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REVEALED: The worst airports in the US

by Staff


By Sadie Whitelocks For Dailymail.com

12:32 25 Feb 2024, updated 12:32 25 Feb 2024

  • Aviation review site Skytrax has gone about rating America’s airports 
  • 20 airports only score three stars, which signals they aren’t consistent services
  • Not one airport across the US gets a five star ranking, compared to nine in Asia 



Dirty bathrooms, a lack of comfortable seating and confusing terminal maps – these are just a few of the complaints when it comes to the worst airports in the US.  

Aviation review site Skytrax has gone about rating America’s airports, and 19 of the country’s biggest and most used airports only score three stars, which signals they aren’t consistently providing a good overall service. 

Not one American airport gets a five star ranking, compared to three in Europe and nine in Asia. Here, DailyMail.com reveals why the airports are falling short and where they score the least points.

The experts at Skytrax gave ratings for various factors each airport, with the main categories comprising Ground Transportation, Security Screening, Immigration Service, Wayfinding & Signage, Arrival, Departure, Transfer, Terminal Comfort, Terminal Facilities, Shopping Facilities, and Food & Beverage. 

Take a flight down to see which American hubs could do with some improvements. 

Aviation review site Skytrax has gone about rating America’s airports, and 20 of the country’s biggest and most used airports only score three stars

 

Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport 

In the rating analysis, Atlanta scores just one star (meaning ‘totally unacceptable) for its shower facilities

The experts note that Atlanta is ‘undergoing a number of passenger experience improvements – however, is let down by inefficient and insufficient immigration and security staffing levels.’ 

In the rating analysis, it scores just one star (meaning ‘totally unacceptable’) for its shower facilities, while it also only gets two stars (meaning ‘poor’) for access to quiet or relaxation areas. 

Its other lowest mark is for wait times in security, with just a 2.5. The selection of shops landside get the same rating.

On the flip side, the Skytrax team say the airport has ‘an excellent range of fast-food options as well as motivated and engaging Information staff at key points in the airport.’

 

Boston Logan Airport

The panel highlighted some of the Boston Logan Airport’s plus points, starting with its ‘convenient location’ and ‘good connections to the city’

On the rating side of things, Boston Logan Airport score lowest (2.5) for its choice of luxury stores, fast food choices landslide, the terminal seating, signage to transfer areas, its seating near check in and its ‘ease of wayfinding’ for transfers.

However, the panel highlighted some of the airport’s plus points, starting with its ‘convenient location’ and ‘good connections to the city.’

They continued: ‘Despite a small check-in space and limited landside facilities, the terminal is well organized and progress is being made to expand security screening capacities. 

‘The range of local food choices and live entertainment initiatives in the airside spaces is commendable.’ 

 

Charlotte Douglas International Airport

On the rating side of things, Charlotte Airport scored lowest (two stars) for its terminal maps

As it a ‘large hub facility,’ the experts say that walking distances at Charlotte Airport  ‘can be very long.’

However, they highlight that the airport’s ‘Minute Suites’ offer hourly room rates and shower facilities for transfer passengers.

Another gripe which they have is that the ‘signage is rather inconsistent but is helped by an effective airport app with good wayfinding feature and information.’

On the rating side of things, it scored lowest (two stars) for its terminal maps, baggage delivery times,  premium check in facility, PRM (passengers with restricted mobility) bathrooms, children’s play area, and selection of stores and fast food outlets landside.

 

Chicago O’Hare International Airport

The experts say that the terminal interiors at Chicago O’Hare International Airport ‘are relatively dated and the range of seating and integrated power supply is considered poor’

While the experts appreciate that Chicago is ‘conveniently connected to the city’s mass transport system,’ they say that the failure to appropriately renovate the internal terminal connector transit has meant a high degree of inconvenience and delays for passengers.’

They also add: ‘Terminal interiors are relatively dated and the range of seating and integrated power supply is considered poor.’ 

The airport scored just two stars for its terminal maps, and selection of shops landslide. 

