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Good and Bad airports.

I'm finding that knowing about an airport becomes somewhat important, especially if you are doing open jaw flights.

For instance, i will NEVER fly out of Naples again. Its off any list. Some Airports are better than others. Since this is a travel page, and mostly to Europe, can't say anything nice about US airports, but what are your favorite European airports?

For me the top Five:

Amsterdam.
Marseilles.
Munich.
Florence.
Venice.

Or any other airport that realizes that you have to lay down and stretch out sometimes on a long lay over.

Posted by
1845 posts

My favorite airport in Europe is Munich. It's small and a non-stop flight from Denver. I also like Schipol in Amsterdam and Venice's Marco Polo. You didn't want US but my home airport, Denver International, is my favorite and I will never, ever, ever fly thru Chicago's O'Hare again...........I think it "hates" me.

Posted by
244 posts

Zurich - it's low-stress, organized, has chocolate options (very important), and has amazing sound effects in the airport shuttle.

Posted by
1172 posts

Please anyone responding to this topic : give the reasons why you like or dislike a given airport.
There are many aspects to the airport experience and different travelers will resonate with different qualities.

Me, for example: I really hate the FRAnkfurt airport even though it is a bustling hub with a lot of services and informational aids,
because it is so so so ugly in terms of interior design. It's what I like to call user hostile rather than user friendly.
The signage is good at hiding but bad at pointing, the sound caroms around all the hard surfaces.
And don't get me started on the food offerings. Between skipping a meal and eating from the stands or cafes in FRA, I'd rather skip.

Posted by
6171 posts

For instance, i will NEVER fly out of Naples again. Its off any list.

Why not? I've had all sorts of experiences ranging from great to bad across world airports, but I don't blacklist any airport if the price is right. The only airport that was a truly bad experience was JFK but that was due to the airline more than anything else. The traffic getting to/from LAX is also insane, making it an unattractive option I try to avoid (but can't or won't sometimes).

In general, I like Munich and Amsterdam and smaller airports like Helsinki best (easy to transit through, nice shops, good food, etc). But I'm also looking forward to checking out the new (and very large) Istanbul Airport, it's supposed to have a great design and it will be among the world's busiest.

Or any other airport that realizes that you have to lay down and
stretch out sometimes on a long lay over.

Other than this, are there other factors by which you're defining "good" and "bad" airports? Everyone's factors will likely be different...

Posted by
7680 posts

Europe:
- AMS: As a transit airport I also like Amsterdam. It's well-signed and easy for even a novice to figure out. I've found departures from there OK as well.

  • CDG/LHR: I've arrived and departed a lot from both CDG and London Heathrow and I don't mind either of them on those terms BUT if I were transiting thru either of them I'd think again.

  • VCE: I'd not want to depart OUT of Venice/Marco Polo just because transport is a hassle to get there.

US

  • SLC: My easiest hub to reach right now is SLC and I love this airport. It's manageable although I will not take the Delta flights that give you 38 minutes for transit. I've always made it but it just makes me so terribly anxious either leading up to the trip or through the entire trip that it's not worth it. I love that they've got non-stop flights to Paris, London and Amsterdam.

  • MSP: OK but you have to be careful to give yourself enough time here

  • SEA: Currently have difficulty getting there from my local airport so it's off the table but it's OK. Again, have to make sure to give yourself enough time here.

  • ATL: I might transit thru here but NOT in winter. I've been stuck there overnight and had to sleep on the floor so if I go somewhere in winter I want it to be an airport that can handle some winter conditions.

  • JFK: Absolutely, positively will NOT do ANY flight that has a transit thru there. Ugh. Last time involved a terminal change, poorly signed, wound up in a parking garage, followed the herd and found the terminal but yikes.

