15 Craziest Airports During The Holidays
Traveling during the holiday season can be a huge pain in the butt. First of all, so many people are traveling at the same time. That leads to huge lines at security and the ticket counters, not to mention crowded airports. Then if you miss your flight, chances are the next one out has no seats left, so you’re stuck. Plus with December, comes the first bad weather of the year. Snow, rain, fog, and ice delay and cancel tons of flights, leaving you stranded in the airport for hours or even days. On one hand, you may be going to see family and they will miss seeing you if you get stuck. You may also be returning home and have to miss work if your flight gets canceled. Even worse is if you are on your way to a sunny tropical vacation. When you want to be on the beach and you’re stuck in a cold, crowded airport, there is nothing worse! The airports on this list are busy, prone to bad weather, have sub-par amenities, or a combination of all 3. When traveling during the holiday season this year, beware before flying through these 15 crazy airports!
15. Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
Due to its location on Lake Michigan, Chicago is known for its terrible, snowy winters. According to the US Department of Transportation, only 64 percent of December flights go out on time from this airport. Constantly having to deal with the unpredictable ice and snow is bad enough. Then add in the fact that Chicago’s airports see tons of travelers and it’s an overall unpleasant Christmas experience. Many travelers also complain that every food option at this airport is gross, so if you’re traveling through Chicago Midway, pack some snacks to ward off a rumbling stomach.
14. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Located in Newark, New Jersey, Newark Liberty is one of the 3 major airports that serve the New York City area. Despite being huge and serving tons of travelers each day, it is one of the worst airports in the country in terms of amenities. While most airports offer free wifi to customers, Newark only offers 30 minutes free, then charges $4.95 per hour. What the what? Did we go back to 2003? Along with few food options in most of the terminals and an insane delay rate (51 percent!), you’re better off choosing another NYC airport for your flights.
13. Los Angeles (LAX)
Oh, LAX. No matter when you fly through here, it’s going to be crazy busy. It is in one of the largest cities in the country, after all! But when it’s extra crowded at the holidays, prepare for a headache. For one thing, this airport is so enormous, it could take over an hour just to get from one terminal to another! If you’re making a connection, especially an international one, leave lots of layover time to navigate the huge crowds. LAX also has bad ratings for overnight amenities. If you get stuck there or have an overnight layover, there are no showers, comfy chairs, or 24-hour food options apart from vending machines for comfort.
12. LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Another one of New York City’s airports, LaGuardia is known for its long delays. In fact, the average delay for flights was 37 minutes and almost 3 percent of all their December flights get cancelled. Between the unpredictable Northeastern winter weather and tons of flights going in and out during the holiday season, be prepared to sit around for a while when flying through here. But beware: many travelers complain that there is not enough seating around the gates. At least you can stretch your legs before sitting on a plane for a few hours? Ongoing construction also gives this airport an unwelcoming feel.
11. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
Yet another New York City area airport lands on this list. For such a populated region, you would think their airports would have their act together! This airport is extremely busy all year long, so the holidays are a bit of a nightmare. Tired employees and stressed out travelers combine to make an unpleasant experience. Even worse is when you fly international from here. It makes a convenient jetting-off point to overseas holiday destinations, but returning through JFK will delay your homecoming. This airport has some of the longest customs lines in the country, reaching over three hours during the Christmas season.
10. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Remember how awful Chicago O’Hare looked on Home Alone 2? Well that was in the ’90s when there was no security and you could literally run right up to your gate! Imagine the holiday crowds now! Like its sister airport Chicago Midway, O’Hare is notorious for delaying and canceling flights, especially during the Christmas season. It is more of a connections hub than the other Chicago airport, making O’Hare even more crowded. Add in the wild winter storms this city is known for and you are likely to get trapped, at least for a few hours, when flying through ORD.
9. Clinton National Airport (LIT)
Because it has fewer travelers going through it, you would think this smaller airport would be more efficient. Not true! Little Rock, Arkansas’ Clinton National Airport has some of the worst cancellation rates in the nation. With over 4.5 percent of flights canceled and over 40 percent delayed in December, be prepared to spend some quality time with your local airport. What is worse is their average delay is over 40 minutes! Extra holiday crowds and confusion only make these numbers worse. If you can, drive a bit outside of Little Rock to a larger airport to save yourself the hassle!
8. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
As a major connections hub for some enormous airlines, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport is majorly busy every month of the year. Its huge size suddenly feels small when filled with so many other travelers. In fact, this airport services over 100 million people every year! Like at every airport, Atlanta sees an even bigger surge of passengers during the holidays, so be prepared to deal with long lines and crowded walkways when traveling through here. Also remember to leave yourself lots of time to make any connections. Even with a speedy train between terminals, this airport’s huge size can slow you down!
7. McCarran International Airport (LAS)
Everyone arriving in Las Vegas has huge smiles on their face, ready for the ultimate vacation. That is, unless they are traveling through this airport during Christmas time. Firstly, while the adults will obviously enjoy the many bars and slot machines in the airport, traveling with kids is not great. They will beg to play the games and the airport’s play area for kids is not too impressive. Bored and whiny kids equals not good times for mom and dad. This airport is also tied for the longest security lines in the nation. Be prepared to wait over half an hour just to get through your TSA screening and maybe longer during the holidays.
6. Denver International Airport (DEN)
Tied with Las Vegas for the number one spot, Denver’s airport has notoriously long security lines. This is strange considering no one thinks of Denver as a huge, busy city. Many travelers also complain about the annoyance of reaching your gate once in the airport. After traversing tons of escalators, it can take 20 minutes or more during peak season just to get to your gate. One more tip: bring snacks from home or buy food at an early hour. Most of the food options at Denver’s airport close by 10 pm, so they will leave you hungry if you’re delayed or on a late night flight.
5. Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)
How could such a gorgeous airport in a beautiful setting be bad? Despite its amazingly sunny California weather, almost 40 percent of December flights get delayed out of this airport. Even worse? The average delay time is 45 minutes. Brutal! Many travelers who frequent this airport complain of rude airport and TSA staff, dirty bathrooms, and extremely slow wifi. While it offers real palm trees and fresh air (a nice change of pace from dreary winters), this small airport offers little in the way of shopping. If you are looking to pick up last minute Christmas gifts here, think again!
4. Will Rogers World Airport (OKC)
Serving the area around Oklahoma City, the Will Rogers airport will not show you a good time during the holiday season. At 2.6 percent, they have some of the highest flight cancellation rates in the country. If you are “lucky” and only have a delay on your flight, be prepared to settle in. The average delay is around 35 minutes here! If you are scheduling a layover here, be sure it is not a red eye. Since it is a smaller airport, it closes at night and kicks travelers out of the terminal. Choose a daytime trip or book yourself a room for the night.
3. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Serving the greater Cincinnati area, this airport may pose problems for holiday travelers. Around 3 percent of their December flights get canceled! That is on top of over 30 percent of flights getting delayed around Christmas time. This poses a real problem at this airport, because it is not close to any other airports. Cincinnati’s airport is also annoying because it shuts down early. You are just stuck there! Their TSA line closes at 9 pm, so if you are flying overnight, be sure to get through security far ahead of time. Add in slow baggage claims and you have a picture of this airport.
2. General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)
Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the General Mitchell Airport is a bit of a weather disaster. Snow, wind, and ice from Lake Michigan make the weather unpredictable here, leading to a high delay rate. With 42 percent of flights canceled and almost 2.5 percent canceled during the holidays, you’re in for some stress when flying through this airport. Be sure to up your data plan, too. With all that time to kill you’ll want to scroll through the Internet but only the first 20 minutes of wifi are free. After that, prepare to pay almost $5 per hour for access!
1. San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Even though it is located in sunny California, San Francisco’s airport is notorious for its delays. The dense clouds and fog that hang over the San Francisco Bay often surround the entire city, making it impossible for pilots to fly safely. It is the third-worst airport year-round for delays and cancellations and those numbers only increase around the festive season. In fact, nearly half of all flights flying out of SFO in December get delayed! Not to mention that this airport is the ninth busiest in the US any time of year, so adding in holiday travelers only increases the craziness.
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