Does anybody like going to the airport? Whether you find it glamorous or treacherous, moving through an airport is a hard-to-avoid event if you want to see the world. But not all airports are created equal, apparently.
This year, travel news and resources company Frommer’s ranked the 10 “worst” airports in the U.S. based on “flight delays, security wait times, customer satisfaction surveys, and the reviews of experts.”
These are the 10 worst airports in the U.S., according to Frommer’s:
10. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) — This Virginia airport’s layout and location were among the outlet’s main complaints, though it was noted for being attractively built. Airport manager Richard Golinowski recently told The Washington Post he’s aware some of the older buildings are “starting to see some problems,” but noted they’re working to address these issues, including adding a 14-gate concourse expected to be complete in 2026.
9. West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW) — The location of this airport in Charleston, West Virginia, is labeled “scary” by Frommer’s — the site is surrounded on all sides by cliffs. The facility was previously known only as Yeager Airport, but was renamed in January in order to be classified as “international,” WOWK in Charleston reports. Its international U.S. Customs service won’t be ready until December, however.
8. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) — Delays and cancellations landed this massive hub in north Central Texas at eighth on the list. But DFW recently became the U.S. airport with the most nonstop flights (a title it previously held) and is currently offering about 239 nonstop destinations, according to aviation news outlet Simple Flying.
7. Denver International Airport (DEN) — Turbulence. Denver is surrounded by mountainous, hilly areas, and this can result in bumpier flights than many may be used to. (Apparently, mountains + wind = air waves.) The Federal Aviation Administration has a Tips of Mountain Flying manual that Frommer’s notes could be useful here.
6. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) — This Ohio airport is dinged by Frommer’s for needed updates and lack of space. A 2019 J.D. Power customer satisfaction study placed CLE even worse, coming second-to-last.
5. Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) — Some tough traffic and closed roads near the City of Brotherly Love’s main airport make for a rocky trip for passengers, both Frommer’s and J.D. Power say. The latter named PHL dead last on its 2021 airport customer satisfaction survey.
4. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) — Chicago’s massive airport is considered still too small by Frommer’s, and often-delayed flights didn’t help its ranking. Meanwhile, J.D. Power ranked it last on its 2021 customer satisfaction survey for “mega”-sized airports.
3. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) — It may be the only airport with a two-part “LOST” episode named after it, but getting lost at it is also a complaint, based on ratings. The airport is noted to have a “confusing” layout and, like most of Los Angeles, traffic problems.
2. LaGuardia Airport (LGA) — One of New York City’s major airports is clocked for running late on the clock, as Frommer’s says delays and cancellations are common at LGA. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) shows 22.52% of flights were delayed or cancelled from July 2019 to July 2021. To remedy some of these problems, LGA has undergone a few alterations (see below).
1. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) — BTS data shows 24.29% of flights at this New Jersey airport were delayed or cancelled between July 2019 and July 2021. Recently, EWR was shifted from being part of the NYC code by the International Air Transport Association, reported Travel + Leisure. What will this mean for flyers? Perhaps less competition for flights and thus higher prices for travelers to New York, T+L says. Yahoo! Finance reports the change is set to go into effect Oct. 3.
LaGuardia, the second-worst on Frommer’s list, has since undergone billions of dollars worth of renovations, transforming from what Bloomberg called in June a “once-infamous” airport into one named the best in design and architecture by an international jury for the Prix Versailles Award.
Meanwhile, Fundera, a small business resources site run by NerdWallet, also ranked the five worst regional airports for business travelers based on convenience and flight performance/availability. Its “worst” airports were, in order from least-worst to worst: Palm Beach International Airport, Albuquerque International Sunport, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport, and Memphis International Airport.
Fundera found Memphis airport’s single business lounge and lack of direct flights lacking, ultimately ranking it as the worst, Travel Channel reported. But proving that “best” and “worst” may be in the eye of the beholder, Fundera ranked LAX — Frommer’s third-worst — as its fifth best for business travelers, citing affordable parking fees and flight availability.
Safe travels wherever you fly from — and may your stresses stay low.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to correct Denver’s airport code.