Posted by
6543 posts

We flew home from Europe a year ago and had to switch airports to LaGuardia for the flight to Nashville. What an embarrassment of an airport.
Our only saving grace was my wife was in a wheelchair, and we went to the front of the line. I'd hate to think what the regular passengers went through in that security line.
We fly out of Nashville/BNA airport usually. It's close to being the least expensive airport in the southeast, and the concourses are very entertaining with musicians, etc. And you never know what music and movie stars you're going to run into. BNA's busy enough, but not overwhelming.

Posted by
668 posts

I will never fly out of Naples because it is a small, over used, airport and the locals are rude asses that will try to butt in line even though you only have a few minutes to make your international flight connection. So that is why I will never fly out of Naples again. The locals use their kids to set a new position forward in the line. Some people will allow this, I thought it was all so very much high school stuff. As were the beggars, working the lines.

Posted by
1090 posts

My favorite is Zurich. So easy and so efficient.

I have learned to not be bothered by Heathrow but it did unnerve me at first-especially that they don’t post the gates until you really need to be there.

I didn’t like Frankfort-got bussed in and confusing mess and almost missed my flight. But have only done it once.

On the other hand, I had a fine enough experience at Naples. Didn’t strike me one way or another.

Posted by
1953 posts

Best experiences: (no issues) Schiphol, Václave Havel, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Athens, Lisbon, Porto, Catania, Madrid, Budapest, Zagreb, Vienna, Nice. Least favorites: JFK, CDG, due to major delays in Passport Control. Coming home to SeaTac Internationally- at times disorganized.

Posted by
2427 posts

My favorite large European airport is Heathrow, Terminal 5 specifically. I fly into and transfer out of this terminal, so I know it well, and it is fairly contained versus trying to use two different terminals in one trip.

Posted by
2518 posts

The airports I dislike most are the monsters: ATL, JFK, EWR, CDG, LHR, MAD, FCO (sometimes) MXP. On my “like” list are smaller airports and airports with convenient, cheap transportation to city centers. So my list would include Detroit, Lisbon, Marseille, Munich, FCO (sometimes), Venice, Vienna, Zurich, Turin, Catania, Càgliari.

Posted by
1949 posts

Europe

  • AMS: It is well-signed and attractive, and it has cool features like terraces where you can walk out and watch the planes from a closer vantage point if you have a long layover (or miss a connection). Improvements at passport control over the last 3-4 years have made for markedly more pleasant transfers and the disappearance of the chaotic bottleneck going from the Schengen area of the airport to the international area of the airport.
  • DUS: The airport is perfectly fine, but what I really like is the Skytrain, the suspended train that takes travelers from the airport to the train station.

US

  • ATL: I fly through ATL very frequently and know it well. It's set up for the very efficient movement of flyers.
  • GSP: My home airport! It has an airside garden between the Concourse A and Concourse B ramps (so good views of planes parked at their gates), sits immediately adjacent to a taxiway, and has a great view of the runway. https://www.gspairport.com/airside-garden/
Posted by
12099 posts

My experiences with airports in Europe are only the following: LHR, Gatwick, Munich, FRA, Copenhagen, Amsterdam. Paris CDG, and Malmö.

These I like best of all: LHR, Munich, and Gatwick.

Nothing against FRA or CDG, Copenhagen, Malmö, and Amsterdam I was at only once.

These 4 I fly into now, ie since 2017. non-stop from SFO or OAK.....Gatwick, CDG, LHR and Frankfurt FRA

Posted by
43 posts

My favorite is CPH (Copenhagen). Big enough to have great places to eat and shop. I was staying in a horrible little hotel that I knew would be bad, but it was just for one night. I couldn't wait to get to CPH and relax. Security was so kind and let me bring my over size tube of Paprika paste from Budapest. I had forgotten that I had bought it and couldn't figure out why my bag had been pulled a side.
I was scolded a little bit, but allowed to fly with it, in my carry on.

Arn (Arlanda) had the best Swedish meatballs. The kid size meal was the perfect amount and price.

