Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Airports: The biggest loser

Last week, we asked you to vote on the airport you deemed the worst. We took our choices from a list from US News that ranked the nations five worst as Chicago O'Hare, Newark, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami International.

Those of you who voted in our poll say US News got it wrong. More than 60 percent of the 226 who voted deemed MIA as the worst. Does that mean it's really so bad, or just that -- as Shakespeare would claim -- familiarity breeds contempt?

You tell us. Click to Comment below.

Poll results

Q: In your opinion, which of the following airport's is the nation's worst?


  • Miami International, 61 percent
  • Chicago O'Hare, 14 percent
  • Newark, 13 percent
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, 6 percent
  • San Francisco, 3 percent

41 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ron said...

Definitely the worst, that is why I fly from FLL. The workers at MIA need to learn the word manners, so do the travelers, horn honking is absurd at MIA!

Anonymous said...

Miami is just an all around bad experience. Rudest customs and border control agents I have ever had to deal with. Afterwards you have to deal with the cramped terminal and once you get home sift through the pieces of your mishandled luggage.

When departing you have to deal with the worst traffic quagmire to get into the terminal, pay the most expensive airport parking this side of the universe (and you have not gotten into the terminal yet). Afterwards you are welcomed with long lines, poor customer service, and rude airport+TSA personnel.

Once you have cleared TSA you are left with dingy terminals, poor food choices, uncomfortable seating and an overall depressing atmosphere.

Maybe I am just jaded, as a Miami native, I know how much the airport costs the Miami-Dade Commission, so I just expect more from my airport.

Anonymous said...

I used to travel weekly for business. Always out of MIA. I much prefer it to Ft Lauderdale. I never had a problem with rudeness,driving in and out was amazingly easy and frankly I love the fact it's all under one roof, ie no having to exit a building to get to another terminal. Although I don't fly that much anymore, Miami still seems fine to me for a major international airport. The tone of most of the comments make me think these people arrive at MIA already enraged and generate the "bad attitude" they complain about by being rude and hostile themselves.

Anonymous said...

I flew an international flight to and from MIA and it was one of the worst experiences I have had flying. There is no organization when you arrive from overseas and the lack of any support from airport or airline personnel made things worse. For example, there are numerous flights on one luggage carousel that have the flights marked on an electronic billboard above the carousel. The announcement that was made about my flight was wrong and the flight was never depicted on the carousel. I had to find it myself as I weaved in and out of the massive amount of people that were just as confused and in line to get through customs. Only three customs lines for hundreds of people! I could go on...
Next time im flying out of Ft Lauderdale!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely the worst parking in any civilized or third world city. These employees are rude, unattentive, barely can (or want to) communicate, sarcastic, and that's just cashiers! Try asking to talk to a manager like we did and brace yourself for even a more abusive and uncaring experience. This guy literraly walked off in the middle of a conversation as we are seeking help finding our car to talk to a buddy who was lighting up a smoke around the corner! Just walked off!! This was not the first time we needed help in one of the garages and ended up having to walk to the terminal to get assistance. Something has to be done. It can't just be us...

frequent veggie traveler said...

MIA is the worst airport in the US for sure. Rudest staff, longest waits especially when traveling AA and don't even mention the food!! There is NONE, yes no vegetarian food to be found of any edible description other than potato chips. Don't even get delayed in this airport if you have any gluten, food intolerance issues or just want to eat some healthy food.

dancallen said...

Having travelled in and out of MIA and ORD (O'Hare)neither one is that bad if all you are doing is carrying on luggage. If you add checked luggage, MIA is by far the worst. If weather is in play, MIA will not deplane you until the storm passes, even if you are at the gate.

Anonymous said...

Fwatts-MIA,JFK,DFW,Dulles and many other US airports are horrible...but having just spent a long period in London-Heathrow airport is worse. They can all use lessons from the far east about facilities, manners and courtesy. Singapore,Seoul,Tokyo,Hong Kong are 25 years ahead of us.

Anonymous said...

FLL and US Airways were the ones who lost my 9-year-old daughter, so I'm more upset with them than MIA. The other poster is right that London-Heathrow SUCKS big time. Pompous pricks who think the sun shines out of their you-know-whats.

Anonymous said...

Worked at M.I.A. for 10 yrs.What a toilet,dont trust the fuel there nobody at fuel facility cared.Banana Republic!what an understatement.Aviation dept is on the take!

Anonymous said...

