Sunday, August 12, 2012

2011 Worst Airports

Date: October 12, 2011

Welcome to our 15th annual Worst Airports for a snooze (or long transit).

So how do we come up with the these lists? Every year, our airport sleepers send in their airport reviews and they vote in our polls. Then we consider the important stuff - our four C's: comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service. This data combined with information about the airport's facilities and passenger services somehow ends up being our Best and Worst Airports lists.

This year the following airports have been voted as our airport sleeper's least favourite airports for reasons such as safety concerns, lack of comfortable seating, rude staff, hostile security, poor facilities, no (or few) services to pass the time, bribery, being kicked out at night or just general hassles of being in the airport. The list this year is very heavily European, simply because that's where the most airport sleeping adventures are to be had. We base our list on user reviews and poll votes and we just happen to receive more reviews for overnight sleepovers for European airports. Certainly there are worse airports than the ones listed below, but there is no use writing about them if our readers aren't going there anyways. :-)

The annual survey is based on polls and surveys on the site, traveller airport reviews, Facebook comments and information provided on airport web sites or directly from airports. This list intended for travellers who plan to sleep in or transit through the airport.

1 | MANILA (Terminal 1)

Why? There will be numerous and long queues. The older terminal (Terminal 1) is in bad shape. Earlier this year, some bad press regarding the state of the airport made airport officials promise to clean its Terminal 1 toilets and provide running water and soap. Imagine.... they actually had to "promise" to offer this! In May, a ceiling at Terminal 1 caved in, while over at Terminal 3 a report came out in early October 2011 stating that the 9 year old terminal was "structurally flawed".

We're not finished yet.....there's more.

Forget about sleeping in this airport! You will not want to even close your eyes here! Bribery and theft exists. Airport taxes are collected, but the money does not seem to go towards the betterment of the airport. Document holders have been told their papers are not correct, but a fee of x amount should clear up the matter.

In terms of facilities, visitors will have better luck at the newer Terminal 3, where it is clean, spacious and one can find an internet connection. The terminals are lacking services such as left luggage and pay-in lounges for transit passengers. However, the one big plus is the Free WiFi in the "passenger movement" areas.

This is what a few of our reviewers have told us this year:
"I lost my cellphone between the drop-off at the entrance and the security check! The phone was in my side pocket of my handbag and this side pocket was slashed with a sharp knife! I mentioned it to the PNP officer and he referred me to an airport policeman. This guy had the guts to suggest that I go to the lost and found office and check if they found it. Long story short, he didn't even get my name and address to file a report and was just saying: ma'am there are many thieves in this airport. Just look after your belongings!"- Monette

“The concession stand down at the gates was selling bottles of water that had already been opened, reused bottles with broken seals and they pretended to break the seal on the bottles when selling.” – living abroad

“Their arrival ramp is not user friendly because it slopes downward!! If you happen to be pushing your loads of baggages through this ramp watch out or your baggage might get to the bottom of the ramp before you!!" – tiffycality

“I've travelled to many airports and have stayed overnight at some of them, but nothing compares to the experience at NAIA. In short, it's a horrible waste of time and you should all hold onto your wallets as tightly as possible. I especially advise any foreign travellers to avoid this airport, the amount of corruption and bribery is just mind blowing." – shizumasa

Update 21 Oct 11: Was it a slow news week or something? In what has turned out to be a SleepingInAirports first, the results of our survey seems to have caused an uproar in the local media. As a result, recent news reports indicate that there are ongoing efforts to improve Terminal 1. We encourage future travellers to share their reviews about these new improvements as they will be ongoing and everything cannot be done all at once. You can also participate in the annual survey here.

Update 06 Nov 11: After weeks of media attention surrounding the results of our annual worst airports survey, it was announced today that Manila NAIA 1 will be receiving a P-1 billion dollar facelift (approx. US$ 23,268,773) starting in January 2012. Hopefully there are funds earmarked for employee retraining and cleaning out the corruption.

Redeeming Qualities:
Free WiFi, Day rooms [airside Terminal 1]


Why? Paris Beauvais airport closes between the hours of 1130pm-630am. You WILL be kicked out!!!! Travellers who have written reviews for the site have ended up sleeping between sliding doors, in nearby telephone booths, out in the nearby fields and in the bathroom portables. This is probably not an airport for the first-time airport sleeper. You need to be prepared to camp! There are no services and airport seating is limited.

