Terminal Illness: What Are the Best and Worst Airports?

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The end of semester crunch is in full swing here at Clemson, leaving me little time to write a new post at the moment. So I figured I’d let you do my work for me. Readers, weigh in: what is your favorite and least favorite airport, and why? I’ll collate and post the results soon.


I would have to say that with my recent trips to Germany, Charlotte Douglas International Airport has been the best to me. They have free wifi and it's clean enough. I never had serious flight delays or strange confrontations with the other passengers.

The worst is the Pittsburgh International. Its dirty, you have to pay for the wifi, and the service is terrible. Everytime I go through there, TSA treats me like a piece of dog poo stuck to their shoe, Customs stares, and the other fliers are irritable and say nasty things under their breath. Any serious flight delays that I've experienced happen here and I've missed and had to reschedule the rest of my journey anytime I fly through Pittsburgh.

Tim Wintle

I love the SFO Domestic terminal - it's just got a great atmosphere, good provisions for working on a laptop if you're on business, and an unusual selection of shops. Ironically, the International terminal at SFO is one of my least favourite terminals - it just feels a let down compared to the domestic terminal and there's very little to do.

The airport I really hate is JFK - purely because of the queues at arrivals (I've waited over 4 hours in that queue before).

Another notable airport is Zurich, which just has a nice atmosphere to it (and the sound of cows playing on the inter-terminal transport makes me chuckle!). In contrast, I feel some of the lesser known UK airports (e.g. Manchester, Liverpool John Lennon, and to a lesser extent Bristol and Stansted) come off feeling almost identical once you're inside the terminals.

The billboards inside Liverpool John Lennon airport asking travellers to report state benefit fraud (if they know someone going on holiday while claiming state unemployment benefits at home) doesn't create a great atmosphere either.



Chicago. I have connected through there many times, but never have I left on my scheduled flight.


Of the twenty something airports I've flown out of I prefer the Flint, MI airport the best (no joke)! It's small which makes getting into an outer of very easy and quick, it's newish and clean. Great alternative to flying out of Detroit.


London Heathrow's Terminal 5 is fantastic. Everything is new. I was stuck there for 10 hours when I missed a connection last summer. They make hardly any announcements over the loudspeaker, so it is very quiet in the terminal. When you go to line up to board the plane, they have those barriers to make you actually go in a line, instead of rushing the ticket agent like at most airports. It's very civilized.


Also love the airport in Honolulu. It's open air, so you get to continue to enjoy beautiful Hawaii while you wait to fly back to the freezing northeast.


Best: Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich: spotless, efficient, good city access
Worst: Anything in the US (sorry to pick on you) and Heathrow: not enough upkeep and too much security

Billy Rubins

Best: Munich. Organized, easy to navigate, short lines, and a great outdoor food court with currywurst.

Worst: Frankfurt. No doubt. Totally unorganized. You have to travel a mile through the airport and the carts don't always fit on the elevators.


For the best I would go with Singapore (Changi) Airport, really well laid out, easy to get around and clean.

For worst, another vote for London Heathrow. It is badly laid out, confusing, poorly signed, the staff don't care and you just seem to end up queuing everywhere!


Best - San Francisco (bonus points for private TSA)
Worst - Atlanta (every time I go through there I get bumped)


Best in the west... Schipol Amsterdam Airport; great options to suit everyone - awesome baby & kids facilities, casinos for dad and plenty of decent shopping as well as food option. It really made for an easy 6hr layover with baby.
Worst airport is a toss up between Newarks terrible transportation links (& overpriced NJ mean & lost cabbies) or JFK's crumbling terminals ..all coupled with the TSA agents that make me feel anything but secure!

Steve U.

I really don't like Cincinnati airport. For a small airport, it takes forever to get from the gate to the terminal. It's the only airport I've ever been to where my luggage made it to the baggage area before I did.

Favorite airport is probably Charlotte. Small enough to get around easily, nice atmosphere and pretty well maintained.

Jury is still out on Tampa International. I find the design somewhat annoying but the terminal looks good and the atmosphere is nice.

I find it interesting that I do what I can to avoid the airports that seemed to make everyone's worst list even though I've never been to most of them. Maybe that's why most of my travel is, at worst, on the low end of mediocre and not just downright awful.


BEST - Schipol, netherlands
WORST - Faro, portugal


For big airports, LAX is the worst. The lay-out was great before 9-11 but now it's just a mess with all the stairs and lack of space for baggage screening etc. Also, the train doesn't even connect to the terminals - you have to take a shuttle bus to get to the train station. Miami is equally awful but it appears to be under construction. JFK and LaGuardia are awful - falling apart and full of rude people. SFO is nice - easy to get to with public transportation, lots of amenities in the airport. For that matter, Newark is actually a good airport too - the train goes there from New York, the airport was rebuilt after 9-11 so all the stores and restaurants are after security which makes waiting for a flight or changing flights almost bearable. I like O'Hare because there is lots of everything - security, space, options for restaurants etc. When you go through O'Hare and then go to someplace like Syracuse or Baltimore or Albuquerque, you realize that even though O'Hare is super busy, at least it knows what to take seriously. Sometimes I am at small airports and they act as if they are the only one standing up to terrorism.



My favorite : ICN Incheon International Airpot in Korea. Clean,new, well-laid out, good cheap local transportation route, well equipped staff, good shopping and rest areas.
My Least Favorite : JFK. Just the opposite..


Best: Vancouver - beautiful, compact, plenty of food choices, transit connection to the city.
Worst: São Paulo International - GRU - overcrowded, luggage gets stolen before the carousel, long lines for immigration


Best - BWI. Convenient for me. Easy flow in and out. Generally cheaper

Worst - Dulles.


Best (international) - Narita in Tokyo
Best (US only) - DCA
Worst - Miami International


Whatever you do, don't plan to transfer at CDG.


Best: Austin. Nice and small, but direct flights most anywhere you want to go. Easy to get in and out of, good parking, and local food options.

Worst: LaGuardia. Hands down. Too cramped. Parking and transit options are terrible. Almost no food to speak of once you're inside security.