GateHold
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The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 10:24 am

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


WELCOME TO DAKAR, HOME OF THE WORST AIRPORT ON EARTH


>>> 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:
http://www.salon.com/tech/col/smith/2007/05/25/askthepilot233/
 
austinairport
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 10:54 am

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!!!
 
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LHRBFSTrident
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 11:49 am

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...)
 
flyf15
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 11:50 am

I thought it was Memphis
 
airbazar
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 9:31 pm

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.
 
CraigW
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 9:38 pm

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.
 
bennett123
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 9:42 pm

There was a TV series a few years ago about Lagos.
 
CHRISBA777ER
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 9:44 pm

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???
 
kl911
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 9:48 pm

I'll take Dakar anyday over CDG and LHR......  Smile
 
bennett123
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 9:49 pm

LHR T2 and T4 not much better.
 
vv701
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 9:57 pm

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.
 
jaysit
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 10:15 pm

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.
Atheism is Myth Understood.
 
787kq
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 10:19 pm

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.
 
bennett123
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 10:34 pm

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).
 
comorin
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 10:46 pm

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...
 
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Owleye
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 11:25 pm

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...
 
jycarlisle
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 11:32 pm

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

Cheers,
Jeremy
"CHANGE IS: CLEAN PLANES AND DIRTY MARTINIS" (DL)
 
miamiair
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Fri May 25, 2007 11:56 pm

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.
Molon Labe - Proud member of SMASH
 
atlantaflyboy
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 12:44 am

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
 
KL577
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 12:49 am

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.
 
skyhigh777
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 12:49 am

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.
 
neednewairport
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:08 am

PHL, the crap hole of US's operation out east. The people, the facility, BLAH, hate that place!
 
skyharborshome
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:09 am

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!
 
jamesbaldwyn
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:09 am

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

Its the work behind the scenes which Is bad
 
detroitflyer
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:33 am

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!!!
 
mdsh00
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:34 am

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 are worst.
"Look Lois, the two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant, and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change."
 
ghillier
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:35 am

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 Hartsfield-Jackson. My vote for the worst in the EU: Dublin.
 
BBADXB
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:40 am

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: GUA - Guatemala City, Guatemala; ACC - Accra, Ghana; EBB - Entebbe, Uganda. And by "Fun" I mean that I was expecting a not-so-good experience, which in fact did not materialise, and was actually pleasant.

BBADXB
 
FLYGUY767
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:42 am

Quoting Neednewairport (Reply 21):
PHL, the crap hole of US's operation out east. The people, the facility, BLAH, hate that place!

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 overcrowded and facility deficient LAS, and LGA are right up there. And what do they have in common ~ US Airways. And some people say the fading paint on the side of the plane is nothing to worry about..  Smile

-JD
Summer Trip 2007: DEN HAAG>DUBAI>LONDON>VERONA>COSTA SMERALDA>CAPRI
 
tockeyhockey
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:44 am

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 when i have a three hour lay-over at CLE!
 
BBADXB
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:47 am

I don't like LGW, and LHR even less. I do not find DXB that exciting either.
 
1stfl94
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:50 am

Doesn't compare to Heathrow T3 just before Christmas. Like a zoo with planes!!!
 
BigGSFO
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:55 am

Quoting Atlantaflyboy (Reply 18):
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

...yeah, but MIA is one of the best places - anywhere - to people watch. The parade of characters is absolutely wonderful.
 
swissgabe
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:56 am

Quoting LHRBFSTrident (Reply 2):
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...)

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 of airport you are stopping at.
Smooth as silk - Royal Orchid Service /// Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens - Springbok
 
riyadhnurse
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 1:59 am

The old international airport in RUH early 80's.Ladies BR consisted of a water filled trench dug in the floor.  vomit 
Tongue-tied and twisted,just an earthbound misfit,I.
 
Type-Rated
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 2:09 am

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 the new MDW. Especially with that always congested security clearance area on the bridge over the street below. Then after you get thru that you are dumped directly into the crowds haning around the crowded food court. There had to be a better way!
Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
 
joeman
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 2:12 am

Quoting AustinAirport (Reply 1):
But I do think that any airport that you have a connecting flight out of can be unpredictable. So the smaller the better.

Too bad the operators at ORD, EWR and the like can't take heed
 
RL757PVD
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 2:19 am

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 rain drop. The first (and last time) i connected in EWR it was so horrible that i spent 4 hrs in the terminal trying to get rebooked/reaccomodated.... i finally got them to sign over my ticket to Amtrak, for a 4 hr train ride to PVD, after 4 hrs in the terminal and 4.5 hrs on the train, i still beat the flight into PVD by 1 hr 30 min
Experience is what you get when what you thought would work out didn't!
 
ushermittwoch
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 2:31 am

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 go back to MDW for the first time since they redid that place, maybe it will leave the #2 spot at the bottom of my list.  Smile
Where have all the tri-jets gone...
 
flybyguy
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 2:39 am

Quoting KL577 (Reply 19):
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.



Quoting Mdsh00 (Reply 25):
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 are worst.