Least favorite Ath (Athens) Their monitors display flights too fast in Greek and then English. It was stressful, making sure I made my connection to FCO, since it was the only flight on Aegean available each day.
But a big shout out for Aegean Airlines. In a world of no service in coach, on short flights, this Airline stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Posted by
995 posts

My top European airports:

AMS - Amsterdam - Lovely airport which is easy to navigate. I haven't had any negative experiences there to date.
FCO - Rome - It can feel overwhelming, but it is very easy to navigate. There's just a lot of walking to do to reach the far end of the terminal where my flights home usually depart.

My top US airports:

ATL - Atlanta - I change planes there quite a bit, so the airport feels familiar to me.
DTW - Detroit - I have had positive experiences at this airport to date, including returning to the States from abroad.

My hate to fly to/through airports (Europe/USA)

CDG - Paris - Crowded. Confusing. The most generous layovers still feel rushed to make connecting flights. And they've lost my luggage three times now.
MIA - Miami - I just hate this airport. It feels stressful to me.
PHL - Philadelphia - Same as Miami. I always feel stressed at this airport.

Posted by
4654 posts

My worst airport experience was at Marseille's MR2 terminal used by budget airlines. The emigration staff all took a lunchbreak at the time my flight was called, and kept us waiting for about half an hour just to get through. Then the gate area had no seating at all and all the ambience of a freight warehouse (which the building previously was).

I quite like Stansted. Berlin Schoenefeld is badly overcrowded.

Posted by
5704 posts

LGA is, as Joe Biden described, like a third world country. But, didn’t you notice the new terminal adjacent to the old one that is under construction? Hoping it is nice as LGA is so close to the city, the closet option.
We were pleasantly surprised by Naples airport, modern with lots of good dining choices. we did not experience what Francis did when flew from NAP To LHR, nothing like that.
Do print out the set prices for taxis for various zones in Naples. A driver gave us a higher price and wanted to charge for luggage. We showed him the set prices, he shrugged his shoulders, and accepted the set price.

Posted by
3947 posts

My favourite is Heathrow, particularly T5. It's open, light, spacious, security is prompt and efficient, there's a good variety of places to eat (and shop if you have money to burn). The lounges are very good and better than most in Europe, The Concorde Lounge in T5 and Virgin's Clubhouse and the Qantas and Cathay Pacific lounges in T3 are amongst the best.

It's big but I've never had to rush however I keep my eye on the departure board so I know when my gate is announced.

It also has the Sofitel hotel right in the terminal which makes for a pleasant, hassle free start to your flight.

The worst airport I've experiened is Tivat, most notably Terminal 2 (I knew Terminal 1 was bad, I didn't know how much worse T2 was). Check in area the size of the ground floor of my house. Straight through security and into a 'holding pen' for want of a better word. One vending machine and two toilets. For an airport that was built recently it is pitiful excuse.

Posted by
2768 posts

I rarely commit to 'good' or 'bad' anything because it could just be that one occurrence. Though I admit I like Schipol.
However, when making plans, I do my best to avoid any in the NJ/NYC region. From my area, the planes are small and so if there is a chance of wind, flights are cancelled or delayed. I will admit, that I also do my best to avoid any US airport in transit due to TSA checks. Traveling with carry on only and using refillable water bottles, if I have to go through an unexpected TSA check between connections, it stresses me out. I am bound to have moved some of my 3-1-1 stuff to my purse, I am running to catch my flights with water in my bottle, I have already moved my 3-1-1 from my purse or outer pocket to the interior of my bag....hate it, hate it, hate it.
I am not a fan of airports that don't show the gate until it is time to board, but I know this is the practice, so I just park myself by a display board.
I pretty much now consider flying to be something to be endured and experiences are usually out of my control, so I just persevere.

Posted by
1161 posts

Worst airport I've experienced is Madrid--but they were in the late stages of renovation in 2013. I was so confused that I asked someone in an airline lounge for help. She said no.

CDG is not fun to arrive at, but I had little problem changing planes there arriving from Marseille to the US one time.

Posted by
769 posts

I won't say I love Chicago O'Hare, but it is my nearest international airport and its' been ok. I really like Minneapolis in the US, and in Europe like Heathrow and thought Prague's airport was nice. Don't like CDG in Paris. Amsterdam is good.

