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Best & Worst Airports for Intl Transit & Arrv

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Lucas (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 06 May 21, 22:56Post
I find transiting airports internationally to be tedious quite often, but I usually end up on the same routes, so I don't have too much experience with them, thus the thread. Here are my ignorant opinions:

Best international arrivals:
Denver, closely followed by Dubai

Worst for international arrivals:
I really don't care for Miami. I know that they've improved, but the two times I've been the lines have just been ungodly if you don't have GE. Of course if you're arriving into LAX and have to go between terminals you might as well off yourself.

Best international transit:
Zurich

Worst international transit:
Piarco, because you don't transit whatsoever. You get in a line for 2 hours, arrive, and hope you can get your luggage, recheck it, and get back on the next plane.
DXing 07 May 21, 01:38Post
Best:
Terminal B at EWR. Never had a problem there. It goes pretty quickly. Only place quicker is Dublin headed for the U.S. since you preclear in Ireland and just walk off the plane in the States.

Worst:
MIA and LHR. Put your walking shoes on, your going tramping around for a while.
What's the point of an open door policy if inside the open door sits a closed mind?
miamiair (netAirspace FAA) 07 May 21, 07:21Post
WORST:

CDG, LHR, MIA


BEST:

LIS
And let's get one thing straight. There's a big difference between a pilot and an aviator. One is a technician; the other is an artist in love with flight. — E. B. Jeppesen
ShanwickOceanic (netAirspace FAA) 07 May 21, 07:32Post
DXing wrote:Worst:
MIA and LHR. Put your walking shoes on, your going tramping around for a while.

Haven't done MIA since the early 90s, but still remember. You think it's bad as a US citizen? Try it as a foreigner. Two hours in immigration was the best I ever managed, by quite some margin. I can recall several occasions where all but one of the desks were for US citizens. We used to pack water and snacks specifically for the immigration queue.

Having said that, this seems to be a general theme at US airports. It's almost like they don't want us there... {boxed}

Arriving into LHR T3, with the inevitable death march towards immigration, followed by a long, long walk down into the bowels of the building, where you arrive at the queue for the T5 bus, which is three buses deep - that's always a personal favourite. Since I'm going to have to re-clear security in T5 anyway, one day I'm going to try going landside and hopping on a service bus, see if it's any more relaxing that way.

However, both MIA and LHR pale into insignificance beside the fustercluck that is CDG. Connected there twice, HEL-CDG-LYS and back, so all-Schengen. Most of it is a grey concrete blur, thankfully, but I remember getting off the plane and walking forever, turning several needlessly tight corners, and finding ourselves pushing along a grey concrete walkway beside a kid with a giant pirate sword. How the hell did he get that through sec- No. Oh, you have got to be shitting me. Really? We're landside? Really. We're landside. And now someone is begging off us. Wallet and passport into the backpack, and clutch it tight. And still plenty more dingy darkness before hitting the gigantic queue to get back through security. Still a whole hell of a lot more walking (actually, near running by this point) before ending up in a bus gate with a busted vending machine and all the charm of a truck-stop toilet. Mercifully we didn't have to spend more than a minute or so of our two-hour connection there. And going by others' stories of CDG, I think we had it good.

Didn't even have time to visit the Air Scotland lounge.



By way of contrast, I found that GVA just worked, even with His Popiness arriving as we were trying to leave. Gutted that we couldn't get out onto the roof terrace outside the lounge, but on the whole, GVA's actually a fairly pleasant place to be. We did need to ask Information where to find the bus to Grenoble, which could've been better signed.

HEL's easy enough to arrive into or depart from, but the 30-minute connection times are somewhat optimistic. Definitely doable if it's quiet and you don't get a bus transfer to completely the wrong end of the airport, but neither can be counted on. I've even seen it where the OUL flight was docked at the furthest non-Schengen gate, then we all got thrown out the back door and bussed all the way back to the farthest reaches of the Schengen side. Worked for me, I was staying in HEL and ended up right by the railway station, but those who were going to LHR and had to run the entire length of the airport to get back to that same aircraft (all in 25 minutes) will have been less than impressed. There are perfectly usable bus gates right under immigration - I know this because, when arriving into HEL and expecting the bus to drop us by the station, an entire A320ful of domestic passengers ended up having to clear immigration. Good times... But if you've got time, and it isn't rammed full because it's July, HEL works. There are some quite pleasant spaces to be, too.
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
For it is the number of a man; and its number is One hundred threescore and twelve.
mhodgson (ATC & Photo Quality Screener & Founding Member) 07 May 21, 07:59Post
I've always been quite fortunate - my first visit to MIA in 2015 was very slow, but improved on subsequent visits, and the introduction of the kiosks sped things up last time as well (ditto JFK in 2019).

