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The World's Worst Airport  
User currently offlineGateHold From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (9 years 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 24740 times:

Funny "Ask the Pilot" column this week over at Salon (by Patrick Smith, a regular to this board)...


>>> All around there are people, but few of them are passengers. They are touts, hawkers, vagrants, drifters, thieves -- a melange of dubiously intended hangers-around, eyeing you with the stubborn, languid glare of a vulture. There is nowhere to sit, no seats. Which really is all right because the worst thing you can do is cease moving. The approximately 5:1 scoundrel-to-passenger ratio ensures you’ll never remain unmolested for more than a few seconds. The moment you stop, somebody is hovering over your shoulder, mumbling incoherently. Brush him away, and he instantly replaced by a man asking if you’d like to buy a plastic watch or a counterfeit phone card. Resistance is futile, and in the honored tradition of third world hustlers, he is a man of many trades. Do you need any souvenir trinkets? Do you need to exchange currency? Do you need a hotel room; it’s just up the road and his “cousin” is the “owner”? No? Okay, well then maybe you’re the giving sort, and would be generous enough to hand over some money, along with a few of your clothes? You know, a gift, a small cadeau -- to invoke that ubiquitous, reckless plea that floats about French Africa like a desperate wail. Your sneakers… what are those, New Balance? “Yes, you can give me those please, thank you. I can have your sneakers now. Cadeau? Cadeau?” <<<

The full story is here:

108 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineAustinAirport From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 644 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (9 years 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 24619 times:

Well its definitely not Austin. But I do think that any airport that you have a connecting flight out of can be unpredictable. So the smaller the better.  Smile

Whoever said you can do anything you set your mind to has obviously never tried to slam a revolving door!!!
User currently offlineLHRBFSTrident From UK - Northern Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 676 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (9 years 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 24405 times:

it was the thought of the Dakar stop that sent me running to take AF/SA from LAX-CDG-JNB last month rather than DL's LAX-ATL-DKR-JNB even though DL was cheaper and shorter....(well, that and the prospect of 20 hours in one of their '3rd world' 763s...)

User currently offlineFlyf15 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (9 years 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 24388 times:

I thought it was Memphis

User currently offlineAirbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 9885 posts, RR: 10
Reply 4, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23671 times:

I can't comment on the World's worst 'cause I haven't visited them all [yet  Smile ], but MIA can't be too far down that list for sure.

User currently offlineCraigw From South Africa, joined Aug 2005, 115 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23629 times:

Dakar actually has a pretty nice business class lounge..... I've been to a lot worst in Africa and the one that springs to mind is Douala.

User currently offlineBennett123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 9172 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23594 times:

There was a TV series a few years ago about Lagos.

User currently offlineCHRISBA777ER From UK - England, joined Mar 2001, 5964 posts, RR: 61
Reply 7, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23575 times:

LHR Terminal 1.

Nuff said. :s

What do you mean you dont have any bourbon? Do you know how far it is to Houston? What kind of airline is this???
User currently offlineKL911 From Netherlands, joined Jul 2003, 5500 posts, RR: 16
Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23553 times:

I'll take Dakar anyday over CDG and LHR......  Smile

User currently offlineBennett123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 9172 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23553 times:

LHR T2 and T4 not much better.

User currently offlineVV701 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 8664 posts, RR: 25
Reply 10, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23484 times:

Of course it depends on your definition of 'worst'. But at BRR the runway drainage is often appalling and the ramp slopes away from the terminal building:

View Large View Medium
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Photo © David Unsworth - WorldAirImages
View Large View Medium
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Photo © James Gardner

But at least it does not get the

Quoting GateHold (Thread starter):
touts, hawkers, vagrants, drifters, thieves -- a melange of dubiously intended hangers-around, eyeing you with the stubborn, languid glare of a vulture

that are reported elsewhere.

On the plus side the views from the terminal building at BRR are outstanding. But they do have difficulty sticking to the timetable - something, they say, to do with the moon or the tides or something.

User currently offlineJaysit From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23385 times:

I always thought that Bombay was the worst.

Until I visited Lagos.

But that was before I visited the old American Airlines terminal at JFK.

Now that was truly the wretchedest airport terminal in the world.

