Updated November 2, 2016
To get to remote destinations or sometimes simply to get the best prices, connecting is an unavoidable inconvenience. The time-consuming nature of landing an airplane, the de-boarding, re-boarding and making sure your bags follow can add up to a pretty unpleasant day.
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Some airports are better than others. Here are some of hubs to avoid, and why:
1. London (LON) –London Heathrow currently sits as the second-busiest airport in the world (based on international traffic) with more than 75 million passengers traveling through in 2015. Delays, and connection issues are par for course, the airport itself is massive and tricky to navigate, and security lines are interminable.
Also, because there are five official London airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Stansted and Luton, people are easily confused and sometimes end up in Heathrow when their flights are at Luton or Stansted, 36 and 64 miles from Heathrow respectively.
2. Manila (MNL) – Any number of colorful adjectives can be used to describe the main hub of the Philippines but chaotic is the first one that comes to mind. And getting to your connection through the sea of bodies, especially coming off a full international flight, can be a virtual miracle.
The domestic terminal is a full kilometer away from the 2 of the international terminals, requiring a pro football player level of agility to make it.
3. Delhi (DEL) – According to IATA, Delhi’s minimum connection time is 4 hours. That means the minimum time the airport thinks you need to get to your next flight is four hours (the average for the rest of the world is two hours). To add additional headaches, the international and domestic terminals are all mixed up, making finding a domestic connection an absolute nightmare. Not to mention many international flights arrive or depart in the middle of the night, leaving you with a long layover in an airport simply not known for its peace and quiet.
4. Mumbai (BOM) – Like Delhi, Mumbai’s airport has endless corridors between their domestic and international terminals and it’s so crowded it’s can be hard to disembark.
Sometimes immigration and security lines are segregated by gender, which can make finding your travel partner afterwards tricky.
5. New York (NYC) – Nothing will prepare you for the notorious New York attitude when trying to get something done at one of the New York area’s two international airports, JFK and EWR.
Both have more traffic than they can handle, and employees are stretched thin, so be extra nice, and try for a connection of two to three hours if you’re connecting from an international flight and have to collect your bags, go through passport control and then through security again to get to your next flight.
6. Los Angeles (LAX) – The airport’s coastal location renders it prone to low cloud or fog conditions, sometimes requiring diversions to Ontario International Airport – nearly 50 miles away. Have a connecting flight? Better get a hotel.
Besides, a trip through LAX is an exercise in humility; droves of nicely tanned, well-regarded and beautiful people routinely use the airport to accommodate their jet-setting lifestyle, making your sleep-deprived, fresh-off-the-overnight-from-Tokyo face look positively ragamuffin.
7. Jakarta (CGK) – Loud and boisterous with constant calls to prayer droning from TV screens around the terminal, Soekarno-Hatta Airport is no picnic. It’s a past winner of the Sleeping in Airports “Worst Airport” award and has an unavoidable siege of peddlers, and beckoning taxi drivers looking to make a sale to the sole Westerner in the place: you.
Don’t even think about getting a seat; the floor will be the only unoccupied resting place and that may even be tough real estate. This may be a good time to spring for the business class lounge.
8. Buenos Aires (BUE) – There are two airports serving Argentina’s capital: Ezeiza (EZE) and Jorge Newbery (AEP) which is fine but makes connecting more complicated.
Most long-haul international flights arrive to EZE, and most domestic and shorter haul regional international flights fly out of AEP, so passengers have to transit by cab or bus. Via cab it’s 40 minutes without traffic jams, immigration lines or check-in.
9. Moscow (MOW) – Also suffering from the multiple airport complex, Moscow is a beast due to the distance and difficulty getting between the airports. Inside the airports there’s endless queuing, insanely overpriced necessities and an utterly humorless staff.
Your best bet is to avoid SVO (Sheremetyevo) airport at all costs. Double check your itinerary to make sure you are not transiting between Domodedovo (DME) and SVO airports and if you are, be prepared – the minimum connection time is 6 hours.
10. Chicago (CHI) – Bad weather alert; freezing winter fronts and violent summer thunderstorms can stack up delays no matter what time of year you’re traveling.
Baggage loss and delays can be the way of the world at O’Hare. Not to mention that port-of-entry security lines here can quickly and easily destroy your will to live.
Of course almost every issue with these airports can be improved with a little pre-planning and research. Even weather/incident delays don’t have to ruin your trip. Always reconfirm your flights to make sure they’re leaving when you think they are and embrace the humor in any hiccups you encounter on your trip.
Another good choice for connecting in massive chaotic airports that don’t lend themselves to an easy layover? A stopover. Need some suggestions as to where? Check out these 8 places for an extended stopover.
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