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Top 5 Worst Largest Airports In North America. Photo KnowInsiders

The 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study has released worst mega airports in North America. It measures overall traveler satisfaction with mega, large and medium North American airports by examining six factors (in order of importance): terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.

Mega airports are defined as those with 33 million or more passengers per year; large airports with 10 to 32.9 million passengers per year; and medium airports with 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers per year. Now in its 17th year, the study is based on 26,529 completed surveys from U.S. or Canadian residents who traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport and covers both departure and arrival experiences (including connecting airports) during the past 30 days. Travelers evaluated either a departing or arriving airport from their round-trip experience. The study was fielded from August 2021 through July 2022.

Top 5 worst largest airports in North America

1. Newark Liberty International Airport

Newark Liberty International Airport is an international airport within the city limits of both Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the United States.

It is located about 15 miles (24km) southwest of Midtown Manhattan and 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Philadelphia, serving both metropolitan areas. Newark Airport was the first major airport in the United States. Newark Airport, along with JFK Airport and LaGuardia Airport, combine to create the largest airport system in the United States, the second largest in the world in terms of passenger traffic, and largest in the world in terms of total flight operations.

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Despite the Port Authority’s best efforts, including construction of a new Terminal A and increased customer service efforts, flyers ranked Newark Liberty Airport dead last in a JD Power’s satisfaction survey of North American airports.

Out of a possible 1,000 points, Newark airport received the lowest score, a 719 in the mega-airport category, while top ranked Minneapolis-St. Paul International was rated number one at 800 points. JFK Airport was ranked fourth highest at 791 points, the highest of the Port Authority’s three metro area airports.

Mark Taylor, travel intelligence lead at JD Power, said “Newark also suffers from a great deal of roadway congestion getting to the airport…it’s just a fact that the location of the airport itself makes it difficult to access... That frustration stresses passengers before they even get on the airport property. Construction just adds to that frustration, but better days are coming for EWR."

“When they (finish construction), it will be better airport.”

What you should do at Newark Liberty International Airport: Bring extra entertainment for downtime, and keep flexible plans for your return. If you’re hungry and have time, head to Terminal C, the best terminal for foodies in the country.

2. O’Hare International Airport

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Photo Shutterstock

PROBLEMS: overcrowding, delays/cancellations.

Pre-pandemic, some 37 million travelers on nearly 900,000 flights passed through this Chicago facility every year. Well, eventually they did. Because the airport was strained beyond capacity and located in a city famously prone to extreme weather conditions involving wind gusts and snowstorms, delays and cancellations were as common as drunk Cubs fans on North Side L trains.

That's one reason why O'Hare ranked lowest in the "mega" airports category of J.D. Power's 2022 customer satisfaction survey . But things could be looking up: In December 2021, O'Hare finally completed a 16-year, $6-billion redevelopment plan that should make the place more pleasant and punctual. Fingers crossed!

3. Los Angeles International Airport

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Photo Vinepair

PROBLEMS: bad customer experience, traffic congestion, confusing layout.

Los Angeles traffic is the short answer. Getting to and from the airport is a nightmare. For instance, if you’re looking for a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to get into L.A. proper, you have to shuttle from the terminal to a designated parking lot. Expensive food, inadequate signage, and gridlock make for an unpleasant travel experience.

Passengers consistently give LAX bad marks. As is often the case in Los Angeles, getting there and getting around pose the biggest challenges. Stationed around a double-decker U-shaped roadway that feels about as well-organized as a stampede, the airport has nine different terminals—and may heaven have mercy on you if you need to get from one to another for a connecting flight. In most cases, you’ll have to leave security, walk or ride a shuttle bus (which will only travel counterclockwise, by the way) to the new terminal, where you will once again have to go through security before proceeding to your gate. And by “proceeding,” we mean “running as if pursued by lions.” Ongoing construction projects raise additional hurdles.

On the bright side, many improvements have been recently completed, including the opening of more gates and computerized baggage handling at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, more upscale shops and restaurants, and an automated trolley to the car rental location. But will those upgrades make the place any easier to navigate? And how can parking and traffic congestion ever improve without better public transit options than the string of inconvenient and impractical trains and buses currently required to get from downtown L.A. to the airport?

What you should do: Allow for far more time to get to the airport than necessary, and take public transportation—a free shuttle runs from the Metro Green Line Aviation Station. That trip will save you time, frustration, and money ($1.75 for a one-way fare).

4. Boston Logan International Airport

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Photo Enobytes

Outside the city of Boston, this hub is New England’s biggest airport. It makes our “worst of” list for both overall low customer satisfaction — third worst for mega airports on the J.D. Power survey — and a high number of complaints filed against the TSA.

Despite being the 19th busiest airport in the U.S., the number of complaints submitted to the TSA alleging civil rights violations was similar to much busier airports, such as Dallas/Fort Worth International.

Boston Logan has 10 lounges; two have no airline affiliation, one is for active military, and the others serve Air France, American Airlines, Delta, Lufthansa, United, and Virgin Atlantic passengers.