The pointers which ranked slightly higher (2.5) included waiting times at security, the premium check in facility, access to charging points, comfort of seats, cleanliness of washrooms and the food and beverage choices landside.

 

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Dallas/Fort Worth Airport was applauded for its ‘efficient’ immigration services and ‘positive’ staff experience

Dallas/Fort Worth Airport ‘acts as an efficient hub airport in Texas,’ the experts say, with terminal layouts which are ‘designed to reduce excessive walking distances with transit connectivity.’ 

It was also applauded for its ‘efficient’ immigration services and ‘positive’ staff experience. 

However, a few negatives surfaced, with these including limited landside facilities and poorly rated business class lounges.  

When it came to the rating analysis, the airport scored lowest (two stars) for its signage to transfer areas, its access to quiet or relaxation areas, its selection of shops landside along with its food and beverage choices in the same area.

 

Denver International Airport

Denver Airport is ‘renowned,’ the experts say, for its ‘unique tented roof structure and architecturally impressive Jeppesen Terminal’

To start, the experts highlight Denver Airport’s architectural prowess, noting: ‘[It] is renowned for its unique tented roof structure and architecturally impressive Jeppesen Terminal.

‘Throughout the airport, customers will find many distinctive artworks and sculptures.’

Another perk of the place is that, ‘in recent years, transport to the airport has been enhanced with the A-Line rail service to downtown Denver, in addition to RTD bus services, taxis, and rideshare.’ 

However, they add: ‘TSA processing is often a slow pinchpoint in the departure process, and it is important to remember that access to the B and C concourses is via the people mover train only.’ 

In the ranking analysis, the children’s play area scored just one star, while the accessibility to quiet areas came in at a 2.5. All of the other features scored three stars or more.

 

Detroit Metro Airport

‘Detroit Metro terminals are spacious, bright and appealing,’ the experts say

Overall, the experts seem fairly satisfied with the Detroit Metro Airport’s offerings, stating: ‘Detroit Metro terminals are spacious, bright and appealing. 

‘The design enhancements offer a lot of features throughout the airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport functions particularly well when transiting. 

‘Customer service is good, and shuttle services and moving walkways reduce travel times here.’ 

In terms of where the airport falls short, it scores just 2.5 for its terminal maps in the McNamara Terminal.

Meanwhile, a mediocre three stars were given for a number of pointers in both airport terminals including staff language skills at both security and immigration, baggage carts, premium check in facility, cleanliness of seats, cleanliness of washrooms, PRM (passengers with restricted mobility) bathrooms, and selection of shops and food landside.

 

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

‘Terminal interiors and facilities are weak,’ the experts say of Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale features four terminals and the experts say that one of the issues is that ‘there is no airside link for connections.’

They note: ‘This can make transfer inconvenient as shuttle bus services do not always operate efficiently. 

‘Terminal interiors and facilities are weak.’

Out of all of the terminals, they recommend number three as it has ‘been refurbished and offers a more appealing experience.’ 

The airport has more one and two-star rankings compared to other airports across all of its terminals, with some of the complaints being long walking distances to transfer, cleanliness of the bathrooms, congestion around check-in and lack of stores landside.  

 

Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport

Honolulu airport scores just one point for its terminal maps and children’s play area

While Honolulu airport has ‘an appealing curbside and terminal environment which is open plan in many areas,’ the Skytrax team say it can ‘be very crowded’ and the international arrivals process is often ‘chaotic.’

Other complaints include ‘dated’ terminal finishes, limited family facilities, long walking distances and ‘lack of efficiency’ in the transfer process.

In the airport rating analysis, it scores just one star for its terminal maps and children’s play area. 

A number of features also only get two stars, including the FastTrack immigration services, clarity of signs, signage language choices, availability of toilets, baggage hall facilities, access to charging points, and baby changing rooms.

