The World’s Best Airports?

 Via Taking Off Travel Blog, CNN has a piece on the world’s best airports They rank ’em as:

  • Hong Kong International Airport
  • Changi International Airport, Singapore
  • Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea
  • Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia
  • Munich Airport, Germany

The problem, of course, is best for what?

About Munich, they say, the architects wanted the airport “to be less an ‘anonymous transfer location,’ than a ‘foyer to the city’.” Except that what makes Munich a great airport is precisely how easy transfers are there! (I’d say the only other airport in Europe that is its rival in this regard is Vienna.)
Seoul-Incheon is also outstanding for transfers, in addition to being a lovely structure.

Singapore Changi, to me, is the ‘nicest’ airport. For the median passanger there’s certainly no better airport in the world to spend a long layover in.

Kuala Lumpur, though? It wasn’t built large enough. Operations are too costly there. Pretty must not be the only standard for being amongst the ‘best airports’. And of course the aesthetic ranking will be an incredibly subjective one. I may be one of the few who actually likes Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok — original runway construction issues, lightbulb supply issues, and temperature issues notwithstanding…  But then I like Beijing’s Terminal 3 as well, so what do I know?

I’d rather see more broken-down lists, “best for transfers” … “best for layovers” … “best lounges” … “most efficient for on-time arrivals/departures” and then perhaps amalgamate these things in a statistically meaningful way if one must come up with a best overall list.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. And speaking of it, doesn’t KUL have an entirely separate LCC terminal that requires a bus or similar to get from the main airport? And I read somewhere (here?) that Air Asia was considering building yet another semi-separate airport.

    It’s one of a few airports that have that attribute, but I’ve always thought that was a massive pain in the a$$. Especially with Air Asia being so great and cheap it would be a hell of a lot easier for people wanting to do long haul on a big carrier (or award) and then transfer for a short hop to a place like Phuket or Langkawi or Penang.

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