Baloney- I have traveled A LOT out of Atlanta Hartsfield and MIA and I can assure you Atlanta is much worse. Yes, I know it's hard to believe.

Anonymous said...

I travel a lot, and MIA is by far THE worst airport I've ever had the displeasure to use. Real Floridians avoid it like the plague in favor of FLL. Perpetual construction, totally disorganized, dirty, poor signage. To say the people who work there are rude is an understatement. A customs agent actually made a snide remark and refused to attend to my boyfriend and me at the same time; his comment implied he took issue with our being an interracial couple who couldn't possibly be traveling together. He himself was a foreigner whose English was so unintelligible I was tempted to ask for HIS papers. The service cashiers and airline employees are no better. Most refuse to make eye contact and pretend not to speak English if you ask for help, and those who actually answer act as if they're terribly burdened by doing their job. I had a pleasant duty free employee once...out of FIVE working there.

I only use MIA when left no other choice. It's not worth the aggravation. I've been to airports in so-called Third World countries that weren't nearly as bad as MIA. Truly shameful.

Ron said...

After reading the comments that have been posted, I must say that MIA is no different than any other place in Miami. I just got back from a Winn Dixie store, and not one person was friendly! When I was in the parking lot, I heard horns honk 5 times, and I saw no people using turn signals! There is a program in Miami, called, "I am Miami" that teaches folks to smile and pay attention to customers, it is not working! Miami needs to read a book called, "How to win Friends, and Influence People"!

WNC HILLBILLY said...

Several times a year I have to fly from Asheville Regional, stop in Charlotte NC to MIA to visit Mom.
Every time the experience is worst than before.
There is not enough memory in a computer to save the "attributes" of Miami International Airport.
It looks like the TSA people commute jobs between MIA and Dade County Jail. Of course they apply the manners they use in jail.
Next month I plan to drive. This is another ordeal once we cross the Dade County line.

Blaine Zuver said...

Overall MIA is improving - but what's with Terminal H ? I flew out of there a few weeks ago to Buenos Aires - not one restaurant ,snack shop or even a cup of coffee. And no moving walkways ! Very poor planning !

Blaine Zuver said...

Excuse me , I meant Terminal J - the new one for LAN.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Ron's comment. Miami, as a whole, exhibits the very worst customer service that anywhere I've ever traveled or lived. The community is awash with bad attitudes, high prices, corrupt government. The airport is an extention of the community as a whole. I, too, avoid Miami in all ways possible. Customer service skills should be taught right along with English for the challenged.

Anonymous said...

Count on a thread like this to bring out the worst in people, much of it noit justified. As I expected, the post is populated by those who are always at the ready with a "third world" swipe about Miami, those whose narcissism leads them to think that LIMITED choices for vegetarian meals means NO choices (ever seen a grilled vegetable on focaccia at Starbucks or any number of places, lady?), those whose bad experience with luggage is always the fault of someone else besides themselves (did you pack according to TSA rules, did you get there in time to go through security, did you put an address tag and an identifying something-or-other on your black bag that looks like everyone else's?)...etc., etc.
Having said that: MIA is an old airport and there is no room to expand so construction is ongoing and the older parts of the airport can't shut down. The new South Terminal and Concourse J are handsome and elegant public spaces--and the concessions will open soon (the airport could do a better job of informing the public about when, and providing some stopgap kiosks until then).
The North Terminal is, admittedly, an embarassment and a disaster in terms of delays and cost overruns--and it will not be especially distinguished design when finished (except for the bronze inlay terrazzo floors).
The rest of the airport runs the gamut from refurbished on the cheap to downright dingy, and that can only be fixed with new construction--and new funding.
The staff is no better or worse than anywhere else, so considering that Miami is a tourist destination, that's not good enough but it's no hell-hole. I have personally called out Spanish-speaking employees of food concessions using profanities thinking that they are not understood--not likely in Miami, but especially not when the person standing in front of them is a native speaker and is not prepared to condone vulgarity. They have doubled over with apologies and swooned with instantly acquired good manners, atentiveness and even friendliness. (Airport management needs to be more strict in communicating standrads of behavior and enforcing them, it's true.)
On the whole, then, MIA is not the pleasurable experience one would like it to be, but it's not as bad as many congenital Miami-haters would make it out to be.
And try walking those 1/4-mile concourses at O'Hare, or navigating the levels at DFW, or the endless airside buildings at ATL...not a bed of roses, either.

Anonymous said...

