Sunday, March 16, 2008

The World's Worst Airport?

Now, I have to admit that Miami International is high on my list of Places Needing Improvement. Granted, the new South Terminal is pretty spiffy, and the new shops in the old terminal are a huge step-up. Still, there's more than a little work left to be done -- like speeding up the luggage delivery (and seeing that nothing is missing from your bag), fixing the escalators, etc.

But is it among the nation's worst airport? Well, yes, according to a story by US News (reported by TravelMole, an industry news cruncher.)

US News distilled government numbers to come up with an Airport Misery Index, based largely on delay records and load factors. (I'd throw in a few more factors, such as quality of airport staffing. Last trip through MIA, the non-local travelers in front of me were aghast to learn that at the Versailles outlet on our concourse, no prices were posted, the staff largely didn't speak English, only one person seemed to know the prices -- and they were truly outrageous.)

The 10 worst, according to the US News rankings:

  • Chicago O'Hare
  • Newark
  • San Francisco
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Miami
  • Las Vegas
  • Charlotte
  • JFK in New York
  • Atlanta
  • Seattle-Tacoma


Least stressful, according to the report: San Jose.

Of course, none of these compares with some of the international airports I visit. Both London Heathrow -- which blessedly just opened a new terminal -- and Charles de Gaulle can try a traveler's patience to the max. But worst I've ever seen, anywhere: Douala, Cameroon. The place is a dump, the AC doesn't work, the temperatures even in the cool season are hellish and the bribe factor -- well, that's another story, but let's just say you'd better come with cash in hand.

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GOT A LEAST-FAVE AIRPORT? CLICK TO COMMENT BELOW, OR VOTE AT RIGHT

39 comments:

Jake said...

Airports you either love them or loathe them - in my case I love them because I know I am jetting off to where the sun is hot and the sea so blue and because of these wonderful thoughts I manage to turn a blind eye to all that is going on around me.

Anonymous said...

Bad as airports were before 9/11 they have become hellish since. "Authority" should admit the terrorists have won, and deal with it appropriately:
If bombs, guns & knives are hidden in baggage, say NO BAGGAGE, to airport users, just PROPER CONSTANT CHECKS on airport workers, and pass everyone going within 100 yards of an airport through body scanners, with repeat scanners every so-often inside.
Those who NEED luggage must send it separately by cargo-only plane.

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Anonymous said...

The Orlando airport is beautiful and has great restaurants and shops but the security is the worst I have been through. They do not believe in lines. They check your id and herd 150-200 into an open space then yell at people to move down. Its a mess.

Anonymous said...

Miami Airport has some nice shops but has to be one of the most crowded airports in the world. Flights coming in from every corner of the globe. The TSA people there are very officious and yell and bully you. It is like a cattle run to get through the check points. One amusing incident when I last travelled was a sultry sounding female voice came on the PR system and breathed "Tony Montana, paging Tony Montana." Obviously this was a joke but you have to wonder what visitors were thinking being that Miami airport used to be a big drug trafficking locale in the eighties i.e. the "Scarface" era.

Anonymous said...

I fly into and out of MIA a couple of times a month and I can say, without a doubt, it is one of the worst airports I have ever traversed. Most airline staff and TSA employees are rude and unhelpful and the facilities are a dump. But, I must admit, the chaos can be quite entertaining (if you aren't in a hurry).

Anonymous said...

Miami is horrible... if you arrive internationally after midnight they sometimes make you walk a little more than 1/2 a mile (I measured it after my 3rd time doing it). When you have elderly travelers and todlers this is not fun that late at night.

Michael said...

I am okay with Miami up there as long as JFK is there too... because that is Hands Down the worst airport on the planet.

Anonymous said...

Miami is a complete shit show

Anonymous said...

I think Miami is one of the best. The food is great, people are helpful, signage is good, many different shoppping choices etc. The worst airport in the world is LAX and that wasn't a choice in the voting. No signs, most shops are closed by 1900 hrs and variety lacks. People are very unfriendly. No one tells you that the International Airport is in another building and you have to be able to sprint to get to it. While waiting for hours on a layover, there is nothing to do. I know they could be more user friendly. I hate that place.

carol said...

Landing in Miami is like landing in a banana republic. It is dark, dank and full of rude people. The wait for checked luggage is INterminable- totally the WORST I've experienced. Routinely the wait is a minimum of 45 minutes-- and no one working there even PRETENDS to care.

Anonymous said...

'Now, I have to admit that Miami International is high on my list of Places Needing Improvement.'

Places Needing Improvement! I've lived here since 1981 and I don't think there has been one day since then that there hasn't been a major, ongoing construction project somewhere at MIA.

Nothing speaks to the third-ratedness of MIA like those tiny, antiquated 'three holer' restrooms in the far concourses. A great way to greet visitors.

FD-Condo-Hotel-South-Beach said...

I prefer normally the USA airports, especially everytime I get upset in Paris CDG.

But Miami airport is really one of the worse in the USA.

And I fly American very often. They recently introduced self-service machines which did help a lot to have a quick check-in. But then they changed the system. Maybe it was working too well.

Now you have to wait in a line to get to a machine, there at the machine you have to wait for a clerk to validate your passport, then you have to make another line to weight your luggage, then another line to give your luggages to TSA for security check.

And then the last line for TSA inspections.

I don't want even to talk about parking your car. Just crazy.