 

Las Vegas McCarran Airport

The experts note that Las Vegas Airport ‘serves in excess of 50 million passengers per year using two terminal buildings and a satellite concourse’

Detailing the airport offering in Las Vegas, the experts say: ‘Las Vegas Airport serves in excess of 50 million passengers per year using two terminal buildings and a satellite concourse. 

‘The primary concentration of shopping and dining is found in the gate areas, and there is the usual range of national coffee shops and fast-food outlets and some full-service choices.’

However, the travel pros highlight that ‘depending on the gate position, walking distances can be long for departure and arrival, and inconsistent TSA staffing levels means that security queues can be lengthy.’ 

In the rating analysis, problems in the security department were highlighted, with just three stars awarded for screening guide signage, service efficiency, staff attitude, and staff language skills.

The arrivals area could also do with some improvements, the experts say, with three stars given for availability of toilets, baggage carts and the meet and greet facilities. 

 

Los Angeles International Airport

The experts say Los Angeles airport’s biggest weakness is access and ‘drop-off roadways are often congested’

The Skytrax team say of Los Angeles’ main airport: ‘Tom Bradley International Terminal provides the highest standard of passenger experience at LAX. 

‘This area has excellent natural light, appealing design features and a good range of food and beverage and airline lounge standards.’

However, they note that the airport’s biggest weakness is access and ‘drop-off roadways are often congested.’ 

Security and immigration standards are also ‘frequently slow and inefficient.’ 

Despite these complaints, Los Angeles airport fared better than most in the analysis, with all features given three stars or more. 

It also scored four stars (a good quality level) for several services including walking distances in arrivals, terminal air temperature, quality of airport announcements, and choice of luxury brands, while free time allowance on the airport Wi-Fi got an impressive five stars (meeting global best practice).

 

Mexico City International Airport

‘Cleanliness, condition and maintenance of facilities are poor in many areas,’ the Skytrax team say of Mexico City’s airport

Mexico City International Airport did not leave a good impression with the experts. 

They said of the transportation hub: ‘Mexico City Airport comprises two terminals and offers an inconsistent experience, and is a borderline three-star airport. 

‘Cleanliness, condition and maintenance of facilities are poor in many areas. Wayfinding and signage lack logic, and there are no maps available. 

‘The staff attitude at passenger touch-points could be improved.’

After outlining the negatives, the Skytrax team did note that ‘the choice of shopping and dining options is quite good in the gate areas.’ 

In the rating analysis, the airport scored two stars for many features including car rental services, FastTrack immigration, queuing systems in departures, overall décor, air temperature, cleanliness of washrooms, and cleanliness of seats.

 

Miami International Airport

At Miami International Airport, the experts say ‘connections can be subject to long walking distances, and TSA processing is frequently inefficient’

As Miami International Airport is a ‘gateway’ to Latin America and the Caribbean, the experts say the ‘high number of international flights means that immigration and customs are often congested.’

They continue: ‘Connections can be subject to long walking distances, and TSA processing is frequently inefficient. 

‘Shopping and dining choices are good, but service standards are inconsistent. 

‘There is a good choice of transportation but aside from taxis, all options are accessed from a centralized facility three minutes away from the terminal via train.’ 

On the rating side of things, the airport scored lowest for the cleanliness of its washrooms, with 2.5 stars. 

The same score also applied to getting help at the information kiosks, waiting times in immigration for arrivals, along with service efficiency and waiting times in security.

 

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport

The Skytrax team say Minneapolis-St Paul offers ‘excellent’ public transport connections and the ‘proximity of the Mall of America increases the amenity value for passengers’

Minneapolis-St Paul ‘offers a positive experience, underpinned by good customer service,’ the experts report. 

Other plus points include a mix of local and international food choices airside, ‘excellent’ public transport connections and the ‘proximity of the Mall of America increases the amenity value for passengers.’

However, they highlight that the check-in space is limited and this can ‘lead to poor queue management and long waits for security.’ 

The airport terminal maps were awarded just 1.5 stars in the analysis. 

