Ranking and rating airports is a bit like ranking and rating trips to the DMV. Nobody really enjoys them, and everybody has a “worst ever” story. However, industry experts have complied hard performance statistics, traveler reviews, and other key criteria to separate true chaotic fiascos from relatively minor annoyances in order to definitively identify the worst of the worst when it comes to terrible airports.
Here are the top five major US airports to avoid if you can!
1. LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Located in the New York City borough of Queens, LaGuardia Airport has undergone some significant renovations in recent years, but its confusing, maze-like structure remains, and its older sections are still dilapidated and drab to say the least. And thanks to its slow TSA processing, you can expect to wait for hours in line while inching toward your gate. But thanks to its wonky flight schedule, you may still catch your flight. Nearly 2,600 flights out of LaGuardia were delayed in the first few months of 2022 alone.
2. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
A single aerial photograph of Los Angeles International Airport speaks volumes about the inefficiency of the Los Angeles International Airport. Positioned around a disorganized, U-shaped, double-decker roadway, this sprawling airport has nine different terminals that are extremely difficult to travel among. Connecting flight passengers must often take a long shuttle bus ride to reach a terminal that requires a second security screening upon entrance. Coupled with its legendarily poor customer service and inconvenient public transpiration options, its convoluted layout makes LAX an airport to miss.
3. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
The Philadelphia International Airport landed dead last on a comprehensive 2021 passenger satisfaction survey by the respected consumer research authority J.D. Power. This rapidly aging airport has been described as dated, decrepit, and downright dirty. According to one review, even its newly installed fillable water bottle stations dispense water that “tastes like it was drained from a pool.” Other complains about PHL include its long security screening lines and its terrible restaurant offerings.
4. O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
The recipient of the lowest ranking on the 2021 J.D. Power air travel passenger satisfaction list in the "mega" airports category, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has long suffered from regular flight cancellations and delays. Considering the windy and snowy conditions that are all too common in the area, many of these cancellations and delays are beyond the airport’s control. However, O’Hare also suffers from overcrowding, parking issues, frequent baggage mix-ups, and unclear terminal signage among other problems.
5. Denver International Airport (DIA)
Like O’Hare, the Denver International Airport is inhibited by its natural surroundings. Both incoming and outgoing DIA flights are commonly subjected to a phenomenon called "mountain wave” up and down drafts. Due to the presence of nearby mountain ridges, shaky approaches and departures are the norm whenever wind speeds exceed around 25 knots. Beyond the turbulence, DIA is despised for long TSA lines, frequent flight delays, terrible parking, limited shuttle service, poor public transit, and many issues that are common among the other airports on this list.