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 say that their least favourite airport is "the worst" because they either don't give you martinis in the first class lounge, or you have to actually walk a bit from terminal to terminal, or that the airport architecture isn't at the cusp of modern fashions... is in my opinion being very arrogant.

There are many airports in the world that don't even have basic comfort or safety facilities... i.e. no runway lights, luggage conveyor belts, reliable electricity, a/c, or sanitary lavatories. They are by far the "worst", but unfortunately it's because their respective nations have more pressing things to worry about than martinis and fashionable architecture.
"Are you a pretender... or a thoroughbred?!" - Professor Matt Miller
 
PlaneFreaknATL
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 2:48 am

Quoting Jaysit (Reply 11):
Until I visited Lagos.

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 seriously - it was always an adventure, but enjoyed every experience!!
 
airtrainer
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 2:55 am

Can't talk about DKR but for now the worst airport I've visited is TSF, just uuuuuugly ! Hopefully, the city is nice  Wink
Life is short : eat dessert first !
 
dtwclipper
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 2:58 am

Quoting Miamiair (Reply 17):
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.

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 torn down.
Compare New York Air, the Airline that works for your Business
 
Desh
Posts: 203
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 10:52 pm

RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 3:10 am

Quoting Detroitflyer (Reply 24):
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

How can late night departures from BOM count towards it being a bad airport. My understanding is that late night departures (international) are due to slot availability in europe . In recent times however a few flights with India-centric timings have started.  Big grin  Big grin

Not sure if weather can count towards it being a bad airport - maybe they should just move the airport to a place with more agreeable climate ...  Big grin

Quoting BBADXB (Reply 27):
CCU - Kolkata (Calcutta), India

Yes yes yes - the worst in terms of service, maintainance well everything ....
"History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again." - Kurt Vonnegut
 
cptGirmayTesfa
Posts: 374
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 3:36 am

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 Memphis is relatively bad in the US, and Kano is relatively bad in Africa.
A suggestion to compare the experienced quality with previous expectations, so to phase out a bit the relativity issue. Going to Dakar, was it much worse than expected? Going to Miami, was it much worse than expected?

OK here my throw-ins where my expectations proved illusive:
JFK (AA terminal), Miami, Mexico City, San Jose, Caracas, Santa Cruz, Frankfurt (old terminal), Paris CDG (terminal 1), Tel Aviv, Cairo, Abidjan, Manila.
 
flydreamliner
Posts: 1928
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:05 am

RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 3:42 am

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

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 want, so long as it's BBQ. Sadly, that might be the nicest thing about that airport.

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

Old DTW was by far the crumbiest airport to be found anywhere. It was like a derelict bus depot.

Quoting Neednewairport (Reply 21):
PHL, the crap hole of US's operation out east. The people, the facility, BLAH, hate that place!

To be honest, the problem with PHL isn't so much the airport itself as it is the fact all of the flights there are on US.

Quoting BigGSFO (Reply 32):
...yeah, but MIA is one of the best places - anywhere - to people watch. The parade of characters is absolutely wonderful.

Well, you don't have much of a choice in a concourse with no windows.... (thanks for that AA, 3 hours in a concourse with no windows, one seat to every seven people, and garbage everywhere.)

Quoting RL757PVD (Reply 37):
My vote is for EWR,

Really? I think EWR is the nicest of the 3 airports in NY. I make a point to try to fly in there, not just because it's easy to get into the city from, but because it's actually pleasant airport... as for the delays, it's New York, you just have to expect them. Yeah, EWR has delays, but LGA has delays, JFK has delays, PHL 90 miles south has delays, they all have delays.
"Let the world change you, and you can change the world"
 
RL757PVD
Posts: 2530
Joined: Fri Dec 03, 1999 2:47 am

RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 4:12 am

Quoting FlyDreamliner (Reply 45):
Really? I think EWR is the nicest of the 3 airports in NY. I make a point to try to fly in there, not just because it's easy to get into the city from, but because it's actually pleasant airport... as for the delays, it's New York, you just have to expect them. Yeah, EWR has delays, but LGA has delays, JFK has delays, PHL 90 miles south has delays, they all have delays.

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 flight at LGA or EWR. If im connecting, its JFK (though i try to avoid connecting in NYC). If im going to NYC Ill do JFK if i have no transportation, HPN if someone is picking me up. They couldnt pay me to connect in EWR...
Experience is what you get when what you thought would work out didn't!
 
KL577
Posts: 533
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 12:21 am

RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 4:27 am

Quoting CptGirmayTesfa (Reply 44):
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 Memphis is relatively bad in the US, and Kano is relatively bad in Africa.

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 airports from MEM to LGA to Ponca City, OK, and really, all of them are decent airports. I remember reading a complaints book at Dacca airport, Bangladesh in 2001 (on a stopover with HY from TAS to KUL). Somebody wrote "This must be the worst airport in the world". I thought so to, that time, until I moved to Nigeria a few years later. Everything is relative.

Cheers
KL577
 
lhpdx
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 4:29 am

I tought Sea/tac was the worst?
 
bobnwa
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RE: The World's Worst Airport

Sat May 26, 2007 5:46 am

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 many third world countries to see what a lot of their airports are like.

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