Barbados has always been notorious in my experience, but again was improved by the introduction of kiosks on my last visit - the only downside being that luggage delivery was still very much on Island Time so most of the gains were immediately lost!
There's the right way, the wrong way and the railway.
ShanwickOceanic (netAirspace FAA) 07 May 21, 08:07Post
Arriving for the LAX meet in 2019, I remember encountering some kiosks. I remember queuing for over half an hour to get to them, their UI being utterly horrible, and then a further hour of queuing to get to an actual person. Absolute bloody zoo.

On the other hand, I didn't even see customs, so there's that.

Island time, yup, KIN was always horrific. Great thing about KIN, though, was that if you knew someone who knew someone, and greased the appropriate palms, you could sail straight through the diplomatic channel. {angel}
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
For it is the number of a man; and its number is One hundred threescore and twelve.
IFEMaster (Project Dark Overlord & Founding Member) 10 May 21, 17:38Post
ShanwickOceanic wrote:Arriving for the LAX meet in 2019, I remember encountering some kiosks. I remember queuing for over half an hour to get to them, their UI being utterly horrible, and then a further hour of queuing to get to an actual person. Absolute bloody zoo.


Despite LAX being my local longhaul gateway, I actively avoid it for these exact reasons. I've been on one too many arrivals from LHR that have landed within 20 minutes of a half dozen other arrivals from LHR for it to be worth it. Last time it took me 2.5 hours from arrival at the gate to get out to the arrivals area, and that's with Global Entry.

Denver on the other hand is a delight. I've opted for SNA-DEN-LHR/LHR-DEN-SNA the last few trips, and my time-in-transit door to door is at least an hour less than LAX-LHR/LHR-LAX.
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
JLAmber (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 10 May 21, 21:59Post
Transit:

Best:
MAD - Underrated especially for South America runs.
AMS - Fabulous at the moment (and not just because I grace it with my presence). Is a bit of a mare when busier.
SIN - Just brilliantly efficient and the noodles at the conveyor belt food court are legendary.
A mention for IOM for the connection on the historic BLK - IOM - BFS run. Where else do you get biscuits from a lady called Dorothy while you wait?

Worst:
CDG - merde!
JFK - CDG with pretzels.
Old LHR is dirge, T5 works well.
FRA because MUC do very similar things so much better.

miamiair wrote:BEST:

LIS

Current holder of the Worst Airport in the World title {boxed}

Arrivals:

Best:
AKL - If it wasn't for the fact that their airline is the worst thing to happen to earth since humanity itself, I might visit again. I probably won't.
MUC - Was a very chilled airport. Not sure what it's like now.
PMI - Get your bags and straight into a taxi while laughing at the tourists queueing for their coaches.
HAM : The last bastion of German efficiency. Five minutes from passport control to hotel is the way to do things.

Worst:
LPL - There is nothing good about this place, don't go there.
MAH - Was actually shut last time I landed there. Thankfully I like carrots so I found my bags in the darkness and scarpered like a comic book villain.
PEK - I'm sure it's improved but comically bad last time I was there.
A million great ideas...
airtrainer 11 May 21, 21:28Post
Worst international transit
-any airport that will greet you with a bus ride or a security check before entering the terminal. Hello DXB, you made your best to offer both {redflag}

-DUB. A few years ago I was flying BHX-DUB-DUS on Aer Lingus, on the same ticket, so when I landed in DUB I followed the "connecting flights" sign, only to find an agent running after me in an empty corridor and asking where I was going.
"I'm going to my next flight, lady..."
"Err no, there's nobody there, you have to exit and go thru security again."

