Date: October 18, 2015
This year, the worst airports in Europe were found either in Greece or within the vicinity of major city centres. Common between them all was that these terminals were aptly described as being decrepit, depressing and decidedly crowded. These airports have few redeeming features other than the occasional bout of free Wi-Fi and a sense of camaraderie that builds between large groups of airport sleepers. So, for those who find themselves in the Greek islands or at one of the low-cost carrier airports, be sure to prepare yourself with snacks, entertainment and a ton of patience for the inevitably long queues.
These are the Top 10 Worst Airports in Europe based on overall airport experience as determined by voters in our 2015 Airport Survey:
1. Beauvais-Tille International Airport, France (BVA)
It is not an airport of the first world and is 80km away from Paris – a traveller
As one voter put it, “if the 7th Circle of Hell were a place on earth, it would be ‘Paris’ Beauvais-Tillé”. Located in what is plausibly a sparsely furnished converted factory with pre-fabricated “temporary” 10-year old extensions, BVA is unequivocally the worst airport in Europe. Grievances from voters are detailed and far-reaching, but generally revolve around the absence of chairs, kind staff, toilets and hygienic standards. Serviced predominantly by budget airline carriers, passengers often feel duped upon arrival, when they learn that they are in fact an expensive 88 kilometers away from Paris central, with basically no affordable options for public transport. Allegedly, there is Wi-Fi available at a cost to help ease your sorrows as you wait elbow-to-elbow for your flight; however, getting your hands on the password is apparently another mission in and of itself. See also Worst Airports in the World.
Airport Services/Facilities: WiFi ($). For more information, visit our Paris Beauvais Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of _osquare_ on Instagram
2. Santorini Thira National Airport, Greece (JTR)
Herded into waiting area and kept there for ages with no air conditioning. Tempers were getting frayed. – a traveller
Santorini Thira Airport is the first of four Greek airports to appear on this list of worst airports. While our best airports in Europe showcased a number of teeny terminals that did “small” extremely well, JTR is most definitely not one of them. Here, voters tell us there is an obvious shortage of chairs and restaurants, and some flaws with the security processes. Airport cleanliness also leaves much to be desired. While a number of survey respondents recommend that this terminal be torn down and re-built from scratch, we can appreciate the unfeasibility of this given Greece’s current financial history. So, we can only hope for a few improvements in the near future. Negatives aside, the good news is that once you clear the Santorini terminal, you’re in for an absolute treat on this Greek island!
Airport Services/Facilities: none. For more information, visit our Santorini Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of suzettevalle on Instagram
3. Rhodes International Airport, Greece (RHO)
The toilets had no toilet seats, on any of them. There was no toilet paper, no soap to wash hands and no towels to dry. – a traveller
Greece’s second airport to appear on our worst airports list is Rhodes Island, located in the Mediterranean Sea near the Turkish border. While again, we are sympathetic to the country’s financial woes, travellers are consistently left confused as to why there are long line-ups for every single service within the terminal. From check-in to security to duty-free shopping, passengers report finding queues and under-staffing problems quite literally everywhere. There are also a number of washroom-related complaints. Chief among them being the absence of toilet seats, toilet paper, soap and towels. And, there is almost a complete lack of any kind of shop for even the most basic of snacks. If travelling through Rhodes, be sure to arrive well prepared with snacks, entertainment and a serious amount of patience.
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($). For more information, visit our Rhodes Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of nicolelk on Instagram.
4. Crete Heraklion International Airport, Greece (HER)
This is the worst airport I have ever been to. Unhelpful staff, a ridiculous system where there is mostly only 1 X Ray machine working – a traveller
Greece is back again with Crete’s primary airport: Heraklion International Airport. Loathed for many of the same reasons as its predecessors, voters wondered why a popular travel destination would limit itself to one working X-Ray machine. With out of control line-ups for – you guessed it – every airport activity, survey respondents recommend avoiding the airport at all costs during the summer months. If however you find yourself with no other options but to spend the night here, one traveller recommends showing up very early to snatch two couches on the second floor before security, popular with overnighters. Located near some offices, they are virtually the only cushioned and moderately comfortable spot to hang out. And, because the lights in the airport are barely functioning, you might just find yourself with a bit of darkness overnight.
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Heraklion Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of danhocking_ on instagram
5. Berlin Schönefeld International Airport, Germany (SXF)
There is insufficient seating for the number of people using the airport. – a traveller
Berlin Schönefeld Airport predominantly serves low-cost airlines travelling in Europe, like Condor, RyanAir and easyJet. Voters described the terminal’s facilities as borderline archaic, with little in the way of chairs, restaurants and shops. They also felt as though there were far more passengers here than the terminal could realistically accommodate. The good news here is that there is a serious airport sleeper culture, and that the benches on the second floor in Terminal A are alright for a rest. There is also 60 minutes of free Wi-Fi, which can apparently be extended by re-logging in. It is also worth noting that Schönefeld will soon be merged with Berlin Bradenburg airport – an international terminal currently under construction. This airport will replace both Schönefeld and Berlin Tegel, acting as a flashy new hub for all flights into Berlin. It is set to open sometime in 2017.
