Fact Check: Are American Airports as Lame as Donald Trump Says They Are?

The candidate called our facilities "third world."

Last night during an acrimonious debate performance against Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump had some pretty rough things to say. About the Democratic candidate, yes — but also about America’s airports.

“You know, it’s one thing to have a $20 trillion debt and our roads are good and our bridges are good, everything is in great shape,” he said. “[But] our airports are like from a third-world country. You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible — you come in from China — you see these incredible airports.”

JFK airport

With respect to our airports, he said, “We’ve become a third-world country.”

Ouch. Is he right?

Well, most American world travelers would likely agree that many U.S. airports lack the glitter and glamour of some airports in major capitals abroad. 

Travel + Leisure readers rated LaGuardia — in line with what Trump said — the worst airport in the country as part of the pub’s annual readers’ choice awards. “Dilapidated La Guardia hasn’t aged well,” according to T+L. “The airport has the dubious honor of ranking the worst for the check-in and security process, the worst for baggage handling, the worst when it comes to providing Wi-Fi, the worst at staff communication, and the worst design and cleanliness.”

LaGuardia airport

LAX — again, in line with Trump’s comments — was rated second to worst: “Clearly, this worn-out airport is ready for a major Hollywood makeover.”


JFK was rated fourth from the bottom, with only Philadelphia’s airport separating the worst in the pack.

Around the globe, Skytrax rated Singapore the best airport in the world for 2016 in its annual World Airport Awards based on customer reviews. Korea’s Incheon came in at number two, followed in order by Munich, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

Singapore Changi Airport

Qatar’s Hamad International Airport did round out the top 10 — so there’s another point for Trump. For reference, Dubai’s airport came in at 26.

Hamad International Airport in Qatar

JFK came in way down the list at 59 and LAX at a meager 91.

So — in the category of airport awareness — we’ll say Trump’s facts do check out.

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