisco International Airport
Make sure to fly or depart long before you need to be at your final destination. Time delays are to be expected when traveling through San Francisco International Airport. FoxWeather.com reports that 22.76% of flights through there are delayed a minimum of 15 minutes.
While the delays might have something to do with the area’s frequent fog, the condition of the terminals also leaves something to be desired. Fliers have complained that the conditions where passengers wait are dirty and even leaking. Fixing the dirtiness might make forgiving the delays easier.
11. Seattle-Tacoma Airport
Seattle-Tacoma Airport is undoubtedly an airport you can land at or fly out of, but you won’t want to visit it if you have any other choices. One of the biggest complaints here is transportation. Passengers have just as much trouble getting a lift to the airport as navigating it.
Be prepared to wait if you’re lucky enough to get to your gate. This airport has delays and cancelations on a pretty regular basis, especially during holiday travel times.
10. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
From the outside, this airport appears sleek and modern. If you enjoy the aesthetics, you may enjoy the time you’ll have to spend here for frequent flight delays and wait times.
The airport has been dealing with a lot since the pandemic. Unfortunately, they aren’t reaching full-staff levels, and it shows in wait times and poor customer service. The amenities are also becoming outdated and could use an upgrade to help with the waiting.
9. Fort Lauderdale International Airport
If the closest airport to you excels in customer service, you’d think you’d work as hard as possible to exceed it. Yet Fort Lauderdale misses the mark in customer service.
While many other airports can blame frequent delays on bad weather conditions for their inclusion on this list, that isn’t the case here. Instead, the poor organization with poor customer service is likely the root cause here.
When fliers have to wait for whatever reason, it can help if the airport has modern amenities and comfortable waiting areas. Unfortunately, Fort Lauderdale’s airport offers nothing acceptable for modern passengers.
8. Los Angeles International Airport
If you’re a fan of TV and movies, you’ve likely heard this airport referred to as LAX. What you might not have heard about the airport’s unhappy fliers who are sick and tired of ongoing construction and poor customer service.
If anything frustrates visitors more than the overall customer service experience, it’s trying to get to the airport and navigate the inside. No one wants to drive through Los Angeles traffic, and it only gets worse as you get closer to the airport. Once inside, you’ll have to navigate multiple terminals, sometimes requiring you to go through security more than once.
7. William P. Hobby Airport
This Houston airport is one of the smaller ones in the area, but it’s well-known for several reasons – not all of them are good. So while you can’t fault it for being small, you can be upset about the lack of amenities and things to do while you wait.
The airport is not known for being clean, and frequent water shut-offs don’t help. The customer service isn’t known to be friendly, either. If you can fly into or out of another, less frustrating airport nearby, you should.
6. Orlando International Airport
If anyone flies into Florida, this is an airport they’ll likely spend some time in, whether to stay or connect with another flight. Disney is the main reason people give for this being one of the worst airports in the US. Distracted parents, poorly behaved children, and crowded conditions can cause this location to be almost unbearable.
Yet Disney isn’t the only reason this airport is on this list. If you have to make a connecting flight here, it can be challenging due to the sprawling layout. If you find your terminal and have some time to spare, also be aware that the amenities aren’t’ great.
7. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport
The inability to make connecting flights is the worst part of this airport. It’s also one of the most essential things for fliers to be able to do to get to their final destination! This airport lacks the signage that can help people to navigate the vast, complex airport.
If you’re lucky enough to have some recharging time, you may only be able to recharge yourself as you wait. The airport doesn’t have nearly enough charging stations to handle the traffic it sees daily.
6. Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport
When you have multiple modes of transportation to get you around the inside of an airport, it may be an indication that you have an overly complicated layout. Trams, escalators, and underground crossings can make this airport feel like a labyrinth.
The security lines are often long, so if you’re someone who is never on time, you’ll have to leave extra early to catch your flight. Since the amenities and bathroom facilities are also lacking, you’ll need to plan for extra time if you end up waiting to use the restroom
5. Oakland International Airport
Almost everything that could make you hate your airport experience can be found here. Dirty restrooms are a common problem, and you may see gates strewn with trash. In addition, the flights are frequently delayed, and there aren’t enough eating options available.
While you might be tempted to fly out of another nearby airport, consider your options carefully. While Oakland is pretty nasty, the nearby airports are only marginally better.
4. Miami International Airport
This is another Florida airport that’s dense with tourist travelers, making it challenging for locals to enjoy their airport experience. In addition, the airport is known to have confusing signage, long walks to boarding, and poor customer service.
Fights here are frequently delayed, meaning passengers must wait in a crowded and humid airport. So it might be a good idea to arrive with your tech fully charged and a handheld fan ready to keep you cool during any wait times.
3. Chicago O’Hare International Airport
This airport is huge. Some believe that it’s too big, making it difficult to navigate. The airport can be hard to navigate, making it impossible for some to make their connecting flights on time.
You’re likely to have to deal with some delays flying here. If you’re struggling to make a connecting flight that gets delayed, you’ll probably be pretty happy about it. But it can get rough if you’re stuck in one of the busiest airports for an extended period.
2. LaGuardia Airport
This is another airport most people are familiar with because of television and movies. But, unfortunately, it’s also one of the most well-known airports for being hated by fliers.
Flight delays and overcrowding are common complaints. These tend to worsen when the airport undergoes any construction. It’s also viewed as having poor lighting and narrow passageways.
Transportation to and from the airport is also a big problem. Since this is such a busy airport, more cars, and drivers travel here. This can lead to traffic problems far beyond the airport’s boundaries.
1. Newark Liberty International Airport
Newark Liberty National Airport is no stranger to ranking among the worst airports in the United States lists. Unfortunately, waiting is the name of the game here. Security isn’t known for its speediness, and delayed flights are expected.
If you do spend time here, make sure you have backup plans for your food and the use of restrooms. There aren’t many acceptable amenities, and the bathrooms have people questioning if they’re cleaned regularly.
Also, bring comfortable shoes. Pack your heels or dress shoes if you don’t want to walk long distances in them. The escalators aren’t reliable and can be a real pain on your feet.
Horrible Conditions Can Make Flying an Unpleasant Experience
While some take delays and dirty airports in stride, asking a business like an airport for a pleasant experience isn’t too much. You should be able to expect good customer service, clean bathrooms, a variety of food choices, and plentiful and working charging stations from an airport.
You pay good money to fly; the airport is part of that experience. So make sure you research your options and spend your money where you get the highest quality and the most value, especially at the airport.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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