Worst Airports for Layovers 2016

Date: October 15, 2016

This year, we’re introducing a new “Worst Airports” list, where international travellers rate airports based on the quality of the layover they experienced. Judging by the responses we received in this category, these terminals are burdoned with painfully long queues and complicated navigation making it challenging to meet that connecting flight. When passengers did finally make it through customs and security, they were faced with long distances between gates, often devoid of signs and riddled with broken equipment. Amenities and entertainment at these terminals are sometimes short supply, or what they do offer too often comes at a price. If traveling through one of these terminals, you’ll want to give yourself ample time. But sadly, this isn’t because of all the fun there is to be had… It’s as a safeguard for all that can and often does go wrong.

Here are the Top 10 Worst Airports in the World for a Layover as determined by voters in our 2016 Airport Survey.

1. Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport, Saudi Arabia (JED)

14 hours on metal chairs, delayed flight, no power, 1 washroom area - basically a hole in the ground with 3 inches of water everywhere - survey respondent

Jeddah Airport earns the title of Worst Airport in the World for a Layover thanks to the fact that virtually all aspects of its terminals need serious improvement. Though JED continually promises that “next year” travellers will see a new terminal, travellers have yet to see anything in the way of clean toilets, new amenities or better connections between the North and South (Hajj) terminals. Instead, when you arrive at Jeddah you walk into a terminal where cleanliness is but a mythical concept. The place is staffed by a team of people described as “careless”, “arrogant” and “rude”, and amenity-wise, the terminal is devoid of restaurants, shopping and entertainment. During peak hours - to say nothing of when the Hajj pilgrimage rolls around - the queues are unfathomable, and there are never enough chairs to accommodate. While travellers hope that 2017 will indeed be the year of the new airport, their only saving grace for now is the free Wi-Fi.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounge ($) • Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Jeddah Airport Guide.

See also: Worst Airports for Overall Experience   •   Worst Airports for Sleeping   •   Worst Airports in the Middle East

2. Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Philippines (MNL)

manila airport by jeffy1199 / Instagram

I had a flight leaving from T3 and figured I'd catch the free shuttle bus. Well the bus stops and the driver gets out and eats a sandwich...we finally get to T3, but one of the elevators is broken. By the time I get to my ticketing gate I learn that I am five minutes late and cannot board the flight. - survey respondent

Those who experienced a layover at Manila NAIA wrote in with a long list of criticisms regarding the inter-terminal transfer process. After struggling to get any information from airport staff, passengers often had to hire an overpriced taxi to get from one terminal to another. Other travellers wrote in to tell us that the process was confusing, poorly signed and exceptionally slow. These complaints are all compounded by this year’s bullet-planting scam, frequent power outages and lapses in air conditioning. All in all, not features you want to experience on a layover - especially a tight one! ( Photo courtesy of jeffy1199 / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Day Rooms ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Manila Airport Guide.

See also: Worst Airports in Asia

3. Los Angeles International Airport, USA (LAX)

los angeles airport by y__ryan / Instagram

It was a muddle and not at all what we expected from an important US international airport. - survey respondent

Los Angeles International Airport is a gigantic airport, made to feel much larger because of its inefficiencies. Sporadic but confusing signs and plenty of lines make a layover at LAX a real slog. Even if you know the terminal well, you’ll find yourself walking long distances between gates, and doing your best to maneuver around construction zones. The quality of the terminals themselves for a layover varies greatly. The Tom Bradley International terminal is the most amenable to a layover. The rest leave a lot to be desired. Still the overall facilities are not what travellers coming from Asian hubs are accustomed to. There are no pay-per-use lounges, no showers and certainly no sleep-friendly quiet zones. All in all, it’s best not to book a tight connection here, as there are a number of odds working against you. ( Photo courtesy of y__ryan / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Los Angeles Airport Guide.

See also: Worst Airports in North America 

4. Newark Liberty International Airport, USA (EWR)

newark airport by j_leta / Instagram

I would rather re-route my entire flight and pay more money than to see Newark Airport ever again. - survey respondent

Newark Airport traumatizes transit passengers with broken moving walkways, long queues, and some unhelpful staff. The inter-terminal train seems to be in a frequent state of disrepair, and the back-up busses are slow at best. With arctic temperatures and constantly loud television playing, the airport does little for those who stay overnight either. Things that might improve life here include a deep cleaning, a reduction in the resident pigeon population, and a bit more efficiency and crowd control. If your layover is less than four hours, you might be okay here… But any more than that, and you’ll be begging for a chair without an armrest! ( Photo courtesy of j_leta / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi (30 minutes) • 24-hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • For more information, visit our Newark Airport Guide.

See also: Worst Airports in North America

5. Miami International Airport, USA (MIA)

miami airport by monikaphotolife / Instagram

I was transiting for a few hours between Europe and Central America, but I was compelled to stand in a long line to pass US immigration, be fingerprinted and photographed like a criminal. - survey respondent

A transit passenger’s first bad experience at Miami International is customs. Outrageously long lines and inefficient staff and technology makes connections tight and people frazzled. Long distances and misleading signage don’t help the airport’s case either - nor do the broken toilets, dirty floors, and total shortage of benches and chairs. Sadly, the real sting comes when you try to logon to the internet to find that even the Wi-Fi costs money. Ouch! ( Photo courtesy of monikaphotolife / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • WiFi ($) • 24-hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Miami Airport Guide.

