One hundred years in and the fastest mode of transportation is still the airplane. From that amazing race won by the Wright brothers being the first to create the flight of man, we have not had any major breakthroughs, inventions, or innovations, to bump airplanes down as the best choice for traveling. Millions of people every day of the week travel by air, that translates to thousands of private jets, airplanes, and helicopters taking flight and landing on helipads, airstrips, and airports all over the globe.
Aircraft of any kind need airports to land on, and every country on Earth has at least one airport in it. No matter how big or small, how luxurious or simple, these airports are needed by people who travel by air. They frequent these buildings specifically designed for aircraft and passengers as a way station, a pit stop, or a garage. As simple as it sounds, some airports have a lot of traffic in them, air and foot traffic, that they can’t help but make their airports bigger, look better, and feel more comfortable for the millions of people that enter it, if only for a few minutes. Some though, just let these airports be, as long as the landing strip and the available facilities for the aircraft are intact and working, nothing else in the airport changes. Here are 10 of the best, and 10 of the worst airports around the world.
20 Luxurious: Singapore Changi Airport, China
Skytrax is a private consulting firm based in the United Kingdom that runs reviews of airlines and airports, conducting surveys from country-to-country travelers, and ranking the results based on certain categories. For the sixth consecutive year, Skytrax has identified Singapore’s Changi Airport as the best of its kind in the whole world. With two parallel runways and 4 terminals, this airport serves about 60 million passengers every year (62.22 million in 2017) and leads all airports in overall passenger satisfaction. Imagine an airport with three gardens in it, orchid, sunflower, and cactus. It also has a movie theater, an entertainment deck with consoles from Xbox to Kinect. The best thing is they’re all free of charge, as long as you are a passenger waiting for a flight, all of these are for free.
19 Luxurious: Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan
If not for Singapore’s Changi Airport, the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo would have been the #1 airport in the world in 2017, according to Skytrax. But this airport bests every other airport in the world in terms of cleanliness. It’s been awarded by Skytrax the World’s Cleanest Airport award in 2013, 2014, and 2016. Haneda International is also Skytrax’s World’s Best Domestic Airport for four straight years (2013 to 2016). In 2017, Haneda served more than 16 million international passengers and more than 68 million domestic passengers. There’s not much in terms of facilities and airport features, but this airport is incomparable when it comes to cleanliness. It’s so clean that even Monica Geller would have nothing to say about it.
18 Luxurious: Incheon International, South Korea
Landing at The Incheon International Airport is a fine serving of Korean culture for the frequent vacationing traveler. In Terminal 1 there’s a Media Wall and Photo Exhibition right there on the walkway. There are also classic Korean parades and mini-classical concerts, 5 museums, 5 traditional culture experience centers, and massive pieces of artwork spread all over the airport. All displaying the culture and beauty of South Korea. It also has 2 observatory decks, one gives the passenger a nice view of the beautiful Oseong Mountain. Last year, the airport served more than 60 million passengers. Incheon International has been runner-up to Changi Airport as Skytrax’s Airport 6 times in the last 9 years but received the honor in 2012 and 2009.
17 Luxurious: Hong Kong International Airport, China
In the last decade, HKIA, or Hong Kong International Airport, has been the best. It was awarded by Skytrax as the Airport of the Year 8 out of 11 years from 2001 to 2011. The years it didn’t get top prize, the airport was always second or third place. The airport has a wonderful park perfect for traveling families. The Dream Come True Education Park is perfect for strengthening that parent-child bond with real-life work activities for the kids and parents, too. Wait for your flight and bond with your kid at the same time. HKIA also has nine art, culture, and music exhibitions and museums.
16 Luxurious: Munich Airport, Germany
Skytrax awarded this airport’s terminal as the World’s Best Airport Terminal in 2017. Munich Airport is another luxury airport designed for the passing traveller. The award was given to the airport’s Terminal 2, where passengers enjoy the efficient services of its midfield satellite facility. It makes everything quick, with faster connecting times and an overall excellent travel experience. The expansion of Terminal 2 gave way to new restaurants and stores, family waiting areas, and ultra-peaceful Lufthansa lounges. Munich Airport has also been in the running for Airport of the Year, finishing third in the years 2014, 2015, and 2016. With a little more work, Munich Airport can be the pride and glory of German tourism and travel in the future.