I've traveled many places, specially Asian countries and US Airports in General are really bad. But, MIA reaches a new low. I guess these high ranking officials never stepped out of their cocoons.
Mia- Worst check-ins, worst baggage claim, worst immigration officers (sometimes very racist), worst parkings, overall worst service than any other airport I've been to. Plus, it's the only place I've traveled that doesn't have any train connection from the airport to the city.

Anonymous said...

We moved to Miami when I was young (1954). Now, I'm old and construction still hasn't stopped at MIA. For the supposed "glitz" that's come on Miami (hah), there's a lot of tarnish at the airport. But I imagine there's lots of gold in someone's pocket.

Anonymous said...

As a travel agent I find MIA to have the most unprofessional workers in the country. It would behoove the PTB to require English be spoken as a prerequisite for employment. I've found more English speakers at International Airports than in Miami. MIA is considered to be the Gateway to The Carribean,South & Central America. Yet there seems to be a culture of dissrespect and omnipotence among the workers that defies any semblance of a true tourist destination. Manners are essential in any professional environment.

Anonymous said...

For the commenter defending MIA, you glaringly omitted my adverse experiences with the prejudiced customs agent, horrendous customer service, poor signage (try getting back on the freeway after picking someone up from MIA), general dinginess, and disorganization of the terminal.
I read this thread and noticed not that people wanted to take "third world" swipes at Miami, but seasoned travelers tired of being crapped on. As if traveling isn't stressful enough these days with everyone already feeling like a suspect before they even get to the airport, MIA greets you with smirks and unfailing, dismissive rudeness at MIA.
I mentioned in my previous post that I had been to "third world" countries that had better airports and services than MIA (which doesn't imply in the least that Miami is "third world"). As a tourist destination and one of the most beautiful, international cities in America, how does Miami excuse this? Answer: it can't.

Anonymous said...

I travel all over the world for business (out of MIA most of the time) and here are my opinions of worst airports...

US Airports

1.Atlanta-Hartsfield
2.JFK
3.New Orleans Louis Armstong
4.MIA
5.O'Hare

International

1.London-Heathrow (very dark and you need to pray to God to show you to your gate)
2.Mexico City, Mexico (if you don't like MIA do NOT go to this airport. MIA is A+++ compared to this airport.)
3.Sao Paulo, Brazil
4.Paris, France
5. Madrid, Spain (Learn to speak Spanish before you arrive. They speak perfect English at the airport but if you don't they will classify you as lower than scum.)

Anonymous said...

Miami isn't the worst airport I've had the displeasure of knowing, but for a supposedly world-class destination that relies so heavily on tourism for its livelihood, making a positive first impression should be a priority. Especially when a lot of travelers only know us through the airport. I'm thinking of my recent layover in Detroit - a very impressive airport that runs circles around MIA, and even had me reconsidering my unfavorable opinion of the city.

Anonymous said...

I am not an experienced traveler (maybe twice a year) but I definitely prefer FT Lauderdale. As we arrived at the gate and while waiting to get off the plane at MIA, I experienced, while looking out the window, the worst case of abuse of private property I have ever seen. The two gorillas unloading the luggage were throwing the luggage around like if they were bundles of banana, even after realizing that passengers were looking at them.
This disrespect left a very bad taste that grew even larger when, once inside the terminal, I was exposed to several airport workers that looked like a gang of recently escaped convicts.
There is no doubt that once inside the terminal, MIA has the same appearance as some of the airports from third world Countries I have visited.

Anonymous said...

2 weeks ago I arrived in Miami from Panama (via Copa) at 12:00 noon on a Wednesday. By 1:45 pm I had cleared immigration and customs, driven to West Palm Beach and was seated for lunch. It was the smoothest thing I've ever seen in an airport and city. Besides, its worth a little more trouble to get home to South Florida than the other "armpit" destinations listed as choices.

Anonymous said...

Ok yes the MIA airport is a hole, for those of you who have to use the airport and want another option for more "decent" food. There is a hotel in the airport the MIA Hotel, right in front of concourse E and on the top floor they have a restaurant with a wide variety of food. You can sit down and eat or you can get it to go.

Also at the icecream shop between E & D they have a food counter with some home style food options too BUT....... They don't always have it ready for lunch on time and they usually run out of at least one special of the day. A lot of workers know about this place and that is generally why. And we are all very tired of La Caretta. These are both outside of security.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in Miami for 25 years and travel at least twice per year. In that time I can count on one hand the # of times I have had a bad experience. I just think it's easy to bash MIA because sometimes English is not the official language and it's easy to vent

Anonymous said...

