Having been to 203 airports now, I have a fair idea of what I want in a good airport.
I want first of all an airport that is easy to get around with good signposting. Short lines come next. Being well connected to public transit is more important than parking for me. I do like the car rental outlets located close by and not a shuttle bus away. Talking of shuttle buses, I hate being bussed to and from a plane, so give me enough gates please. Clean well maintained airports get my attention and I do like decent food outlets. Shopping not such a big deal for me except when I need something. Don’t make me walk through the shops to get everywhere.
My Top Ten favourite airports actually number twelve airports. Four are in Asia, two are in Australia, two are located in Europe and three are in the USA. The listing of the top ten includes more details including the number of times I have flown into or out of the airport and my rating out of 100%:
1. Hong Kong, China (HKG) 17 times -100%
Skytrax: 5 star 53.3 million passengers – Tenth busiest airport in world
When Hong Kong replaced their old airport, they did with style. The Foster designed Terminal 1 was the largest airport building in the world until beaten by Beijing and Dubai. Despite its size, the airport is very easy to get around and getting to downtown with the airport express train is brilliant. The terminal is airy and user friendly with brilliant signage. Luggage delivery is awesome and immigration usually very efficient. Good shops organised well. If you can get into the Cathay Pacific Lounge, do it! One of the best lounges in the world.
2. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) 27 times -98%
Skytrax: 5 star 46.5 million passengers – Seventeenth busiest airport in world.
An airport that has to be seen to be believed. Miles of carpet interspersed with fountains, fish tanks, massage centres, shops actually create a calming feeling. The airport has the most efficient immigration in the world and I have never seen anyone beat their baggage to the carousel. The taxi organisation is amazingly efficient and the subway stops right at the airport.
3. Incheon International Airport, South Korea (ICN) 2 times -94%
Skytrax: 5 star 34.5 million passengers – 33rd busiest
Fast, friendly, efficient check-in and security. Spotlessly clean departure lounges and restrooms. Great range of fairly priced restaurants and shops. Ground transportation is well connected and convenient.
4. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia (KUL) 1 time -93%
Skytrax: 4 star 37.6 million passengers – 28th busiest
Efficient and user friendly airport with amazing signage, good, well priced shops and easy public transportation. Free wifi, a jungle walk and children’s playgrounds make it top class.
4. Zurich Airport,Switzerland (ZRH) 6 times – 93%
Skytrax: 4 star 24.3 million passengers
I expect everything to be efficient in Switzerland and Zurich airport does not disappoint. Travelling to, from or through Zurich is a breeze. Amazingly clear signposting in German and English. Passport control is fast. Wifi is not free and Shops are a little pricey (what isn’t in Switzerland). Travel to the rest of Switzerland is fantastic with access via a station under the airport. And make sure you try the trick with the luggage carts on the escalators (surprisingly the carts are free).
6. Charlotte Douglas, USA 14 times 92%
Skytrax: No rating 39 million passengers- 25th busiest airport
The staff here are some of the most courteous, helpful and friendly I have found in the world. Connecting between the terminals is easy and it never feels congested. There are plenty of food outlets scattered throughout the airport. The rocking chairs, piano player and giant aeroplane mobile in the central hub between the terminals are great touches. I always envy the people in the chairs as I whiz through. Free fast wifi is a nice bonus. spent at least an hour rocking in one of the chairs, using the free WiFi and reading my book. Passport control is one of the fastest in the USA and definitely the friendliest!
7. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport 4 times 87%
Skytrax: 4 star 49.7 million passengers- Fourteenth busiest airport in the world
A very efficient, if incredibly huge airport. Be warned: you have to walk a lot here. Lots of, shops, cafes and other leisure opportunities like a museum. The cafes are a little expensive. Trains to the rest of Holland come right to the airport.
8. Atlanta, Georgia (ATL) 25 times. 86%
Skytrax: 4 star 55.9 million passengers- Busiest airport in the world
Why do people hate Atlanta airport? I find it a very efficient, clean place with great shops, good wifi and easy access to downtown by public transport. The Terminals are well connected by walkway or shuttle. Signage is brilliant. Of the US airports, customs and immigration are good.
8 Melbourne, Australia (MEL): 269 times. 86%
Skytrax: No rating 28 million passengers- 50th busiest airport in the world
Connecting between terminals here is a breeze: just walk next door! Friendly staff and good signposting help with navigation. Shops and restaurants are good. Immigration can be a crush and the failure by the authorities to build a rail link is almost criminal. There is limited free wifi in the Qantas terminal.
10. Dallas Fort Worth (DFW): 28 times. 82%
Skytrax: No rating 58 million passengers- eighth busiest
The first thing that you need to be aware is that this airport is huge but the way makes it feel not so big. It is laid out well with four airy and light filled terminals. It is almost impossible to get lost if you know your terminal and your gate. There is a “Skylink” Train that loops around the airport with trains running every few minutes. Just make sure you hold on because it does zoom! The walkways are wide, the restaurants plentiful and the shops are great with some reasonably priced stuff for an airport.
10. Detroit, USA (DTW), 4 times. 82%
Skytrax: No rating 32 million passengers- 42nd busiest airport in the world
DTW has two terminals with a bus shuttle between them. The McNamara Terminal is for Skyteam flights (Delta, Air France and the North Terminal handles all other airlines. The terminals are officially seven minutes apart but am not sure many people would need to connect between them because most connections can be done within the one terminal. The terminals are well laid out with lots of restaurant options. There is a Skytrain to get from one end to the other of the McNamara Terminal. Immigration very friendly and very efficient. Ground transport could be better. Wifi is good but not free.
10. Adelaide, Australia (ADL) 69 times. 82%
Skytrax: No rating 7 million passengers
It has to be one of the most beautiful and easy to navigate airports in Australia with great signage and a good range of shops and food outlets. Wifi is free and there is a very regular bus service to and from downtown, the Northern Suburbs and beach. The airport is very airy. Can be a long walk to an end gate. Customs and immigration is usually very rapid. Adelaide Airport staff I are universally helpful and friendly. If you get bored while waiting between flights, Ikea has a store at the airport entrance which can be walked to! Parking has been annoying this year while they rearrange the parking garages.
14 San Francisco
18 Las Vegas