There are now more than 100,000 flights around the world everyday, many in small aircraft carrying less than 10 passengers on relatively short flights, but the number of commercial passengers using major airports and flying considerable distances is growing every year too.
Most passengers are now quite relaxed about the experience of actually flying – the chance of a major accident occurring is actually infinitesimal – but regard the use of major airports as a necessary evil, to be used only as a sort of bus stop, so with minimum time spent in them as is humanly possible. Why? Hearing of some of the stories about simply embarking or disembarking is probably enough to encourage this attitude in most people.
However, regular surveys by authoritative organisations produce lists of airports which are actually very ‘passenger-friendly’, as well as those at the opposite end of the scale. Of course, increased security in recent years has extended the time it takes from entering an airport to actually boarding a flight, but also there are some airports which are hubs, where many passengers need to wait for hours for a connecting flight, and these periods often produce the most frustrating experiences, or are simply boring – just give me a (relatively comfortable) place to sleep!
A final factor is the experience of those most important people using an airport, the aircraft crews. Their experiences may be at considerable variance to those of passengers; that is, safety in landing and taking-off is paramount, as well as ground management of the aircraft to the passenger gate, and the loading and unloading of people and cargo.
The following lists – with comments where necessary – are self-explanatory: ‘best’ reflects the views of passengers, ‘worst’ largely pilots opinions, and ‘most dangerous’ often physical/geographic factors.
MOST DANGEROUS AIRPORTS
MOST DANGEROUS AIRPORTS – three major airports are listed, all in the US: Cleveland – poor staffing, and lack of de-icing equipment; La Guardia (New York) – located between Kennedy and Newark airports so in an over-crowded sky; and Los Angeles International(LAX) – extremely busy airspace, confusing runways and taxiways, and so over-stretched ground control.
WORST AIRPORTS – LAX, La Guardia, and also Chicago’s O’Hare Airport – often closed for minimal bad weather – figure prominently in pilots’ ‘top 10’ list of worst airports. The other seven below qualify because of over-crowding, minimal facilities, decrepit buildings, or all three, and other deficiencies. Pilots and passengers comments are appended.
BEST AIRPORTS – voted by airline customers: seasoned travellers will find few surprises in this list, except that Heathrow appears in it, as well as in the ‘worst’ list above. Singapore’s Changi scores the top spot for the fourth consecutive year. Japan also scores well, with four airports in the top 11 ‘best’. ‘Efficient’ is a common remark in reviews on almost all the airports on the list.