These Are the 10 Best International Airports

3 minute read

Long-haul flights to international destinations can be taxing on travelers, both on departure and arrival. But the best airports in the world make the travel experience as carefree as possible, often with unusual amenities, such as showers in the bathrooms, entertainment and wellness facilities, and plenty of healthy eating options.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Airports were rated on access, check-in and security, restaurants and bars, shopping, and design.

This year’s list of winners is dominated by airports based in Asia and the Middle East, with only two European airports — Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Zurich — appearing in the top 10. Though some fliers cited the “long walk between terminals” at Schiphol as an annoyance, the excellent signage, designer duty-free shops, and helpful staff outweighed the negative. And parents flying with little ones have an extra reason to be happy: “There are lots of places for families to relax without worrying that the kids are bothering other people,” wrote in one reader.

Given all the amenities that airports offer these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were cities unto themselves. The No. 2 winner, Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, impresses with its Vitality Wellbeing and Fitness Center — complete with squash courts and an indoor swimming pool — and world-class sculptural art curated in partnership with Qatar Museums. No. 5 Hong Kong International Airport wows with its IMAX theater, simulated golf games, and new “East to West” Food Market, where fliers can taste everything from dumplings to charcoal-grilled roast goose.

For the fifth year running, Singapore Changi Airport takes the top spot, thanks to its ease of use, award-winning design, and an abundance of indoor flora, including a spectacular butterfly garden. (Not surprisingly, the airport’s home carrier, Singapore Airlines, is also a World’s Best winner.) “Efficient, with great food and shopping options, and free Wi-Fi at every customer service kiosk” said one reader. Added reader Steven Jay Thor: “Movie theaters and waterfalls…I wish that American airports could do this.”

Whether you’re making any of these cities your next destination, or you’re just passing through, build some extra time into your itinerary to take advantage of the wealth of offerings at the world’s greatest airports.

10. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Tony Burns—Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Score: 78.98

9. Abu Dhabi International (AUH)

Abu Dhabi International Airport, shopping duty free
United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi International Airport, terminal shopping duty free. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)Jeff Greenberg—UIG/Getty Images

Score: 79.12

8. Ben Gurion International, Tel Aviv (TLV)

Israeli Security On Alert As PrO-Paestian Activists Plan Flights to Ben-Gurion Activists
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JULY 06: Israeli police officers deploy July 6, 2011 at the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. Hundreds of 'Pro-Palestinian Fly-In' activists, organised by Europeans and North Americans, plan to travel en masse to the West Bank over the weekend. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)Uriel Sinai—Getty Images

Score: 79.40

7. Haneda (Tokyo International) (HND)

Tokyo International Airport
Japan, Kanto Region, Tokyo Prefecture, Ota-ku, View of Tokyo International Airport at night.JTB Photo—UIG/Getty Images

Score: 80.33

6. Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH)

Airside Center Zurich Airport
Airside Center Zurich Airport, Zurich, Switzerland, Architect Grimshaw, Airside Center Zurich Airport Overall View On Lower Level.View Pictures—UIG/Getty Images

Score: 80.85

5. Hong Kong International (HKG)

The curved wall of the Airport Express train station at Hong
The curved wall of the Airport Express train station at Hong Kong International Airport.Stefan Irvine—LightRocket/Getty Images

Score: 83.81

4. Incheon International, South Korea (ICN)

Korean Air Planes And Lounge At Incheon Airport
Incheon International AirportBloomberg—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Score: 84.46

3. Dubai International (DXB)

Dubai International Airport
A picture taken on August 21, 2017 in the airport of Dunbai, UAE. Dubai International Airport, the largest airport in space in the world and busiest airport by international passenger traffic.NurPhoto—NurPhoto/Getty Images

Score: 85.30

2. Hamad International, Doha, Qatar (DOH)

Crisis between Qatar and Saudi-led Arabic countries
Hamad International AirportAnadolu Agency—Getty Images

Score: 86.05

1. Singapore Changi (SIN)

Media Preview of Changi Airport's New Terminal 4
Traditional Singaporean Peranakan building facades adorn a wall in the Heritage Zone during a media preview of the new Terminal 4 (T4) at Changi Airport in Singapore, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Score: 90.64

Take a Tour of Singapore Changi Airport

With a free movie theater, napping lounges, a sunflower garden, spa, and a rooftop pool, Singapore Changi Airport continues to thrill our readers, and takes the No. 1 spot for the fifth year in a row. One particular benefit is the airport’s pre-customs, in-terminal hotels, which rent rooms in six-hour blocks. This timetable allows travelers to book a room for a long layover or to rest before an early morning flight. And “there are loads of eating and entertainment establishments,” said T+L reader Karen Pirotto. “One could live for days within the airport without being bored.”

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