15 Luxurious: Hamad International Airport, Qatar
So far, we’ve presented the best of the best. Hamad International Airport is in a league with the five airports discussed. Having been awarded by Skytrax the rare 5-Star Airport distinction, this airport has plenty in store for its waiting passengers. For starters, the airport has 10 art exhibitions spread all over the airport, free to view and take pictures by all passengers. It also has a special lounge for unaccompanied minors with free video games, snacks and play areas. It also has a spa, a swimming pool, a fully equipped gym, a hydrotherapy tub, and squash courts.
14 Luxurious: Centrair Nagoya, Japan
Masterful engineering is what made this amazing airport possible. An airport built on an artificial island in Japan, it’s truly a man-made wonder of an airport. The construction started in 2001 and was finished by 2003. They used tons of sandstone and rock as landfill, and on the seabed, they put layers of concrete to fortify it. They left an area on the island for local wildlife to flourish but used most of the land for the actual airport and the runway. Chubu Centrair, another name for Centrair Nagoya, earned the prestigious 5-Star Airport distinction by Skytrax. It is located on Ise Bay in Nagoya, central Japan.
13 Luxurious: Zurich Airport, Switzerland
Ever wonder how the chocolates, milk and knives get shipped out from Switzerland to countries all over the world? The answer is through Zurich Airport. It is the largest airport of Switzerland and has three runways and three terminals. Also called Kloten Airport, it is located in central Zurich and has been operational since 1947. Zurich Airport served about 80,000 passengers per day in 2017. The inside of the airport has attractive infrastructure of modern design. Passengers can enjoy free and fast wifi connection and 80 different shops inside the Airside Center. In 2013, it was awarded by Skytrax as World’s Best Airport Baggage Delivery.
12 Luxurious: London Heathrow Airport, Great Britain
Claiming the second and fourth place awards for 2017 World’s Best Airport Terminals really says something about London’s Heathrow Airport. This means that Heathrow has two of the best terminals in the world, although it has four terminals, the best two are Terminal 5 (2nd best in the world) and Terminal 2 (4th best). When Terminal 5 was ready for the public in 2008, the Queen was there to officially open it. It has prayer rooms and worship facilities for various faiths, a family lounge, free unlimited wifi, and an art gallery with paintings and sculptures for sale. Terminal 2 is where the famous sculpture called Slipstream resides, it’s 230 feet long and weighs 77 metric tons, and is a monstrously elegant piece of architecture.
11 Luxurious: Frankfurt Airport, Germany
So, to have two airports in one country is an achievement alone. Germany just did it here, and also Japan with Centrair Nagoya and Tokyo Haneda. Frankfurt Airport, together with Munich Airport are the best airports in Germany, and two of the best in the world. Frankfurt Airport served the largest number of passengers in its history last year with 64,500,386 passengers in total. Before that, the highest it’s ever been was in 2015 with just a little bit over 61 million passengers. For leisure and fun, passengers can choose from three different areas: the Movie World. The Gaming World, or the Entertainment Gate. It also has three lounges and playgrounds for the kids.
10 Not So Luxurious: Berlin Schönefeld Airport, Germany
Allow us to present 10 of the worst, or to put it gently, 10 airports in most dire need of work, staff training, or architectural cosmetics. First on the list is Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport. It’s like the little brother that’s left out and is very lonely, his two brothers are there in the yard playing catch with the rest of the kids. Brother Munich and brother Frankfurt are big boys, they are popular and people like them a lot. Schönefeld is an airport lost in time, some passengers say they still see George W. Bush’s picture as the US President hanging on a wall somewhere in the airport. The airport needs basic repairs and new facilities, and a dire update on its political walls.
9 Not So Luxurious: Paris Orly Airport, France
New and exciting things are in store for the first-time Paris visitor. But do not let the worlds of fun in store be ruined if you happen to land at Orly Airport. The good news is that it’s not the worst airport in Paris, so consider Orly Airport an upgrade, of sorts. It has free wifi, but it is extremely slow. Seemingly long lines through security any day of the week, and then longer lines through passport control. Passengers have commented that getting a taxi after arriving is a nightmare. At least there was an expansion announced back in 2012, guess when the completion date is? Yes, it’s this year. Well, there’s still a few months left for hope.
