Air travel can feel more hectic than not most days, especially when you’re setting off to a faraway place you’ve never been to. But have you ever landed in a city, walked off the airplane and realized how much you instantly liked the airport? What makes an airport exceptional to you? Is it the layout, dining options or quiet areas to catch a quick catnap?
Nowadays, a nice airport functions like a well-oiled machine, coming equipped with seamless and efficient security and delicious restaurants and bars. You may even find a few entertaining options to pass the time, like a spa, a place for the kids to burn off some energy or some high-end stores to peruse. Even better if it doesn’t feel overly crowded, and there’s always a place to sit down and charge your phone or laptop.
Aviation ranking website Skytrax recently released its World’s Best Airports list, covering all the amenities that take airport perks to the next level. The company tracks data from customer satisfaction surveys, which evaluate customer service and facilities across 500 airports worldwide, ranking elements like terminal layout, comfort, seating, food and retail options and Wi-Fi. More than 100 customer nationalities participated between August 2022 through February 2023. Skytrax claims both the survey and awards are independent of any airport control, input or influence.
If you’re looking for an above-average airport experience, you’re best off heading to faraway lands. Of all the airports in North America, only two made an appearance: Seattle and Vancouver. Nine European airports hit the chart, as well as one Australian and eight Asian airports. Here’s a closer look at the winners.
1. Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore
Topping the chart is the Singapore Changi Airport, which has been awarded a top spot 12 times since 1999. More than 16 million people passed through last year. Changi is known for its indoor greenery, luxury shopping, playgrounds, movie theatre, butterfly garden and more. There’s even a 24-hour fitness and spa facility and a swimming pool.
This is Singapore’s largest airport, which features plenty of duty-free shopping, an international food hall and hotels. It has an annual capacity of handling 85 million passengers. Skytrax also ranked the Crowne Plaza hotel, located in Changi Airport, as the world’s best airport hotel for the eighth consecutive year.
2. Hamad International Airport, Qatar
Second place went to Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, which was bumped out of its first place spot from 2021 and 2022. The airport sees roughly 36 million passengers annually and has been described as the most architecturally significant terminal complex in the world, as well as the most opulent.
3. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), Japan
Located in Japan’s capital, the Tokyo International Airport placed third with additional awards to boot for being the cleanest airport, best domestic airport and having the best accessibility for reduced mobility passengers.
4. Incheon International Airport (Seoul), South Korea
Bustling Seoul Incheon won in two categories for best staff: world and Asia. It was also awarded for having the best immigration service. This is the largest airport in South Korea and the former winner of the Airport of the Year title in 2012 and 2009.
5. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, France
The millions of passengers stopping in Paris rated this facility highly for being the best airport in both Western Europe and all of Europe.
6. Istanbul Airport, Turkey
Ranking at the top of the list for being the world’s most family-friendly airport and the best in Southern Europe, Istanbul Airport has a soft playground for kids that even has a pretend airplane to wander in and out of.
7. Munich Airport, Germany
A fan favorite for being voted as having the best staff in Europe and the best airport in Central Europe, the Munich Airport has complimentary relaxation lounges where you can lay back and have a moment to yourself. It’s hard to be bored here with more than 150 retail stores and roughly 50 places to eat and drink.
8. Zurich Airport, Switzerland
What travelers liked the most about this Swiss airport was the efficient security processing.
9. Narita International Airport, Japan
Known as the largest airport in Japan, Narita offers cultural exhibits to help pass the time, like a Japanese art gallery and a traditional Kabuki theatre.
10. Madrid-Barajas Airport
Madrid-Barajas served more than 50 million passengers last year and serves as an important connection point between European and Latin American flights. There’s something for every type of traveler here; it features mini-spas, kids’ play areas and even pharmacies.
The rest of the list is as follows:
11. Vienna International Airport, Austria
12. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, Finland
13. Rome Fiumicino Airport, Italy
14. Copenhagen Airport, Denmark
15. Kansai International Airport, Japan
16. Chubu Centrair International Airport, Japan
17. Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates
18. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, U.S.
19. Melbourne Airport, Australia
20. Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia
Why most airports in the U.S. didn’t make the list could have to do with how they are owned and operated. In America, most are publicly owned and operated by state or local governments or other entities, whereas more than 40% of European airports have private shareholders.
Does this list make you want to jet off to somewhere new, partially only to wander the airport?