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • 60 minutes Free WiFi • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Berlin Schönefeld Airport Guide.
6. Corfu International Airport, Greece (CFU)
Our prison population have deluxe standards of food, entertainment and comfort in comparison to this unhygienic cesspit of an airport. – a traveller
The final Greek airport to appear on our list of worst airports in Europe is Corfu – a terminal that receives flights to this famous island from a variety of European cities. Though it hardly elicits the same degree of frustration when compared to the other Greek terminals on the list, one voter was all the while concerned that prison inmates receive more in terms of food standards, entertainment and comfort. True or not, Corfu’s airport is small, drab and sparsely furnished with uncomfortable chairs. Lines for security are consistently long, and staff appear to be decidedly uninterested in helping travellers out. The in-house café serves but the bare minimum, and shopping opportunities are all but non-existent. If travelling through here, give yourself ample time and bring ample supplies in order to salvage your happy memories of what is otherwise a stunning island.
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounge ($). For more information, visit our Corfu Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of krasavka86 on Instagram
7. Rome Ciampino International Airport, Italy (CIA)
There are nowhere near enough seats to cater for the number of people who use this airport. – a traveller
Ciampino is a secondary airport for Rome that caters largely to budget airlines and travellers. A fairly permanent fixture on our list of worst airports in Europe, CIA frustrates passengers with its lack of seating, long queues and drab architecture. The unlimited free Wi-Fi does obscure an overall lack of facilities, though cold overnight temperatures bring everyone back to reality. The positive? CIA has a supremely efficient connection with Rome’s primary train station – something the Rome’s primary airport, Fiumicino, does not offer.
Airport Services/Facilities: Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Rome Ciampino Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of mariyaruss on Instagram.
8. Brussels Charleroi International Airport, Belgium (CRL)
I got the feeling that this airport does everything to hate it. – a traveller
Coming in at 8th on the worst airports list is the budget airport for Brussels, receiving flights from RyanAir, Wizz Air, Pegasus Airlines and Jetairfly. Described by one voter as “unsuitable for passengers”, this terminal reportedly fails to offer basics like sufficient seating, heat, outlets and free Wi-Fi. There are no 24-hour food options and there is no transport to the city centre late in the evening. However, the good news is that there are often quite a number of airport overnighters, making for a sense of community if nothing else. If you plan to join their ranks, be sure to bring a cushion and a blanket, since you will most definitely be reduced to sleeping on the floor.
Airport Services/Facilities: WiFi ($) • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Brussels Charleroi Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of inge_gierts on Instagram
9. Bergamo Orio al Serio International Airport, Italy (BGY)
The Lines becomes so long that they stop people from the check in counters. – a traveller
Milan’s budget airport, Il Caravaggio or Bergamo, has been another fixture on our worst airports lists for several years. Once ranked the worst airport in Europe, small victories have been made over the previous years, like the recent installation of sleep pods and the opening of a landside lounge and of a few more cafes. That said, a number of grievances still stand. First, is the pricey 50km journey from Milan to this isolated terminal. Once there, crowds of people within a tiny terminal further aggravate voters – to say nothing of what happens when security shuts down all but a small landside section overnight. With no free Wi-Fi, very few plugs and strict security staff, BGY still has a ways to go before escaping from this list.
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Sleep Pods ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($). For more information, visit our Bergamo Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of gleicemanhani on Instagram
10. London Luton International Airport, England (LTN)
London Luton is an airport used frequently by budget travellers and airlines. Unfortunately, while your flight may be cheaper here, your experience within the terminal will be pricey. Pounds start flying out of your wallet when arriving at the airport, given that all drivers are charged £2.50 to enter the general vicinity of the terminal. You’ll also be charged if you’d like to use the Wi-Fi in excess of your free 30 minutes, and again if you require a plastic baggie for liquids at security or a trolley for your luggage. Food, though available 24-hours a day, is of poor value and the security queues are often of a truly remarkable length. Because this airport is so popular with budget travellers, comfortable sleeping space is also in high demand. Armrests make sleep-able benches almost impossible to find, leaving travellers to compete for workable floor space.
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • 30 minutes Free WiFi • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our London Luton Airport Guide.
Photo courtesy of boujois on Instagram
Continue on to read about the Best Airports in Europe.