The Internet Says These Are The Most Stressful Airports In All Of Europe

Airports aren't places of peace and serenity. Bursting with bustling travelers, they often evoke stress even in the most calm explorer. But some airports are just the worst of the worst. The names of some of these airports, like Charles de Gaulle, can drain the color from any traveler's face, causing their stomachs to drop. We know firsthand how awful some of these airports are and will go out of our way to fly elsewhere.

According to airport research conducted by Mintel, American travelers are largely distressed by airport experiences. Crowds, in particular, are bothersome to American flyers, with 45% indicating to Mintel that the masses of other people are major stressors. That's a reasonable concern when you're trying to navigate an airport with luggage and make it to your gate in time — especially during a short layover. But that is only one stress point in an airport, which is a hair trigger for tension.

We've selected the most stressful airports in Europe based on the experiences of fellow travelers, data about delays or travel issues, and also personal experience. You can find more info regarding our methodology at the end of the article. Whether they're difficult to navigate, lack amenities, or both, these airports all have their own ways of making anxious adventurers of all of us.

Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris

This list isn't really in any particular order, except the Charles de Gaulle Airport. We know firsthand how much of a pain this airport is. Sure, flights to "Paris" might be cheaper if you fly into or out of CDG, but that's because the airport is at least an hour on public transit from downtown Paris. Best of luck trying to get a ride from the train station to CDG; we waited nearly 30 minutes for one to show up.

When The Local France polled readers about the airport in 2022, they indicated a similar dislike of it. Over 30% marked it as "terrible," which indicates that international travelers aren't alone in their disdain for CDG. Many travelers on Tripadvisor report that security has consistently been a problem through the years at this airport. We can agree to that. Even after paying extra for expedited security access (which didn't work), we only got through the massive backlog of a line near the front because a kind woman let us go in front of her.

On Tripadvisor, reviewer erbyjones described a difficult journey through the airport and has sworn off ever using CDG in the future. "Indifferent staff, No signage, No map anywhere. Lots of corridors but no directional information," they wrote. "I could barely get through Passport checking because the scanners were not working ... The negative reviews are no exaggeration."

Heathrow Airport, London

An airport sparse on amenities, Heathrow Airport is not a very guest-friendly place to be. Once you're through security, you won't have a ton to do depending on where in the airport you are. There's also a good chance your plane will be delayed. The airport sat just at or below a 20% delay each year between 2008 and 2021, according to Statista. In fact, some analysts have dubbed Heathrow the most stressful airport in Europe, which isn't a title airports want on their resume.

As far as customer satisfaction is concerned, users gave Heathrow an abysmal 4/10 overall rating on Skytrax. This average was calculated from over 1000 reviews on the site from travelers who went through Heathrow. Some users went so far as to say it was one of the worst airports they'd ever been in.

User Ian McCready on Skytrax described the airport as lacking in a lot of ways, from bad customer service to a lack of things to do. "Staff are typically surly, unknowledgeable, unhelpful and clearly just give the impression that they just don't care," McCready writes. "After Security it can only be described as awful – overpriced Shops, Eateries, Poor uncomfortable seating, Tables and benches not clean." We've personally seen how hectic Heathrow is with seemingly constant shortages of staff. While you might not have as many issues at security if you're flying early, you will still be bored.

Dublin Airport, Dublin

With an alarming number of one-star reviews on Trustpilot, many consider Dublin Airport as one of the least liked and most stressful airports in all of Europe. Over the years, Dublin Airport has struggled with efficiency, especially with staffing shortages from time to time. In 2022, the Irish Times reported a handful of reasons why the Dublin Airport has become increasingly troublesome. The outlet noted that a lot of the problems stem from a lack of staff, failing security audits, and busier flight schedules. But the outlet also reported that passengers not efficiently packing their luggage also made things more difficult.

Another large complaint of the Dublin Airport, though, is the lack of amenities, particularly in the evening. Not being able to do anything while waiting around at an airport can be stressful, especially if you're hungry! Pauline Burke, in a review on Trustpilot, outlined how little there is to do at this airport, even at a slightly later dinner time.

"Very few seats, some seating removed and blanked off walls where seating and pods used to be, near to some shops, which have also gone," Burke writes. "Nowhere to get drinks or food after 7 pm or not much later as cafes close early. Left with vending machines if you have a late flight." We could understand airport restaurants closing at 9 p.m. or later, but lacking non-vending food options at 7 p.m. seems absurd.

