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Opinion

4 Airports That Need to Get their S— Together

4 Airports That Need to Get their S— Together
Ariana Arghandewal

I’m running through the airport, desperate to make my connecting flight home. I keep running faster but I can’t seem to get any closer to my gate. The scenario remains the same and suddenly I read a sign instructing me to take the escalator down and hop on a train to another terminal. I get to the terminal and suddenly all instructional signs disappear. It’s a recurring nightmare I have, but it’s also pretty close to the experience I’ve had passing through some airports. Here are my picks for the four worst airports to transit through:

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS)

That scenario I described above? Part of it is an exact retelling of my experiences transiting through Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The airport is outdated (I once spent two hours by the gate during a delay which only had seating for a dozen people). Aside from that, some of the gates are so far apart that I’ve had several close calls.

Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)

What makes Dallas Fort Worth so awful? It’s massive, making it difficult to navigate. I once had a 6-hour layover at DFW and was completely sleep-deprived. Ideally, I would have stayed at an airport hotel and slept for 4.5 hours, but I knew that getting from the terminal to the hotel, checking in, and then trying to get back on time would take forever. So I opted for a nap at Minute-Suites instead. Other times, I’ve taken the Skyline light rail to my gate, sat around, then heard a last-minute announcement that my gate had changed. Not a huge deal if it was within walking distance, but every time this has happened, I’ve had to run back up the escalators, wait for the train, then fend off an anxiety attack while hoping to make it to the new gate on time. Transiting through Dallas is always a huge hassle and not an experience I look forward to.

London Heathrow (LHR)

London Heathrow looks fine on the surface. It’s a nice enough airport, with lots of great retail options and decent lounges. The problem? Getting from Point A to Point B takes forever. I don’t think there are as many rail transfers in all of Europe as there are when you’re trying to navigate between terminals at Heathrow. Whoever designed the place is not a friend to mankind.

Charles De Gaulle (CDG)

My first time transiting through Charles De Gaulle was like a marathon I wasn’t prepared for. I just remember running around endlessly, trying to figure out where to go when the signs dropped off and ending up with severe arm cramps from dragging my suitcase around for what felt like hours. Since that time, it hasn’t gotten easier. Charles De Gaulle is an awful airport, primarily because of its poor signage. Any time I’ve stopped to get help from an employee, they’ve either shrugged me off or sent me in the wrong direction.

One time the moving walkway broke down and there was no movement for almost an hour. I was stuck on this walkway with about a hundred other passengers. The worst part? They had blocked off the regular walking path so we couldn’t even hop over and be on our way. After almost an hour of standing around with no updates, the walkway turned on again.

Transiting through Charles De Gaulle airport is always a terrible experience that leaves me physically and mentally drained. Whether I’m catching another flight or taking the train, I know I’m in for a stressful and unpleasant experience.

What are your picks for the worst airports to transit through?

 

[Image Source: Getty]

View Comments (28)

28 Comments

  1. formeraa

    April 15, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    Frankfurt is like this. I was connecting to another LH flight. I literally walked for 2 miles and went through security 4 times before arriving at my gate. I was just following the signs…

    Then, on the way back, someone pointed out the train. Just take it 2 stops and you will be at your gate. It sure would have been nice if someone had pointed out the train upon arrival at FRA.

  2. IBobi

    IBobi

    April 15, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    TL;DR:

    LAX

  3. robsaw

    April 15, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    YYZ is generally a nice airport but has several incomprehensible signage decisions. Like directional signs that lead you ALMOST to where you need to go – the last sign where you actually need to turn OR take an escalator is missing (e.g. T1 domestic to US connections, T3 international to domestic connections).

  4. KenTarmac

    April 15, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    You got that right about Dallas!

  5. j2simpso

    April 15, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Disagree with Heathrow. All the gates are a couple mins walk away in terminal 2. If flying * it’s a way better option than many European airports.

  6. SomeguyinDFW

    April 15, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    I must have missed the sub-headline indicating that all New York City-area airports were excluded from consideration. I expected all three to show up in this list.

  7. diver858

    April 15, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    DFW has its own Hyatt and Grand Hyatt, quite convenient for an extended layover.

  8. FlyingNone

    April 15, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    I agree about Frankfurt. Though we were trying for an earlier (non-rev) connection to Zagreb (From United to Croatia Air), the distance was horrendous. It literally took us over 30 minutes on foot (practically at running speed) and we still did not make it. Without exaggeration it was a hike through extremely long corridors, up/down escalators, stairways – and that was just to get to a train/tram. Next we had to go 2-3 stops ? on the tram and through yet another security check point. The folks at Croatia were almost about to do it but would have had to exchange our tickets and just didn’t have the extra minutes to spare. Back to LH for another shot (of which we got on them) but boy-oh-boy what a lesson to learn. If you don’t have TWO full hours between flights, don’t even bother to try for anything else…..and yes, Amsterdam Schiphol is no prize either.

  9. kirkwoodj

    April 15, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    AMS is easy, passenger obviously not paying attention. Who writes this rubbish?

  10. ILMflyer

    April 15, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I live in the DFW area. I have driven to the airport over 50 times and each drive is like driving there for the first time. Rather it be road construction or poor signage it’s miserable. And, yes, I’ve experienced the sudden gate change, and the forthcoming anxiety attack.

