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What Are The Finest Airports In The World? Right here Are My Picks…

Airports have changed a lot over the years, both for better and for worse. On the one hand, they have some incredible amenities that would have been unthinkable decades ago. On the other hand, many airports just haven’t grown efficiently and don’t seem to care about the passenger experience. And while we’re at it: It’s also not a great sight when mass brawls regularly break out at airports.

In this post, I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about the best airports in the world. I’m sharing what I think are the best airports and then I’d love to hear what OMAAT readers think.

What makes an airport great?

The fundamental problem in deciding which airport is the “best” is that airports serve different needs for different travelers at different times.

Passengers can have very different experiences depending on whether they are departing or transferring at one airport, how long they plan to stay at the airport, which terminal they are departing from, whether they need to change terminals, and whether they have lounge access, when they have to go through security or immigration control, etc.

Let me give some examples:

  • If you fly first class with Lufthansa and take off from Frankfurt Airport (FRA), this might be the best airport in the world for you thanks to the first class terminal. For everyone else, that’s definitely not the case
  • There’s a lot to be said about airports that get you from the curb to the gate as quickly as possible; Tampa Airport (TPA), for example, is a great place to do this thanks to the way the concourses are set up and I can always get from the curb to the gate within five minutes
  • There are individual terminals in the United States that I believe are world-class in design, such as the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport (LAX), but they still don’t offer passengers a great passenger experience, given the wait times security controls and easy access between gates
  • As an Avgeek, I absolutely love the design of some of the terminals at Paris Airport (CDG), but that’s pretty much the only thing I like about the airport (besides the amazing Air France La Premiere Lounge).

The Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX is beautiful

I just want to say with all of this that I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers to the question of which airports are the best. Everyone is looking for different things, so it all depends on personal needs and preferences. In this sense …

Frankfurt is the best airport in the world… sometimes 😉

My favorite airports in the world

I thought I’d tell you my three favorite airports in the world. I don’t think these airports will come as much of a surprise. All three airports are in Asia (including the Middle East). Two of these airports have been my favorites in the past, while one airport has grown on me lately.

With that in mind, below are my three favorite airports, in no particular order…

Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)

Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) has been widely recognized as the best airport in the world for as long as I can remember, and with good reason. The airport has countless amenities, from the world’s most impressive shopping mall to great food and drink shops, a butterfly garden and a cinema.

The jewel at Singapore Changi Airport

The airport is also immaculately clean, and the public restrooms in the airport are cleaner than virtually any restroom you’ll find in the world’s best first-class lounges. For those with longer connections, the airport offers several transit hotels and some solid lounges.

Beautiful Terminal 3 of Singapore Changi Airport

That being said, there are a few things I don’t like about the airport. First of all, while I understand the reason for this, I’m not a big fan of the fact that security is done at each individual gate and not centralized. It’s always nice to go through security at the beginning of your stay rather than right before boarding.

Second, while Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 are great, Terminal 2 is definitely not that impressive and is actually quite dated. In addition, the connection between Terminal 4 and the other terminals is not particularly smooth.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is also one of my favorite airports. I love the architecture and the open air feel, I love the great plane viewing, I find the airport easy to navigate and I appreciate the first class lounges.

I love Hong Kong Airport architecture

Haven’t been to the airport since the new Sky Bridge opened so I’m looking forward to checking this out as I think for us Avgeeks it takes the airport to the next level.

Hong Kong Airport has a great lounge (hopefully reopening soon!)

Doha Hamad Airport (DOH)

This is something new for me. I used to think Doha Hamad Airport (DOH) was a perfectly convenient hub, but nothing special. However, with the recent expansion of the airport, I think this might actually be my new favorite airport in the world.

The airport is modern, has excellent lounges, a beautiful garden area, countless shopping, food and beverage outlets and is really easy to get to.Doha Hamad Airport has a beautiful new garden

However, what sets Doha Hamad Airport apart from other major airports is the fact that the entire airport is a single terminal. I think this is grossly underrated, especially for the average traveler. From the central security check you should be able to get almost anywhere within 10 to 15 minutes, which is not the case at most major airports.

For example, try connecting from Concourse A to Concourse C at Dubai Airport (DXB). Although the airport has a train system, it’s still basically a marathon. This is the case at so many airports.Doha Hamad Airport is easily accessible

Other notable airports

Although the above airports are my favorite airports, I am not claiming that they are objectively the best airports in the world. It is purely my personal choice based on my travel preferences and needs. I would of course like to acknowledge that there are many other great airports. Just to name a few:

  • In Asia, Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) and Seoul Incheon Airport (ICN) are also highly regarded, although not quite as good as the above for me
  • I think Bahrain Airport (BAH) and Muscat Airport (MCT) are two great newly built airport hubs, although they are much smaller than the above airports
  • Istanbul New Airport (IST) has an impressive terminal that I love walking through, but maybe the terminal is almost a bit too big?
  • Detroit Airport (DTW) and San Francisco Airport (SFO) are probably the two best in the United States, although Detroit Airport doesn’t excite me particularly, while San Francisco Airport, while nice individual terminals, can be a hassle to connect
  • While I wouldn’t call it world-class, the new Terminal 2 at Panama City Airport (PTY) is setting a new standard for the region
  • In Europe, I think the most impressive hubs are in Northern Europe and I can’t in good conscience say many good things about other airports on the continent

Bahrain’s new airport is beautiful

bottom line

Airports have evolved a lot over the years, although as expected we’ve seen more improvements in some regions than others. My personal favorite airports are Singapore, Hong Kong and Doha, although there are of course many other great airports.

There is never a right or wrong answer as to which airport is the best as it is difficult for one airport to be equally good for all travelers as we are all looking for different things. However, I think the above three airports strike a good balance.

Which is your favorite airport in the world?

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