Why Are Airports in the US So Bad?

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Why Are Airports in the US So Bad?

EmilyWhy Are Airports in the US So Bad?Million Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

On a recent trip to Spain, I had the pleasure of connecting through Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey.  The condition of some airports in the US appall me, and Newark ranks high on my worst airports list.

Watch Out for the Leaky Ceiling at the Newark Airport

There were several leaky areas, requiring areas to be taped off.

This Airport is in Need of a Renovation

The elevator doors were peeling and cracking.

Severely Cracked Elevator Doors

Perhaps worst of all, the line to the women’s restroom can be terribly long.  I’m talking 30+ people in line, which is probably because it’s the only restroom in the gate area, and quite a hike to the nearest one.  These long lines happened on two separate visits to Newark.

The Line to the Women’s Restroom Was As Long as This Security Line, On TWO Separate Visits to Newark

And there was carpet EVERYWHERE, which makes rolling your luggage through the airport much more difficult than in should be.  And not to mention that carpet isn’t very clean….

The Chicago O’Hare International Airport is also in need of a facelift.

It Seems Like Leaky Ceilings Are Becoming a Mainstay in US Airports

I understand every now and then repairs need to be made to airports, but in general the US airports are lacking in amenities, cleanliness, and service.

The Chicago Airport Still Has Old Phone Booths (Without the Phones)

US Airports Are Not Kid-Friendly

I flew with my 8 month old daughter on a trip to Michigan with a 3+ hour layover in Chicago.  She loves to crawl, and there were no safe areas for her to play by herself — instead I had to go into a lounge (free, thanks to my credit card!) to use their kids’ activity room.

I was shocked to find no toys for her to play with — just 2 computers with games loaded on them, and a TV blaring.  Fortunately, another little boy had brought his own toys to play with, and he politely shared them with my daughter.

There Were No Toys in This American Airlines Kids’ Room. Instead, There Were 2 Computers With Games and a TV

Someone had also left a dirty diaper on the table (there was no trash can), and an employee refused to dispose of it and instead admonished us in the lounge for leaving it there.

The Best Airport in the World

Contrast the Newark and Chicago airports to other airports in the world, like Changi Airport in Singapore.  This airport has been ranked the number 1 airport in the world for 5 straight years!  It’s almost a destination by itself.  I would love to check out the Forest Valley.

Destination or Connection? I’d Want a Few Hours to Explore This Airport!

Or you can get lost in its Canopy Mazes.

Be a Kid Again in Changi Airport’s Canopy Mazes

You can catch a movie between flights, for free!

The Changi Airport Has a FREE Movie Theater!

Not All Airports Can Be Like Singapore’s

Not all airports can be like Changi Airport in Singapore.  But they should try to be.  One of my favorite airports is the Madrid Barajas International Airport.  This airport is so kid friendly it amazes me.  They had a FREE kids’ play area with not one TV or computer in sight.  Anyone can enter these play areas.  You don’t need a Business or First Class ticket.  And I didn’t see any leaky ceilings.

The Madrid Airport Has a Huge FREE Kids’ Play Area

Even if you don’t have time to make it to the kids’ play area, there are kids’ playgrounds near every gate.  What a great way to release kids’ energy before a long flight, instead of playing a computer game or watching TV!

These Kids’ Playgrounds Were Located Near Every Gate

Bottom Line

Airports in the US need to up their game by getting rid of carpeting, modernizing their terminals, installing more restrooms, and have more kids’ play areas for ALL travelers to use.  What are the worst airports on your list?

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 33,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

LaGuardia. Ugh.

Maybe it’s the passenger load that results in significant wear and tear on New York airports, but you’d think they’d be properly funded for upkeep as a result.


That’s what I think! They should be funded better.

To fund the new amenities, it will cost each passenger about $45 (S$62.30) to depart from Changi Airport in fees and taxes. When US airports charge that much, they can probably afford to improve amenities.

The FAA allows a max of $4.50 per flight segment with a maximum of two PFCs charged on a one-way trip or four PFCs on a round trip, for a maximum of $18 total.

Also have you been to Changi? The shops there are world-class brands (Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Vertu, Gucci, Prada) and the airport gets a cut.


Thanks for the comment! It helps to know the costs associated with the improved amenities. I have not been to Changi but it makes sense that these luxury brands are there (and that the airport gets a cut). Perhaps that is something the US should try more of (along with increased fees), especially in big hubs like NYC.