There’s not another more dread-inducing word in the English language than “airport.” Yes, the uber-packed, stress-inducing travel hotspots can often make or break any vacation experience, especially if you already happen to be one of those fliers who gets bent out of shape when even thinking about how to deal with your phobia of going up into the air. Sometimes, rather than looking forward to summertime fun or holidays with the family, fearful flyers spend weeks dreading their upcoming flights while frantically trying to find ways to avoid boarding that plane.

This year, opt out of those potentially uncomfortable cross-country car journeys by conquering your fears. Keep calm and carry on with your travel plans minus the bothers of packed crowds, bland food, lost luggage, delayed-passenger grumpiness, mismanaged security lines, and horrible traffic. Why not try avoid getting stuck at terrorizing places such as these all together? Journey happily and without any frustrations-- soar freely through the sky in a winged tube thousands of feet above solid ground without experiencing any pre-boarding jitters. Here are five airports and cities in the United States to avoid if you’re a nervous flier.

If you don't like to fly, don't pick these airports


Pilots and travelers despise ORD for an array of different reasons. To start, it’s long had problems with poor runway designs which have led to numerous near collisions throughout the years. Inside, there are dreadfully long lines, hordes of travelers all fighting to get to their terminals, and some of worst flight delays to be had in the United States. Chicago O'Hare is the busiest airport in the world in terms of the number of flights it handles per year. It’s busier than JFK and LAX—even more so than many of the other miserable airports across the Pond, such as Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle. What’s more is that the entire airport is simply way too small to accommodate its own amount of heavy traffic—an absolute nightmare for the claustrophobic. It’s also got an unnecessarily-complicated layout, bad signage that increases confusion, a shabby and dated exterior appearance, constant last minute gate switches, and a bunch of constantly late connecting flights.

Also in Chi-town is Midway, an even tinier airport that serves approximately 8,700 times the number of flyers that it was designed for. It boasts terrible security delays that have caused many people stuck in line to miss their flights—it’s also earned the title of tardiest airport for two years in a row. Daily flight disasters occur in the Windy City all the time. And along with Chicago’s infamously crazy weather-- as well as these two lowest-performing airports in the country-- nervous fliers really should just avoid the city at all costs.


Here’s a real shocker, well not really—but according to recent studies, New York’s airports are the most miserable in the United States. It’s not as if we already didn’t know, but it’s safe to say that greater New York (including New Jersey) has got itself three major airports that all disappoint terribly. The travel time between terminals at JFK often leaving fliers feeling absolutely hopeless. It’s uber-long terminal-to-terminal shuttle ride has also been named the worst in American history.

Then there’s Newark, which has long been deemed the worst airport in the country according to math. From the number of cancelled flights and average delay times, to the amount of minutes it takes to taxi to the gate, the lengthy long lines for check-in or security (as well as long lines for club lounges and even longer lines on the tarmac for take-off!), there’s nothing fun about this airport at all—especially for the nervous. What’s more is that Newark is not exactly clean and is at least an hour from NYC, which further causes stress for those running late. Also expect tons of broken trains and escalators, zero power outlets, spotty Wi-Fi service, and limited seating. Really, nothing’s worse than getting stuck here.

Finally, to complete the NYC airport trifecta is LaGuardia International, which is always crowded, super dirty, and does not connect to the subway. Food options are terrible and extra amenities are pretty much nowhere to be found, while you’ll find carpet holes, roof leaks, and lots of mold while strolling through this second-worst airport in America. Good news is that LaGuardia is undergoing a $4+ billion renovation that will create one unified terminal by 2021. So there’s hope in the air, right?


Along with Newark, San Francisco is the worst large airport for delayed flights during any travel season – with just 68.4% of flights arriving on time during the summer. The Bay Area is always hampered by fog delays, and let’s just say that danger abounds all around at this super busy airport. Most recently, an international flight crashed and caused subsequent panic afterward, while unexpected daily weather events always make it even difficult to take off and to land.

According to The Weather Company. “SFO clocked nearly 168,000 arrivals over the 12-month period (Aug 2013 to July 2014) and nearly 26,000 of those flights had weather-related delays.” Basically, more than half of SFO arrivals experience a weather-related delay—even if S.F. is not well-known for harboring snow, hurricanes, or even rain! There is that persistent marine layer coupled with low and dense fog though, so what can you do?


Fairy-tale flights don’t even seem to happen when it comes to Orlando International, where at least a quarter of flights departing run late throughout the evening. For stress-prone fliers, it’s an even more frustrating airport based on several factors-- including low-quality retail and dining opportunities, as well as a poor security screening experience. Plus, with an average of 68 minutes per trip from Orlando's city center, MCO is the sixth-most-difficult airport to get to in the country.

Head south to the other Sunshine State option at Fort Lauderdale Airport and things don’t look all that much better. Most of the time, departure boards looks more like a sea of complex storms even before afternoon time, with nearly a third of embarking flights falling behind schedule by 3 p.m. Those figures climb above 40 percent by dusk.

Along its poor on-time performance and a lack of airport amenities, FLL boasts the fourth worst food and shopping facilities as rated in a Bloomberg's survey

Also in Florida is Miami International Airport, which across the board, is just poor. According to Bloomberg, MIA has the most time-consuming check-in/security process of any airport, and has been deemed as having one of the most confusing terminal layouts. What’s more is that workers are notorious for being incredibly unfriendly. How rude!


Most residents of Southern California avoid LAX at all costs. So should you. Not only is it crowded, run-down, and notorious for crime, but it’s also a hubbub of dangerous flight activity. There are even all too many super narrow alleyways in several gate areas that further contribute to the congestion, delays, and some of the worst traffic to be found in all of America.

Misery is the name of the game when it comes to this fourth most-difficult-to-reach airport, according to Bloomberg. There’s also a serious dearth of power sockets for those needing to get work done—not to mention a questionable security process, dirty bathrooms, and mediocre shopping options across the board. What’s more is that the area is prone to earthquakes, riots and security breaches, which have all shut the entire place down more than once in the past.

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This article was written by Pamela Chan.