Date: October 15, 2016
In North America, the worst airports are those that flounder when it comes to cleanliness, comfort and helpfulness. Terminals like LaGuardia have problems with holes in the ceiling and indoor puddles. Others on the list have perpetually broken toilets that, even if working, wouldn’t accommodate the volume of travellers. Things like no free Wi-Fi, unnecessarily long lines, and uncomfortable seats make a bad thing worse – to say nothing of what happens when winter storm delays roll through.
Here are the Top 10 Worst Airports in North America based on overall airport experience, as determined by voters in our 2016 Airport Survey.
1. New York City LaGuardia International Airport, USA (LGA)
It’s totally ghetto and needs a complete makeover. Still stuck in the 1970s. – survey respondent
Surprise, surprise. Once again, New York LaGuardia Airport has been voted worst airport in North America. In spite of perpetual construction, improvements are so rarely seen at LGA. New diner style chairs are no more comfortable than the old ones, and the grid-locked crowds continue to be a massive problem. The terminal-wide scrub travellers yearn for has yet to happen, and a leaky roof is creating indoor puddles. Last year, a $4 billion dollar rehabilitation plan was unveiled and we have skeptical hopes that one day in our lifetime, we’ll see this plan realized. Until then, enjoy your 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi and hope that your plane leaves on schedule! ( Photo courtesy of edgarcasillas / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi (30 minutes). For more information, visit our New York City LaGuardia Airport Guide.
2. Miami International Airport, USA (MIA)
Have used this airport on many occasions and each time we visit the queues at passport control are the worst we have ever encountered. We now refuse to use this airport and drive instead. – survey respondent
Miami International Airport claims the title of second worst airport in North America thanks to massive lines, huge distances and confusing signage. Broken toilets and dirty floors are contributing factors to MIA’s demise in this year’s survey results, as is the shortage of benches and chairs. While there are cots available for stranded passengers, they are especially difficult to find – and one voter reported that theirs broke in the middle of the night. Couple that with cold temperatures and loud music and you’re sure to interrupt even the most tired traveller’s sleep. 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 ($). For more information, visit our Miami Airport Guide.
See also: Worst Airports for Layovers
3. Newark Liberty International Airport, USA (EWR)
I had three hours to spare landing from Vienna and barely made my flight struggling through endless customs and security lines and luggage transfers. – survey respondent
Newark Airport climbed up to secure the spot of third worst airport in North America thanks to perpetually broken moving walkways, long queues, and some unhelpful staff. Described as an airport “with so much potential”, EWR seems to fall short again and again. Things that might improve life here include a deep cleaning, a reduction in the resident pigeon population, and a bit more efficiency and crowd control. If your layover is less than four hours, you might be okay here… But any more than that, and you’ll be begging for a chair without an armrest! ( Photo courtesy of j_leta / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi (30 minutes) • 24-hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • For more information, visit our Newark Airport Guide.
See also: Worst Airports for Layovers
4. Kansas City International Airport, USA (MCI)
Best thing to do is tear it down & start over – survey respondent
This year, Kansas City International Airport joins this regional list of shame. Grievances here begin with the bathrooms, and the total shortage of toilets throughout. Couple that with the lack of airside restaurants and you’ve got a terminal full of travellers desperately looking for a bathroom or a bite to eat. To be fair, on a quiet day, Kansas City is easy enough to navigate. However, when busy flights roll in you’re bound to feel cramped and claustrophobic. The saving grace? MCI offers comfortable chairs (albeit with armrests) and free Wi-Fi. This all makes the terminal functional but certainly not special. ( Photo courtesy of sherryist23 / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Kansas City Airport Guide.
5. Los Angeles International Airport, USA (LAX)
The Bradley International Terminal is an insult to foreign travelers. It is constantly dirty, unorganized and staffed by very incoherent people that are not able to manage foreign travelers. – survey respondent
Los Angeles International Airport has a lot of terminal personalities, some of which are more amenable than others. The Tom Bradley International terminal is said to be average, and could benefit from a few more armrest-free chairs. However, the kids beach play area behind the food court is both fun for kids, and good for an overnight sleep. Terminal 1 by contrast is definitely sub-par, with its dirty bathrooms, crowded gates, and patchy air conditioning. Terminals 3 – 8 aren’t terribly well-loved either, thanks to some less-than-palatable staff, rules that force sleepers into the baggage claim area, cold temperatures and loud music. While LAX has seen a number of upgrades lately, one voter said it was “like putting lipstick on a pig”. It seems that here, free Wi-Fi is hardly the reward needed! ( Photo courtesy of y__ryan / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi. For more information, visit our Los Angeles Airport Guide.
