Airports might be our gateways to travel, adventure and a little extra sunshine, but some of them, especially the bigger hubs, have been getting bogged down by the increased traffic and convoluted patchwork of add-on terminals that are supposed to be handling the growth.
And these hubs seem increasingly unavoidable. We’ve got concourses that feel longer than than some of the runways, check-in and security lines that make you wonder if you’ll start to decompose before you reach the plane, gate-changes that feel like a twisted game of musical chairs, and delays to take-off, land and even find a parking spot.
According to more than 2000 participants from over 80 countries who took the “World’s Worst Travel Survey,” here’s the ranked list of top offenders. These airports are statistically the worst, there are certainly many others.
1. Heathrow, London 19.1%
Largest number of internationally-bound passengers in the world and the busiest airport in Europe. It has 90 airlines serving 170 destinations and 67 million passengers each year… many of whom it manages to annoy. The queues are legendary. Doesn’t seem to matter much which of the five semi-functional terminals you pick. And–cor blimey!–there’s a sixth terminal underway.
2. LAX, Los Angeles, 14.6%
World’s 6th busiest airport. According to the “I Hate LAX” Facebook group, the airport’s weak spots are: “pan handlers, long queues, overcrowded terminals, difficulty of getting from one terminal to another, bus gates, and the general grime.”
3. Charles de Gaulle, Paris 9.1%
With seven satellites, the 70s-design is navigational challenge for many of its 50+ million annual passengers. The SF Chronicle readers rated it the worst airport in the world in 2005, and in 2007 the The International Air Transport Association said it was “one of the worst,” largely due to poor public service.
4. JFK, New York, 5.9%
Eight barely connected passenger terminals containing 151 gates help make is self-proclaimed “Gateway to America” an ongoing inconvenience with nuanced annoyances.
5. O’Hare, Chicago, 4.9& (tie with Sydney)
O’Hare is the world’s 4th busiest airport, and, according to numerous online complaints, they seem particularly adept at making international passengers wait as long as possible to clear customs.
6. Kingsford Smith, Sydney, 4.9%
Sydney’s biggest complaints come from the overpriced short-term parking and lack of pick-up area for drivers.
7. Miami International, Miami, 3.8%
With a remarkable feeling of near-constant construction and cramped waiting areas overflowing with people, It might seem as if you’re trapped in some sort of third-world exodus (all carrying plastic-wrapped luggage), with everyone vying to get a spot on what seems to be the last flight out.
8. Frankfurt Airport, 3.4%
Most international destinations served of any airport. Travelers complain about confusing signage, the flow of pedestrians (many cutting queues) and an unpleasant ground staff.
9. Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta, 3.2%
World’s busiest airport, both with passengers and flights. Possible motto: “Every day is worse than usual.”