Best Airports for Overall Experience

Date: October 15, 2017

best airport for overall experienceIn our annual survey, we asked travellers to rate airports worldwide based on their overall airport experience. They ranked their experience based on:

  • Comfort (Gate seating & availability of rest zones)
  • Services, facilities & things to do
  • Food options
  • Immigration/Security
  • Customer service
  • Cleanliness
  • Navigation and ease of transit
  • Sleepability

The best airports in the world are the ones that inspire you to book a trip based on the receiving airport alone. From ultra-efficient processes to friendly staff and a wide array of activities you never thought you’d find in an airport, these airports become a memorable part of any trip. In fact, a number of the terminals on this list enthrall travellers to the point that they (almost) want to miss their flight - or at least opt for a longer layover the next time around. What we love most about these airports, though, is that they are continuously working to improve. We’re constantly seeing new developments and ideas come to life, creating a more spectacular travel experience than we thought possible.

1. Singapore Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN)

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I like the cosy atmosphere of the airport, the soft carpetted flooring, flowers, gardens, food, cleaniness of the rest rooms, theatre corner. It is not just an airport. It gives me the feeling that I am home! - survey respondent

Year after year, Singapore Changi reigns over airports worldwide as the single best airport in the world. This undisputed victor dazzles and delights travellers with its efficiency, amenities, and absolute comfort. The airport is positively passionate about accommodating traveller needs - a fact made obvious through their exceptional customer service and their continued drive to make something great even better. When it comes to deciding what specifically makes Singapore so great, it’s hard for travellers to agree. Some adore the sleep facilities, including the reclining chairs tucked away behind soothing waterfalls. Others are more into the creative extravagances, like the movie theatre, the butterfly garden, and the fish spa. For so many, it’s the simple things like impeccable cleanliness, a straightforward layout and some really great food. No matter what tickles your fancy, you’re likely to find it at Singapore Changi - and you're unlikely to ever get bored! (Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group)

See also: Best Airports in AsiaBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: There are free designated rest zones with reclining loungers, armrest-free seating at the gates, free massage chairs, nap rooms inside fee-based lounges, and 3 transit hotels. Survey respondents also pointed out that with numerous nooks and hidden spaces, the lush carpeting is quite comfortable for sleeping.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Free City Tour • Free Movie Theatre • Napping Rooms ($) • Transit Hotel ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Swimming Pool ($) • Showers ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Gardens • Rest Zones • Spa ($) • Cultural Activities • Free Transit Tour • Cultural Activities. For more information, visit our Singapore Changi Airport Guide.

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2. Seoul Incheon International Airport, South Korea (ICN)

airport

They had an area for cultural experience. If you had enough time before your flight, you can participate (for free!) in whatever activity they had happening at that time. - survey respondent

Seoul Incheon continues to rival Singapore Changi, always falling just short of nabbing the title of Best Airport in the World. It too is a destination in and of itself, offering everything from ice rinks to cultural centres. Clever activities and amenities are interspersed by excellent and affordable dining options that give you the choice of local flavours or international favourites. Tired and full, finding a place to sleep in Seoul is no challenge either. The airport offers reclining lounge chairs, rest zones, and free showers, encouraging the weary to unwind. And of course, every clever feature and development is housed in impeccably clean terminals that are staffed by individuals who regularly exceed expectations. It seems as though the occasional queue is all that is really keeping ICN from that first place spot. (Photo courtesy of z_zongg / Instagram)

See also: Best Airports in AsiaBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: Seoul Incheon Airport is known for having numerous and plentiful options for sleeping. Respondents appreciated that the sleeping area is on its own level, separated from the busier shops and restaurants on two other levels. While the airport hotel was described as “pricey,” airport seating was described as comfortable and good for sleeping.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Transit Hotel ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Gardens • Cultural Activities • Luggage Storage ($) • Free Showers • Skating Rink ($) • Transit Tour ($) • Museum • Movie Theatre ($) • Rest Zones.For more information, visit our Seoul Incheon Airport Guide.

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3. Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan (HND)

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I like Haneda Airport. There are so many japanese things to see, it's like a theme park. - survey respondent

Tokyo Haneda routinely rounds out our trifecta of sensational airports, proving that Asian airports stand a tier above the rest when it comes to global travel. Though HND is a little less extravagant than our top two airports, it earns massive points because it is impeccably clean and extremely efficient. A team of sensational staff make travellers feel safe and secure, and ensure that connections are smooth and painless. If you end up spending an extended period of time at Tokyo Haneda, you can also look forward to quiet surroundings, a multitude of benches without armrests, and even a pet (and human) hotel, if you’re so inclined. All in all, this is one of those airports that makes air travel soothing and enjoyable. (Photo courtesy of ayk_isy /Instagram)

See also: Best Airports in Asia Most Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: While Tokyo Haneda doesn't rank quite so high when it comes to its sleepability alone, airside travellers will find a number of flat padded benches, armrest-free seats and a number of relaxation recliners near the gates. A transit hotel is available for passengers who prefer more comfort and privacy.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Transit Hotel ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Showers ($) • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Tokyo Haneda Airport Guide. For more information, visit our Tokyo Haneda Airport Guide.