8 Not So Luxurious: Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait
Great travel destinations often overshadow the horrible experience a passenger has in an airport. But if we are traveling to Kuwait, there’s not much to save us except for the Grand Mosque and the Kuwait Towers. Kuwait International Airport is one airport we do not want to land in again. The most common complaints of passengers served in Kuwait International Airport are the toilet cleanliness, internet connectivity, and personnel. Lots of things were said about the staff, everything from bad to horrible. There is absolutely zero wifi in the airport and the weirdest thing about the toilet is that they’re always wet. Yes, they’re also dirty, but why wet all the time? It’s Kuwait, not Ku-wet.
7 Not So Luxurious: London Stansted Airport, Great Britain
Most airports in this second part of the list have issues with facilities, some with the quality service, so what is the problem with London’s Stansted Airport? The problem is that the 2-hour allowance passengers usually spare for international airports is not enough in Stansted. It’s mainly due to the airport being understaffed, there are fewer bus drivers for disembarkation, there are fewer personnel to man the security check and passport control, and then there’s the baggage. Flights get delayed because personnel on the ground is really lacking, how can one expect their flight to be on time when the baggage in the plane’s cargo hold is still there long after the passengers have arrived.
6 Not So Luxurious: Rome Ciampino Airport, Italy
Airports are designed to make the passenger feel comfortable and safe, while there are some passengers who still value efficiency more than anything else. Once a passenger gets through passport control, the food choices get trimmed down to one or two vending machines, then pray that at least one of them works. Lines going in would take at least an hour to get through, which is now becoming a common thing about these airports. But the greatest bane of Rome’s Ciampino Airport is the shortage of seats in it. Imagine waiting for a delayed flight sitting on the floor. It would have been okay if it was a Haneda Airport-like floor, but it isn’t.
5 Not So Luxurious: Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport, France
Have you ever heard of the Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport? It is an international airport located in the 3rd largest city in France, Lyon. This airport was ranked 139th best in the world, out of 141. This was conducted by Airhelp, an alternative to Skytrax, that helps passengers with flight compensations. They also conduct yearly rankings of all international airports based on the airport’s quality of service, facilities, security, terminal comfort, check-in, and on-time departures. If it’s any consolation, the highest rated airport in France is at #85, it’s not all Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport’s fault, it may also have to do with the local airlines and their strikes.
4 Not So Luxurious: Berlin Tegel Airport, Germany
Alas, Germany’s second best airport in the world has another black sheep of the family. The Berlin Tegel airport is the baby brother in the family, it is a small airport. It is a very small airport. For an international airport servicing an average of 20 million-plus passengers in the last 5 years, 466 hectares is really small. There is good news, though, as the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport is just getting through the final approvals, licenses, and whatnots, and surely it will be better, far and wide than Tegel and Schönefeld combined (if combining them helps).
3 Not So Luxurious: Stockholm Bromma Airport, Sweden
Leaving the comfort of your home for a vacation entails a venue with better things, higher levels of comfort and style. One will not get this in Stockholm’s Bromma Airport. First, the building's facade was not changed. Its pictures from the 1960s are the same today. This airport needs new construction. The inside is clean enough, but there are no new facilities. This is an airport with certain irregularities as one that’s included in this list. Firstly, queues for security and passport control are not that bad. Secondly, the terminal is clean and there are enough seats for all waiting passengers. It’s just an old airport, that’s it. Old and dull, and kind of boring. If a passenger enjoyed everything for free that, let’s say Changi Airport offered, then Bromma Airport would be a big letdown.
2 Not So Luxurious: Manchester Airport, Great Britain
Killing time in an airport can be a burden, except when one has a lot of options to pass the time. We can do that in Manchester Airport, but not in the same way the other airports offer their passengers. First off, time will pass you by parking your car, Manchester has a terrible parking lot, some would say. Passengers can pass the time waiting for bus service, it could be around 15-30 minutes. The longest wait times are in security checks, not to mention unprofessional personnel, and could really ruin one’s day. Manchester Airport needs a total reboot in their whole airport service system.
1 Not So Luxurious: Boryspil International Airport, Ukraine
One more airport closes this list of top airports that need help, and that last one is Boryspil International Airport. Located in Ukraine, on the eastern part of the capital city, Kiev. It’s owned and operated by the government. It’s sad to know that Boryspil is the country’s largest airport and that it’s one of the worst in the world. The most common passenger feedback is the unprofessional staff. Maybe they are just undervalued and underpaid and would need the proper motivation, something that a privately owned airport provides. At least cleanliness is a non-issue, oh but the duty-free, it might be the most overpriced the world.