Had a bad experience at Newark Liberty Airport last year? You’re not alone, according to recent rankings.
The New Jersey hub ranked as the worst U.S. airport in the 2019 annual ratings from AirHelp, an organization that specializes in air traveler rights and seeks compensation in cases of delays or cancellations. See last year’s rankings here.
U.S. airports in general didn’t fare particularly well, with the highest-rated Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport taking 34th place of 132 around the world. Newark held the lowest U.S. spot, at 116. A major reason is weather-related delays, says Henrik Zillmer, AirHelp’s chief executive officer; they are a huge problem for American airports, compared with European ones.
“If you have the slightest amount of snow at JFK, the airport will close,” Zillmer, says, referring to the New York hub that ranked 86th. Beyond that, quality of service in the U.S. has room for improvement, with long security lines a frequent problem.
The airports are rated based on three factors: on-time performance, service quality, and food and shopping options. The first accounts for 60% of the score and the other criteria each make up 20%. AirHelp’s data comes from multiple commercial vendors, along with its own database, plus 40,000 passenger surveys collected in 40 countries during 2018.
Topping AirHelp’s rankings are Doha’s Hamad International Airport, Tokyo Haneda International Airport, and Athens International Airport, which have taken the top spots since the ratings began in 2015. It’s worth considering the overall picture of each airport in looking at the list. For instance, high ratings for Athens puzzled the AirHelp team at first, says Zillmer, until you consider that its sunny weather results in fewer delays, and vacationers are more likely to leave positive reviews.
Congestion continues to be the biggest problem facing airports: The flight industry is experiencing a rapid increase in global tourism. The Worldwide Tourism Organization estimates that worldwide international tourist arrivals increased 6%, to 1.4 billion in 2018.
“Some airports are expanding quickly, but it’s still a big issue for most, especially during peak hours,” says Zillmer.
The 10 Best Airports of 2019
1. Hamad International Airport, Qatar (DOH)
2. Tokyo International Airport, Japan (HND)
3. Athens International Airport, Greece (ATH)
4. Afonso Pena International Airport, Brazil (CWB)
5. Gdansk Lech Wałęsa Airport, Poland (GDN)
6. Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia (SVO)
7. Changi Airport Singapore, Singapore (SIN)
8. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, India (HYD)
9. Tenerife North Airport, Spain (TFN)
10. Viracopos/Campinas International Airport, Brazil (VCP)