These Are the Most Hated Airports in the United States
Airports are a necessary part of flying. But everybody hates the endless lines, anxiety-inducing security checkpoints, unpredictable delays, and rundown terminals you’ll spot at the most hated airports in the U.S. There might not be one definitive ranking of America’s most hated airports. But there’s definitely a consensus. Researchers time and time again discover travelers hate LaGuardia, can’t stand O’Hare, and would do anything to avoid Hartsfield-Jackson.
The Economist posits, “American airports offer a shabby welcome to the greatest nation on Earth.” And the BBC reports, “The Wright Brothers may have given birth to modern aviation on a beach at Kitty Hawk, but U.S. airports these days are far from world-beating.” Want to find out which airports savvy travelers would advise you avoid the next time you fly? Read on to check out the most hated airports in America.
16. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (ATL)
Busy hubs like Atlanta are tough to avoid. But many travelers wish they could skip Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. J.D. Power reports the airport “is feeling the strain” of accommodating 100 million travelers per year. The group also gives Hartsfield-Jackson only middling scores when it comes to check-in and security, baggage claim, and terminal shopping. Those scores can’t save ATL from being one of the most hated airports in the U.S. And the airport made Bloomberg’s list of the most frustrating airports, too.
TimeOut USA notes travelers either love ATL or hate it. The airport has 207 gates across seven concourses — and they all seem to be packed with crowds at every hour of the day and night. Plus, Travel + Leisure notes though public transportation to and from the airport might be convenient, that hardly makes up for long waits, slow baggage handling, and a shortage of kid-friendly areas.
15. Kansas City International Airport (MCI)
The airport in Kansas City doesn’t get much love from Bloomberg either, which reports the airport has an atrocious record for on-time departures. (Its flights leave as scheduled only 75% of the time.) Plus, the blog Sleeping in Airports puts Kansas City in fourth place on its list of the worst airports in North America.
A few reasons why? A notorious shortage of bathrooms, for starters. The airport also has a dearth of air-side restaurants to feed hungry travelers. And even though MCI is easy enough to navigate, it quickly feels “cramped and claustrophobic” when busy flights arrive. At least the terminals have comfortable seats.
14. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
Houston certainly doesn’t top the list of most hated airports in the U.S. But travelers definitely complain about the length of the lines, the cleanliness of the terminals, and the shopping amenities available. Those complaints land IAH on Priceonomics’ list of the worst airports — not just in the United States but around the world.
Houston also earned a place on Bloomberg’s list of the most frustrating airports. Plus, Sleeping in Airports complains Houston has too many travelers and not enough immigration officers. That can mean long waits and missed flights for international travelers. And the nicest thing Travel + Leisure could say about Houston? “There’s a reasonably good chance that your flight will take off and not be canceled.” At least that’s something.
13. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
Another of the most hated airports Bloomberg singles out as exceptionally frustrating? The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport. Surprisingly, the airport has a pretty terrible track record of getting planes off the ground on time. (Unlike some other most hated airports, Fort Lauderdale probably can’t blame snowstorms either.) In fact, FLL ranks among the top five airports for the worst percentage of on-time flights, according to Bloomberg.
Plus, J.D. Power isn’t impressed by the airport’s check-in process, its security check, its terminal facilities, or even its baggage claim. If you can choose another airport to get to your spring break destination or your favorite vacation spot, you might want to reconsider a flight through Fort Lauderdale.
12. Orlando International Airport (MCO)
Travelers also name Orlando one of the most frustrating airports in the country, according to Bloomberg. The publication notes it also takes a long time for travelers to even get to the airport, with average drive times reaching a whopping 68 minutes. And the traffic jams don’t end once you roll up to the airport either.
In fact, the airport has debated whether it should replace TSA agents with privately hired guards in an effort to reduce the amount of time travelers spend waiting in line at security. If you want to avoid one of the country’s most hated airports the next time you fly to Florida, The Points Guy recommends skipping Orlando and heading to nearby Tampa, where you can enjoy faster security lines, among other perks.