Posted by
2022 posts

Munich, Amsterdam, and Zurich are fine-- and CDG and LHR okay also-most hated airport: JFK we do our best to avoid it.

Posted by
172 posts

I just arrived home from Sicily on Sunday. Changed planes in Venice. Was given the wrong directions TWICE by uniformed agents. So right now, I have a very low opinion of that airport! Luckily I had time to make the connection.

Posted by
1153 posts

Having just flown from there I want to give a recommendation for Hamburg airport. It's easy to get to from the city, is bright and airy, no long pointless walks, good signage, efficient security, hasn't turned itself into some hideous shopping bazaar like Schiphol and the e-gate for leaving worked with my passport (which is more than can be said for the arrival e-gate at Heathrow). Obviously smaller airports can be nicer than the big ones, but they have the disadvantage of being in the arse-end of nowhere with few direct flights. Hamburg, however, has lots of destinations and still manages to be almost pleasant.

Posted by
1078 posts

Edinburgh is the most disorganized airport I've been in lately.
Got off a flight from Toronto there in September 2017, at 07:00, after waiting onboard for 30 minutes after landing.
Then had to walk across the tarmac in cold wind and dark, and wait, outside, for another 40 minutes.
There were elderly people, and babies and disabled people, all shivering.
I finally stepped out of the line to ask what was going on, and was told that too many aircraft had come in at once.
What the??
It was a surprise that all the aircraft came in at once?!
Then into the Customs Tent.
Not room.
Not shed.
Tent.
After another hour and a half of waiting, with all those people off all those flights, we finally made it to one of the TWO Border Control Agents out of many empty desks.
I told the fellow I had lost the will to live by then, and was embarrassed for them having to work in such conditions.
He just shrugged.
Heard it all before.
My friend who was picking me up had to pay 21 Pounds to park while she waited.
I'll avoid it in future.
I lived in Edinburgh for many years, and was disappointed that this is people's first impression of a truly lovely place.

Posted by
1124 posts

For transfers, my favourite airport in Europe must be Copenhagen. Big enough to have good selection of shops and restaurants while small enough for everything to be close. Also well signed and easy to understand.

My least favourite is probably Heathrow. Big and long walks to go somewhere, plus you almost always have to go through security when transfering in Heathrow. The fact that it operates at almost 100% capacity also usually means long lines for aircraft to reach the runway and small delays can easily result in larger delays.

My experiences with airports in Europe are only the following: LHR,
Gatwick, Munich, FRA, Copenhagen, Amsterdam. Paris CDG, and Malmö.

I have to ask why you have experience with Malmö? It is not the most common airport to have used.

Posted by
30 posts

Europe--The Good
*Barcelona

Europe--The Bad
*Rome (Fuimicino)
*Paris (CDG)

US--The Good
*Kansas City (I was pleasantly surprised)
*Cincinnati
*Honolulu
*Charlotte
*Burbank--It's my favorite hometown airport
*LAX--my other hometown airport. Take a shuttle don't drive....trust me....do NOT drive there.
*JFK--it really reminds me of LAX

US--The Bad
*Philadelphia----the WORST airport I have ever been to
*Denver--based on their crappy weather
*Chicago (O'Hare)--see Denver comments above
*Dallas--too darned big
*Newark--Eeewwww

Posted by
12099 posts

In the US...favourites: Sea-Tac, OAK. Good...LAX, San Antonio,

OK...perfunctorily....SFO

Posted by
19 posts

Only one trip to Europe for us 2 years ago.

Frankfurt FRA was easy to navigate and staff were kind and helpful. We were just so thrilled and relieved the ATM worked perfectly.

Florence FLR was a breeze, before we knew it we were outside looking for a legit taxi (took 2 tries). We still laugh at the memory of waiting on the tarmac bus for 10 minutes for the 10 second drive to the terminal.

