Sleeping in Airports

Worst Airports of 2019

Sitting in harsh contrast to the airports featured on our Best Airports list we find the following “winners” for the world’s worst airports of 2019.  The entries on this list are a mix of airports that were able to truly offend travellers consistently throughout the year.  Crowded gates, limited food options, dirty bathrooms, terrible customer service, endless queues, and even alleged corruption are just a few of the common grievances travellers shared. 

Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport, Saudi Arabia (JED)

“Small and overcrowded, noisy with the worst intercom in the world, slow to process, filthy everything, bathrooms are atrocious and make you gag when you walk in, absolutely nothing to do except wait for either your flight or catch some disease (whichever comes first)” – survey respondent

Described by one exasperated traveller as “the most horrendous airport in the history of aviation,” Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport continues its streak on our list of Worst Airports in the World. The litany of complaints includes disorganization, filthy bathrooms, rude and arrogant staff, and lack of decent food. Most survey respondents discourage anyone from spending time in this airport, yet its prominent role in the Hajj pilgrimage makes this unavoidable for many travellers.

 

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New York City LaGuardia Airport, USA (LGA)

“LaGuardia Airport is embarrassing! For a city as heavily populated as New York with almost 20 milllion people, this is by far the worst and the most ancient airport I have ever set foot on. We are not in a Third World Country though it feels like it.” – survey respondent

New York City LaGuardia Airport is no stranger to our Worst Airports list, but your experience will vary greatly depending on the terminal you are using. Expect an odd blend of old and new facilities as the airport undergoes a massive renovation, essentially building a “new” airport while continuing to use the current facilities. Travellers describe poor food options and limited or non-existent seating in some areas. Sleeping here may be impossible or strongly discouraged. Customer service was an oft-cited negative, though given the described noise levels, perhaps airport staff have cause to be cranky.

 

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London Stansted Airport, England (STN)

“Once as full of people sleeping on the floor as a summer camp full of cub scouts, the airport now doesn’t tolerate and has NO SPACE for people trying to sleep in the area before security and arrivals.” – survey respondent

London Stansted Airport received a litany of complaints—rude staff, dirty bathrooms, poor WiFi, overcrowded gates, limited seating, bad food, poor signage, cold temperatures, no charging outlets, and more. By far the most common complaint? The prohibition against sleeping. Long gone are the days of “Camp Stansted”. In 2018, airport officials banned all airport sleeping, and the staff are reportedly militant about enforcing the rule. Travellers are not allowed to sit on the floors, despite the obvious lack of seating. Even worse, staff seemingly harass those lucky travellers in seats who nod off, slouch, or simply look too comfortable.

 

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Juba International Airport, Sudan (JUB)

“It is a festering stinkhole of human misery, staffed by criminals and despots. Never go there.” – survey respondent

Given Juba Airport’s location in a war zone, travellers shouldn’t expect much in the way of comfort or services. Still, a new terminal opened last year, replacing tents which had been functioning as terminal space. Travellers report the new terminal is basic and too small, but it was enough for one traveller to call it a “heck of an improvement”.

 

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Santorini International Airport, Greece (JTR)

“There is one international departure lounge and often there are maybe three international flights departing at the same time.” – survey respondent

Travellers flock to Santorini for island vibes and beautiful sunsets, but, year after year, Santorini Airport delivers a negative travel experience that one person called a “disgrace”. The problem here is that the airport is too small and understaffed to handle the volume of passengers passing through. Travellers describe long queues outside in the hot sun, disorganized check-in processes, and overcrowded gate areas. The few seats are always full, so expect people standing, milling about, and blocking the staircases.

 

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Cairo International Airport, Egypt (CAI)

The airport smelled of rotting fruit. Toilets were dirty beyond belief. There is no good place to lay or sit comfortably. Paying for the lounge was not an option either as it was just as bad.” – survey respondent

Cairo International Airport is the second busiest in Africa, and it shows. Survey respondents describe the terminals as dirty and airport staff as unprofessional and rude.  Sleeping is discouraged here, as scam artists and thieves are cited as reasons to stay alert at all times.

 

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Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, Ethiopia (ADD)

“The floor is dirty – and they still have the gall to make people remove shoes at the scanners.” – survey respondent

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport had a big year: tripling its passenger capacity thanks to the official opening of its newly expanded terminal. According to survey respondents, however, the expansion and renovations have not yet managed to improve the airport experience. While the new international boarding gates are said to be clean and comfortable, numerous reviewers report dirty facilities, chaos, limited seating, long bathroom queues, and few dining options. Described as a “nightmare” for those with long layovers, prospects for sleeping here are not good.

 

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Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Bangladesh (DAC)

“Mosquito infested dirt shack. Soldiers with machine guns asking for bribes and tips. Totally unorganized and chaotic – like the entire country.” – a traveller

A crowded airport in a crowded city, Dhaka Airport has plenty of negatives, starting with disorganization, chaos, long queues, rude staff, and extremely limited services and food options. Due to the airport’s location, mosquitoes are common, so don’t forget your bug repellent. Several travellers also describe airport staff seeking bribes or “tips”, so stay alert.

 

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Murtala Muhammed (Lagos) International Airport, Nigeria (LOS)

“It’s the worst airport I have been to. It’s toilet is so dirty and that scent makes u disgusted.” – survey respondent

Despite taking in a reported $150 million USD each year in passenger service charges, voters suggest the authorities at Lagos Airport aren’t using that money to improve the airport’s crumbling infrastructure. Referred to as “an embarrassment to the country,” survey respondents report dirty floors, smelly bathrooms, broken escalators, attempted extortion, and general decay. The air conditioning is an oft-mentioned complaint, with one traveller saying it blows hot air.

 

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London Luton Airport, England (LTN)

“Luton is ridiculous. It looks like a warehouse that someone set up an airport in.” – survey respondent

Likened to a warehouse and a 1970s-era airport, LTN leaves a lot to be desired. Grievances include stark lighting, limited seating, and a coating of dust and dirt throughout. Disorganized check-in and baggage drop means you should expect long lines, but make sure you’re in the correct line, as the queues are confusing, often closing at random. Queues for the bathrooms are another problem—there just aren’t enough toilets for the volume of passengers.

 

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Travellers were asked to rate their airport experiences based on these factors:

  • Comfort (Gate seating, rest zone availability, etc.)
  • Services, facilities & things to do
  • Food options
  • Immigration/security
  • Customer service
  • Navigation & ease of transit
  • Cleanliness
  • Sleepability
Take the 2020 Airport Survey

published October 19, 2019