My Worst Airport Experiences

3½ hours delayed. Not the best start for my recent trip to Libya

In the past ten years, I have flown approximately 850 times with more than 200 different airlines. I have been to many airports and most have been trouble free. However, below is a list of my ten worst airport experiences. Avoid all if you can.

1. Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel
The worst airport experience. First, I joined the queue for foreigners where they asked me questions no other airport in the world has asked me. They wanted to see my Eritrea visa, hotel reservation in Eritrea and it just felt like they didn’t believe a word of what I was saying. Horrible and other travellers have had similar experiences. The questions are one thing, but the security is the worst experience I have ever had at an airport. They don’t treat you like a human being and make you feel so uncomfortable you don’t want ever visiting Israel again. They are searching every single little piece of your bag like no other airport. They are touching you like no other airport is touching you. They wouldn’t allow my brand new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (a gift from my father), to be in its case for security and as a result, I got scratches on the screen. I complained, but the staff screamed at me and there was nothing to do. If you ever want to visit Israel, make sure you are at the airport three hours before on the way out and prepare for at least a couple of hours of absolute horror.

2. Cairo International Airport, Terminal 1.
The Cairo International Airport is, to me, the most disgusting airport in the world. Dirty, uncomfortable and rundown with more cigarette smoke lingering in the air than I have seen anywhere – As an example, I arrived at customs to find the security guy smoking a cigarette while doing pat-downs! Even if you are a smoker, this airport is sure to really turn you off. It is unbelievable and should be avoided at all costs.

3. Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo
Upon arrival at the airport, two guys took my passport and pretended to be working for the airline. I released quickly and asked to get my passport back. It was not easy and they try their best to cheat you. That was only the beginning. Wherever I went, they tried to get money out of me. A police officer was refusing to let me fill out my departure form myself. The security guy was screaming at me for not giving him money and refusing to show him every single detail of my wallet. It is horrible and an airport to avoid at all cost.

4. Bangui, Central African Republic
I read many horror stories before arriving in the capital of the Central African Republic. Because of this, I paid for a local guide to meet me as soon as I was off the plane. Bangui is a place that feels dangerous and walking the streets is at your risk. Soldiers threatened me, but I was lucky to get out of the situation.

5. Juba, South Sudan
It’s like a 50-year-old African bus station but besides this no problem at the airport itself. The town is a different story. My taxi driver went to prison for taking a photo of me in the streets. They wanted me too but eventually, let me go.

6. Lagos, Nigeria
No problems on the way in and had a very enjoyable time in Nigeria, but at the airport on the way out several airport staff asked me for money. It’s a hassle.

7. Freetown, Sierra Leone.
First, the immigration officer wanted money to stamp my passport. I told him, “I don’t have to pay anything, but let me call my contacts”. He said “no, no” and stamped my passport. Then I was sitting in a lounge after arrival to figure out how to get to the city. A lady comes screaming that I have committed a criminal act by sitting in the lounge (which was open) and she will now get the police. I talked my way out of it, but what an insane woman. As soon as I figured out how to get to the city, as soon as I was out of the airport, a police officer kept asking me for 20 dollars to let me go. Eventually, he gave up. The airport is on an island and the fast and comfortable transportation to the city was very expensive so I first had to take a public bus followed by a slow public ferry to reach the capital city of Freetown.

8. Hurghada, Egypt.
Horrible long waiting lines. I think it took three hours back in 2006. Very disorganised airport. Plus the airport allows smoking. It is like a bar in the 90’s. Went back in 2011 and it’s still horrible.

9. Mitiga Airport, Tripoli, Libya. 
This temporary airport was an awful experience this year. The first impression wasn’t too bad as I met my contact and got my visa and stamp easily on arrival. I thought all was good, but on the way out at customs, I am stopped by airport personnel that took my passport and asked me to keep waiting. I waited for a long time, maybe an hour before they took me into a room where I had to explain the purpose of my visit to Libya. They had a hard time believing I am a tourist in their country during these difficult times. They eventually let me go. Leaving the airport was also a bad experience. And yes, they smoke everywhere as well.

10. Miami, USA.
Miami belongs in the list entirely due to the long and slow waiting line at immigrations. Several times I have waited for hours and you are not allowed to use your phone. Horrible. Most probably the worst airport to enter the United States.