Transit Terror: Asia’s worst airports

You may have read lists extolling the virtues of Asian airports such as Singapore’s Changi Airport that has regularly topped the world’s best lists for its modern amenities and restaurants. However, Asia is home to some pretty bad airports too. Here’s a look at the worst:

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1, Manila, Philippines
Manilla’s older terminal (terminal 1) took the number one position for the World’s Worst Airport 2011, on the airport review site The Guide to Sleeping in Airports. The website uses reader polls to rate safety concerns, comfort and facilities.

Pic: sleepinginairports.net

Bribery, theft and dodgy airport taxes were amongst the reasons cited for Manilla’s poor rating. Travellers have called it a “bombed-out ruin” and “a cattle yard, only worse”. Terminal 3 however gets good reviews for being clean and spacious.

Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad, Pakistan
Islamabad is another airport that regularly gets bad reviews from travellers thanks to dirty toilets, electricity blackouts, long queues through immigration, the hassle of porters and other rude staff. Travellers regularly report having to pay bribes for fast processing in immigration and, according to sleepinginairports, there’s even been a report of salmonella poisoning!

Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi, Vietnam
Likened to a “bus station” by Relax.com.sg, the nation’s capital airport isn’t the most user friendly for international travellers. With hard metal chairs, vagaries of service, “do as you are told” type rules, taxi scams, overcharged transfer services and inadequate facilities, some say the airport was the worst experience they had in Vietnam.

Hanoi's airport. Pic: www.relax.com.sg

Beijing Capital International Airport, China
Despite an upgrade of the international terminal for the 2008 Olympics the Beijing airport regularly gets poor reviews as well. The common thread among travellers seems to be the nightmare of traffic jams just to get there, irate Chinese passengers in the queues, scams involving fake check-in help, security guards shaking transit passengers awake saying “no sleeping”, smoking rooms that leak cigarette smoke and various undesirable chairs for resting/sleeping.

In 2010 Beijing took out the runner-up prize in the Worst Airport award from www.sleepinginairports.net

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata, India
One review of Kolkata airport on sleepinginairports reads: “Calcutta is an international airport but looks like it was from the 1950s. I wouldn’t be surprised if cattle started roaming the place.” It may certainly be a rude welcome to India with sleepinginairports’ reviewers declaring staff there on a “moustache-driven powertrip” and questioning that bordered on interrogation. The terminal is also described as uncomfortable, noisy, expensive for food and having filthy toilets.

Other airports that rated badly in Asia included Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi in India, and Denpasar and Jakarta in Indonesia.