I traveled extensively, and I always avoid MIA. I much prefer FLL. Whenever I have to travel out of Miami, I normally regret as quickly as I try to find parking. Once inside the airport, it only gets worse. Rude employees are everywhere!

Anonymous said...

I travel on a weekly basis and made a conscience decision to fly out of FLL because of my problems with MIA. The TSA agents and the airline agents are rude and you can bearly communicate with them using the English language. The food and restaurants are deplorable. For an international airport, you would expect better service. I can honestly say that I will only fly MIA if it is my last options.

Anonymous said...

I make it apoint of going through MIA. The other options for a Frequent traveler of Latin American Countries is Atlanta, Dallas or Panama. In USA Denver International Airport is absolutely the worst, out in the boondogle, nothing to eat, if you're not a special frequent flyer the lines are longer than Disney World. Sorry nothing beats a good pastelito de guayaba and a colada after an 8hour flight. MIA all the way

Anonymous said...

I have lived here all my life, traveled extensively and think that Miami is one of the worst. I can't count the number of times I have rescued people from foreign countries lost in our airport because of poor signage. We want tourists, but do very little to help them when they arrive.

Anonymous said...

It is no different then any other South American or Central American Airport.

Richard Langhorne said...

Alas, how do I hate thee MIA, let me count the ways, should it be the vibrant colors of grit on the escalator treads; the outer planet experience of dialogue with those employed to "help"; the hint of Everglades swamp in the parking garage; the winter dawn grey that replaces our tropics on every light of glass; the glory of imported cinders on each sidewalk;the gasp of tomb like air in an elevator?

Alas no, for those are just the symptoms. For it is our government that says if we do not so love thee, we can put them out.

Yet my dirty little MIA, if I want to put those governors out, they squel with such denial, only midnight whelps from Egypt could desribe such antics.

Thus my dear little MIA, I shall leave you for your little sister up the road, where the air is fresh and crisp, elevators clean, escalators pristine, helpers cheerful, and a garage that has hints of breeze south Florida.

Anonymous said...

You can fly from Belle Glade and it is smaller and more friendly--however, Mia has the big planes to big places--get real!!

Anonymous said...

After 2 bad experiences, you could not pay me to fly in or out of MIA. Like the previous posters said, the airport is an extension of the citizen's overall bad attitudes. Do Miami or Florida motorists know what the turn signal is for?

FLL is a much better experience.

Anonymous said...

I've been flying out of MIA since the 80's and no statement is more true than the one that says : " the more things change the more they stay the same." I've seen many an expansion , renovation , etc and nothing ever changes . It is one of the most awful human experiences other than waterboarding , voting Democrat or having a colonoscopy without sedation . Employees are rude , the layout of the facility will never be nominated for a wonder of the world , parking is awful , no one ( not even the TSA employees)can communicate in coherent English ( thank God I speak Spanish)and some can't even communicate in Spanish or just simply have no interest in communicating. Customs is a cluster f&^%ck , the officers are rude and prepotent ( in Canada they actually greet you , welcome to Canada , have a great stay ..in English and in French..makes you want to come back) and if you are lucky they time it takes to get through customs and get your bags just might be a couple of minutes shorter than the flight you just took to get there. The icing on the cake was a day I took my 70 year old father , put him through the security gate , sought assitance to find his gate and they took him to the wrong gate , wrong flight , wrong destination...boarded him...and flew him to Guatemala City . Equal opportunity stupid people employers! Today they announced they want another 1 BILLION dollars for the airport...you have to be kidding me . Just blow it up , fire everyone and start from zero ..we'll use the FLL in the meantime.
Hey Atlanta , San Francisco , Chicago and La Guardia users : don't laugh ! Your airports suck just as bad !

Anonymous said...

Considering all of the up grades in airports around the country, this place is a really bad. I work there. The main reason, the place is bad, is because a lot of business contracts are corrupt in south Florida. There are people in high places, making under hand deals, and getting very bad workmanship, or incomplete jobs. They worked on a new terminal, but if u really go through the airport, it is like something out of the early 70’s or earlier. See how often they have changed airport directors. If the Airport in Columbia, SC can be remodeled then a large international airport like MIA should be ultra modern. You don’t have to tear down the outside, but you can remodel the inside. Bad work conditions breed bad attitudes at work. That place is GARBAGE!!

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