11. Chicago Midway Airport (MDW)
Though it’s certainly not as bad as O’Hare, Chicago’s Midway doesn’t escape the wrath of tired travelers. MDW lands on Bloomberg’s list of the most frustrating American airports, not least because it takes travelers an average of 58 minutes to get to the airport. But ultimately, Midway might earn its reputation as one of the most hated airports in America because of its terrible on-time departures record — the worst in Bloomberg’s ranking.
Midway might not be as deeply and obviously despised as O’Hare. But Thrillist reports that “anyone who bitches about O’Hare has never flown through Chicago Midway.” Midway is much smaller than O’Hare. It’s so small, in fact, that it serves many more passengers than it was designed to accommodate. And travelers routinely get stuck in security so long they miss their flights altogether. Talk about a terrible way to start a vacation.
10. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Nobody likes flying into Philadelphia, thanks to its long delays, far-flung terminals, and dilapidated terminals. In fact, Philadelphia makes Priceonomics’ list of the worst major airports in the entire world. And it also lands on Bloomberg’s list of the most frustrating major airports in the U.S.
Travel + Leisure singles it out for its poor design and lack of cleanliness. Plus, the magazine notes you can expect to encounter “surly staff” and long lines if you fly in or out of this Pennsylvania airport. And you shouldn’t expect to get your checked bags quickly because the airport is notoriously inefficient at baggage handling.
9. Miami International Airport (MIA)
Florida sounds like a great vacation destination. But you’re sure to run into some frustrations on your way there if you fly into the Miami International Airport. Priceonomics names Miami one of the worst airports not only in the U.S. but around the world. And Bloomberg identifies it as one of the most frustrating airports in the country.
The Huffington Post complains about the airport’s “remarkable feeling of near-constant construction” and its “cramped waiting areas overflowing with people.” And Sleeping in Airports nominates Miami as the second-worst airport in North America. The reason why? Its massive lines, huge distances, confusing signage, broken toilets, and dirty floors. Plus, the airport doesn’t even have free Wi-Fi.
8. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
Dallas might be one of the busiest airports in the nation. But you should probably avoid it if you can. Dallas Fort-Worth is another airport that lands on Bloomberg’s list of the most frustrating for travelers. (The publication also reports an average drive time of 47 minutes for travelers to even get to the airport.) And NerdWallet considers it one of the worst airports in the U.S. for summer travel.
Travel + Leisure characterizes DFW’s flight information screens as helpful. But the check-in and security experiences earn poor marks. And the airport gets only middling scores for baggage handling, staff responsiveness, and Wi-Fi. According to Travel + Leisure, “DFW came out as a truly average airport. Not the best, but not the worst. At least it’s pretty clean.”
7. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
LAX is a worn-out airport long overdue for a Hollywood makeover, according to Travel + Leisure. CNN characterizes the Los Angeles airport as “eight terminals connected by a traffic jam.” The Huffington Post reports that the airport’s most glaring weak spots include long lines, ubiquitous pan handlers, inconvenient bus gates, and a layout that makes it difficult to get from one terminal to another.
Bloomberg also calls out LAX as one of the most frustrating airports in the country. And J.D. Power notes the renovations planned for the next few years will pose some access problems at the U-shaped airport. In fact, LAX is also one of the most hated airports among pilots, who complain about the constant construction. Even traffic outside the airport is terrible. And Thrillist posits that “real friends take cabs and don’t ask to be dropped off/picked up, FYI.”
6. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
You might not need to wait long to get a taxi or a train to JFK. But you will definitely have to wait at every other juncture of your journey. JFK lands near the top of Bloomberg’s list of the most frustrating American airports — and in first place as the most frustrating airport to actually commute to, with an average drive time of 111 minutes. And according to The Points Guy, travelers who fly through JFK can look forward to incredibly long waits to get through security.
