Sleeping in Airports

Worst Airports of 2014

Date: October 15, 2014

Sitting in sometimes-harsh contrast to the airports featured on our Best Airports list we find the following “winners” for the world’s worst airports. In our annual survey, travellers were quick to provide colourful feedback on those airports and terminals that left more than a little to be desired – in terms of services, amenities, sleep-ability and at times, good-old-kindness. When submitting a vote for ‘worst’ airport, travellers were asked to consider just how limited they thought four C’s of airport travel (comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service) were.

  • Comfort (or lack thereof) means crowded terminals, uncomfortable and limited seating options, and unpleasant temperatures;
  • Conveniences (or lack thereof) includes non-existent 24-hour food options, a shortage of activities to do during a layover or delay, no Wi-Fi;
  • Cleanliness (or lack thereof) refers to the dirty floors, the smelly bathrooms and the untidy food courts;
  • Customer Service (or lack thereof) is all about unhelpful-to-unfriendly staff and anti-airport sleeping policies.

Below you will find the Top 10 Worst Airports based on travellers overall airport experience during the voting period (September 2013 – August 2014).

Regional Finalists

1. Islamabad Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Pakistan (ISB)

Worst Airports of 2014: Islamabad Airport

This airport is like a central prison. Many of touts & taxi drivers loot people at airport & outside. – a traveller

Likened to a central prison, ISB is criticized for the crowds (and absence of crowd control), the pervasive corruption, the aggressive-yet-inconsistent security checks, and the overall lack of cleanliness and technology. Travellers have also complained about the airport’s inability to handle passengers for over a decade – and thankfully, it seems the end of ISB is near. A new airport is slated to be completed for mid-2016, which should dramatically improve air travel to the city. See also Worst Airports in Asia.

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

Worst Airports of 2014: Jeddah Airport

It is unbelievable how the immigration officers are doing their job. While hundreds of passengers are in the queue these guys are talking to each other for a long time. – a traveller

Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport is the busiest airport in the whole of Saudi Arabia. This is in part because this airport is located near Mecca, and acts as the transit hub for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The main terminal is fairly lackluster. It isn’t overly clean, crowds can be a problem, and the services for travellers are in short supply. Rude immigration officers and lengthy queues do little to improve the traveller experience. Furthermore, chairs are limited, uncomfortable metal and most have armrests. That said, things might improve in mid-2015 when the now-delayed new airport is expected to be complete. See also our Worst Airports in the Middle East.

3. Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal (KTM)

Worst Airports of 2014: Kathmandu Airport

Just make very sure that you never, NEVER need to use the washrooms in this airport. – a traveller

Nepal’s only international airport was eloquently described to resemble a “bus station in an impoverished neighbourhood”. The airport’s cleanliness is a chief concern for those travelling through, with many remarking on the sorry state of the bathrooms, and the absolute lack of soap. Other travellers take issue with the lack of air-conditioning and a filthy smoking room. Generally, travellers discourage sleeping here in part because of the sad state of the airport, and also because it goes against local norms. With plenty of security officials wandering about, sleeping here is generally not a hugely pleasant experience. This all said, some slack is given to Nepal given that it lacks with wealth of some of its Asian neighbours. See also Worst Airports in Asia.

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

Worst Airports of 2014: Manila Airport

Terminal 1 is a dirty, crowded, noisy, extremely hot airport. No where close to enough seats for even half the people waiting to sit. – a traveller

After 3 years at the top our worst airports lists, Manila NAIA saw a slight “improvement” in its ranking as a result of increased positive votes for its Terminal 3. This year, in an effort to lose its title of being the “laggard of Asia” (as one survey respondent put it), the long awaited rehabilitation of NAIA Terminal 1 finally commenced. Since then travellers have been quick to remind us of their continued grievances such as overcrowding, lengthy queues, limited seating, unfriendly immigration/customs officers and smelly toilets. Adding to an already lengthy list of traveller complaints, in April the terminal became Asia’s largest public sauna when the air­conditioning broke down. The units were reportedly not replaced until months later. You may now be asking yourself “how is this an improvement?” Well, all news was not grim at NAIA1 this year. After last year’s survey results, the newly refurbished day rooms reopened. More recently, some international airlines were finally moved over to Terminal 3 to help reduce congestion in the overflowing Terminal 1. And just before publication, the controversial terminal tax was set to be included on international tickets starting October 01, further decongesting the terminal by reducing at least one lengthy queue. Consider this a firm recommendation to do all that you can to fly on airlines that use Terminal 3 rather than Terminal 1 – particularly if your time at Manila NAIA is looking long! The NAIA1 rehabilitation is expected to be complete in 2015. See also Worst Airports in Asia.

5. Tashkent International Airport, Uzbekistan (TAS)

Worst Airports of 2014: Tashkent Airport

The person behind you will be trying to cut in front by subtly ramming their baggage cart into the back of your legs. Hold your ground! – a traveller

Tashkent International Airport leaves quite a lot to be desired, given that it happens to be the primary airport serving Central Asia. In spite of a few recent upgrades to the departures area, the queues and crowds at TAS continue to be a frustrating experience. While at some airports it is only the security process that is tedious, at TAS voters were frustrated with everything from check-in to security to boarding to baggage. Elbows are required should you hope to maintain your spot in line, since any form of line-up or crowd control seems to be virtually non-existent. What’s more, there are a few reports of bribes being solicited and immigration processes being highly suspect and inconsistent. Sleeping is, as a result, strongly discouraged even though passengers often find themselves queuing into the wee morning hours. See also Worst Airports in Asia.