  11. browan04

    April 15, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    LAX. It is the gateway to hell.

  12. Agremeister

    April 15, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    @SomeguyinDFW Seriously, Charles de Gaulle is airport heaven compared to JFK, EWR, and LGA. Add in the fact that AMS, CDG, and Heathrow have quick and easy transit directly to the city? US airports are absolutely awful in comparison to all of them.

  13. edgewood49

    April 16, 2019 at 6:17 am

    So what airports are you using now?

  14. SarcasticMisanthrope

    April 16, 2019 at 7:28 am

    ORD is one of the worst also, with ATL a close second.

  15. AugustW

    April 16, 2019 at 8:25 am

    The worst by far is CDG followed by FRA. MXP is no walk in the park either. Domestically, IAD and LGA bottom my list. The best are SIN, ZRH and DXB.

    Just my 2 cents,

    AW

  16. rthib

    April 16, 2019 at 9:03 am

    The author must never really travel at DFW. The longest trip is maybe 10 minutes on tram or if you are paranoid, you can walk. I go A to C or B to D all the time in 10-15 min.
    There are two hotels in the airport, one actually attached and one across the parking lot.

    Explain how LGA is better than DFW going terminal to terminal???

  17. strickerj

    April 16, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Most of my peers who have only traveled domestically complain about ATL, ORD, and LAX because they’re big, but I find they run pretty smoothly. By comparison, the airports in Europe are basket cases, particularly CDG, for the reasons mentioned in the article.

    In the U.S., I’d say JFK and LGA tie for worst. (I’ve only been through EWR once and didn’t have to change terminals.) DFW was also fine, but again, I didn’t have to change terminals as I was on Delta (back when they had their hub at E.)

  18. jamesteroh

    April 16, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    I’m surprised LAX was’t listed. I’d rather fly out of any of the airports listed above than LAX. I’m also surprised JFK isn’t listed.

  19. atflyer

    April 16, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    “suddenly I read a sign instructing me to take the escalator down and hop on a train to another terminal” “That scenario I described above? Part of it is an exact retelling of my experiences transiting through Amsterdam.. ” But Schiphol has no trains and has a single terminal concept. Are you sure your did not mix things up with another aiport? Admittedly, if you arrive Schengen B-pier and your intercontinental flight departs from G-pier you are in for a long walk and must pass customs. But this is a breeze compared to changing terminals at Heathrow or Paris, is my experience.

  20. RUAMKZ

    April 16, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    DFW and CDG are problematic. Getting from certain AA flights to other AA flights can be difficult. Same for AF to AF connections at CDG…….AMS is not all that bad. And no issues with ORD, for me. In fact, ORD is better than all of the above.

    FRA is not great…..too much walking for an able-bodied person…..I can only imagine what it would be like for a disabled person. LAX is not only a mess, but they have excessively long times between leaving the gate, and takeoff. Also lame, half-baked public transportation system.

  21. aeroman380

    aeroman380

    April 16, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    I was thinking the same thing atlflyer. AMS has no trains. Maybe this is just clickbait. AMS is one of the easiest.

    Also, agree with previous person saying that ATL and similar airports are easier to navigate and get around.

  22. BRITINJAPAN4

    April 17, 2019 at 12:23 am

    You cant walk on a stopped moving walkway, its called , well, a WALKWAY

  23. KayVeeBee

    April 17, 2019 at 4:46 am

    I don’t understand the comments about AMS either.
    And my experiences with FRA are pretty good too, even though you do have some long walks at times, but just follow the signs…

  24. mbgaskins

    April 17, 2019 at 5:51 am

    The on,y thing wrong with DFW is every thing closes down too early.

    The shops, restaurants and admirals clubs all close between 9 and 10 and they are still a lot of flight operations going on.

  25. Tailgater

    April 17, 2019 at 6:31 am

    I dislike LAX, at least when I have to transfer from terminal to terminal. The signage is terrible. One sign leads you outside terminal and then, nothing. I had to track down an officer nearby and ask. He pointed to the next terminal. And, those super long walks between terminals! Mostly, BAD signage at LAX for directing passengers to wherever. I think who’s ever in charge ALREADY

  26. ksandness

    April 17, 2019 at 8:39 am

    LGA has just displaced ORD for the top spot in my own list of awful airports. What’s with having two sets of baggage carousels a five-minute walk apart and no signage telling you which flight’s bags are at which carousel?

    Why no direct transit connections to Manhattan?

    What about the employees who are courteous enough but know only their tiny area of responsibility?

    ORD is TSA hell. Several times I have witnessed TSA agents yelling at elderly or non-English-speaking travelers for no reason.

    However, I find MSP, PDX, HNL, and DEN to be four of the more pleasant airports in the U.S.

  27. Nomorepretzels

    April 17, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    Good luck moving from concourse to concourse at MIA and doing it from D60 is the pits.

  28. mikeyjd

    April 19, 2019 at 2:53 am

    I imagine this is written as a contentious piece, to garner engagement via comments about the obvious US omissions or to vocalise dissent. So… taking the bait: AMS is fine, LHR can be a bit of a mess but the signs are fairly clear if you’re looking for them. NY airports are, frankly, shockingly poor.

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