Worlds Best Airports (And Worst)

worlds best airports

the worlds best airports

One thing travellers have in common is the appreciation of a good airport. So, what are the worlds best airports? Nothing ruins a trip like a nightmarish departure plagued with hours of delays and uncomfortable seating, or arriving at your destination just to be greeted by a grumpy airport staff, unclean bathrooms and chaos at the baggage claim.

Some airports are prized for their shopping, like London Heathrow Airport, where you can while away the hours browsing merchandise at Burberry, Harrods and Gucci, and nearly forget to board your flight!

Let’s face it, there are some airports where waiting to board is so relaxing it becomes a seamless part of your travels. And there are some that make you feel like you’re literally being rounded up like cattle (LAX Tom Bradley Terminal anyone?).

OK, so who takes the cake when it comes to providing the most pleasant airport experience in the world? According to the SKYTRAX airport customer survey, Asia is leading the way by leaps and bounds, taking gold, silver and bronze with Incheon, Singapore and Hong Kong International Airports.

So here we go, some of the worlds best airports, coupled with some that frequently come up in reviews as being sub-par, or worse, just plain depressing.


Best: Seoul Incheon International Airport – Seoul, South Korea

Praised for its numerous lounges, private sleeping rooms, spa, golf course, seven indoor gardens and free wi-fi, Incheon is almost a getaway in and of itself. Guests particularly enjoy the way Korean culture has been integrated into the airport experience. Overall: efficient, without being boring.

Worst: Nino Aquino International Airport – Manila, Philippines

Insufficient seating, hours of queuing, and runway congestion are common complaints about Manila Airport’s Terminal one. The kicker, however, was the partial collapse of the ceiling in 2011, bringing attention to its urgent need for an overhaul.


Best: Cape Town International Airport – Cape Town, South Africa

With rosy reviews brimming with words like “bright,” “clean,” “modern,” and “delightful”, Cape Town’s airport seems like something out of Pleasantville. Its customer service seems to be the key to creating a good impression. Sometimes a friendly staff makes the all the difference!

Worst: Murtala Mohammed International Airport – Lagos, Nigeria

Although it has apparently improved in recent years, this airport established itself in the eighties and nineties as one of the most dangerous places to land. Harassment, corruption and robbery are just some items on this airport’s terrible track record.


Best: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Schiphol airport prides itself as being not only an airport but an “airport city.” The first airport to adopt this concept, it was also the first to incorporate features such as a museum, library and park into its infrastructure. Though vast, it remains easy to navigate in the tradition of functional Dutch design.

Worst: Moscow Sheremetyvo Airport – Moscow, Russia

According to reviews, Sheremetyevo’s first two terminals are run-down, dimly lit relics of the nineteen seventies, plagued with inconveniences and sub-par service. Paris CDG gets more mixed reviews, but a general bad wrap for lack of organization and often indifferent attitude towards travellers.

North America

Best: Vancouver International Airport – British Colombia, Canada

Water features, sculptures, aboriginal art and a 30,000 gallon aquarium contribute to Vancouver airport’s welcoming décor, which seems to be appreciated by many. Described as clean, open, and efficient compared to other North American airports, Vancouver travellers feel generally chilled out.

Worst: LAX – Los Angeles, U.S.

Reviews of Los Angeles airport are notoriously negative, with a particular emphasis on surly staff attitude. Endless lines often make LAX users disgruntled and out of date facilities leave travellers wondering, where’s that glitzy, fun-loving California vibe?

Don’t forget that taste in airports is completely subjective, and so what can be a pleasant experience for one can be gruelling for another! Also, the busiest airports tend to create more tense atmospheres and unhappy travellers, sometimes no matter how well-run and equipped so, determining the Worlds best airports (and worst) is an extremely difficult task and one that is subject to opinion.

From the airports you could live in to the airports you absolutely do not want to be stuck in for extended periods of time, at least you’ll know what to expect if you’re heading to one of these destinations any time soon.

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