The Least Trusted Major Airport in the U.S., According to Customers
Travelers want to avoid these airports at all costs, a recent study revealed.
As the reality that summer is over sets in, you may be looking to book an upcoming fall or winter getaway to have something to look forward to. But if that involves air travel, it's likely you'll have to deal with some unpleasantries before you're relaxing at your destination of choice. Flying has always caused travelers a lot of stress, and these days, even more so. But some U.S. airports seem easier to fly out of or into than others. To help you figure out which airports you may want to avoid before booking your next flight, we looked to a recent study from consumer intelligence company J.D. Power to find out which airport is the least trusted of them all.
For its 2020 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, published in September, J.D. Power measured overall traveler satisfaction among "mega," "large," and "medium"-sized airports in North America. The survey was conducted from August 2019 through July 2020, so some of the customers' responses are inclusive of travel amid COVID. J.D. Power surveyed 26,058 people who traveled through at least one airport in North America in the past 30 days, asking them about both their departure and arrival experiences, and visits to any connecting airports.
The survey measured customers' satisfaction in regards to six main factors: airport arrival and departure, check-in, security, terminal facilities, food and shopping options, and baggage claim. J.D. Power then used those results to calculate the Overall Customer Satisfaction Ranking for each airport, based on a 1,000 point scale. At Best Life, we looked at all the "mega" and "large" airports in the U.S. that received a below-average score to determine the least trusted airport in the country. ("Mega" airports see at least 33 million passengers a year and "large" ones have 10 to 32.9 million.) Wondering which major airports left travelers unhappy and which one is the least trusted of them all? Read on to find out!
Chicago Midway International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 782
On SkyTrax, an airport and airline review site, Midway International Airport earned an overall average score among travelers, netting it 5 stars out of 10. But in the midst of COVID-19, some visitors said that the Illinois airport's standards of hygiene are not up to par. "Bathrooms are a disaster, no working soap during COVID?"one traveler said. "Who is in charge of operations at Midway, they are not doing the job! No one is cleaning or sanitizing anywhere!… Why don't the touchless hand sanitizer and towel machines work? Looks like cheap equipment to me, they are either empty or the sensors are poor."
Kansas City International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 781
Similar to Midway, customers have called this Kansas City International Airpot out for unsanitary conditions during the pandemic. The Missouri airport has a very low overall score on SkyTrax, with a 2-star overall customer rating out of 10. "They have signs for social distancing but pile people on top of each other," one traveler wrote on SkyTrax. "No soap, paper towels, or functioning water faucet in the ladies' room. Filthy seats, nothing wiped down, food and garbage in seats."
St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 781
Travelers say that workers aren't the friendliest at this large Missouri airport. On SkyTrax, Lambert International Airport has a 4 out of 10 overall customer rating, with reviewers calling out "rude and inefficient" staff and dirty bathrooms.
"Toilet cleaning staff was just rude," one customer said. "Three toilets in bathroom and none had been flushed, tissue on floor."
Oakland International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 780
This California-based airport, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, also has a 4 out of 10 overall score from customers on SkyTrax, earning average ratings for its terminal seating, cleanliness, and wait times. But customers say security lines are the issue here. "They order everyone through in a hurried rush but apparently don't care about increasing traffic and passenger delay by doing this," one traveler wrote. "I tried to submit this complaint to the Oakland airport through its website but (surprise!) complaint messages aren't going through."
San Diego International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 778
Formerly known as Lindbergh Field, San Diego International Airport earned 3 out 10 stars from customers overall on SkyTrax. One of the California airport's biggest issues seems to be that it doesn't have enough chairs in the building, with a 2-star customer rating for its terminal seating.
Travelers also think that the design of the airport could use some work. "Had to go through security again after landing to get to my connecting flight," one wrote. "Ridiculously crowded, minimal seating, ancient-looking, gloomy, low-ceilinged dinosaur of a terminal."
For more rankings delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 777
Another California airport on this list, San Jose International Airport appears to do a decent job when it comes to its cleanliness, earning it 4 out of 5 stars in that area on SkyTrax. But overall, it fails to meet certain expectations, hence its 4 out 10-star overall customer satisfaction rating.
Customers have noticed that this airport can get fairly crowded, causing some issues for passengers. "Too long and too unpleasant security line even on the Saturday morning," one reviewer wrote. "The TSA employees are rude and did not care about the passengers. Only open two check machines and there are hundreds of passengers waiting."
Boston Logan International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 777
Logan International Airport, located in East Boston in Massachusetts, received a 4 out of 10-star overall customer rating on SkyTrax, and poor customer service might be what brought its score down.
"Horrific experience—especially in security," a traveler wrote. "They did a pat-down on me—I've had them before—but this lady was rude, pushy, and took forever. Yelled instructions at me and insisted on repeating them when I told her to just go ahead."
George Bush Intercontinental Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 775
Travelers are unimpressed by this Houston airport, as it has a 2 out of 10 overall customer rating on SkyTrax. Like many other airports on this list, George Bush Intercontinental Airport lost points because of its cleanliness, lack of COVID compliance, and staff, according to customers.
"The whole setup was a mess and the entry point to check into customs was completely out of compliance for COVID-19," one reviewer said of the Texas airport. "The worst was the absolutely bad attitude the TSA projected. They were rude and downright hostile."
