Islamabad airport named among 'world's worst' airports of 2013

Published: October 19, 2013
Islamabad airport was named the fourth worst airport in the world. PHOTO: FILE

Islamabad airport was named the fourth worst airport in the world. PHOTO: FILE

MANILA: A survey conducted by an online travel company declared the Philippines’ main Manila airport terminal as the world’s worst for the second year in a row, with the Benazir Bhutto International Airport of Islamabad coming in fourth.

The third-worst was Calcutta, just edging out Islamabad, ahead of Paris Beauvais.

The website asked travellers to rate their experiences across four factors:

Comfort: crowded terminals or uncomfortable/limited seating
Conveniences: no 24-hour food options or nothing to do on a layover.
Cleanliness: dirty floors, bathrooms or food courts.
Customer Service: unfriendly staff or anti-airport sleeper policies.

Manila’s crowded Terminal 1 was ranked by travellers as faring the worst in the world in all the above categories.

Reviews for Manila’s Terminal 1 posted on the site mentioned “dilapidated facilities”, dishonest airport workers — particularly taxi drivers — long waiting times and rude officials.

For Islamabad, a reviewer on the website remarks:

“Upright plastic lumbar devastating ‘chairs’ add to your foul mood after negotiating the carnage to actually end up in the departure lounge” – Col. Stewart.

Another disgruntled reviewer lamented the slow service and rude staff who kept quarrelling among themselves, ultimately resigning to the fact that Pakistan had a “sleeping government” and that “the situation can never be changed.”

Worst Airports (Total by Votes)

1. Manila NAIA (Terminal 1)

2. Bergamo

3. Calcutta

4. Islamabad

5. Paris Beauvais

6. Chennai

7. Frankfurt Hahn

8. Mumbai

9. Rome Fiumicino

10. Los Angeles

The best rated airports were Singapore Changi, Seoul Incheon, Amsterdam Schiphol, Hong Kong and Helsinki Vantaa.

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Reader Comments (35)

  • Asad Khan
    Oct 19, 2013 - 11:25PM

    ….not surprised at all. Infact it is not an airport at the first place, it is an airforce base, Chaklala.

    The New Benazir Bhutto International Airport which was suppose to be the shining jewel (previously named Gandhara International Airport) is myriad in corruption & inefficient planning & still incomplete.


  • Indi.pendant
    Oct 19, 2013 - 11:28PM

    With the new Islamabad airport opening with a year, hope this dubious distinction will end. Three worst airports from shining India. The survey might be lopsided.


  • S
    Oct 19, 2013 - 11:40PM

    The survey seems slightly outdated. The newly opened Calcutta Airport is one of the best I have seen.


  • Safwan
    Oct 19, 2013 - 11:45PM

    If they change the name of the airport to Islamabad International Airport, it will immediately improve its ranking.


  • PTI Supporter
    Oct 20, 2013 - 12:03AM

    Does Islamabad has an airport? I alwayz thought it is Rawalpindi Int’l Airport.


  • Sexton Blake
    Oct 20, 2013 - 12:09AM

    I have always thought that airports were specifically designed to be inconvenient with Singapore, Heathrow and Los Angeles being strong contenders for the most inconvenient. It appears, from the above article, that I have been wrong for many years.


  • lol
    Oct 20, 2013 - 12:21AM

    delhi,hyderbad still rank among best so cheer up for the positive part….. :)


  • lol
    Oct 20, 2013 - 12:27AM

    @Indi.pendant: dude ever checked ur lahore and karachi airport …. they appear like old fort of some king from outside…….. the only reason they haven’t been mentioned as worst airports is coz tourists dont visit pakistan…… some who do visit islamabad and thats in the list right there…….


  • Codewala
    Oct 20, 2013 - 12:27AM

    When I was coming back to Canada, the immigration officer claimed that there was no record of my entering Pakistan. Apparently their own stamp isn’t much of a proof; it has to be in the database. It seems like the officer who stamped me in on arrival forgot to do so (is it really that hard?). I was with them for half an hour while they figured out that I had valid documents (don’t know how many times they looked at my PR card). My mother, who was with me, suggested I don’t come back to Pakistan until I have a Canadian passport. They even asked for my old passport at one point (why would I travel with that?). Scumbags.
    Another interesting thing I noticed, the airport is a non-smoking airport but you’ll see staff showing no regard.


