Armchair Traveller

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World's best and worst airport terminals

Number one might surprise you!
Number one might surprise you!

Where take-offs land high marks / landings are loathsome

US travel site and guidebook company Frommer's has released their latest list of the world's best and worst airport terminals. A more useful list than the top and bottom airports, as the differences between terminals these days can be massive. Visitors to New York's JFK will know exactly what I'm talking about — lucky travellers landing at Terminal Five will find a spanking-new (opened in 2008) facility that's clean, makes sense and has the best airport food out of any of the city's three commercial airports' dozens of combined terminals. Tourists touching down at Terminal Three, on the other hand, can expect an immigration line stretching through the basement and ought anticipate queuing for a cab for up to an hour.

Scores were tallied for cleanliness, services, on-time departures, navigation and ease of getting to and from the city's centre. Brownie points were awarded for cute quirks. So let's see which terminals top the list for the good, or for the bad and the ugly…

World's worst airport terminals

  • 1. New York JFK Airport Terminal 3
  • 2. Manila (Philippines) Airport Terminal 1
  • 3. Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport Terminal B/C
  • 4. Nairobi, Kenya Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
  • 5. Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, Terminal 3
  • 6. Amman (Jordan) Queen Alia Airport
  • 7. New York LaGuardia Airport Terminal 5
  • 8. Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport
  • 9. Paris' Beauvais Airport
  • 10. Chicago Midway Airport

Wow, 50% of the world's worst places to start or end a journey are in New York or Paris! I've actually passed out from the stench at Newark's Terminal B, been pickpocketed in Charles de Gaulle's Terminal 3, mugged at Kenya Jomo Kenyatta and snowed-in for two days at Midway, so no love lost on this list from the Armchair Traveller.

But how 'bout the best?

World's best airport terminals

  • 1. Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) Hajj Terminal
  • 2. Leifur Eriksson Air Terminal, Keflavik, Iceland
  • 3. Seoul (South Korea) Incheon Airport
  • 4. Wellington (New Zealand) 'Rock' Terminal
  • 5. New York JFK Airport Terminal 5
  • 6. Singapore Changi International Airport Terminal 3
  • 7. Marrakech (Morocco) Menara Airport Terminal 1
  • 8. Madrid (Spain) Barajas Terminal 4
  • 9. Carrasco International Airport, Montevideo, Uruguay
  • 10. Bilbao (Spain) Airport Main Terminal

You might be scratching your head a bit at this one. Saudi Arabia? Really? Jeddah's Hajj Terminal is a dark horse, you see — open just six weeks of the year, this terminal is the arrival and departure point exclusively serving travellers headed to or from the holy city of Mecca. Built from 210 white fibreglass tents that create a "chimney effect", they are apparently capable of cooling the hot desert air by ten degrees — which is invaluable as the Hajj Terminal is open-air and not otherwise air-conditioned.

We didn't blip on Frommer's radar. So c'mon, Australia — tell us your most and least favourite Aussie airport terminal.

User comments
I have worked in many countries throughout Asia, Beijing, Seoul and Singapore airports are the best for sure. Without a doubt the worst airport in the Asian region is Perth. Why does it take average 45 mins - 1 hour to get your bags and clear the airport ? Anytime of the day or night it is slow, dirty and understaffed. You can land in Changi and be in your city hotel in 40 mins, so why are they so slow in Perth ?
Hi for me the airport to avoid at all costs is Frankfurt. Each time I've been through there I've had horrible delays of around 5 hours which caused more trouble and cost further on. And they have security on security so you can't even wander freely through the shops in the airport without going through full security every time which certainly stops you buying alcohol as they'll grab it every time. The best airport I've found is Vancouver. So fast and clean.
Why is Perth Airport getting such a bad rap? I've been through Perth dozens of times - admittedly, not for a few years, but I always thought the staff and facilities there were pretty damn good!
Not sure what the person is talking about with LAX. Have used this airport for the last 12 years from England. Have never had any problems with rudeness or people being incompetent. When you think about the volume of people going through an airport I think it is a major achievement that everybody in the airports keep themselves civil with all the different nationalities. Two airports where this does not happen are Paris Charles de Gauille and JFK.. These 2 airports bring a new meaning to the word terrible.
I've travelled around the world and there is no doubt Perth is the worst airport for a first world country. Go to Changi airport in Singapore to see how it should be done. Take a trip back to 1950s facilities (minus the good service and cleanliness of course) when you come to Perth.
I think Singapore airport is the best airport I have been to.Even has a waterfall and is so so clean.People are very helpful. Worst Airport would have to be a tie between heathrow London and Sydney.
LA International airport has to be the very worst - the staff there have no customer skills - they are arrogant, pushy, full of their self importance, rude doesn't even come into it. Even their supervisors apologised to us for their bad behaviour!
Where is Sydney airport? It should be there with the worst.
Sydney Australia has to be the worst airport in the world so you need to do your home work. Trollies 4 dollars is a joke for a start . departure tax is way to much , And duty free is a joke as well . and to many shops for the space . Banks should not run Airports . Thanks Labor
For a developed country going through an economic boom Perth would have to be the worst airport facility in the civilised world!

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