-any airport with no entertainment for a long transit, be it for food, shopping or viewing area. GUM and CGK come to mind, MAD can be utterly boring depending on where you are.


Best international transit
-I just wish any airport could be like SIN. There's SIN, and then the others. It's the only airport I wish my flight is delayed when I arrive.

-Honorable mention to Japanese airports, DOH and ICN.
Grounded...
paul mcallister 11 May 21, 22:32Post
LHR- a cesspit full of ill-mannered, entitled weasels, and moronic clueless grumpy staff.

Give me a small friendly regional airport any day.
Lucas (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 12 May 21, 18:25Post
mhodgson wrote:I've always been quite fortunate - my first visit to MIA in 2015 was very slow, but improved on subsequent visits, and the introduction of the kiosks sped things up last time as well (ditto JFK in 2019).



I am frankly shocked that someone has had a good experience there. The last time my own mother went through MIA as an arrival she started yelling at the immigration agent.


airtrainer wrote:-any airport that will greet you with a bus ride or a security check before entering the terminal. Hello DXB, you made your best to offer both {redflag}


I have lucked out on avoiding this somehow. I have never had customs there or even a cursory glance from immigration. I do have the bus to the far terminal on connecting flights, and the fee to have your baggage transferred, but that's a transit strike to me.

JLAmber wrote:Worst:
LPL - There is nothing good about this place, don't go there.


{laugh} {laugh} {laugh}


ShanwickOceanic wrote:
CDG


59ak2a.jpg
59ak2a.jpg (104.59 KiB) Viewed 527 times
ShanwickOceanic (netAirspace FAA) 12 May 21, 18:29Post
JLAmber wrote:LPL - There is nothing good about this place, don't go there.

AKA Schithol...
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
For it is the number of a man; and its number is One hundred threescore and twelve.
Mark 12 May 21, 21:07Post
My memory of Heathrow is, simply put, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. I have never walked so forcefully or determinately in my entire life as I have at Heathrow Airport. Wave at the police standing at attention 50 feet apart with their Heckler & Koch G36's on the concourse in T3. Walk, walk, walk, walk. Finally duck into my DL 777 for a quick flight home.
tangoscar 16 May 21, 16:59Post
Best:

ZRH, CPH, DEN, and generally any SWA hub when flying SWA

Worst:

AMS, YYZ

AMS has been mentioned as one of the best in this thread, and for the time before 9/11 and maybe even a little later I could agree, but when I had to connect there several times between 2011 and 2014 for my trips from HAJ to CWL and return it was always a pain in the ass - super crowded, long lines at security and had to go through two security check points plus passport control when connecting between Schengen and non-Schengen countries and departing from a ramp stand. KLM sold connections with a 45 min layover, which was literally impossible to cope with when your flights arrived and departed from a ramp stand, and those Cityhopper flights 99% of the time did exactly that. Haven't been there since, so it might have changed for the better again ...
ShanwickOceanic (netAirspace FAA) 16 May 21, 19:34Post
tangoscar wrote:Best:

ZRH, CPH, DEN, and generally any SWA hub when flying SWA

Intriguing. CPH drives me nuts, it's the perfect example of a shopping mall that forgot it was supposed to be an airport. The long, thin layout all but guarantees a long walk. There's only one part of it I enjoy:

Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
For it is the number of a man; and its number is One hundred threescore and twelve.
JLAmber (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 16 May 21, 20:04Post
ShanwickOceanic wrote:
JLAmber wrote:LPL - There is nothing good about this place, don't go there.

AKA Schithol...


It's always disappointed me that AirDo don't fly to LPL just so you could fly AirDo to Liverpool to get a new AirDo (probably a perm).
A million great ideas...
bhmbaglock 17 May 21, 11:58Post
Lucas wrote:
mhodgson wrote:I've always been quite fortunate - my first visit to MIA in 2015 was very slow, but improved on subsequent visits, and the introduction of the kiosks sped things up last time as well (ditto JFK in 2019).



I am frankly shocked that someone has had a good experience there. The last time my own mother went through MIA as an arrival she started yelling at the immigration agent.


airtrainer wrote:-any airport that will greet you with a bus ride or a security check before entering the terminal. Hello DXB, you made your best to offer both {redflag}


I have lucked out on avoiding this somehow. I have never had customs there or even a cursory glance from immigration. I do have the bus to the far terminal on connecting flights, and the fee to have your baggage transferred, but that's a transit strike to me.