  • Adnan Siddiqi
    Oct 20, 2013 - 12:27AM

    Its an insult to even call this structure an “Airport.” Heck, even the Sami Daewoo Express Bus Terminals in Lahore and Karachi are more efficient, practical and user-friendly.


  • Oct 20, 2013 - 12:31AM

    Mr Asad BB Airport is under Civil Aviation Authority, and not under the Air Force Base. Please UPDATE your information. :)


  • lol
    Oct 20, 2013 - 12:55AM

    kolkata airport has changed a lot…. people should go now and c the difference… ( there are still issues like less eateries and shops but they are being taken care of) …. mumbai i expect to become of the best on the planet by jan 2014… chennai…. chennai airport u suck….u shall always be one of the worst….!!!


  • bangash
    Oct 20, 2013 - 1:00AM

    Chicago and Washington Dulles are pretty terrible also.


  • s.rehman
    Oct 20, 2013 - 1:19AM

    I am surprised its not the worst,because it is..


  • lol
    Oct 20, 2013 - 1:46AM

    infrastructure wise… indian airports are good enough…. however passengers might not like behaviour of airport officials and the chaos and disordered setup…..


  • nononsense
    Oct 20, 2013 - 2:15AM

    probably thi survey is outdated ,kolkata and chennai just got huge new airports few months back…and they are really world class..and mumbai i can tell you is getting new airport by next will be the best beating the already marvellous delhi airport.


  • Ali
    Oct 20, 2013 - 2:54AM

    The system here and the behaviour of the staff is a joke. I was flying in from London to visit relatives after 10 years. I was standing in the ‘Foreign’ queue because I am British-born and obviously have a British passport. The queue appeared to be at a stand still. I walked over to the officer at the desk and said “excuse me, could you let me through?” while showing him my passport. His response was “Aap galat line meh hain” while chewing his gum – I checked again, I was in the correct queue. I repeated myself and he said the same thing. I then complained to the supervising officer who was walking around. The supervising officer responded “Aap bass yaheen karre rahein” while giving me a hard stare. I was disgusted. This is Pakistan? This is how they treated people who regard this land as home? In the end, after a long wait and some more complaining he finally stamped my passport and let me through. It was 4.30am. I know what he wanted – money. But I did not give it. I will mentally prepare myself next time.


  • optimist
    Oct 20, 2013 - 5:28AM

    It seems our Indian friends fully agree about Islamabad but when it comes to their airports, the survey is not accurate and is outdated. How convenient?


  • M. Emad
    Oct 20, 2013 - 9:44AM

    ‘National’ capital Islamabad was created by (mainly) East Pakistan (Bangladesh) share money. The name was taken from Chittagong (‘Islamabad’). The capital was the brain child of the ‘sepoy’s son Field-Marshal’ President Ayub Khan. Ayub wanted capital Islamabad ‘free’ of Bengalis and Urdu-speaking Indian refugees (around 70% population). The construction was supervised by Brig. Yahya Khan (later General/ President and top war criminal in the biggest post WW-ll genocide in 1971). The Greek city-planner/ architect was not fully paid.

    Some believe, astrologically, Islamabad area is not suitable as a capital. Pakistan divided within decade and the future of remaining Pakistan look bleak. .


  • pakistani
    Oct 20, 2013 - 3:40PM

    @M. Emad:
    My friend… this is a bit OTT (over the top) comment. Has no relevance to the article…


  • lol
    Oct 20, 2013 - 4:03PM

    @optimist: pakistanis here themselves are terming islamabad airport as not worth being called as an airport…… then what to say abt indians….:p…..


  • Asad Khan
    Oct 20, 2013 - 6:30PM

    @[email protected]!:
    Yes I know dear, CAA only controls the portion & does not have much freedom / room for expansion / improvement. Same is the case of Bacha (Peshawar) & Quetta (Samungli)

    …the point was an airport must be under CAA, inch by inch, i.e Karachi (The best) Lahore etc.