Gatwick Airport, London

The issues people have at London Gatwick Airport are probably exacerbated by the fact that this is one of the busiest airports in the world. When you have that status, it can be difficult to not be in a stressful environment. Even so, 80% of visitors rated the airport an abysmal one star on Trustpilot, citing long lines and chaotic dealings with staff and other travelers. Busy or not, travelers appear to dislike Gatwick.

Generally, flights at Gatwick are about 14% delayed, according to Flightera. Compared to many of the other airports we've mentioned, that number is relatively low. Yet travelers are wary of visiting Gatwick Airport for a myriad other reasons. Simon Mitchelmore wrote of his experience at Gatwick on Trustpilot, and even as a frequent traveler, he felt the conditions of the airport were a lot to deal with.

"The worst London airport," he writes. "As a frequent flyer I have noticed that the security staff (at bag checks) are regularly rude and abusive ... Also the USB charger sockets never work, the water fountain (North terminal) does not work." Water fountains not working is no fun when you're trying to avoid paying an arm and a leg for a bottle of water. Other passengers on Trustpilot noted stressful layovers, barely making connections because of security lines, even with plenty of time in between flights.

Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, Madrid

From struggling to navigate the corridors to a general lack of efficient queues, the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport can be a nightmare for travelers. If you aren't adept at getting around crowds with impeding layover times, maybe avoid this airport if you can. While the flight delay average here is only about 11%, that won't save Madrid-Barajas from being one of the most stressful airports in Europe.

Travelers on Skytrax who have reviewed this airport give it an average of 4/10 overall. Terminal cleanliness was actually the highest-rated average, with four out of five stars, while signage, dining, and staff all tied for the lowest ratings of two out of five stars. Considering that many of the other airports on this list are described as dirty, that's a plus for Madrid-Barajas. After flying through this airport, traveler Colin McKenzie wrote on Skytrax that the experience was challenging.

"Firstly, the signposting is poor and confusing. Add to this the endless escalators and trek to get to the shuttle train between the main terminal and its satellite," McKenzie wrote. "I don't expect the airport experience to be wonderful, but this one is one of the least friendly and efficient airports I have ever used." Madrid-Barajas is currently the second-largest airport in Europe, though its upcoming addition will make it the largest one. That means signage to get around will be even more important.

Istanbul Airport, Istanbul

Despite undergoing massive overhauls through the years, its sheer size is why the Istanbul Airport stresses out travelers. Navigating the behemoth airport is cumbersome, especially if you're running on a shorter layover between flights. The average delay here is about an hour and 15 minutes, which may be a blessing for those scrambling for a connection. Since Istanbul Airport has about a 16% flight delay, according to Flightera, there is a decent chance you'll be sitting around for a bit.

Over on Reddit, travelers recommend grabbing a map if you need to know where you're going in this airport in a hurry. Several users mention very overpriced food (though most everything at an airport is overpriced), with a few mentions of slow queues. Despite its shiny makeover, the Istanbul Airport also has the lowest average score on Skytrax of any of the airports on our list. With just 3/10, it is quite clear that travelers do not like this stressful labyrinth. 

One reviewer wrote on Skytrax about how the airport customer support staff all but vanishes at night and if you manage to find some, they aren't likely to help you. "I landed there from LA later at night ... got out of my gate, asked a couple of uniformed people right outside exiting my plane if they can look up my next flight gate number on their airport phones tablets, their reply is 'I don't know! I cannot help you!' ... They pointed me to the big screens farther away to find it myself."

Amsterdam Airport Schipol, Amsterdam

With a whopping 82% one-star review rate on Trustpilot, folks have a lot to say about the Amsterdam Airport Schipol, and most of it is bad. Citing multiple gate changes, delayed flights, and lack of accessible facilities, traveling through Schipol can be rough. On average, about 16% of flights are delayed, according to Flightera, and the average delay is over an hour. That's not the worst average of the bunch, though it doesn't elicit a lot of traveler trust either.

In a review on Trustpilot, one traveler writes that this airport has consistently disappointed. "Travelling from Schiphol is always an issue," they write. "Always delays or multiple gate changes which keeps people on edge until they finally actually board a d*** plane. The Netherlands probably has the worst airport in Europe." Gate changes are the worst. There's nothing like settling into a seat with work or a book only to realize when boarding starts that your gate has been switched. We've been there. And it sounds like the travelers at Schipol have also.

Frankfurt International Airport, Frankfurt

After spending over three hours on the tarmac at the Frankfurt International Airport for a 45-minute flight without any explanation ever given, our first-hand experience at this airport has been negative. Not only is this stark airport devoid of many amenities and places to sit, but it's also notorious for delays. In fact, nearly 20% of flights into or out of Frankfurt are impacted by delays at an average of 75 minutes, according to Flightera. Just hope that your delay doesn't mean you're stuck in a plane seat because it's not fun.