Rome FCO was, hmmm, I don't remember because I was exhausted and sad. I seem to remember it was clean. I remember everyone around me at the gate was also flying back to Seattle, so I started to miss hearing beautiful Italian being spoken before we left the country.

Seattle SEA my home airport. It's fine. It prepared me for large airports. I still think getting to ride the tram is cool.

Portland PDX the airport of my youth. I remember getting to wait at the gate for my Grandparent's arrival. I will always remember the carpet...

Posted by
3369 posts

pnwsurfer, we lived in Portland for 10 years before moving to the Seattle area 30 years ago. I loved that carpet in the Portland airport, too!

Posted by
1529 posts

Least favorite airport so far in Europe is Iceland. Seriously, they need to expand that airport. There is much crowding and nowhere to sit!
Favorite airport in USA? No question-Palm Springs!
Getting ready to fly to Newark first time and heard thats bad. Anyone have comments on Newark?

Posted by
1442 posts

I flew Denver to Frankfurt yesterday and, as I was reading the above comments it hit me (to avirosemail's point) how our perceptions are so centered on our values.

I read the prior post about FRA airport's design aesthetics. While I respect the comments, I couldn't have told you whether I thought FRA was aesthetically pleasing. Pretty sure I was post-intercontinental flight oblivious.

Then I read a subsequent post about being delighted that the ATM at FRA worked and I said Yes! That's what mattered to me. I was non-obliviously annoyed when the first FRA ATM didn't work and delighted when the 2nd one did. (Not that that has much to do with the airport operations, but still interesting how it affects my perception.)

i was similarly annoyed when my first seat in the gate area at Denver had power that didn't work and so happy to find one that did.

I just want things to work. (Don't even ask about my frustration when the in flight entertainment didn't work at my seat!)

Posted by
7645 posts

Frankfurt is efficient and well organized. I pick people up here all the time and the average amount of time from a plane landing and them walking out of the airport with their luggage is 45 min. Compared to other airports, this is pretty darn good. The signage is excellent. Lots of food choices both airside and in the public spaces. Good transport out of the airport too.

Seattle is just ok. Security when landing is ridiculous and long. 1 hour and 3 checkpoints after landing? Rather excessive and glad I only have use a carry-on.

Portland is fantastic! Best airport food of anywhere I have gone. Carpet, recliner chairs, pet areas, music. I wish every airport was like this one.

Toronto has good and bad points. Not enough seating for their international flights with everyone all clustered together for multiple flights. Just a mess. Fairly decent food choices. Transferring to ongoing flights is ok.

Port Columbus is a huge joke for a capital city with no flights to Europe or anyplace else outside of N. America and teeny elevators.

Reykjavik is getting better. I like the quick turnaround on flights here.

Porto is pretty easy to use with some decent food options. Ryan Air flies here from Frankfurt, so this is a plus.

Madrid is really boring. No food, little signage and you have to wait until it is almost time for your flight to leave to find out which gate!

Posted by
645 posts

My experience flying in Europe is limited.

We really liked Amsterdam. It's relatively small, very well organized, clean, has good eating options and is easy to reach or leave by train. We liked Manchester for the same reasons. LHR and Gatwick aren't bad, but they aren't great either. Barcelona is good and easy. Madrid is a little more complex in terms of getting to the trains, but not bad.

I've only transfered in Paris, but it was a disorganized mob scene at boarder control, and the busing from terminal to terminal was a mess. I gather it's expensive to get to city center as well. I landed in Rome only once over 30 years ago, so my negative opinion of it might not be fair.

In the U.S. and Canada, I like a lot of little and medium sized airports: Albuquerque and Portland being the ones I use most often. But we like Vancouver and Salt Lake too. Denver is great in the airport, but not so great for ground transportation. I actually like O'hare. It's big, but its well signed, there's plenty of food, and you can take the metro to the city center. San Francisco isn't bad. Neither is NY.

Flying through Los Vegas is good. But the car rental bus system leaves a lot to be desired, such as not waiting in 100 weather outside.