User currently offline787KQ From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 549 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (9 years 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 23347 times:

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 6):
There was a TV series a few years ago about Lagos.

The international terminal is surprisingly comfortable and efficient, and the terrible stories of being hustled have greatly diminished. Definitely not one of the worst.

Quoting Craigw (Reply 5):
I've been to a lot worst in Africa and the one that springs to mind is Douala.

It has been a while so I don't recall well. This was a chaotic mess to get through and confusing. The confusion seemed to be caused by the staff. Take an expediter.

User currently offlineBennett123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 9172 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (9 years 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 23263 times:

2 that spring to mind are the old Athens, and Cairo, (I managed to get into Business on the flight back, but the Economy was pretty economy).

User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4909 posts, RR: 13
Reply 14, posted (9 years 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 23192 times:

As Patrick Smith points out, Dakar is one of the world's great Caravanserais - like Samarkand in the past. How disappointing then to read that the romance of old flying boats and Concorde has been replaced by sordid reality!

BOM, however, has no excuse. The late-night international departure experience leaves a very poor impression - are improvements on the way? Aptly named, however - looks like it hasn't been refurbished since Shivaji's days...

User currently offlineOwlEye From Netherlands, joined Feb 2006, 979 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (9 years 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 22985 times:

The worst airport to me was Logan Airport, Boston-MA: very old fashioned, crowdy, chaotic, reconstruction here, reconstruction there, nasty, frightening and annoying US-customs. I thought I stepped 40 years back in time. Unbelievable to get such a first impression of the USA though the city of Boston with its museums and Harvard University made it all right again, very impressive even. Okay it was close after 9/11 but still... Meanwhile the airport has improved I believe...

User currently offlineJycarlisle From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (9 years 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 22949 times:

Before they really cleaned house and remodelled, it was DTW.


User currently offlineMiamiair From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (9 years 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 22821 times:

Quoting Jycarlisle (Reply 16):
Before they really cleaned house and remodelled, it was DTW.

I can't speak for NW's terminal at DTW, but the "other" terminal where American, AirTran & Frontier are at is pure 1970's vintage. It sucks.

User currently offlineAtlantaflyboy From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 73 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (9 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 21658 times:

I still vote for MIA as being the world's worst - a 3rd world airport in one of the 1st world's largest and most vibrant cities ..... I avoid it at ALL possible costs

User currently offlineKL577 From Netherlands, joined Oct 2006, 782 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (9 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 21544 times:

Quoting Craigw (Reply 5):
Dakar actually has a pretty nice business class lounge..... I've been to a lot worst in Africa and the one that springs to mind is Douala.

Many airports in the African continent do not live up to the expectatiosn, but according to many Dakar is one of the best. Kano airport, in my hometown, is very bad, with zero facilities and a first class lounge where you can only get a softdrink. Toilets which haven't been flushed in months (you can imagine the smell), no conveyor belts to speak off, the luggage is being offloaded from the metal containers in front of you. A disproportionate amount of government officials who all need to speak to you about the contains of your luggage. The bus used for transport between terminal and aircraft was built in the 1960s. The cargo-loaders often break down (about 50%) and then they start loading cargo with a common fork-lift truck. Electricity goes off frequently and everything goes dark (including runway lights) untill somebody finds the diesel-generator five minutes later. And this is the international terminal, the domesic terminal is a long shaped barn with zero facilities. And I can go on, but then again, those are the stories that make travel in Africa special.

The best among the wost: Maradi, in Niger republic. There nothing here, except a small terminal building. There is a bar in the airport and chairs and tables at the tarmac. Planes haven't been there for years, but it is the best place to drink a cool beer in town after the heat of the day.

User currently offlineSkyHigh777 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 386 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (9 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 21544 times:

I flew through Dakar on a stop over on my way IAD-JNB, but never got to go inside the airport. I have to say, though, that the worst has to be the old terminal at DCA serving NW, AirTran, etc....that place is just abysmal.

Prepare for take-off.
User currently offlineNeednewairport From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 235 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (9 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 20992 times:

PHL, the crap hole of US's operation out east. The people, the facility, BLAH, hate that place!

