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The 20 Most Luxurious Airports in the World

Regardless of whether someone is traveling for pleasure or for work purposes, if they are going to a foreign destination or traveling over a long distance, it will involve a trip to the airport. In fact, each trip will involve them visiting two airports as they will leave from one and arrive at another. For many people, spending time at the airport is a necessary but frustrating experience.

They have to wait for hours in an environment that is often neither exciting or pleasant. However, this is not the case will all airports as bosses of these establishments have now realized that the airport plays a significant role in people’s experiences of travel.

In recognition of the hours that people spend there waiting for their flights, airport bosses have begun to think about providing a pleasant atmosphere in which travelers can relax and offering a range of activities for people to enjoy before embarking on their travels. While many airports can now boast that they are no longer an unpleasant part of the traveling experience, others have taken things a little further and now provide luxurious surroundings for people using the airlines that operate from the airports.

Each year, a company called Skytrax rates various aspects of airports and ranks them according to their overall score. This gives travelers some indication of the best and most luxurious airports they can fly to in the world. Here are 20 of the world’s most luxurious airports.

20. Dubai International Airport (DXB)

Improvements made in Dubai International Airport mean that it has jumped from 26th position on Skytrax's rankings to 20. This is the main airport in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and it is the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic. Furthermore, it is also the third busiest airport in terms of overall passenger traffic.

In 2016 alone, this airport handled 83.6 million visitors and 418,220 aircraft movements, despite having only two runways. The three terminals are exquisite with passenger comfort and convenience at the forefront of the design. The airport has three concourses and these each boast different features for travelers. In concourse A, there is both a 4-star and a 5-star hotel for guests.

This is also home to the first and business class lounges that are decorated in a manner that reflects their prestige. Concourse B boasts three hotels, 18 restaurants and the business and first-class lounges of the Emirates airline. At concourse C, there is a 5-star hotel, a massive food court with 17 eating establishments, and a duty-free shopping area.

19. Cape Town Airport (CPT)

Cape Town Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world as it is the second busiest in South Africa and the third busiest in Africa. It has both national and international flights. This airport has more than 10 million passengers each year and almost 94,000 aircraft movements. In 2016, this was the 22nd best airport in the world. Developments have helped it to improve its ranking and finish in the top 20.

A massive expansion project began in 2010. Then, in 2015, upgrades were made to the domestic and international terminals. The international terminal has a wide range of facilities. These include a luxurious hotel, prayer rooms, conference rooms, office facilities, restaurants, duty-free shops, and retail outlets.

17. Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)

In 2016, this airport was ranked 34th so it has made significant improvement to have now achieved 18th position. The airport is located in the Changning District of China close to the town of Hongqiao. This airport is predominantly used by China Eastern Airlines, Spring Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, and Juneyao Airlines. In 2016, this airport handled just short of 40.5 million passengers.

As a result, it is the 7th busiest airport in China. It is also the 45th busiest airport in the world. Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport has only limited international flights as most flights are regional or domestic. It is opulently decorated inside and offers a range of facilities for passengers. Terminal 2 is where many of the best features of this airport are found, including a range of restaurants, a relaxing spa for long-haul passengers, lively bars, and a variety of shopping areas.

17. Helsinki Airport (HEL)

Helsinki Airport is located in the city of Vantaa close to the capital city Helsinki. It is the 4th busiest airport in Nordic countries and the 29th busiest in Europe. It handles over 17 million passengers each year. The airport was built in 1952 in preparation for the Helsinki Summer Olympics. Last year, this airport was ranked at 15th. Despite the two-position drop in the rankings, it is still considered the best airport in Europe. There have been ongoing expansion projects underway since 2010 to offer more flights and improve facilities for passengers. There are two comfortable Finnair lounges where passengers can relax while waiting for flights.

16. