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airport terminal chairsUgly architecture, crazy traffic patterns and parking in the hinterlands. Confusing signage, endless corridors, torn carpeting and uncomfortable seating. Not to mention endless delays, lost baggage and I-have-to-take-a-what-to-get-there gates. Airport terminals can seem soulless, sapping the joy from a trip. And the biggest offenders have made it onto Frommer’s list of the 10 worst airport terminals.

At the top of the list (or should we say the bottom?): JFK Airport’s Terminal 3 in New York City. Built in 1960 and now Delta’s international hub, the eyesore is set for demolition. Frommer’s describes it as having “a sense that the cleaning crew gave up in despair a while ago.” Perhaps they were given a different tear-down date.

Poor Terminal 3. Its neighbor, JFK Airport ‘sTerminal 5, made it onto Frommer’s earlier list of the World’s 10 Most Beautiful Airport Terminals. It’s not easy being the ugly house on the block.

What Makes a Great Airport?

Smack in the middle of the worst list is Amman Queen Alia Airport. Tell me how an airport named for a woman can receive such a bad rating for bathroom cleanliness. Sad but true: Skytrax, a global consulting firm, ranked it low on such basic necessities.

Chicago’s Midway Airport, which the U.S. Bureau of Transportation recently ranked as the nation’s worst for on-time departures, was only 10th on the Frommer’s list. (They decided the Windy City’s notorious winter weather should take the lion’s share of blame.)

Except for three hours stuck on the tarmac in Philadelphia with a stranger squeezing my hand (she was seriously afraid of flying and her meds had worn off), I’ve had fairly good luck in airports. I do remember nearly missing a flight out of Orlando International Airport years ago, just barely catching that ridiculous train to the gate in time. While the airport’s Web site insists it’s only about a 68-second ride, it seemed interminable as I worried that my attempt to reach my flight in time would be, well, terminal.

Which airport is at the top of your worst list?

— written by Jodi Thompson

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6 Responses to “The World’s Worst Airport Terminals”

  1. soliteyah says:

    Personally, I found Miami to be the most depressing airport I’ve ever visited — it just seemed old and gray and dingy, at least the part I was in.

  2. Lee says:

    Personally as bad as the regular airport at PHILA is the international terminal is HORRID!

  3. Jane Carhart says:

    My vote for the absolutely worst awful don’t go there if you don’t have to airport is Rome’s FCO Leonardo da Vinci. No joke. It combines all the worst features of travelling or living in Italy.

  4. My vote is for the Karachi, Pakistan, domestic terminal, where I spent about six hours (2:30AM-8:30AM) for a connecting flight. The one concession stand had a man selling cups of tea in china cups with saucers; when he ran out of china, he walked around the waiting room collecting them; I don’t know whether he actually washed them. There was no drinking fountain (I wouldn’t have drunk the water anyway) but a huge stainless steel box on legs filled with water, and a spigot; there was a metal cup attached to the box by a chain; that was the communal drinking cup.

  5. Deb English says:

    My husband and I were in Rome’s Fiumicino (da Vinci) Airport in November and thought it was okay. Sort of boring sitting there for a couple of hours with not much to look at or do, but not horrendous by any means. It was clean, which is saying something these days. Philly’s International Airport is much worse, at least when it comes to going through Customs, which took us over THREE HOURS, standing the entire time.

  6. Mary says:

    Well I’ve never been through customs at Philly, but the regular airport is just fine if you ask me. By the time you walk from your plane to the baggage carousel, your bags are there.
    As for departures, the lines moved swiftly when I have gone through.
    Atlanta also was no problem and they have a smoking area, which most airports do not.

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