Regards.
FD @ Condo Hotel South Beach

Anonymous said...

Miami is not bad at all actually. With the new terminal, you're in and out in minutes. It's not bad at all. I travel into and out of MIA many times a year and I find it very easy and not hectic.

Plus, like the poster before me said, there's never a day that their isn't some type of expansion, renovation, construction or improvement going on at MIA, it's always getting better.

Not to mention, they're building the MIC, with Metrorail, Amtrak, taxis, buses, Tri-Rail, rental cars, etc. all in one central station at MIA. It doesn't get better than that.

Miami is a great airport.

Anonymous said...

I avoid flying out of MIA whenever possible. RUDE EMPLOYEES no matter who they work for, horrible concessions, ridiculous waits for security checkpoints (the last time, I waited for 45 minutes at 4:30 am - not exactly peak travel time), filthy restrooms...I could go on, but anyone who has ever traveled through MIA knows exactly what is wrong with it.

Anonymous said...

90% MIA emplyees will not make it any third world country, but they make it here, unbelievable.

Joe Fed said...

Miami Airport has all the charm of a Bagdad marketplace. For a city that depends so much on tourism, I cannot fathom why they would want their bread and butter (tourist's) first & last experience to Miami being this retched place. You'd think that the city wouldn't want another tourist. As an unlucky resident of Miami, I cringe when I have to pick up visitors there... The sign that used to be on the drive out of the airport said it all "Escape to the City".

Anonymous said...

Try having your luggage even picked up at Kathmandu airport> If you haven't paid the first bribe in the parking lot, the windows at the domestic airlines won't even touch your luggage , for the second bribe.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with MIA been one of the worst airports in USA, TSA employees and every single worker there are sooo rude, unpolite and worst don't speak a word of English. And nobody knows anything or as the favorite word goes "that's not my job".

Anonymous said...

I live in Doral, right next to Miami International, and I fly out of Ft Lauderdale whenever possible. I'd rather spend another 40 minutes on the Turnpike than set foot in that hell hole.

Anonymous said...

Toussaint L'Overture International in Port au Prince makes Miami look like Paradise. From the filth and absence of air conditioning to being acosted and harassed by porters and cabdrivers to the lack of security, you take your life in your hands just stepping foot off the plane. Whoever named this island the Pearl of the Antilles????

Anonymous said...

I arrived yesterday from Quito after midnight and spent 2 hours in the new terminal at Immigrations in massive lines.

The new terminal is a shithole, with hardly any shops and no place to get some decent food. The old terminals should have been bombed a long time ago.... what a dump.

The staff at MIA is the worst in the nation, the carpets are dirty , the politicians running the place are corrupt, the new terminals are too expensive and the fees are absolutely absurd...

So to answer the question, is Miami the worst in the nation:

YES

I would even vote for worst of the world....

Anonymous said...

I worked at MIA for 14 years.I agree it is very 3rd worldish.But,to include Charlotte on that list is ridiculous.It is one of best airports in the country.Denver is number one in my opinion.DFW is easy to traverse.It doesn't deserve to be on the list.

carol said...

Pity we need to compare MIA to Toussaint L'Overture International in Port au Prince to make it look OK.

Anonymous said...

I;ve traveled thru MIA a couple of times in the last few months. I'd say that bloggers and journalists, could provide better information if they mention the airline or if travel was international or domestic. For bags delivery-dont blame the airport if the airline you chose delays the bags -that's what happened to me ...same big airline- bags took almost an hour to arrive on diff occasions-no staff-no information. (The airport staff has nothing to do- isnt this your airline's job?)I used the new terminal, that the Herald said it is not 100% finished ..) Food outlets and new facilitites are coming but it's efficient, lots of space and light, and clean -its' a big improvement. This is not seen in the 3rd world friends...

Anonymous said...

MIA is okay, much better than people indicate. Worse by a mile are LAX and Chicago Midway. I think I have never, in dozens of visits, been able to transfer between terminals at JFK without actually leaving the airport and going through security again - it's not very organized.

Internationally, there are even worse options. Kabul is not good. Cairo is a mess. Belize City is horrible. Port-au-Prince is actually a lot better than this thread indicates, and is much better than even LAX. Paris is too big for its own good, but if you've been there a few times you'll realize how to get around quickly.

Anonymous said...

I have been through MIA about seven times in the past 36 months. I cannot recall a single trip that did not involve some significant screw-up involving MIA. Sure, some of the blame some of the time rest elsewhere (planes arriving late from another airport), but MIA always compounds the problem and doubles the delay. Plane arrives late (after several gate changes involving 20 minute hikes between farflung gates) but there's nobody to clean it so we wait for an extra 90 minutes. Finally, all the passengers get on-board and the crew discovers that there is no water on-board. The water gets loaded and then there's no ground crew to push the plane off. We finally get out to the taxiway and the control tower has lost our flight plan! This is a typical experience!

Rachel said...

American Airlines baggage handlers actually stole things out of the bag they forced me to planeside check for the small plane from Miami to Key West. I was headed out here for a wedding and they took my backup camera and a couple of lenses. Classy. Of course American Airlines has sweeping generalizations in their conditions of carriage negating any responsibility for photographic or electronic equipment (what the...?) even though this was clearly a case of pilferage out of MIA. I feel violated.

Anonymous said...

Why is Sea-Tac on this list? Or Vegas for that matter? Where else can you gamble while you wait to fly out or as you come in for that matter?

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