User currently offlineSkyHarborsHome From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 273 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (9 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 20992 times:

Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 3):
I thought it was Memphis

Always nice to see intelligence on one of these threads. That is all it takes to get on my respected users list.

MEM, the premier bus station of the South (and I am a Southerner so I am allowed).

Fly CHD!
User currently offlineJamesbaldwyn From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (9 years 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 20993 times:

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 6):
There was a TV series a few years ago about Lagos

Its the work behind the scenes which Is bad

User currently offlineDetroitflyer From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 394 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (9 years 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 20399 times:

Quoting Comorin (Reply 14):
BOM, however, has no excuse. The late-night international departure experience leaves a very poor impression

actually i went to bom about 3 years ago when there was no A/C and everybody was sweating like pigs.....really bad.....
however last summer it was improved....not amazing though

Boiler Up!!!
25 Mdsh00 : The worst airport that I have ever been to would be SVD, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Then again I'm sure there are other Caribbean Airports that a
26 Ghillier : It's a tossup in the US between Miami and Atlanta. Miami is at least modernizing but in Atlanta they are actually proud of that crap hole called Harts
27 BBADXB : TIP - Tripoli, Libya ..closely followed by CCU - Kolkata (Calcutta), India I haven't been to Lagos yet! Thank God. "Fun" airports I've been through: G
28 Post contains images FLYGUY767 : LOL.... I second the opinion to PHL as being the worst. Although there is a very common trend with one airline - US Airways. The bowels of the overcr
29 Tockeyhockey : that is a tremendous article. thanks very much for posting. the writing and imagery were amazing. salon always gets good writers. now i can't complain
30 BBADXB : I don't like LGW, and LHR even less. I do not find DXB that exciting either.
31 1stfl94 : Doesn't compare to Heathrow T3 just before Christmas. Like a zoo with planes!!!
32 BigGSFO : ...yeah, but MIA is one of the best places - anywhere - to people watch. The parade of characters is absolutely wonderful.
33 Swissgabe : I don't know about DL but flying with SA you won't have to leave the aircraft on the DKR stop but stay aboard. So it really doesn't matter what kind
34 Post contains images Riyadhnurse : The old international airport in RUH early 80's.Ladies BR consisted of a water filled trench dug in the floor.
35 Type-Rated : I agree MIA has to be the worst. The AA section is the worst. Smelly and old, period. I don't think MEM is all that bad. But I am also not a fan of th
36 Joeman : Too bad the operators at ORD, EWR and the like can't take heed
37 RL757PVD : My vote is for EWR, solely from a dependability stand point. The terminals arent bad but the operation goes to hell in a hand basket with the first ra
38 Post contains images Ushermittwoch : Well, the worst airport I have ever been to is SDF. That was in 2004, so maybe some things have changed, but it was really shoddy. Now I am going to g
39 Flybyguy : I am in shock and awe at the amount of people that say that U.S. or European airports are some of the worst in the world. The fact that people here s
40 PlaneFreaknATL : What do you mean?? Lagos is FUN! No working A/C, no working moving walkways, no working X-Ray machines, no working lights in the jetways! But serious
41 Post contains images Airtrainer : Can't talk about DKR but for now the worst airport I've visited is TSF, just uuuuuugly ! Hopefully, the city is nice
42 Dtwclipper : 1950's vintage! But not to worry, DTW will be the number 1 airport in the US in '08 when the new north terminal is opened and the Smith terminal is t
43 Post contains images Desh : How can late night departures from BOM count towards it being a bad airport. My understanding is that late night departures (international) are due t
44 CptGirmayTesfa : Well, comparing is always difficult, and airport quality is of course a very relative matter. Does it make sense to compare Kano with Memphis? Perhaps
45 FlyDreamliner : Haha, it is, I've never been to Dakar, but Memphis sets the bar pretty high (and by high, I mean low). Plus, at MEM, you can get any kind of food you