“once we arrived we occupied some benches, we bought some stuff to eat and drink and then we just lay there when all of a sudden the security guy came and told us that the airport was closing in 10 minutes.” – peppocricc

"First time I took the plane from Beauvais, I thought it was a joke! The boarding zone was looking more like a tent from Elysee garden party!" - Nicolas

Redeeming Qualities:
The low fare you probably paid to fly out of this airport, Pub ($), WiFi ($)


Why? Inhospitable to airport sleepers! Considering their country's nasty volcano introduced many travellers to the concept of airport sleeping, they REALLY should be more tolerant. There are signs warning travellers not to stay overnight. If the guards are in a good mood, you may be permitted to stay, but you must sit there with your eyes open. No laying down or looking like you are resting your eyes. The terminal is cold even in summer. There are no overnight food facilities (obviously). For the transit passenger, there are a few shops and restaurants airside.

"if you decide to spend the night, buy those Homer Simpson glasses with the open eyes!" - elysia

"around 1:30am we all got the fateful kick at our feet from security telling us 'no camping, go outside to sleep'. half of the people left... i just went back to sleep. was woken up maybe half an hour again and was told i was allowed to stay if I sat up and did not stretch my sleeping bag out on the floor (??)." - bikepath

Redeeming Qualities:
WiFi ($)


Why? Besides a lack of facilities, overnight campers will not have an easy sleep at the Bergamo airport. This airport will be crowded, noisy and security will keep moving people from one area to another throughout the night.

“I slept in several airports, but this was a nightmare! The security staff will not let you sleep, they will kick you to the arrival area, then in two hours to departure area and in another hours they keep running around you to wake u up. Horrible. Only one working electric outlet in whole airport. Did I mention toilets? Horror! You will not believe this, until you check it on your own.” – Mandela

"The security guy woke me up with his feet" - Fery on our Facebook Page

"its fidelitas [wake] you up at 1:30am with words 'stand up please', and when you move to another section of terminal, they wake you up again" - Juraj on our Facebook Page

Redeeming Qualities:
Pay-in Lounge [airside] ($), Left Luggage ($)


Why? Back in the early days of the site, we were entertained by the horror stories coming out of this airport. Then it became quiet for a few years and once again, traveller's are not enjoying their time at this airport. Complaints of limited seating and no services for long-term stays or transits.

"One of the worst experiences I had at this small overcrowded airport. people are rude, especially the security and airport staff. I had to leave early morning to moscow for office work and the night was pathetic. No seating area... limited number of seats, no bar or proper toilets. If you want to smoke you have to go out in the cold with your luggage everytime. the main problem with that airport is that it is very very small.. and its an international airport. " - sasha

Redeeming Qualities:


Why? Limited seating; bucket seats, and a lack of passenger facilities. A very basic airport for budget airlines.

"It's not as bad as you can imagine as long as you sleep on the floor. There are almost no benches and the airport is crowded with young people (some of them were drunk and pretty loud). I slept on the carpet of Hertz-car-renting and it was OK. The floor is quite dusty and dirty so I covered it with a Newspaper. The security don't care at all - you can sleep almost anywhere." - kriti03

Redeeming Qualities:
The low fare you probably paid to fly out of this airport, Baggage Storage ($)


Why? Basic facilities and services. Annoying announcements. Freezing temperatures. There is limited seating, all of which is uncomfortable. Most people sleep on the floor.

“When we get there, there was no seats available to sleep, because it was already full of people, we slept on the floor, but the lights never go out, and there was always loud notices from the airport. Besides there were kids crying all the time.” – lupop

"Luton is freezing cold, no place to put a head down" Andrzej on our Facebook Page

Redeeming Qualities:
The low fare you probably paid to fly out of this airport, Internet Cafe ($), Chapel, Baggage Storage ($), pay-in Airport Lounge

8 | PISA

Why? The Pisa Airport is closed from the last flight (approx. 1am) to 4am. You will be kicked out!!! Reports indicate that security is very rude as they are tossing travellers out. Summer travellers who sleep outside the terminal will be surprised by the courtesy shower provided by the automatic sprinkler system. Once inside, the terminal is cold, especially if you've just come in after being attacked by the sprinkler system.

