What is the worst airport?


JG Ballard’s “gateways to infinite possibilities” are not loved by everyone. We’re putting together an article on the worst airports in the world, and need your help. What do you consider the worst airport and why? Please share your answers in the comments field, the more detail you can give the better.

Many thanks,



  1. kshiban

    Worst as a passenger or worst as a pilot?

    As a pilot I dislike Reagan/National.
    Short runways. Congested taxiways. Very tricky arrival and departure procedures. Restricted airspace all around it.
    I always feel like I’m playing “You bet your license!” any time I go in or out of there.

  2. tigerlounge2000

    From a passengers point of view – any of the big airports that have been built in fits and starts over the years: LHR, LAX, JFK. Big, convoluted, hard to navigate messes. The lack of coherent design is jarring and unpleasant. In contrast, a mega airport like DIA at least has some flow and logic to it. Again, as Pax, love small, regional airports that make travel relatively pain free. Jackson Hole airport, Idaho Falls, etc.

  3. Will Keys

    The worst airports, from my perspective the first thing I thought of, airports with different terminals that are not connected inside security, meaning in order to move between terminals one has to exit security. JFK is the best example I know and I hate that place. One point I would lie to make, when I think worst airport I think about airports where expectations are high, example- I remember the sinking feeling I got when I finally understood that yes I had to go out side in the cold rain without a jacket, to get to JFK Terminal 2 and then go back through security to catch my flight that was leaving soon. Delta and the JFK people should know better, and yes there is bus between terminals at JFK operated by Delta, but I can remember the sinking feeling of, are these people actually going to drive this thing before my flight leaves and then having verbally motivate the drivers (they were discussing who should drive) to get going. That morning passengers that arrived on the same flight I did and walked over beat me to the next flight. My point is I expect more from a major hub in major US city than from Lungi International in Freetown Sierra Leone.

    • kshiban

      JFK is a relic of a bygone era. It was originally designed for each airline to have its own terminal. It is badly in need of renovation. Not that the other New York airports are much better.

  4. Lloyd Crawford

    I love you all banging on about these fantastic glamorous airports of yesteryear, but the only possible winner of this is City of Derry Airport. This is a business that is losing routes like other airports lose luggage. But it does that too. I once got on a Ryanair flight to London without anyone scanning my hold luggage- which no-one had taken off me!
    It’s a vanity project supported by literally millions of pounds of ratepayers hard earned (wait a minute, it’s Derry we’re talking about) cash, in an attempt to kid itself that it’s a city. I’ve been there during the day and it’s like the Omega Man without even Charlton Heston running around. I thought everyone had been raptured and I was left in purgatory, which is a fair description of City of Derry Airport. It’s so unwelcoming that an Eirjet Airbus once put down six miles short of it at Shackleton Barracks Ballykelly, a disused runway from WW2. And even it had better facilities than City of Derry Airport! No shortage of Amelia Earhart memorabilia though, as if her long ago accidental landing in a field miles many miles away gives some credibility to this current white elephant. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before that private grass strip in a field with a single windsock south of Rostrevor becomes City of Newry Airport. Even it would be hard pressed to make City of Derry look competent. I hope I’m not being too harsh on the crown jewel of the town The Sunday Times once referred to as the “Whingeing Capital of Europe”; hopefully you can find somewhere even more backward!

  5. George Best Belfast City Airport (that's it, name an airport after a notorious drunk)

    actually, reference my earlier polemic on City of Derry Airport, could you please change my name to something like George Best Belfast City Airport? Derry wans are awful bitchy and I don’t want to get blow-back! Thanks. By the way, I’ve already donated to your excellent blog. I think I was one of the first.

    • Hush Kit

      I love what you’ve written on Derry! I’d like to use it verbatim and I’m happy to refer to you as George Best Belfast City Airport. Many thanks for your donation it is very gratefully received, yours Hush-Kit

      • George Best Belfast City Airport (that's it, name an airport after a notorious drunk)

        Thanks, but there’s no point in calling me George Best Belfast City Airport when my name is at the top of the City of Derry diatribe! I’m a marked man now!

  6. Dale

    LAX. From the passengers perspective, it is like entering the gateway to hell, only likely not as well organized.
    It is massively overcrowded, poorly signed, and the security area is a disaster. Trying to get help of directions from the generally overworked and sullen staff is a lost cause. I would drive the extra hour to San Diego’s excellent Linbergh Field just to avoid LA.

  7. Prof. Anthrax

    Long ago, when my military service took me to South Korea, I had to make a stopover at Narita Airport in Tokyo. After taking in Narita’s squat dumpiness while awaiting my flight to Seoul, I could understand why the locals burned it down.

  8. elleetoo

    I was amused to find that earnest Germans had named Berlin Tegel after Otto Lillienthal, whose most famous (and indeed last) words were “Opfer müssen gebracht werden!” – ‘sacrifices must be made’. Yeah, come fly in an aeroplane – it might crash, but if it does, that’s progress, so suck it up, OK?

    See also, calling Sydney Botany Bay ‘Kingsford Smith’, which is especially relevant for people flying over the Indian Ocean, where KS vanished without trace in 1935. At least he’s not famous for saying “It’s OK if the odd plane vanishes, so don’t get upset.”

  9. Philip Chandler

    Colombo international, where I sit as I write this. Three, yes three security checks, once as you enter the terminal, once before you get to the check in desks and then finally when you get to the gate. I suspect if you do the same thing three times you won’t find anything different on the second two occasions. Add to that wifi that requires your name and passport number, or at least a word and a nine digit number it doesn’t seem that fussed, to log on and which then drops out if you consider moving and I think we’re definitely in top ten territory. However I think the icing on the cake was when I arrived and couldn’t find a single public convenience with toilet roll in. Say what you like about LAX, at least you can wipe your arse there.

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