Other poorly rated features included the terminal seats, choice of luxury stores and food choices landside, with these all getting just two stars. 

 

New York John F. Kennedy International Airport

‘JFK has six terminals managed by different operators/airlines and the customer experience is inconsistent,’ the experts say

New York’s JFK airport was blasted by the travel pros for offering an inconsistent experience. 

Explaining their reasoning, they said: ‘JFK has six terminals managed by different operators/airlines and the customer experience is inconsistent for the look and feel of the décor, and the extent of services and facilities per area. 

‘Currently, the terminal infrastructure is incompatible with the passenger numbers and service expectations, often with a low degree of customer service and high F&B charges.’

Offering a glimmer of hope, they note that the new Terminal 1 which is in the works, ‘looks to target a truly world-class facility.’

Despite outlining the downsides, the airport did get serval four stars in the analysis for features including rental services, the ease of getting around in departures and arrivals, the terminal air temperature, ATM availability. 

The airport’s very Instagrammable retro-styled TWA Hotel also got an impressive 4.5 score. 

 

Newark Liberty International Airport

‘The transfer process for international passengers at Newark is arduous and inconvenient,’ the experts said of Newark airport

A number of complaints around Newark airport were put forward by the experts.

They said: ‘The transfer process for international passengers at Newark is arduous and inconvenient. 

‘There has been a slow adoption of automatic kiosks here which can result in extensive immigration waits and slow security processing for connecting flights. 

‘The infrastructure for the airport is dated, and post-security the facilities are limited for passengers.’ 

The airport only got two stars for a number of its features, including the choice of luxury brands in the stores, selection of stores airside, internet kiosk facilities, children’s play area, relaxation area, cleanliness of washrooms, ease of transfer process, waiting times in immigration for arrivals, staff attitude in security and baggage carts in arrivals. 

 

Orlando International Airport

When it comes to Orlando airport, the travel pros say the ‘terminal interiors are dated and security is often slow here’

Giving Orlando Airport their verdict, the experts said: ‘[It] has a central terminal space from which passengers travel to the appropriate satellite terminal. 

‘This results in a good volume of landside facilities, including a hotel, food courts and a mall. 

‘However, after security, the facilities are limited in scope. The terminal interiors are dated and security is often slow here.’ 

In the rating analysis, a number of poor two-star ratings were dished out for features including efficiency in security, waiting times in arrivals, terminal maps, congestion around check-in, queuing systems in the departure area, premium check-in facilities and walking distances to transfers.

It also scored poorly in terms of Terminal Comfort with only two stars given for congestion around the terminal, décor, seat availability, seat types and comfort, and cleanliness of washrooms.

 

San Francisco International Airport

For ‘the majority of passengers,’ the experts say the experience at San Francisco airport remains poor, with transfer convenience and staff attitude being rated as particularly poor’

The experts acknowledge that there are ‘a number of improvements ongoing at San Francisco Airport, including the new Harvey Milk Terminal.’ 

However, they say, ‘for the majority of passengers, the experience remains poor, with transfer convenience and staff attitude being rated as particularly poor.’

The ‘inadequate staffing of immigration, customs and security’ increases the chances of missing connections, they add. 

On the rating side of things, the airport gets just two stars for a spread of factors including terminal maps, airport ‘help’ staff, baggage carts, children’s play area and relaxation areas. 

 

Washington Dulles International Airport 

An ‘onerous arrivals process and disorganized departure security screening’ are two downsides to Washington Dulles International Airport

While the experts say Dulles International ‘suffers from weak public transport connections,’ they highlight that ‘this should be improved in the near term.’ 

Other negatives include an ‘onerous arrivals process and disorganized departure security screening.’

These pointers aside, the Skytrax team say the airport generally ‘offers a reasonable experience for travelers’ and ‘on-site day-rooms, retro architecture features and the nearby Smithsonian add to the appeal.’ 

In the ratings analysis, the lowest ratings (two stars) were given for service efficiency in security and the terminal maps. 

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