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World's Ugliest Airports

Heathrow

Ian Patrick / Alamy

Heathrow Airport, London

Heathrow’s greatest virtue is that it makes New Yorkers feel better about JFK. What does Heathrow actually look like? Hard to say. Terry Riley, an architect and former director of the Miami Art Museum, compares it to “four shopping malls that have been smashed together.” The worst offender is Terminal 3, built in 1961 and distinguished by a bizarre system in which passengers are corralled into a low-ceilinged central seating area and not permitted to pass through security to their gates until departure time. Azmi Merican, a Malaysian design merchant, says of Terminal 3, “This is a terminal for a country that had lost an empire and didn’t know its role in the world, or what style of architecture would reflect this.”

The Upside: Terminal 5—nearly 20 years in the making and opened in 2008—is an improvement. And the baggage system works just fine now.

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