46 RL757PVD : from my experience, JFK is the lesser of the 3 evils...have yet to have a JFK related delay, while at the same time i have yet to have an ontime flig
47 KL577 : You're right, but the thread is titled "The world's worst airport" and starts with a discussion on Dakar-Yof. I have been to quite a number of US air
48 LHPDX : I tought Sea/tac was the worst?
49 Bobnwa : I have to snicker when reading these as people list any airport in western Europe or the US as the worst in the world. They obviously haven't been in
50 RIXrat : The original poster said to list your bad, good and "unusual" airports. On the unusual list I would like to add Tempelhof, Germany, THF. I flew there
51 Csavel : I think one must distinguish between bad in the developing world and bad in the third world. To say EWR or JFK is the worst can only really be said in
52 TACAA320 : TGU is definitely among the worst in this area [Central America]. As a "connecting airport" CCS is great. Specially to avoid MIA [in a route to Europ
53 Sail52115 : FLL Too many East Coast grannies and grampies kvetching about this and that. Oy vey. A
54 B747-437B : I take it you haven't flown through ACC lately then. There are portable airconditioning units installed at every boarding area now and its a frigging
55 Rdukid : Terminal A at RDU...probably not the worst but it is pretty bad.
56 CosmicCruiser : AMEN!!
57 DL777LAX : At least no one has said TBIT at LAX. My worse, would probably have to be Siana Springs, Kenya. Literally, it was no more then a strip of compacted di
58 Jaysit : Yes, it hasn't been refurbished since Shivaji's days, much like most of the ugly, cheaply and badly constructed and terribly maintained crap that the
59 FlyMIA : I guess both of you have never been to AA new concourse in MIA concourse D. Even Concourse E has windows and is not that old. MIA is not a great airp
60 Articulatexpat : It seems to have been cleaned up. Last time I passed through, I expected it to be a chaotic, Third-World dump, as it had been on my previous trips. T
61 Cchan : What about DAC, and it's swamp of mosquitoes inside the terminal...while one is reading an article on the newspaper about dengue fever in Dhaka?
62 Impacto : Its not like you were gonna to get eaten alive if make a stop at DKR. To me I guess, saving money is my number one priority when making long trips, f
63 Post contains images FlyDreamliner : Bob, there are airports in Africa that have runways with goats living on them that are, I'm sure, more pleasant to visit than MEM. Those third world
64 Comorin : Desh, I took a 2 a.m. flight out of BOM on 9W in Feb to LHR. The lines at Gate 4(?) were overflowing on to the street and I knew I'd miss my flight (
65 N62NA : Come on folks, my hometown airport isn't bad at all. I've averaged 30 takeoffs and landings there each of the past 4 years and have never, ever had t
66 Coal : People bash MIA a lot, but apparently you've never been in the North Terminal (Concourse A - C). It's so much better now than 5-7 years ago. The new
67 Csavel : Last time I was there was in November of '06.Glad to hear things are improving at that end, although complaining like that makes me sound like a whin
68 PITops : Boston has had lots and lots of reconstruction. I think it's a whole different place now. The new NW terminal is awesome! Don't get me started with P
69 Poitin : I would put the old Bejing airport (PEK) up there, but that was 10 years ago. At this point, my vote is for LHR, mainly because whenever I get into i
70 DL777LAX : Don't you guys have 2012 all ready? I don't think the IOC lets a city have an Olympics twice in a row.
71 Cedarjet : Man, I love Bergstrom. That is one gorgeous airport. The first time I visited was March 2006, beautiful experience. The approach was an old fashioned
72 Post contains images Poitin : They never will get LHR fixed by 2012, so I want to give them a second chance! From what I heard, the Chinese did to a good job at PEK. Has anyone an
73 Jetmatt777 : MEM is the worst I have ever been to. -Matt
74 LXA340 : Terminal 2B in Newark and the main Terminal at LGA would really need a refurbishment. They look really worn out and unpleasant to be at. Facilities li
75 Max999 : Oh, BAA will fix LHR for the 2012 games. They'll fix it by adding a giant Olympic-themed shopping mall.
76 NorthStarDC4M : Oh yes, and obviously it will be so placed that all passengers have to pass through it 4 times to get from the check in desk to the gate. And it will
77 Post contains links and images MotorHussy : This must surely be one of the world's worst currently... I'd take my chances any day with the flotsam of humanity at DKR over the potentially fatal t
78 CosmicCruiser : What a hoot!! You obviously haven't traveled very far my friend.