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4. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, Finland (HEL)

airport

Love the architecture and atmosphere of the airport as well as the facilities it offers for eating, relaxing and sleeping. - survey respondent

Helsinki earned a number of points in the hearts of our voters this year, and we suspect the opening of the new South Pier in Terminal 2 might have something to do it. This expansion, designed for Asian and North American flights, offers a huge amount of comfortable seating options (think leather recliners and rocking chairs) in a stunning, spacious and naturally lit area. It enhances what the airport was already excelling at: fusing beautiful Finnish architecture with an ultra-efficient and people-friendly layout, resulting in a space that is exceptionally calm, clean, and efficient. The airport has clearly put a lot of thought into the needs of travellers, with charging points located around every turn, fast and free Wi-Fi, and sweet sounds of birds chirping in the restrooms. Features like sleep pods and flawless connections into the city centre further enhance the travel experience, and introduce a little bit of luxury into an otherwise functional space. (Photo courtesy of mkenenske /Instagram)

See also: Best Airports in EuropeBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: Travellers point to the waiting lounges and well-known coffee shop as prime spots for good sleeping should the sleeping pods be occupied. There is also a free quiet room near Gate 31.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Free (and Paid) Sleep Pods ($) • Airport Tours ($) • Book Swap • 24-Hour Food Options • Luggage Storage ($) • Rest Zone • Showers ($) • Workstations. For more information, visit our Helsinki Airport Guide.

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5. Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong (HKG)

airport

Always enjoy transit in Hong Kong. its a picturesque airport to fly into and it is always kept clean. Lots of food and drink choices for all budgets and plenty of space to lounge around. Spacious and somewhat relaxing, would definitely transit through hong Kong again. - survey respondent

Hong Kong is another airport that climbed the ranks this year, securing itself a spot on our list of Best Airports in the World. Decked out with some sensational amenities, including the country’s biggest IMAX theatre, a trip through HKG leaves a lasting impression. Travellers across the board appreciate the range of dining options, suitable to all budgets and tastes. Many respondents also noted how helpful the staff are - regardless of the language you speak. The high-quality Wi-Fi is another favourite feature, as are the easy public transportation connections to the city centre. (Photo courtesy of missssgladys / Instagram)

See also: Best Airports in AsiaBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: In addition to armrest-free seating, Hong Kong International Airport offers a large numbers of reclining lounger chairs. Travellers note that intercom updates are not too loud, and that the airport in general is not overly noisy. There is a designated sleeping area at one end of the terminal, a relaxation room downstairs from Gates 23 and 25, a lay-down lounge near Gate 35, and a large number of comfortable chairs for sleeping between the food court and Gate 60.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • IMAX Theatre ($) • Showers ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Gardens • Rest Zones. For more information, visit our Hong Kong Airport Guide.

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6. Vancouver International Airport, Canada (YVR)

airport

Easy to get around. Brightly lit by many external windows, and internal glass walls. Good variety of restaurants. Native artwork is outstanding and inspirational. - survey respondent

Vancouver International ensures that North America has some representation on our list of Best Airports in the World. This west coast Canadian hub provides a friendly welcome to the continent with its team of polite staff and helpful ambassadors. The airport puts particular effort into creating a local feel, with totem poles, art, and carvings proudly flanking the corridors. Other amenities further enhance the travel experience, with the saltwater aquarium and great restaurants standing out in particular. While queues can be a bit tedious from time to time, voters agree that once you’re through them, the airport rarely feels crowded and always feels relaxing. (Photo courtesy of Vancouver Airport)

See also: Best Airports in North America Best Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: Survey respondents reported comfortable, armrest-free seating are abundant once you are airside. There are also nap rooms inside a few of the fee-based lounges, and a hotel connects to the airport before security.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Aquarium • TV Lounges • Rest Areas • Nap Rooms ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Self-Guided Tour • Showers ($) • Luggage Storage ($). For more information, visit our Vancouver Airport Guide.

