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U.S. airports are 'awful.' Here's the problem

Pity the poor U.S. airport; its self-esteem has taken a beating in recent months. In February, as reported by the New York Daily News, Vice President Joe Biden said New York's frequently lambasted LaGuardia Airport "feels like it's in some third world country." ( More...

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Patrick Smith 5
Not that there aren't exceptions. RDU and AUS for example, are great little airports.

But in general U.S. airports simply can't be compared to those in Europe or Asia. Here's an essay on the topic...
Calen Chrzan 1
AUS is at the best airport in Texas. HOU isn't bad either and the new DAL is going to be good also when it's completely finished. I've also been to the new airport at RDU and it looks a lot like Hamburg.
Tampa is by far the best airport I've used in the States. 20 minutes from the gate to my car. As an international traveler, U.S. customs have by far the most arrogant piss poor attitude of any country I've visited. I know people who have taken 4 hours + to get through JFK. A really crap welcome for anyone visiting your country. I can't leave out Frankfurt. Once a great airport but now it is a dump. Avoid it.
Funny you mention Frankfurt. The last time I flew commercial was on a last minute flight to France. Made it through security at AUS and ORD with a multi-tool in my carry on. Didn't even know it was there until they caught it at Frankfurt. The security lady there was very nice, and directed me to the DHL office so that I could send it home.
Patrick Smith 3
Indeed they are, though not strictly for the reasons the article lays out...
alun samuel 3
Personally I don't think US Airports are 'awful' although I agree with Michael getting through JFK can be nightmare. The One thing I find all airports have in common is poor catering, I've yet to have a decent meal anywhere. Best Airport in the World without a doubt is Singapore, worst Airport, Mombasa, Kenya.
Yes, there are "awful" and US customns and personnel are very arrogant. When someone flies to Asia or mildest Asia, or even Africa-Johannesburg, can compare, the difference.
Calen Chrzan 1
DFW has new Customs Kiosks for US citizens and they are as fast as Global Entry. It took me 15 minutes or less to clear Customs in December when I was flying back from Heathrow. The year before it was a an agonizing hour or so wait to do it arriving on the same flight. I found JFK Customs to be fine. The worst are in HNL.
Matt West 5
I agree that a lot of our airports are in bad shape, but a someone who visits Heathrow regularly, some of the European one's are not all that better. I hate the way, for example, Heathrow's Terminal 3 has everything in a central area - EXCEPT the gates. The shops, bars, restaurants are all crowded together and you are not permitted to go to the gate until they tell you (they mask the gate #). When you get to the gate, you go through security again and there you sit, no food, no bathroom, no TV, nothing for what seems to be an eternity. I much prefer DFW, where I can sit at a bar across from my gate, drink a beer (or more depending on the wait) and get up as they are boarding.

Just my 2 cents, for what little they are worth.
Ben Sheer 2
part of the problem with our airports is there is no room for them to expand. LGA was built what? 80 years ago? some of these, especially the asian airports were built much more recently, and with room for expansion. most airports in the US i dont think need upgrades as much as they need to be shut down and moved slightly farther out of the big cities where there is room to have a bigger airport with room for future expansion. i know in the NYC metro area, there is nothing that can be done to make LGA, JFK and EWR bigger.
WhiteKnight77 2
You have hit upon part of it. Airports were built in the middle of nowhere originally and now, they are in the middle of everything (think Midway in Chicago) where they cannot expand nowadays. Then, there are airports that want to expand, so as to relieve some of the congestion at the main airport, but, locals do not want their "peaceful" area and small airport to expand. They would have to move airports 50+ miles from where they are now just to be able to build a bigger airport, but then there would be those who would not be willing to sell or would complain, rather loudly at that, about having an airport open next to them.

Airports are damned if they do and damned if they don't nowadays.
Ben Sheer 1
Couldnt agree more. Also, yeah, it sucks dealing with LGA sometimes. Except for the fact that you can get to/from there from midtown Manhattan in 15 minutes. London takes a minimum of 40 minutes from Heathrow to downtown. Cant have it both ways....
Edgar Murphy 2
C'mon. Ranking airports is like ranking porta-potties. They all stink, but for the short amount of time that you need one, any one will do.
Paul Glick 2
I would never agree with Biden on anything but I do now. Has anyone ever been to the white plains, NY airport, "like a third world country's airport is the perfect description? No one except the TSA screeners speak English. There is a single waiting area for all gates and the chairs are in horrible condition. There always are about twice as many people as chairs and of course everyone tries to carry their life possessions with them. I would not be surprised be there goats and chickens there somewhere. The restrooms are very old and filthy. The whole place is disgusting.

