The Most Stressful Airports In Europe

Airports are the starting point for thousands of incredible trips each year. Simultaneously, they are often the nexus of distress for travelers. The sheer volume of people who transition through these facilities is enough to cause a general sense of chaos, not to mention painfully long lines. The complexity of airport layouts, with their multiple terminals and gates, can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Security processes, while essential for safety, add another layer of stress with their strict requirements and potential for long waiting times.


To make matters worse, you're typically facing all of these obstacles while remaining on time for your impending departure. Because most people in the building are dealing with these same levels of stress, you are often greeted with a handful of less-than-friendly encounters. Although airports are a hot spot for anxiety and worry, some are better than others. If you're planning any upcoming trips across the pond, you might want to avoid flying in and out of these European airports.

Charles de Gaulle Airport, France

At the top of's 2023 list of most stressful airports was Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. If you have ever flown out of Charles de Gaulle, this will come as no surprise. From over 700 customer reviews on Skytrax, the airport scored a grim 3/10. The second largest airport in Europe as well as the busiest, Charles de Gaulle sees over 57 million passengers annually. This high volume of traffic leads to frequently crowded terminals and long lines which can overwhelm travelers.


To make things feel more disorganized, travelers often report that the signage in CDG is rather confusing. There are few things more stressful than rushing to a flight when you're confused and bombarded by an overflow of people. Nonetheless, one of the biggest contributions to CDG flyers' stress happens before they even arrive. Taking 40 minutes to an hour and a half to arrive from the city center via public transportation, Charles de Gaulle Airport is not easily accessible. This distance not only adds to travel time but can also be a source of anxiety for those worried about catching their flights.

Heathrow Airport, England

Heathrow Airport, known for being one of the busiest airports in the world, faces several challenges that contribute to its reputation as a stressful airport. A significant factor contributing to the stress experienced by travelers at Heathrow is its high passenger volume. The airport's 2024 forecast predicts 81.4 million passengers will pass through its doors, a number close to its pre-pandemic peak. This large number of travelers inevitably leads to crowded spaces and long lines, especially during peak travel times.


Another major cause of stress at Heathrow is related to operational aspects such as staffing shortages and the complexity of its layout. The airport has struggled with having enough staff to efficiently manage the influx of passengers, which can result in delays at security checkpoints, immigration, and baggage handling. But, arguably the most anxiety-inducing part of Heathrow is its lack of reliability. Next to Glasgow, Heathrow has the highest rate of flight cancellations in the UK.

London Gatwick Airport, England

London Gatwick Airport has garnered a rather notorious reputation, particularly in Europe, for its persistent flight delays and lack of amenities. It's commonly considered the worst airport in all of Europe. The main reason for this has been Gatwick's unbelievably high rate of delayed flights. Gatwick, despite being one of the UK's busiest airports, struggles to keep up with the high volume of air traffic, leading to these delays. With over 50% of their flights straying from schedule, you should only book a flight with Gatwick if you've got a flexible trip itinerary.


While Gatwick's flyers are some of the most likely to have extra time in their terminals, it also has a reputation for being one of the least pleasant airports to spend time in. Often criticized for poor wifi connection and an inadequate selection of shops and restaurants, this shortfall in services makes it difficult for many travelers to get comfortable. With all of this combined, Gatwick regularly receives an abundance of negative and downright angry reviews.

Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, France

Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport has faced a fair share of criticism from travelers. Out of Europe's top 100 busiest airports, Bordeaux-Mérignac has received the lowest rating on Google Reviews. Out of almost 10,000 reviews, this airport in Southwest France has a bleak 2.7 stars out of 5. This low score is mainly due to its organizational issues and lack of amenities.


Passengers have reported experiences of disorganization within the airport, with issues such as limited seating and waiting areas. Additionally, many travelers are unsatisfied with the airport's offering of amenities. With just nine options for dining and four for shopping, the airport has been described as lacking in its selection. The situation is made worse by reports of unfriendly or even rude staff behavior. Fortunately, the airport has taken note of these complaints and is undergoing a major modernization program aimed at improving capacity and comfort.

Schiphol Airport, Netherlands

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is a major hub in Europe and for a long time, it was considered one of the most efficient, stress-free airports on the continent. However, in recent years, the airport has left travelers less than satisfied and stressed out. Schiphol Airport has been grappling with disorder due to staff shortages and an increase in passengers, leading to long lines and a ripple effect of disruptions.


A strike among baggage handlers at Schiphol occurred during the summer of 2023, resulting in an abundance of baggage delays and unsatisfied customers. Despite this period of chaos and poor quality service at Schiphol, the Dutch airport is making an effort to improve. For instance, to avoid catastrophically slow security lines, flyers can now book time slots for their security check. However, this is only an option for flyers with destinations within the Schengen region. If you're planning to leave the Schengen region, be sure to give yourself some extra time — and maybe have a guided meditation ready for any potential headaches you're likely to face.