6. Kahului Maui International Airport, USA (OGG)
Needs an immediate upgrade just to meet a minimum standard of sanitation. – survey respondent
Maui’s International Airport is another new addition to this year’s list of Worst Airports in North America. Here, the main concerns revolve around this extremely dated airport’s capacity. Comments suggest that this airport needs a facelift at a minimum – and an overhaul if possible. Seating throughout the airport is at a premium when there are several flights departing. Lineups are generally too long, and the bathrooms are overused and under-cleaned. Couple all this with a number of mosquitoes and you’ve got a recipe for a bleak airport experience. ( Photo credit by claudia_wyler / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: none. For more information, visit our Maui Airport Guide.
7. Mexico City Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez, Mexico (MEX)
It is too small for the amount of travelers the airport gets on a daily basis. The people who work there are not well prepared and they are rude. – survey respondent
Mexico City International Airport is another new inductee onto the worst airports list this year! Like Maui, voters were really frustrated by the never-ending lineups and the absence of comfortable chairs. The lack of information signs and the antique infrastructure in sections of the airport has the capacity to make some voters feel “hopeless and unsafe” in a “dark labyrinth atmosphere”. Bleak, to say the least. For those with long layovers here, we’ve got a tip: treat yourself to a drink at Starbucks and take advantage of their free Wi-Fi with purchase. At least here when you pay for Wi-Fi, you get a coffee in return. ( Photo courtesy of nabillesfemmes / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • WiFi ($). For more information, visit our Mexico City Airport Guide.
8. Honolulu International Airport, USA (HNL)
While I was only transiting this airport it lacked places to sit & food outlets – survey respondent
The combination of no air-conditioning, no free Wi-Fi and uncomfortable seating make Honolulu International Airport one of North America’s worst airports. This tropical airport is routinely hot and humid (or much too cold), which are unpleasant conditions for the epic hikes travellers need to make between gates and the curb. Freezing cold gates full of uncomfortable seats and a sea of armrests do little to enhance the traveller experience. Dirty bathrooms fail to offer much reprieve to the weary, but the sleeping area is in theory, a nice touch, for those with qualifying flight departure times. That said, a few sleepers who sought refuge in this designated area complained that it was “lit up like a baseball field” and noisy the whole night long. Best to enjoy Hawaii while you’re there! ( Photo courtesy of iwatchpaintdry808 / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • WiFi ($). For more information, visit our Honolulu Airport Guide.
See also: Worst Airports for Sleeping
9. New York City John F. Kennedy International Airport, USA (JFK)
We missed our flight due to extremely long lines at the American counters and had to spend 15 hours in the airport. – survey respondent
Rounding off the trifecta of New York City airports on the list of Worst Airports in North America is JFK Airport. Sure, it’s lightyears better than LaGuardia, but that’s hardly a victory. What travellers loathe here are the long lines, labyrinth-like hallways and the insufficient seating. To be fair to JFK, some areas are definitely better than others. Terminal 1 is noted for being dirty, noisy and uncomfortable, but Terminal 5 has a few good benches and sleep-friendly features. Terminal 8 sounds to be aesthetically better than the bunch but, like anywhere in the airport, you’re likely to face long patience-testing lines. While JFK is certainly the lesser of three evils in NYC, it’s hardly one to throw praise at. ( Photo courtesy of aniluphillips / Instagram )
Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • 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 for Layovers
10. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, USA (IAH)
Every time I’ve been through this airport it’s an hour and a half minimum through immigration and customs. – survey respondent
As a final destination or home airport, Houston Intercontinental isn’t all that bad. While it’s nothing terribly special, it does offer up comfortable chairs, decent food courts, free Wi-Fi and many charging stations – something we haven’t seen elsewhere on this worst airports list thus far. Where things start to deteriorate is with the transit passengers who participated in this year’s survey. Long lines, spawned by too many travellers and not enough immigration officers, lead to far too many missed flights. These kinds of fixable shortages drive passengers to the brink! ( 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 for Layovers
Negatives aside, there are a number of airports in North America that really do cater to their passengers. Read on to learn about the Best Airports in North America!