6. Paris Beauvais-Tille International Airport, France (BVA)

Worst Airports of 2014: Paris Beauvais Airport

This airport is the worst in the world. Seriously, the place doesn’t look like a place where people from many countries arrive. – a traveller

There are a number of reasons why Paris Beauvais-Tille Airport is so consistently found at the top of Worst Airports lists. While it is marketed by budget carriers as an airport serving Paris, it is in fact located a slow 88 kilometers outside of the city center. Accessible only by private transport (or airport shuttle), the drive takes at least an hour and a half – on a good day. The journey itself is hardly made worthwhile on arrival at the terminal, since the building itself is said to resemble a bus station more than anything else. Cramped, rundown, debatably clean, and not particularly friendly, this airport does little more than load and unload passengers in a cargo-like fashion. Furthermore, the airport closes at night meaning it is definitely not an option for sleeping before an early morning departure. That all said, the other airports in Paris are not heralded for their convenience or beauty – so perhaps, the dollars saved on a flight into France are worth it here? See also our Worst Airports in Europe.

7. Frankfurt Hahn International Airport, Germany (HHN)

Worst Airports of 2014: Frankfurt Hahn Airport

Since the seats are metallic and not comfortable, the best places to sleep are actually on the luggage conveyor belts, or on the floor just next to the rental car stands. – Journeying Artificial Neohuman

Like Paris Beauvais, tying the title of ‘Frankfurt’ to this airport name is perhaps a bit deceiving. Frankfurt Hahn is located over 120 kilometers from the Frankfurt city center – and you’re looking at a minimum of an hour and a half drive (or two hours by bus). Given that Frankfurt’s central (and fairly adored) airport is located a mere 11 kilometers from the city center, this becomes a pretty considerable schlep. The airport itself resembles most secondary European terminals, in that it is bleak, bare-boned and not especially welcoming. Past airport sleepers warn of the uncomfortable seating throughout, and suggest searching for a clean-ish patch of floor space to camp out on. The trade off here is that it is far cheaper to fly into, as it is serviced by budget carriers like Ryanair and Wizzair. See also our Worst Airports in Europe.

8. Bergamo Orio al Serio International Airport, Italy (BGY)

Worst Airports of 2014: Bergamo Airport

The only way this airport could be improved would be to destroy it and rebuild. – a traveller

Bergamo Orio al Serio is a secondary airport servicing Milan. It is located only 50 kilometers from the city center, making it more reasonable, distance-wise at least, than some of the other airports on the list. Consequently, it is much more popular with budget travellers and airport sleepers. However, while it may be popular it certainly isn’t adored. A few voters submitted comments saying the best way to fix the airport was to destroy it. Irritation aside, problems arise at this airport because of its small size. There is a lack of seating throughout, and because so many sleep here, travellers consistently report being woken up and moved and make space for cleaners. Other grievances stem from the lack of Wi-Fi, the lack of electrical outlets and the short-tempered security staff. But again – budget airlines make this a cheaper option than Milan’s other two airports. See also our Worst Airports in Europe.

9. Berlin Tegel International Airport, Germany (TXL)

Worst Airports of 2014: Berlin Tegel Airport

Lights are on, cleaners and security walk around and there is limited seating, however you are not hassled and you feel safe. – pocketdragon

Tegel is badly in need of some love. Originally designed in the 1970s, this terminal really struggles to meet the growing volume of travellers keen to visit this fantastic city. As such, seating is limited, queues are long, restaurants are crowded and hallways offer little personal space. What’s more – if you do fly in here, its not like you are even saving a ton of money. Most budget airlines fly into neighbouring Schönefeld instead! The positive for Tegel is that it is located very close to the city center and that it is slated to become obsolete. Construction on the new Berlin Brandenburg airport should be finished in 2016, which will completely replace TXL! See also our Worst Airports in Europe.

10. New York City LaGuardia International Airport, USA (LGA)

Worst Airports of 2014: La Guardia Airport

Once through security a beer is pretty much a necessity. But wait! No can do because the bar is on the other side. – a traveller

Poor LaGuardia consistently sits at the top of this not-so-coveted list. This worn out airport repeatedly makes it to the top of least favourite North American airports because of its security lines, drab décor, poor restaurant selection, lackluster cleanliness, counterintuitive layout and the notoriously unhelpful staff. While a departure from here is manageable, a delay here becomes the definition of mind numbing. Sleeping here is even less appealing, given that businesses shut down and the chairs all seem to have armrests and no cushion. This year, LGA’s reputation took one of its biggest hits to date with a slam from Vice-President Joe Biden himself who likened the facility to a “third world country”. We can only hope a refurbishment or total overhaul is in the not-so-distant future. See also our Worst Airports in North America.