"All passengers of the flights of the day after were sleeping in front of the airport when Automatic sprinklers started and make us wet.. Bad idea to leave for Norway with a wet luggage" - pogoPete

"they close the terminal !! and [security] are indeed very rude !!" - Lex on our Facebook Page

Redeeming Qualities:
WiFi ($), Chapel, Baggage Storage ($), Pay-In Lounge [airside] ($)

9 | PARIS CDG (Terminals 3 and 2A,B,C,D)

Why? If we were to determine this list solely on the number of votes, CDG would have come in second this year. However, we must look at a few more factors such as traveller reviews, airport facilties and whether or not sleep is actually possible. For those reasons, after ranking as our #1 Worst Airport in 2009 and 2010, we are going to give CDG a break this year. Here's why:

1) There have been many more positive reviews coming in (for Terminal 2E). It probably helps that travellers have been going to CDG with low expectations after visiting this site.
2) Back in December 2010, we began to hear reports that the homeless population was being segragated to Terminal 3 at night.
3) Sleep can be had at this airport. You just need to make sure you go to the right terminal. For the overnight campers, Terminal 2E is a good place to go. Security was friendly when I was there and they let people sleep. There is no reason to sleep in the older, scary terminals and if you try, you're crazy!

“Terminal 3 check in counters are narrow. Not what I would call a lobby. Dark, gray, and interior pretty much looked like a fuhrerbunker we see in Hitler movies. Gray concrete, chipping off etc. Restrooms here are, dirty. Being in a city of grandeur such as Paris, I think CDG is mislocated.” – scientifico_0729

“At the middle of the night, some homeless started to walk around. Even if they didn't create any trouble, they had a really bad odour, so I had to change place.” - dandiaz1718

“On the outside of security, there is limited seating. The seats that are available are filled with a variety of homeless. Some smell as if they have pooped in their pants, while others smell more like urine and alcohol.” - pward2988

“Didn't know you couldn't take photos (even fast ones) while disembarking through the tarmac (unlike in other airports). Rude staff had to hit my camera lens so I would stop taking a photo of the Concorde. Come on, they could have just told me. No need to hit my camera. Which by the way showed signs of problems after.” - scientifico_0729

So how can CDG improve? Not that they are asking for (or care to read) our opinion, but here is our wishlist to help make Paris CDG a better place.
- Provide a 24 hour food concession. Vending machines don't count! There was a rumour of a 24-hour coffee shop. If one truly exists, can someone please tell us where it is!
- Offer more than 15 minutes of Free WiFi. Offer unlimited WiFi! This will help distract people who have nothing to do at the airport.
- Offer a landside pay-in lounge with showers, food, movie room, etc. The only problem would be making it big enough to accommodate all the people who would pay money not to be in the public area of the scary terminals during their long connections.

Redeeming Qualities:
WiFi ($), Internet Cafe ($), Pay-in Lounge [Terminal 1 airside] ($), Multimedia Terminal ($), Massages ($), Beauty Salon ($), Children's Play Areas, Playstation Areas, Games room ($), Prayer room, Workstations, Left Luggage ($)


Why? This is a busy, crowded traveller processing, airport. Seating is limited - the floor is your best option, so bring a mat to sleep on! Rude immigration/security staff who automatically assume you are a terrorist or that you will never leave their country. Bathrooms are in poor condition. Signage is poor. There are no conveniences for people in transit....not even a 24 hour coffee shop. Transiting between the 9 terminals is often difficult and confusing.

“LAX can be very noisy at night because of the bright lights, the frequent announcements about suspicious packages/USO Club/no smoking, and especially the cleaning crew, who run their machines all night long with no mercy. Oh, and late night is also a popular time for airport maintenance, so don't be surprised if you wake up to the sounds of hammering, scissor lifts, or workers shouting orders. I ended up giving up on sleep and spent the rest of the night reading a book. None of the 20-odd travelers near me got anything close to a good sleep- you could see them toss & turn, or get up and glare at the floor polishers for a while before trying to sleep again.” – JoeS

“you have to actually go OUTSIDE and walk along the sidewalk to get from one terminal to the next. I'm glad I was able to carry and roll my own luggage, but what about elderly?” – SpruceBudworm

"Sleeping in Tom Bradley isn't nice. There are very few places to stretch out. Most seats have armrests and not the kind you can tetris yourself into. ” – xtero

Redeeming Qualities:
WiFi ($), Art Exhibits, pay-in Airport Lounge [airside] ($)

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