With millions of people traveling by plane to see loved ones this holiday season, sold out flights, long security lines and delays may cause heightened anxiety and frustration for travelers headed home. While some of this is unavoidable, some headaches can be avoided by choosing your airport wisely. In some cases, smaller regional airports may be easier to navigate than large, international hubs and of course, travel as far in advance of the holiday as possible to avoid the height of the crowds (and save money)!
Imagine this scenario: You have a 10am flight to go home for the holidays on a Saturday morning. You stayed up until 2 am the night before (in the library of course). Your Uber was stuck in traffic and you don’t arrive at the check-in desk until 8:30am. Panic starts to sink in. Your parents will kill you if you miss the flight and your Aunt Mary’s potato soup for dinner tonight. Now this situation could go one of two ways:
- As you sprint to the security section, you see a line longer than the line at Walmart’s Black Friday sale. It’s 9:15am. Just 15 minutes until boarding time. Finally after getting through security you glance around to see if there is any place you could snag a quick bite to eat. You’re starving so anything would do. There seems to be only “restaurant” with a soggy looking sandwich for $10. Seriously? That’s criminal. After inhaling your sandwich you realize you’re standing at gates A and B, meanwhile your gate is G. Sprinting through the airport and frantically dragging your suitcase you realize you have to take a shuttle to get to your gate. Your hair is a little matted from sweat but phew, you made it. Until you see on the screen: “Flight to Charleston, South Carolina delayed 3 hours.” UGH.
- You stroll up to the security checkpoint and see that there is no line. #blessed. You make it through within 5 minutes and your gate is to your immediate left when you enter the terminal. Hmm, how to kill the other hour and 20 minutes? You stroll through the terminal looking for breakfast. Wow an Au Bon Pain, Starbucks, and Gourmet Pizza? All your favorites. You get a breakfast sandwich with a side of fruit from Au Bon Pain and a chai tea latte from Starbucks. The terminal is basically empty so you cozy up in a lounger chair in front of a window and next to an outlet. Thank God the airport has quick and free Wi-Fi. You settle in and finish watching an episode of Friends. Who said traveling was stressful?
To make sure you never experience the first situation, we’ve created a list of the worst airports in the US that you should try to avoid. You’ve been warned!
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New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
LaGuardia is consistently rated as one of the top 10 worst major airports, worldwide. Not only does it have the most expensive parking and highest volume of delays and cancellations, it is rated as having the worst shopping and dining experience. On top of all that, LaGuardia was also ranked as the worst for Wi-Fi, staff communication and baggage handling. Try to avoid this airport like the plague!
New York John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK)
Unfortunately, the alternative to LaGuardia in New York is just as bad. Described as one of the most difficult airports to get to, if you do ever get there you will wait and wait and then wait some more.This airport has some of the worst waiting times for check-in, security and receiving your luggage.
Newark New Jersey Airport (EWR)
With its close proximity to NYC, Newark could have been an alternative to LGA or JFK, if it wasn’t for its reputation. An experience at Newark Airport includes the works: dreadfully long lines, poor staff communication, sub-par baggage handling and it also isn’t as clean as other airports.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
With the second worst on-time performance nationwide (69% of the flights out of here leave on time), chances are you’ll be stuck waiting around. Maybe this is a positive if you’re someone who is always running late. Thankfully there are some alternatives: check for flights at Chicago-Midway (MDW), Chicago Rockford International (RFD) or Milwaukee (MKE) airports.
Los Angeles Airport (LAX)
Thought everything was better in Cali? Think again. LAX is known for its unhelpful employees, dirtiness and endlessly long lines. Alternatives to check out are Long Beach (LGB), Orange County (SNA) or San Diego (SAN) airports.
Boston Logan Airport (BOS)
Despite its close proximity and convenience to get into the city, Logan Airport doesn’t have much else going for it. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to wait for your luggage and wait in Logan’s long security lines.
Philadelphia Airport (PHL)
Why does it seem like all major cities have terrible airports? Well, Philly is no exception. Make sure you get a cheese steak to go on your way to the airport, you’ll need something to enjoy in the exceptionally long security and check-in lines. Philly is also rated as one of the most inefficient airports for waiting for your luggage.
What airports have you had a great experience at? Let us know in the comments!
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