I don't like DFW. It seems needlessly spread out, and the large people transport vehicles are a nuisance. In fairness, I always seem to have delayed flights there which colors my feelings...

I don't mind flying into or out of Atlanta, but I hate transferring there. The train system is nuisance.

Seattle is good, unless you are running from a commuter flight to a main terminal, and that's usually what I do there.

I don't like the DC airports. Dirty, complicated, and lacking in food choices.

But most of all, I hate Los Angeles. The food choices are often horrid. Getting from one terminal to another is a mess, and often involves standing outside in the heat. It's poorly signed. And, not thier fault, but I'm usually dressed for much colder climes.

Posted by
12099 posts

@ badger....Sorry, I miscounted the airports where I've landed or departed from. I left out Berlin Tegel, Paris Orly (once), Hannover-Langenhagen, and Hamburg (once).

Malmö airport was in 1971, when the flight left from London to Malmö via Copenhagen. That was my only experience with Malmö. The flight then was a propeller plane

Posted by
15 posts

International Faves - CDG, LHR and Munich. We live about 30 miles west of EWR and LHR is usually a good bet to get to everywhere else in Europe with several flights a day. Rest of Europe, direct, usually only has 1 per day.

Domestic - Raleigh is awesome (RDU) and Tampa. Nice part about RDU is that it is relatively new terminal and not crowded at all. Tampa is laid out well, much easier to get in and out of than Orlando despite not having as many flights per day.

Posted by
74 posts

andi....I hate O'hare too. When I was flying for business regularly I started booking flights to Midway, to avoid O'hare... My last trip through O'hare, I literally ran from one terminal to the other to make my connection getting to the gate 10 minutes before departure...and they had already closed the gates...the plane sat there for another 15 minutes...but I didn't win. The clock behind the desk confirmed the time as well.

But I'm pleased Munich is a good airport, since that is where we are flying into from LGW...we could use a good experience as this is our first trip to Europe.

Posted by
52 posts

Definitely in the minority here, but I liked LHR (easy security, plenty of food options). Wasn't a huge fan of the short advance notice for your gate, though. Other favourite European airports include Munich, Venice, Rome, Helsinki, Stockholm and Zurich. In the States, I love Tom Bradley Int'l at LAX (although security can get a bit long at times), Santa Ana and Newark (shocking, I know).

Least fave European airports include Charles DeGaulle. Can't think of any others at the moment. Least favorite US airports include any other terminal at LAX, O'Hare, Dallas Fort Worth and Altanta.

Posted by
6211 posts

Getting ready to fly to Newark first time and heard thats bad. Anyone have comments on Newark?

Its been 10 yrs since I was there and had heard BAD stuff about it . I thought it didn't live down to its reputation. ( but it is not on my '10 favorites' list)

What I recall as being worse than any other airport was how long the plane taxied and waited for take off after leaving the gate.

Posted by
126 posts

About the only European airports I've not cared for are Warsaw and CDG. As for the best, I'd have to vote for AMS (Amsterdam-Schipol), followed closely by Heathrow (if you are in the newer terminals). Flown to Schipol 10 times, stayed at that marvelous Hilton several times. All airports should be that good. Other airports I've been to are FRA, and Dublin--all of which are a cut above US airports.

US? Well, my home airport is Philadelphia (and I'm a road warrior IT consultant)....someone earlier said it was the worst. I disagree...but it's really close to the worst. Getting thru snarled traffic to arrivals is awful, baggage claim is awful, surly workers, on time flights are few and far between, and you'll wait 10-15 minutes for the gate to be connected to the plane and 20-45 minutes from pushback to takeoff. The only things they do right are food and customs arrivals. Then again, it's a known source of political patronage, so there you go. Other bad airports--LAX, EWR, Miami, JFK (my vote for the worst), LGA, MDW, Houston Hobby, and Orlando. Good airports--IAH (Houston Bush), MCO (Orlando), Denver, Salt Lake City (my favorite)....and that's about it for "good".