The 4 Best and 4 Worst Airports for Getting Stranded

There’s a healthy dose of things that suck that we all, sometime in our life, must endure; Calling tech support, the DMV and people that can’t seem to get ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ correct in a sentence. Also, high on that list of suckitude is being stranded in an airport. Point blank and simply put; most folks would rather take a sucker-punch in the throat than be stuck for perpetuity at an airport.

But not to worry—we’re here to share (in no particular order) which airports, when stuck, suck the least when stranded. Enjoy and happy travels.

THE BEST, Least Sucky

1) London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

Serving close to 67 million passengers annually. Heathrow Airport is connected to over 160 destinations worldwide via 90 airlines and you’re bound to be stuck at least once, right? No worries. They provide business, family and special needs facilities; an unparalleled choice of shops and bars. The restaurant options include choices from tapas to fish & chips with a brilliant pint of Guinness. And for that American fix there is even a T.G.I.Fridays and a Krispy Kreme.

Visiting Terminal 5, a vast shopping center with more retail space than the center of Staines – the nearest town, covers shopping. LHR is stocked with shops like FCUK (French Connection UK), Gucci, Harrods, MAC, Mulberry of England and Naturally Cashmere. And if you happened to be there to too long go buy book in a vending machine.

2) McCarran International Airport (LAS)

It’s Vegas, baby! This airport is bustling with gambling, food and people. Because well, it’s Vegas, baby!

There are more than 50 retail shops and nearly 30 restaurants, lounges, and snack bars. So, if you managed to have any money left (or maybe before you lose it all), stop by the various gift shops from mega-hotel/casinos like Bellagio, Caesar, Excalibur, and the Luxor. And have we mentioned Budweiser’s Racing Track Lounge? Three words; cheap huge beers! And the bar is open 24 hours a day so you can either hit the ground running or kick back a few before the flight. If you end up stuck for a few hours, the airport is littered with more than 1200 slot machines.

3) Denver International Airport (DIA)

With its simulated snowcapped peak roofing, sustainable energy resources, public art programs and local beer brewing restaurants DIA just isn’t that bad of an airport. Too keep you occupied there is plenty of wandering space and places to people watch. The place is full of visually stimulating murals and sculptures like Mountain Mirage, a liquid vision of the mountains composed of 3,200 vertical streams of water. And if you’re thirsty, nestled on the far end of the B concourse is the sanctuary of microbrews, the New Belgium Hub Bar & Grill.

Once bored with people and beer how does a healthy dose of conspiracy sound? DIA alleged apocalypse-readiness conspiracy has grabbed the attention of the Huffington Post and Jesse Ventura. So if you’re stuck here kill your time with beer, art, the free Wi-Fi and try to find the alleged bunkers.

4) John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

Heading east? You’re going to get stuck. It’s high on the list of inevitabilities; like death and taxes. But if you do end up stuck there you shouldn’t go hungry. The words ‘food galore’ and ‘JFK’ was never in the same sentence till Jet Blue’s polished Terminal 5 came around. You can get some good eats at places like ‘Cheeburgar Cheeburgar’ or fresh sushi and sashimi at ‘Deep Blue Sushi’. And to wet your whistle, pop in for a well made martini in ‘Drink’ or if beer is your flavor try ‘New York Sports Grill’ a place that serves 48 beers on tap including local brews from Brooklyn’s’ Kels. And, as always, the best way to occupy your time: Free Wi-Fi.

THE WORST, Total Suckfest

1) Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

“My flight got canceled and I had to spend the night at the airport.” Sadly, that’s how most O’Hare stories begin. ORD remains firmly planted on the list of worst on-time departures due mainly to weather and busier flight schedules. Now don’t get us completely wrong, during good weather this airport works very well, but when isn’t there some sort of weather issue in Illinois? It’s like when people from Cali say, “Oh, its 15 minutes without traffic.” There’s always traffic!

Weather isn’t the airports fault, but they could make it more accommodating for the stranded traveler. Hardly anywhere to sit – just fast food “restaurants”, no shops to speak of just another boring airport.

2) Miami International Airport (MIA)

Unfortunately if you are going to fly to South America, you don’t have much choice than to travel thru Miami International Airport (MIA).

The fact that MIA can be used for both the airport code and Missing in Action isn’t a coincidence. An inventory of items is missing from the airport, most importantly: chairs and food. The food selection is abysmal (Au Bon Pain and McDonalds, way to think outside the box) and for some reason the airport forces a maddening game of limited musical chairs. You think the airport folks would know that Florida travelers are hot, weary and usually hungry. Add stranded to the mix and you’ve got one helluva combination. The place can be musty and damp, and with poorly designed facilities you may actually walk more than 1/2 mile to your gate, as there are no people-movers. Sadly, if thunderstorms are in the area find a nice spot on the floor and be prepared for long delays.

3) Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

The airport has that old but trying to be updated feel. Sure there are a few new eateries and shops but it’s akin to having a flat screen and shag carpeting; they just don’t really vibe well together.

And don’t think you can get lost because there isn’t much to keep you occupied. The shops and food options are uninspiring and scattered throughout the terminal. And, if you want to gaze out of a window while you wait hour after hour after hour for your flight? Fuhgeddaboudit! Because more than a few of the gates are windowless. And according to EWR ranks only second behind MIA as one of the worst offenders for delays. And the icing on the suck-cake; No free Wi-Fi.

4) Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

LAX is lackluster at best. The circular madness of the layout had to be designed by a mad scientist and we are the lab rats. Getting from terminal to terminal is ridiculously flawed and inconvenient, either you have an extensive walk or line up to wait for the buses. There seem to be lines of people everywhere for the boring food options with limited seating. And if you’re over the two California Pizza Kitchens, three Burger Kings and four McDonald’s there is always the eight Starbucks of which to choose from. Having said that, at least it still has Encounter, that iconic Jetsons-style restaurant that serves surprisingly good food despite its closeness to dreadful airport food.

Bland food and lab experiments layouts aside, there is absolutely nothing in that airport to occupy the time, as the shopping options are awful and have no improvement in sight. Sadly, the airport is accustomed to the constant low scores from business traveler and newspapers’ surveys. FYI, I’ve yet to see TMZ when I’m waiting for pickup.

—Elena Brown (LikeMe//Daily)

Published in: on 02/05/2010 at 19:07  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree 100% these are dead on. But then again as much as you fly you should know.

    • Heehee! I do travel. But I’m glad I hit a few on the mark!

  2. Great list! Another good airport to get stuck at is Portland International (PDX)… great restaurants and bars featuring phenomenal North West Micro-brews. All with off-airport pricing.

    And totally agree about LAX, that place is a train wreck.


    • Ahh, yes PDX; They’ve come a long way, some great places in there!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Safe travels!

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