JLAmber wrote:Worst:
LPL - There is nothing good about this place, don't go there.


{laugh} {laugh} {laugh}


ShanwickOceanic wrote:
CDG


59ak2a.jpg


It's been a while since I went through MIA intl but I've done it 15-20 times and never found it to be difficult. JFK is the one I will never,ever go through again under any circumstances.
tangoscar 17 May 21, 21:35Post
ShanwickOceanic wrote:
tangoscar wrote:Best:

ZRH, CPH, DEN, and generally any SWA hub when flying SWA

Intriguing. CPH drives me nuts, it's the perfect example of a shopping mall that forgot it was supposed to be an airport. The long, thin layout all but guarantees a long walk. There's only one part of it I enjoy:



Yeah, it can very well be, that I just got lucky at CPH. Have passed through there only twice so far, both times it wasn't very crowded and just a short walk between gates ... first impression counts, right? ;)
miamiair (netAirspace FAA) 22 May 21, 21:46Post
I need to revise my opinion of MIA. I arrived last night from LIS at Gate J7. Landed at 21:15. I was in my car headed home by 21:50. This with two pieces of checked luggage.
And let's get one thing straight. There's a big difference between a pilot and an aviator. One is a technician; the other is an artist in love with flight. — E. B. Jeppesen
fiatstilojtd 26 May 21, 21:29Post
Best International arrival:

KUT (Kutaissi, Georgia) - it is one of the worst to depart though...

Worst

CDG, LHR
Non vitae sed scholae discimus
Paul Chandler1 30 May 21, 21:07Post
Best international transit for me is either Hong Kong where even with 50 minute connecting time i made the onward cx connection (which then went tech and ended up a 4 hour delay) or Seoul Inchon which very easy to negotiate.

Worst connecting was Chicago but like most US airports it does depend what has arrived ahead of you. Have done Chicago in 20 mins or 120 minutes. Same goes for Detroit as we arrived just after a delayed flight from Tokyo i think so lot of non US to process.

Easiest international arrival was probably Zurich.

Worst is Moscow Sheremetevo as it took almost 4 hours to get through immigration and baggage but we did arrive after an El Al flight.
Heathrow is a route march and any terminal.
GavinFlies 01 Jun 21, 15:15Post
Transiting in Dublin was wonderful and the best thus far, for me.

The pre-clearance is nice, but once you're past it - damn, the options for food and drink really stink.

Fastest arrival from U.S. to foreign ground for me, ever, was at Keflavik in Iceland. Walked on up - had passport out - "welcome to Iceland!" - stamp and off. Probably plane through customs in 10 minutes.

Second best was Brussels. Off plane and through..."welcome to Brussels!" in 15 minutes.

Best U.S. int'l arrival experience was surprisingly Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX.
PA110 (Founding Member) 03 Jun 21, 20:29Post
Best Intl Transit: MUC/ICN/SIN
Worst Transit: LHR/CDG/Any US Airport

Best Intl Arrival: SFO/MUC/SIN
Worst Intl Arrival: JFK/LHR/CDG
Look, it's been swell, but the swelling's gone down.
Lucas (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 07 Jun 21, 19:04Post
And some current results! I selected only the leading results for these, but will redo the data with the total selections in the future.

Best Intl Arrival.png
We like arriving here!
Best Intl Arrival.png (34.35 KiB) Viewed 157 times


Worst Intl Arrivals.png
And we don't care to arrive at these airports.
Worst Intl Arrivals.png (104.58 KiB) Viewed 157 times


Best Intl Transit.png
It's a breeze to move through these.
Best Intl Transit.png (33.06 KiB) Viewed 157 times


Worst Intl Transit.png
You must not transit through these airports.
Worst Intl Transit.png (105.59 KiB) Viewed 157 times
Lucas (netAirspace ATC & Founding Member) 08 Jun 21, 17:20Post
With the update of all selections, the worst airport to arrive in from abroad is....LHR!

Worst Intl Arrival.png
Worst Intl Arrival.png (30.4 KiB) Viewed 143 times
 

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