79 WJ : Absolutly right. Those responses actualy enhances the stereotype of the American that doesn't know anything about what happens outside US borders. Am
80 B747-437B : Scratch that. The airconditioners at gate 1 were ALL inop last night. With BA, KLM and Egyptair all trying to board from this gate at more-or-less th
81 Asturias : I don't know about the worst in the world, but I have been to many many airports and no airport has been as awful as LHR. It is the worst I have ever
82 Sampa737 : Dang, MEM can't win with any of ya'll, can it? I just went through MIA the other day and it hasn't changed in a long time. I thought there'd be some
83 N702ML : I havent been there in quite some time, but I can't imagine much has changed.... What about the non-Delta facilities in Cincinnati?
84 OA260 : Too true AUS rocks!!! I love that airport and the city!!! Totally agree it was not that great but the US Airways lounge was quite nice. Try GEO (Geor
85 Post contains images Ravel : You sure have visited exotic places and exotic airports! I envy you. I have mostly travelled to modern western airports. I guess my "worst" experience
86 Post contains images Andaman : TMP terminal 2 is a low cost terminal, those tend to be plain and basic
87 MEMbase : Memphis is the most hated city in America...kind of like the new Cleveland. The punchline for every joke, I guess. I gotta think of a place to make f
88 Kearney : and I quote "GTAA, worst airport ever" (no im not the one who writes this in jazz aircraft holds or on the walls at random locations throughout this a
89 Knightsofmalta : I think my top candidates for the worst airport award are CDG and CPH. In both places, no matter how long the transfer time is, I've always ended up h
90 Bennett123 : My experience of Athens was that it was old and dingy, the security waved me through after the scanner rang like a bell twice, the departure lounge wa
91 Naritaflyer : Bombay and Miami airports. Heathrow any terminal is right up there. My definition of bad is filth. Bombay like everything else in India is in a separa
92 Post contains links Bennett123 : http://news.aol.co.uk/go-ahead-for-n...minal/article/20070531115609990020 It looks as if LHR T1/T2 may soon be out of the running. Who wants to drive
93 AirNick : You can't get a more boring and low standard airport than CDG! (Come on, one cafe, one small souvenir shop, and some benches (Don't know which termina
94 Bobnwa : So you are saying that CDG is worse than any airport in Africa or India. How much have you traveled?
95 GFFgold : Ahem, just where do people get the idea that '1st world' airports such as CDG and LHR must surely be 'better' than 3rd world airports? I've been to a
96 Naritaflyer : I agree with you but just take a look at Bombay or pick any airport in Africa, then we'll talk. On the other hand, take any airport in Asia (East of
97 Poitin : They should raffle that honor off at one pound a ticket. It would pay for the new terminal, I am sure.
98 CO777ER : CDG is the Worst mainstream airport in the world! 55min. bus ride to get from 2E to 2C! And then you have to go through security yet again, even thoug
99 EDICHC : Well I have been through many of the major airports quoted in this thread, and for those that quote the US ones, all I can say is you haven't travelle
100 Post contains images AirNick : Quite a lot actually Nick[Edited 2007-06-01 19:27:07]
101 PYP757 : At the same time, AF runs a nice bus service that gets you from CDG to the Arc de Triomphe in 30 mins! Try to beat that going from EWR or JFK to Time
102 Captaink : Everyone bashes MIA, but most are just riding the wave, doing it becuase everyone else is. The question is when last have they even flown through MIA
103 DL777LAX : I'd like to nominate DPS (Bali, Indonesia). Its so damn depressing. And primitive. Very dirty, the air conditioning didn't work either. Very humid ins
104 GFFgold : Hold on there. I agree that DPS is very, very depressing indeed but there is nothing corrupt about the departure tax (passenger service charge). It i
105 DL777LAX : well, they over charged us for the tax, it was only supposed to be $10 bucks a person, there were three of us, they tried to make us pay $50. And the
106 Post contains links Mohunk : Worst airport? For flying in, I pick: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_z5HtME9n8&NR=1 Tegucigalpa, Honduras
107 DEVILFISH : Granted, it is a lot of hassle - but with an insurgency ongoing for the last three decades and a recalcitrant terrorist group on the loose, you might
108 Boston92 : No question, Delta Connection terminal at JFK.
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