Logan inspires two main complaints: There are always long waits on the tarmac, and the airport is spread out. You’ll be asked to walk long distances, which isn’t the most fun thing, especially if you’re running late. And if a brisk walk, or mild sprint, leaves you famished, good luck finding quality bites.

What you should do: Dress comfortably, wear versatile shoes, and embrace the extra steps! Mild exercise could be just what the doctor ordered after a long business weekend. There’s no good way to offset waiting for a gate, however. Plan ahead by loading up extra entertainment on your phone: Download a new game or sneak in one more episode of your favorite show.

5. Toronto Pearson International Airport

Photo Toronto CTV News
Photo Toronto CTV News

Toronto's Pearson International Airport is one of the lowest ranked major airports in North America when it comes to customer satisfaction, a new report has found.

Throughout the summer, customers flying through Toronto Pearson Airport complained of long lines, lost baggage and flight delays.

Toronto Pearson was also ranked the worst airport in the world for flight delays. The data shows more than half of the flights scheduled at Pearson between May 26 and July 19 were delayed.

According to the J.D. Power 2022 North American Airport Satisfaction study released on Wednesday, Pearson International was ranked 16th of the 20 largest "mega" airports in North America. The airport scored 755 points out of a possible 1,000, below the average of 769 but slightly above Boston Logan (754), Los Angeles (753), Chicago's O'Hare (751) and New York's Newark Liberty (719).

“They (Pearson) had an incredible jump in passenger volume. And that has a direct impact on passenger satisfaction,” said study author Michael Taylor, head of travel intelligence at J.D. Power, a U.S.-based research and consulting firm.

What are 10 worst airports in the US?

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Photo business travel

1. Washington Dulles International Airport

This Virginia airport’s layout and location were among the outlet’s main complaints, though it was noted for being attractively built. Airport manager Richard Golinowski recently told The Washington Post he’s aware some of the older buildings are “starting to see some problems,” but noted they’re working to address these issues, including adding a 14-gate concourse expected to be complete in 2026.

2. West Virginia International Yeager Airport

The location of this airport in Charleston, West Virginia, is labeled “scary” by Frommer’s — the site is surrounded on all sides by cliffs. The facility was previously known only as Yeager Airport, but was renamed in January in order to be classified as “international,” WOWK in Charleston reports. Its international U.S. Customs service won’t be ready until December, however.

3. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Delays and cancellations landed this massive hub in north Central Texas at eighth on the list. But DFW recently became the U.S. airport with the most nonstop flights (a title it previously held) and is currently offering about 239 nonstop destinations, according to aviation news outlet Simple Flying.

4. Denver International Airport

Turbulence. Denver is surrounded by mountainous, hilly areas, and this can result in bumpier flights than many may be used to. (Apparently, mountains + wind = air waves.) The Federal Aviation Administration has a Tips of Mountain Flying manual that Frommer’s notes could be useful here.

5. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

This Ohio airport is dinged by Frommer’s for needed updates and lack of space. A 2019 J.D. Power customer satisfaction study placed CLE even worse, coming second-to-last.

6. Philadelphia International Airport

Some tough traffic and closed roads near the City of Brotherly Love’s main airport make for a rocky trip for passengers, both Frommer’s and J.D. Power say. The latter named PHL dead last on its 2021 airport customer satisfaction survey.

What you can do: Understand that your interpretation of “rude” may be different. Philadelphians, if you speak directly and show respect, will return respect. They won’t be welcoming per se, but their negative reputation is overblown. As far as slow Wi-Fi, there are several great lounges at PHL that include fast internet, such as the American Express Centurion and Minute Suites, where you can nap or watch Netflix.

7. O’Hare International Airport

Chicago’s massive airport is considered still too small by Frommer’s, and often-delayed flights didn’t help its ranking. Meanwhile, J.D. Power ranked it last on its 2021 customer satisfaction survey for “mega”-sized airports.

8. Los Angeles International Airport

It may be the only airport with a two-part “LOST” episode named after it, but getting lost at it is also a complaint, based on ratings. The airport is noted to have a “confusing” layout and, like most of Los Angeles, traffic problems.

9. LaGuardia Airport

Updates can never match the frequency of travel. It’s a smaller airport that still attracts a large number of visitors based on its location. Those two qualities led to nightmare scenarios in the summer of 2019, when storms affected flights and traffic jams leading into the airport had passengers walking along the highway to get to their gates on time.

What you can do: Allow yourself as much extra time to get to the airport as possible. Once you’re there, a pass to one of LaGuardia’s seven lounges is probably worth it.

10. Newark Liberty International Airport

BTS data shows 24.29% of flights at this New Jersey airport were delayed or cancelled between July 2019 and July 2021. Recently, EWR was shifted from being part of the NYC code by the International Air Transport Association, reported Travel + Leisure. What will this mean for flyers? Perhaps less competition for flights and thus higher prices for travelers to New York, T+L says. Yahoo! Finance reports the change is set to go into effect Oct. 3.

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