The world’s best airports, according to travelers


Spending time at airports doesn’t have to be a hassle. Go for a bike ride, eat under the stars, or absorb some seriously good art; find out what some of the best airports in the world have to offer.

Take advantage of what's on offer at the world's best airports.Airports are bulking up their terminals to give you more options to shop, explore, and relax. Image credit: Jacob Blund
Airports are bulking up their terminals to give you more options to shop, explore, and relax. Image credit: Jacob Blund

This year, Singapore’s Changi Airport was crowned best airport in the world for 2018, according to more than 13 million travelers who took part in a global airport survey by consumer aviation company Skytrax.
More than 550 airports were included in the survey, which asked airport travelers of 100 different nationalities more than 39 topics relating to accessibility, usability, cleanliness, wait times, and the language skills of airport staff to give accurate airport rankings.
Take a look at the top 10 airports for 2018 below.

Changi Airport, Singapore

This expansive Singapore airport is one of the busiest transit hubs in Southeast Asia, handling about one flight every 80 seconds and welcoming 62.2 million passengers in 2017.

Time flies for visitors to the four-terminal airport, where nature and culture are the focus for its world-renowned architecture and art installations, including the Peranakan Love Story, a tale of two Singaporean lovers, which is performed in the recently opened Terminal 4.

Why not relax your eyes and quieten your mind by sitting by the Koi Pond in Terminal 3 to watch the vibrant-colored fish interact with each other under a natural skylight.

Or better yet, stretch your legs on a walk through the floral gardens dotted across the airport, including a sunflower rooftop garden, carefully tended to by expert gardeners.

Or if you feel like getting more active, take a dip in the airport’s rooftop pool at Terminal 1. Take advantage of the jacuzzi and shower facilities before hopping on your next flight, feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Incheon International Airport, South Korea

The largest airport in South Korea, Incheon International welcomed its first passengers in 2001 and has been expanding ever since.

The culture-focused airport was the winner of World’s Best Airport Staff award by Skytrax in 2018 and it’s no wonder why. The consideration given to its 62 million passengers extends beyond its hospitality, with a wealth of cultural activities and arts programs featured daily. Pick the film soundtrack played by musicians in the mini classical concert pop-up at Terminal 1 or experience traditional Korean masked performances in Terminal 2.

Need a shirt cleaned before your next meeting? Why not take advantage of the dry-cleaning services available at the airport while you take a massage or try out their digital gym, where virtual exercise provides the perfect fitness-on-the-go option.

Haneda International Airport, Tokyo

Considered to be the world’s cleanest airport and boasting the best domestic airport for 2018, this facility is close to central Tokyo and predominantly caters to domestic passengers.

If you’re a plane enthusiast, or just in need of some fresh air, why not head up to the flight observation deck on level 5 where you can soak up Tokyo’s expansive cityscape.

For a truly cosmic experience, you enjoy a meal under millions of stars at the airport’s one-of-a-kind Planetarium Starry Cafe.

If you’re after a more unique experience, why not wander through Edo Koji on the fourth floor, where traditional Japanese architecture is used to model a typical 17th century street in Japan. Here you can sample some of the nation’s most delicious foods, like udon noodles, kushikatsu (skewered meat), and tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets), or wander through the many boutique shops.

Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong

Celebrating its 20th year, Hong Kong International Airport is an award-winning facility that welcomes 72.9 passengers annually from more than 200 destinations worldwide.

This year, it was voted Best Transit Airport and Best Airport for Dining, according to Skytrax survey results. Why not take advantage of Hong Kong’s amazing cuisine and tuck into some local or international delights from more than 60 restaurants before wandering through the many art installations provided to passengers all-year round.

Staying in Hong Kong? Save you time in the baggage area, with the airport’s HKG My Flight app, which notifies passengers when their luggage hits the carousel via smart tag technology.

Hamad International Airport, Qatar

This international airport opened in 2014 with ambitions to transform the Arabian Gulf city of Doha into a transit hub and luxurious landmark home for Qatar Airways. It has absolutely succeeded after winning Best Airport in the Middle East for 2018.

The airport, designed by American architectural firm HOK, is celebrated architecturally for complimenting its coastal location with dramatic curves and light-filled halls. According to the firm, all materials, including wood ceilings and steel-framed glass walls, featured at the airport were chosen for their longevity, sustainability, and local significance.

Those looking to kill some time can shop at numerous boutiques including Gucci, Rolex, or Burberry or access the airport gym, complete with pool, hydrotherapy, and spa treatments. Be sure to check out Lamp Bear, a larger-than-life size installation by Swiss artist Urs Fischer, and various other works dotted throughout the airport.

Munich Airport, Germany

Ranked as the second busiest airport in Germany, Munich Airport has taken the title for Best Airport in Europe for 2018. If you are looking to relax before a flight, why not use the 17-meter pool, sauna, steam bath, and fitness center at the Hilton Munich Airport Hotel.

Munich Airport was also the first airport to trial a humanoid artificial intelligence robot named Josie Pepper in February this year to welcome passengers and help them with any questions relating to shops, restaurants, and their up-to-date flight information.

Chubu Centrair International Airport, Japan

The second Japanese airport to make it onto Skytrax’s list, Chubu Centrair sits on an artificial island in Ise Bay, south of Nagoya. Voted Skytrax’s World’s Best Regional Airport for 2018, the airport has been described by passengers as a small-scale airport capable of providing exceptional services. The Sky Deck on level 4 sits just 300m from the runway and 50m from the taxiway, making it the ideal spot for plane watching.

London Heathrow Airport, UK

Considered the busiest airport in Europe in terms of passenger traffic, Heathrow welcomed 78 million guests in 2017 alone. In addition to handling the stream of travelers, the airport also took out the top spot for World’s Best Airport Terminal.

The airport has improved its services to passengers over the years. A great example of this was the £23 million investment pushed forward in December to create Aria, a free app for visually impaired passengers to enhance their independence in getting around the airport.

Zurich Airport, Switzerland

The largest international airport in Switzerland also feels like one of the most interactive, with a range of guided tours around the facility to give you a unique insight into flight operations on a large scale.

Those looking to stretch their legs after a long layover flight can opt to rent out a bike, inline skates, or Nordic walking poles to explore the area around the airport. Feeling hungry? Why not try some authentic Swiss delights like Luxemburgerli, airy macarons filled with light cream, or freshly made truffles at Sprüngli.

Frankfurt Airport, Germany

The largest airport in Germany and third biggest in Europe, Frankfurt Airport is a streamlined, fuss-free airport suited to the business traveler.

The airport offers a number of simple conveniences, including the chance to book your security check ahead of time to avoid long wait times for the 64 million passengers who traveled through its terminals in 2017. The airport also has a direct connection to the European high-speed German Rail network to give you fast access to the rest of Germany, or Europe, if need be.

To make the most of your airport experience, why not book a premium airport concierge service and get to your gate with plenty of time to spare.

Profile
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Mitchell-Whittington

Amy is an Australian journalist living in Berlin. She covers a range of topics, with a special interest in tech and science.