  • Hussain
    Oct 20, 2013 - 7:59PM

    Of thousands of airports around the World, India has got three in ten worst ! No wonder if the list was expanded further down to include 20 worst, India would have easily dominated the list.


  • naeem khan
    Oct 20, 2013 - 9:49PM

    i am so proud !Recommend

  • saad
    Oct 20, 2013 - 10:02PM

    @lol because its not a islamabad airport it was made for rawalpindi and this airport share its runway with Pakistan air force. and new international islamabad airport will be operation in 2014 and we will see how islamabad airport comes into worst airports.Recommend

  • Btw
    Oct 20, 2013 - 11:44PM

    India beats Pakistan 3-1. Take that!!!! Kuch bhi kar lo humse peeche hi rahoge. :)


  • Raj Kafir
    Oct 21, 2013 - 12:05AM

    US is going to give $1.6 billions to Pakistan. They should use this money to outshine Singapore Airport.


  • Hmm
    Oct 21, 2013 - 7:35AM

    well..There must be 2 or 3 airports in Pakistan and this airport is the best among them.


  • Muhammad Saim
    Oct 21, 2013 - 3:51PM

    Did any one else too found handwash liquid soap dispensed in Nestle’ water bottles with a hole in cap at the washrooms of International lounge of Jinnah Internationa, Karachi?


  • Muhammad Saim
    Oct 21, 2013 - 3:54PM

    By the way, Asad Umar once said (when he was president of Engro) “jis mulq key airport zabardast aur railway station pathetic hun woh kabhi taraqqi nahin kar sakta” (where airports are marvelous and railway stations are in shambles, that country can never develop)….its hard to decide our airports are worst or railway stations !


  • F Moghul
    Oct 21, 2013 - 6:08PM

    Traveled through ISB 5 times last year and pray that I don’t have to do it anytime in the near or distant future! Although it is expected, it never fails to amaze how ineffIcient and nightmarish it is. Everything is covered in a layer of dirt. Even on the inside! I saw a man one day come in with a long mop like instrument to clean up the dirt but he only succeeded in spreading it around. It is true that there is no concept of queuing – everyone just mobs the counter but helps to be a woman. Women get a bit of preferential treatment. After arriving and taking the bus over to passport control, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that the passport control officers will usher you to the front and stamp your passport so you can be on your way! Now, wouldn’t it be nice if your luggage would be waiting for you so you can make your escape!? No, expect to wait at least 20-30 minutes before the bags will make an appearance on the belt – even if your traveling business! They have to cart everything over from the plane and if another plane arrived at the same time, it is utter and total confusion in ‘baggage claim.’ I only travel with carry on now. If you’re leaving out of ISB you cannot have a tight connection. The flights never leave on time. All three of my departures last year were delayed – around about 30 min, the next 90 min and 3 hours! The staff are ridiculous. Most airlines have contracted employees and you get an air of corruption and disregard from the management and there is no such thing as customer service – even they want to get out of there. Expect sheer chaos but I’ve realized to take it lightly – everyone there does!


  • Riaz Murtaza
    Oct 21, 2013 - 7:36PM

    I would like to add Jeddah King Abdul Aziz International airport to the worst airports in the world list. Check-in, transit, immigration and other facilities at the worst at this airport.


  • traveler
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:32PM

    i guess dey forgot ..Dammam international airport. It should be included in atleast d top 3’s .. Its check in process, immigration process, staffs, officers all r disgusting… Dey dont give respect to d outsiders especially d asian ones. I stand almost 2 hrs in d immigration line be4 getting stamped..hope it will get better..Recommend

  • AdnanA
    Oct 28, 2013 - 3:42PM

    Islamabad badly needs a new Airport , I was at ISB on October 26, 2013 and check-in was a nightmare. It took 1.5 hours to check-in and it was a chaos everywhere in the terminal.


  • sajid
    Nov 10, 2013 - 3:39AM

    Travelled through the airport last year . It was disgusting complete chaos and rude staff some lady was literally crying at the counter and the staff were just shouting at her.
    coming back was worst customs are just wanting bribes and rude beyond belief. The airport just cannot cope with the amount of passengers but the rude hostile staff seems to make things ten times worst

    never again will i travel there


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