Depending on which part of the airport you're in, you'd be wise to stop and grab food while you're walking by shops. Otherwise, you might be adding a lot of plodding through the airport to your agenda. Some areas of the terminals have absolutely nothing besides vending machines and (sometimes) functional water fountains.

A whopping 91% of Frankfurt Airport's ratings on Trustpilot are one star. Flyer Cameron Beatty went so far as to call it a "dumpster fire" in their Trustpilot review. Of his horrible experience at Frankfurt, Beatty wrote, "Passport control was out of control; disorganized mobs feeding in to the booths from all directions. The staff stopped caring, and had no spine to control the situation, or offer any help to lost travelers. To top it off, this airport just didn't ship my checked luggage with me – they left it in Germany."

Manchester Airport, Manchester

Citing poor security interactions and environment, a lot of folks don't like being at Manchester Airport. Visceral reviews have long been part of the airport's story. So much so that the Manchester Evening News even wrote an article about it in 2017. According to Flightera, average delays of an hour with nearly 20% of flights affected plague the Manchester Airport. This overcrowded hub is known for being incredibly crowded and chaotic, and with so many delays, it's no wonder Manchester Airport receives angry reviews from miffed passengers. Cerys Fernandes on Trustpilot wrote that there wasn't a low enough score to portray their negative experience at this airport accurately. 

"From all the airports I've flown through, Manchester airport is hands down the worst," Fernandes writes. "I simply have no words for the atrocity that is Manchester airport security. One staff member will tell you something and then another will tell you the complete opposite, shambles would be a better organization. The attitudes are just horrendous and the treatment is disgusting, I'm pretty sure prisoners get better." If there is something about travel that stresses us out the most, it's anxiously scrambling through security. That circumstance is only made worse when arriving for a connecting flight after not sleeping.

Corfu Airport, Corfu

Unlike the other airports we've mentioned so far, Corfu Airport is an outlier in one significant respect — it is tiny. There are only a dozen boarding gates. How could such a little airport be a cause for so much stress? It's stuffy, there are not enough seats anywhere for anyone, you might get stuck in the unairconditioned front area until closer to your boarding time, and the signage will have you walking in circles. As you can tell, we have no fond memories of this airport.

While Corfu Airport is small, it still has about two delayed flights per day, averaging a 16% delay rate, according to Flightera. Although the average delay is less than 40 minutes, the cramped airport makes it feel like hours. Like Istanbul, Corfu also receives a 3/10 rating from past customer reviews on Skytrax, with two stars out of five across the board in every category. Several reviewers mention waiting two hours or more in the passport queue.

After waiting on the tarmac for an hour due to stairway shortages, Zoe Morris wrote of a deeply uncomfortable wait elsewhere at the airport. "Queues through security etc were long hot and not very nice, but the way back was something else," Morris wrote. "Coaches were dropping people off every 20-30 minutes or so but the queues were not going down at all just getting bigger, we were waiting over two hours in [80] degree heat, no shade or water. It was inhumane and absolutely disgusting ..."

Copenhagen Kastrup Airport, Copenhagen

Copenhagen Kastrup Airport is also plagued by an average of 16% flight delay, according to Flightera, which is a number similar to other airports we've mentioned. As the largest airport hub in Northern Europe, Kastrup is a busy airport. It is also the largest airport in Denmark, which makes some of the concerns that stressed-out travelers have expressed even more baffling.

TravelBob on Trustpilot explained that after the passport check, when going into the international terminal, the area is devoid of amenities. "... the international terminal is one of the worst I have ever experienced. One small 7-Eleven and one all-shop. Very little seating in the terminal. The gates are closed off until one hour prior to departure. Be prepared to sit on the ground along the walkway or schlep to the one seating area away from all gates."

One would think that one of the largest airports in the area would have more for passengers to do. A lot of airports don't have plentiful seating, though, like with the Corfu airport, which has similar gate procedures. It seems like a faulty building planning issue.


After sifting through the experiences of other travelers on review sites like Trustpilot and Tripadvisor, as well as incorporating airport data like delays and cancellations, we determined which European airports are the most stress-inducing. Personal experience at several of these airports also helped inform our decisions. This list is not in any particular order, with the exception of CDG. We took into consideration the number of average delays per day, as well as facility and staffing issues raised by travelers. All of these factors can significantly add to the stress of travel.