Plus, it can take an hour to get from one terminal to another — which has undoubtedly led to countless missed connections.The Huffington Post blames the airport’s “barely connected” passenger terminals for making JFK such a nuisance to navigate. CNN says travelers can look forward to worn-out terminals, huge crowds, long immigration lines, and bad attitudes from ground staff when they’re unfortunate enough to fly in or out of JFK.
5. Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
Bloomberg names Boston Logan as one of the most frustrating airports in the United States. Travel + Leisure reports Logan is “far from the cleanest major airport in the country.” And the customer service staff on the ground doesn’t exactly have a reputation for responding quickly when something goes wrong.
Plus, you can expect long waits to check in and to clear the security checkpoint. And if you’re arriving in Boston, you should also expect to spend extra time waiting for your baggage to show up. If you’re an international traveler landing in Boston? NerdWallet reports you should also anticipate extra long waits to clear customs.
4. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Thrillist characterizes Chicago’s O’Hare International as “the ninth circle of Dante’s hell,” with a complicated layout, shabby interior, bad signage, last-minute gate changes, and late connections. The public transportation to get you to the airport might be O’Hare’s best feature, according to Travel + Leisure. The airport earns poor marks for its check-in and security experiences. And travelers also complain about the difficulty of getting from one concourse to another.
J.D. Power points out O’Hare’s poor track record of on-time flights comes courtesy of frequent storms (not exactly the ground staff’s fault). But The Points Guy notes O’Hare earns its status as one of the most hated airports thanks to not only to its high rates of delays, but also its long waits in security. And The Huffington Post reports O’Hare seems to have a talent for making international passengers wait as long as possible to clear customs.
3. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Washington Dulles repeatedly comes up in discussions of the most hated airports. But Priceonomics actually names it one of the worst major airports in the world. And Dulles earns third place in Bloomberg’s ranking of the most frustrating American airports. Plus, because it sits 26 miles from Washington, D.C., Dulles is another of the most hated airports that requires a lengthy commute. (Bloomberg reports an average drive time of 67 minutes.)
TimeOut USA notes the airport’s interesting architecture — designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen — probably won’t distract you from the endless lines and hassles. Plus, Dulles has very limited shopping and dining options. So you can’t count on a good meal or some retail therapy to cheer you up. In fact, Travel + Leisure thinks the experience is so dismal that you should just fly from Baltimore instead.
2. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Many people would prefer to fly out of Newark than the other New York area airports. But that doesn’t say anything good about EWR. It lands in second place among Bloomberg’s most frustrating airports. The Points Guy, ranking the worst airports across the United States, notes Newark doesn’t earn the worst scores in one category. Instead, “it suffers from lackluster ratings across the board.”
Thrillist, more colorfully, writes that Newark Liberty is “ugly and dirty and is also at least an hour from NYC.” And TimeOut USA reports you can look forward to flight delays, long check-in lines, and longer queues at TSA checkpoints when you head to Newark. But the lines don’t stop once you get on the plane. You can also expect lines on the tarmac, where you’ll probably have to wait for dozens of planes to take off before yours can move.
1. New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
The No. 1 complaint about the country’s most hated airport? LaGuardia hasn’t aged well. And it shows. TimeOut USA notes, “The airport wasn’t designed for 21th century security checks, nor was it designed for inclement weather — there’s always a chance of finding water dripping into buckets across the terminal when it’s raining.” And though it doesn’t take quite as long for travelers to get to LaGuardia as it takes them to get to JFK, Bloomberg reports average drive times of 69 minutes — no walk in the park.
LaGuardia also earns Bloomberg’s title as the most frustrating airport in the United States. The Points Guy reports it has the highest rate of flight delays and cancellations. It charges “extortionate” parking rates. And, according to Travel + Leisure, it ranks the worst for check-in and security, baggage handling, communication, Wi-Fi, and cleanliness. An impending redesign will ease overcrowding in the long run. But in the short term, travelers have to deal with construction-related headaches.
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