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7. Tokyo Narita International Airport, Japan (NRT)

airport

Had a nice feel of "place", there was no doubt where you were. There was the presence of art throughout the concourse. Great food, beverage and charming shops opened most of the day or night. In hindsight I wish I had more time there to get freshly made sushi and have a few beers with fellow travelers! - survey respondent

When travelling through Tokyo, you have the choice of flying through not just one - but two - of the world’s best airports! Though Tokyo Narita lags a bit behind Tokyo Haneda, it is all the while an exceptional spot to fly in or out of. NRT is definitely a bit simpler than some of the other Asian airports on this list; however, its efficient, clean, and friendly travel experience delights travellers. Those who spend a little more time here are happy to see plenty of padded benches - and those on a tight timeline are grateful for a liberal use of easy-to-understand signs. Couple all this with some good food and a few cultural attractions, and you’ve got yourself another global leader! (Photo courtesy of babo12131014 /Instagram)

See also: Best Airports in AsiaBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: Survey respondents found Tokyo Narita Airport to be quite comfortable for sleeping, perhaps in part due to the fact that the airport converted one of its gate areas into an overnight rest area with foot rests and lots of padded benches.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Day Rooms ($) • Showers ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Cultural Activities. For more information, visit our Tokyo Narita Airport Guide.

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8. Munich International Airport, Germany (MUC)

airport

Munich has been by far the most organized, most sleep-friendly place we've been to. It was never too busy at the terminal and we were able to find two unoccupied nap cabs and two showers. The cleanliness was impeccable and we were very impressed. - survey respondent

Munich, like Helsinki, does a spectacular job of integrating airport basics with thoughtful touches to create one of the best airport experiences on the planet. At its core, MUC is precise and efficient, with the luggage often arriving at the baggage carousels before the travellers. However, there’s much more to Munich than just great organization. Unique features like a local brewery and the seasonal Christkindl Market bring a taste of Bavaria into the terminals, while sleep zones and showers enhance traveller comfort. All in all, this airport is a great example of a modern and high functioning airport that puts travellers first!

See also: Best Airports in EuropeBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: Not only are there armrest-free seating and “nap zones” with reclining seats and foot rests, but fee-based sleeping cabins for those who prefer more privacy and comfort. Survey respondents suggest Terminal 2 provides the most comfortable sleep-friendly seating.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounges ($) • Free WiFi • Sleep Pods ($) • Airport Brewery ($) • Airport Tours ($) • Casino ($) • 24-Hour Food Options ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Rest Zones • Showers ($) • Cinema • Mini-Golf ($). For more information, visit our Munich Airport Guide.

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9. Tallinn International Airport, Estonia (TLL)

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The different areas look like they could be your living room, or a cafe in a hip part of town. All gate areas reflect different aspects of Estonia, so you learn and admire even while at the airport arriving or departing. - survey respondent

Little Tallinn continues its climb on our list of Best Airports in the World this year. Though the airport isn’t one of the world’s major travel hubs, TLL is one of the most innovative, thoughtful, and cosy airports. Voters flooded our survey with the surprises they found within the terminal, taking delight at the themed gates, Estonian bog, the local fabrics, and, of course, the airport book exchange. The staff who work here are exceptionally friendly, and we love that once the cafeteria is closed, late arrivals can still make a sandwich by donation. All in all, the airport proves that bigger isn’t always better - and that a little bit of love goes a very long way. (Photo courtesy of Tallinn Airport)

See also: Best Airports in EuropeBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: Tallinn International Airport has reportedly been designed to make passengers feel like they are at home. A home that offers numerous seating options, plenty of armrest-free seating, bean bag chairs, free sleep pods, and what some describe as the “comfiest waiting areas” ever experienced.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounge ($) • Free WiFi • Free Sleep Pods • Library • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Tallinn Airport Guide.

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10. Zurich Kloten International Airport, Switzerland (ZRH)

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It offers an abundance of options while waiting for a connection and the staff is extremely friendly. - survey respondent

Zurich rounds off our list of Best Airports in the World. Voters appreciate the efficiency and ease of navigating this spotless airport. During the day, the airport offers a fairly standard range of amenities, though the grocery store in the basement helps travellers stay on budget if traditional airport restaurants are too pricey. However, its evening scene earned the most praise this year. Overnighters were happy to find a quiet airport with a handful of seats good enough for sleeping, along with a few showers in the transit hotel. Respondents noted that the airport is so quiet thanks to nearly all the restaurants closing overnight - so a little pre-planning will go a long way. (Photo courtesy of gmanisi / Instagram)

See also: Best Airports in EuropeBest Airports for a LayoverMost Sleep-Friendly Airports

The zzz Factor: While a number of armrest-free seats are available, it may take some effort to find them. If you prefer more comfort, an airside transit hotel offers private rooms and a rest area of cots, for a fee.

Airport Services/Facilities: Pay-per-use Lounge ($) • Free WiFi (2 hours) • Transit Hotel ($) • Airport Tours ($) • Bicycle, Inline Skates and Nordic Walking Pole Rentals ($) • Luggage Storage ($) • Showers ($). For more information, visit our Zurich Airport Guide.

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2017 Best Airports

2017 Worst Airports

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2018 Airport Survey

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