And I almost forgot that the check-in area uses contract generic agents. They are not from around here, again don't speak English, and don't give a rip about anything.

This airport is in Westchester County, what I thought was an affuient area I thought. I am surprised that NYer's would put up with these conditions. I have not flown out if NY's big three airports, but don't see how they could be worse.
Ben Sheer 1
HPN has gotten better over the years. It is a small airport and no one can expect it to have much in the way of facilities. The airport is more for the private planes than the few regularly scheduled flights. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in flights. The airport is growing faster than the upgrades can keep up with. If you think its bad now, I couldnt imagine what you would think about it around 1990 (even though back then there were probably only a dozen flights a day)
dardav 1
Well think about this. When you fly to China, Germany etc, there are only so many major airports to choose from. These have been greatly improved as the world travelers have increased. In the US, there are how many major international airports to fly into. The infrastructure costs alone to improve these airports is enormous. It really is quantity over quality IMHO.
Er.A.K. Mittal 1
I am no expert on airport management but it is not difficult to imagine the major cause or factors for the deterioration or degradation in the upkeep being obsolescence and/or lack of keeping up with changing times.
Needless to dilate the concept of changing times !
gradually EVERY airport grows old and unable to cope up with the ever expanding traffic ! No matter how you plan for an airport to grow !
So one day you abandon one for the 'newer' and the 'larger' airport.
Examples from recent past examples being Hong Kong and Tokyo airports.
In 20 or 30 years they too will be replaced with better ones making these look 'out dated, shabby and dirty'.
All part of life !
Calen Chrzan 1
A US airport I like is the remodeled Raleigh-Durham terminal. Very nice inside and it reminds me of Hamburg Germany's airport which is my favorite mid sized airport in Europe. Speaking of the Hamburg Airport. They have some food options located on the mezzanine above the ticketing area that you can go to if you are staying at or near the airport. There are more past security and a small shopping area. There is also a market down stairs. My favorite connecting hub in Europe is Amsterdam Schiphol although it can use a few more moving sidewalks in it's outermost concourses. Very efficient passport control and security for making connections and a variety of shops etc. Back in the US my former home town of SBN got rid of their holding pens and has a nice new and bright concourse with plenty of room and a nice skylight roof etc.
Visit PBI, you may like it. Kidzoo, spa, Rooneys, putting green. 4 fbos , aviator park. New PBI Tower, TRACON very soon.
Marcos Villela 1
Visit Rio, use the Galeao Airport (GIG)and you'll love any airport in US! It's a shame for us brazilians...
Peter Berner 2
I would disagree with you Marcos. the experience of a foreigner arriving in Brazil is far superior to one arriving in the US. The courteous personnel at immigration and check in and make for the difference. Never had a problem at either GRU or Galeao
Marcos Villela 1
Last time in GIG there were two queues, one for foreigners and another for nationals. The tourists from abroad were liberated after only 15 minutes but us, brazilians, spent more than 45 minutes to enter our own country... If you arrive in GIG you have only two alternatives to go to downtown: a taxi or a friend's car. No buses or trains are available there. The elevator and escalators are often under repair. Toilets doesn't work and the prices are soaring. It's a shame for us brazilians!
PauloR 1
I agree 100%. It's hard to say which one is the worst, GRU or GIG.
Patrick Weiss 0
It seems M Biden never flew in the 3rd world ! He should travel to Delhi for instance, or the best, Daker, where you spend 3 hours for passport control, and the custom officer spends 5 minutes with each passport despite the fact that he doesn't even know how to read, as a proof, he held my passport upside down and turned pages... I never had problem in american aiports so far, as a foreigner tourist from France, people were allways kind with us.
PhotoFinish 1
Multilingual and able to read upside down. His talents were being wasted as a passport control officer.


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