See also: Worst Airports in North America

6. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, China (CAN)

I saw an airport staff pushing and hurling abuse at international tourists, even challenging a passenger to fight after he stood up for his rights. - survey respondent

China’s second busiest airport, Guangzhou, is heavily criticized being over-crowded, disorganized and short on chairs. Signage inside is kept to a pitiful minimum, and the price of food is borderline offensive. All this is compounded by staff who are significantly less-than-friendly. There is worse news still if you find out your connecting flight has been delayed due to a monsoon! Rumour has it that life in the lounges is well with the layover splurge, as they’ve got recliners, powerpoints, couches and food here!

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • 24-hour Food Options ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Guangzhou Airport Guide.

See also: Worst Airports in Asia

7. Beijing Capital International Airport, China (PEK)

beijing airport by mic3zoz / Instagram

Nobody speaks English and nobody will help you if you are about to miss your flight. Lines are very long at customs so make sure to leave time, especially when transferring to a domestic flight. - survey respondent

Travellers say that Beijing Airport’s biggest layover problem is that it is maddening to navigate. With tons of people, long lines, and staff with limited English, getting from point A to point B is a mission in and of itself. Entertainment-wise, the airport is surprisingly bare. Wi-Fi access requires a Chinese credit card, and there are few restaurants. No showers, nor any rest zones. The ongoing and repetitive background music pushes passengers even closer to the brink, making them extremely grateful for the moment when their connecting flight is called. ( Photo courtesy of mic3zoz / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Day Rooms ($) • 24-hour Food Options ($) • Gardens • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Beijing Airport Guide.

8. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, USA (IAH)

houston airport by amorales7733 / Instagram

Some 600 people in line for the only two of forty immigration desks open and they did nothing resulting in over three hour wait and missed connections. - survey respondent

Houston Intercontinental Airport isn’t half bad to look at. Modern conditions nearly fool layover passengers, who think that this massive American hub will be simple to spend a few hours in. But don’t you be fooled! Painfully long lines, spawned by too many travellers and not enough staff, lead to many missed connections. And, once that connection is missed, you’re stuck waiting in departure lounges full of armrests and bright lights. It’s these kind of easily-fixed problems that drive transit passengers to the brink of insanity. ( Photo courtesy of amorales7733 / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Water Bottle Filling Stations. For more information, visit our Houston Airport Guide.

See also:  Worst Airports in North America

9. Paris Charles de Gaulle, France (CDG)

paris charles de gaulle airport by wormgerm/ Instagram

A 90 minute stop over is way to short, even without checked luggage. Transit from one terminal to the other is a nightmare (even for a very experienced traveller). - survey respondent

While the facilities in some terminals at Charles de Gaulle Airport aren’t half bad, travellers say that getting between them is a circus. The map of the entire airport is befuddling in and of itself, to say nothing of moving through what appears to be nine different terminals, and two satellite halls. For those who do figure out how to get where they need to be, the inter-terminal transfer process is said to be slow and, you guessed it, confusing. We can only hope that you’re not arriving at this labyrinth late at night. At CDG, there are no 24-hour dining options, leaving you hungry until things open up again in the morning! Cross your fingers that at the end of the day, you end up in one of the better terminals! ( Photo courtesy of wormgerm/ Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Luggage Storage • Museum • Rest Zones • Video Lounges • Workstations. For more information, visit our Paris CDG Airport Guide.

10. New York City JFK, USA (JFK)

new york city jfk airport by aniluphillips / Instagram

As a major gateway to the United States, this airport is an absolute embarrassment. - survey respondent

At JFK Airport, travellers loathe the long lines and labyrinth-like hallways that are seemingly busy 24-hours a day. Staff do little to ease confusion and frustration, worsening the layover experience. To be fair to JFK, some areas are definitely better than others. Terminal 1 is noted for being dirty, noisy, uncomfortable and chair-free, but Terminal 5 has a few good benches and some decent food. Terminal 8 sounds to be aesthetically better than the bunch but, like anywhere in the airport, you’re likely to face long patience-testing lines. While JFK is certainly the lesser of three evils in NYC, it’s hardly one to throw praise at. ( Photo courtesy of aniluphillips / Instagram )

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi (30 minutes) • 24-hour Food Options • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our New York City JFK Airport Guide.

See also:  Worst Airports in North America

Negatives aside, there are a number of airports in the world that really do make layovers a dream. Read on to learn about the Best Airports in World for a Layover.

SleepingInAirports 2017 airport survey

Explore more of our survey results:

» Best Airports in the World » Worst Airports in the World
» Best Airports in Africa » Worst Airports in Africa
» Best Airports in Asia » Worst Airports in Asia
» Best Airports in the Caribbean & Central America » Worst Airports in the Caribbean & Central America
» Best Airports in Europe » Worst Airports in Europe
» Best Airports in the Middle East » Worst Airports in the Middle East
» Best Airports in North America » Worst Airports in North America
» Best Airports in South America » Worst Airports in South America
» Best Airports in the South Pacific » Worst Airports in the South Pacific
» Best Airports for Layovers » Worst Airports for Layovers
» Best Airports for Sleeping » Worst Airports for Sleeping

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2017 Worst Airports

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