San Francisco International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 774
According to customers on SkyTrax, San Francisco International Airport gets props for its cleanliness and airport staff, but it still has a 4 out of 10 overall customer rating, which could be due to how long it takes travelers to get from place to place.
"This airport may be attractive and very clean, but is one of the worst designed airports I have ever seen," wrote one visitor to the northern California airport. "Walk from the gates to baggage is extremely long. If you have any mobility issues and don't use a wheelchair, it will be a real struggle."
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 766
On SkyTrax, Sea-Tac International Airport has a 3 out of 10-star rating, seemingly because TSA security check can make traveling a bit of a hassle at this Washington airport.
"There are five TSA screening stations, with monitors in the check-in lobby showing estimated wait time," a reviewer wrote on Yelp. "I chose number 2 because it was close to us and the wait was supposedly 15-20 minutes. That 'estimate' was off by about 400 percent. There were snake lines as far as the eye can see, and beyond."
Los Angeles International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 763
One of the main airports in Los Angeles, California appears to be lacking in a few features, like terminal cleanliness and signage, according to customers on SkyTrax, who gave it 3 stars out of 10.
One user even called it the "worst airport" to go to, especially during the pandemic. "Coming back to travel after COVID and transmitting thru LAX was so disappointing," they wrote. "Not enough seats for passengers at the gate. Few bathrooms. Buses from regional planes instead of air jets."
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 762
Based on all of the customer reviews on SkyTrax, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport only got a score of 2 out of 10, and one traveler pointed out a few of the reasons why in their review.
"I'm 70 years old and have flown all my life in and out of the USA. This is the worst airport I have even been to," they said of the Florida airport. "This is the only airport I know of where you have to exit security to go from one terminal to another if you have a connecting flight. Not only do you have to exit security, but you have to walk outside the get from one terminal to another. They do have a bus, but be aware if you're in terminal 4 and take the bus to 3, 2, or 1, it will take well over 30 minutes to get there. … If you're lucky enough to transfer in the same terminal, be aware that none of them have a restaurant or bar worth anything."
O'Hare International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 758
Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is another airport that customers gave a 3-star rating out of 10 on SkyTrax, with some noting that the airport hasn't necessarily been enforcing social distancing protocols.
"A 2.5-hour line, winding around and around and around before finally getting to the customs line," one traveler wrote after coming into the Illinois airport. "Everyone in line was disgusted. Felt like a Covid breeding factory. Even though face masks were on, the lines were so long and the area was hot, people had to breathe and dropped masks below their noses."
Philadelphia International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 751
Philadelphia International Airport has a 3-star customer rating out of 10 on SkyTrax, with many travelers calling the airport out for how dirty it is.
"The ladies' room by our arrival gate in Terminal E had toilet paper on the floor coming into and out of which was viewable from the concourse," a reviewer wrote when they flew into the Pennsylvania hub. "Trash littered the gate areas and terminal walkways. The inside of the entire airport needs a complete makeover."
Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 743
Travelers on SkyTrax gave the Honolulu international airport a 2-star rating out of 10, citing unpleasant staff, unorganized lines at check-in, and dirtiness. "Concrete monstrosity and mainly a disappointment. Disorderly queues at check-in … Really nothing at all interesting in the gate areas," one said, giving it a 5-star rating out of 10 overall. "Never look forward to this place."
Another traveler, who only gave this Hawaiian airport a single star, said: "There is no excuse for the condition of this airport. The washrooms are filthy and ancient. The seating and waiting areas are poorly designed and filthy. … No one at this airport was helpful or friendly. Hate their jobs and it is no wonder considering the condition of this airport."
Newark Liberty International Airport
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 733
For a handful of airports on this list, the TSA seems to be a major headache for travelers, and Newark Liberty International Airport is no exception. In many of the reviews on SkyTrax, travelers were not happy with the TSA workers, giving the airport overall just 2 stars out of 10.
"I have been traveling for over 25 years. Worst experience of an airport I have ever encountered," one visitor wrote of the New Jersey airport. "The drive in was bad, the TSA employees are rude, and the security lines are disorganized. … They should take a look at the condition of the filthy common areas. The floors are disgusting. … Everyone that works there is either on their phones or just have no intentions of doing anything."
Customer satisfaction score (out of 1,000): 712
If you've flown out of LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in Queens, New York in recent years, you likely noticed that it's in the midst of a major redevelopment. And while this international airport may be getting a facelift, for now, it is still considered the least trusted major airport on the list, according to J.D. Power's findings. On SkyTrax, travelers have continuously criticized LaGuardia for how difficult it is to navigate, giving it a 3 out of 10-star rating overall.
"I realize the renovation is not complete – but I am so disappointed that the layout doesn't seem to consider people who are not 20-30 somethings or athletes," one reviewer wrote. "The corridors going to the gates are excessively long."
Another even said they would pay more money to avoid LGA specifically. "The worst airport experience I have had. Every flight to and from we're delayed. They are clearly overbooking flights and can't handle the traffic. I missed my connection and have to pay for the hotel out of pocket because it was 'air traffic control' issues and not weather related," they said. "It took 45 mins to take a shuttle to go 2 terminals over because there's no traffic control for cars/buses. … And no help directing people. I will gladly pay more money to not stop at LGA."
RELATED: Major Airlines Are Now Banning This One Type of Mask.