6 American Airports Travelers Should Avoid During the Holidays

The holidays are here. It’s a time for celebrating with loved ones, unwinding in front of the television, and relaxing with good cheer. It’s also a time for overcrowded airports, a strained transportation system, and the stress that comes along with travel. If you’re preparing to board a plane at any of these six airports, we suggest bringing plenty of patience with you — they’re known for unfriendly staff, long lines, and lots of delays.

1. LaGuardia Airport

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New York City’s LaGuardia Airport is notorious for its unhelpful staff and long security lines. The Guide to Sleeping in Airports notes that the airport is also known for its poor decor, terrible restaurant selection, lack of cleanliness, and its strange layout. In fact, this airport has even been criticized by Vice President Joe Biden.

“It’s unacceptable that LaGuardia has the worst passenger service in the world. It doesn’t matter how nice JFK’s JetBlue terminal is if you can’t get in and out of the terminal quickly, efficiently, and you can’t find a place to sleep and do business,” Biden told amNewYork.

In addition, Nerd Wallet compiled a list of airports that are the most likely to experience holiday delays and cancellations by reviewing some of the busiest airports’ statistics over the last five years. They discovered that LaGuardia is the third worst major airport for holiday delays: 25.31% of its November and December flights are either delayed or canceled.

2. Philadelphia International Airport

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Orbitz warns that Philadelphia International Airport is expected to be the ninth busiest airport this Thanksgiving. That, coupled with the fact that Philadelphia’s airport is known for long security queues and an unpleasant staff, is a recipe for disaster — or at least a lot of unhappy travelers.

A user review on The Guide to Sleeping in Airports states: “We were in rolling lines for more than an hour and a half. Nobody in the airport seemed the least bit concerned. When one passenger inquired about missing her flight, she was rudely told by an airport employee that ‘this is a problem with the airlines, I can’t help you’. It is very poorly run and it is very hard to determine who was worst, airport, airlines or TSA. I will do everything I can to never travel through Philadelphia again.”

3. Miami International Airport

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Despite the fact that Miami International Airport is in an area known for its warm and balmy weather, Nerd Wallet’s research found that over the last five years, 17.98% of its November and December flights were either delayed or canceled. Hopper also included it in its list of worst airports for winter travel, saying that 22% of Miami’s winter flights are predicted to be delayed.

On top of that, Miami International Airport isn’t known for having the best customer service. A visit to SkyTrax, a website dedicated to air travel ratings and reviews, will reveal plenty of displeased customers. “This was our first time through Miami airport. It is by far the worst, most disorganized airport we have ever traveled through, with the rudest staff. Passport control was total chaos. There was no clear directions from signs, nor staff,” according to one SkyTrax review.

4. Los Angeles International Airport

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If you’re headed to Los Angeles International, prepare to fight the crowds. Orbitz ranked it as the busiest airport for Thanksgiving 2014. Furthermore, Nerd Wallet’s research revealed that over the last five years, 20.78% of its November and December flights have either been delayed or canceled.

To make matters even worse, The Guide to Sleeping in Airports ranked Los Angeles International as the second worst North American airport for 2014. What did it do to receive such a dismal ranking? The Guide to Sleeping in Airports states that “LAX deserves a special mention for the sheer volume of unhappy comments it collected during the voting period.” Complaints included a poor layout, lack of restaurants, activities, and services, as well as general uncleanliness.

5. John F. Kennedy International Airport

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This New York City airport is notorious for many things, none of which are good. For starters, Orbitz anticipates John F. Kennedy International being the third busiest airport this Thanksgiving. That’s not great news for the many travelers passing through its doors, considering Nerd Wallet’s research showed that 21.56% of its November and December flights over the past five years have either been delayed or canceled.

JFK also made its way onto Hopper’s list of worst airports for winter travel. During the winter months, you can anticipate 30% of its flights being delayed. The Guide to Sleeping in Airports ranked it as the fifth worst North American airport for 2014; complaints ranged from poorly spread out terminals to a lackluster selection of restaurants, shops, and amenities. JFK also has plenty of complaints when it comes to its customer service.

“Was dismayed to find an absolutely disgraceful service – waited in line for 2 and half hours, watching a skeleton staff process new arrivals at a snail’s pace. Given the number of travelers going through JFK you’d think that they may have managed to refine and improve their processes slightly. It really was a joke after an 8 hour flight, and frustratingly the staff appeared to be enjoying making people wait,” a SkyTrax review states.

6. Newark Liberty International Airport

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New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International is another airport that has found its way on a lot of negative lists. Travel + Leisure ranked Newark as the third worst airport for delays, reporting that on a typical afternoon, you have at least a 25% chance of having your flight delayed. Nerd Wallet ranked it as the worst airport for holiday delays, explaining that 28.62% of its November and December flights have been canceled over the past five years.

Orbitz anticipates it being the sixth busiest airport this Thanksgiving, meaning there’s a good chance there will be an exorbitant amount of displeased travelers. Newark was ranked as the fourth worst North American airport for 2014 by A Guide to Sleeping in Airports. The main complaints? Delays and the poor conditions that customers must deal with as a result. “Like LaGuardia, traveling through here is manageable — but when winter storms hit, delays here are certainly unpleasant,” A Guide to Sleeping in Airports says.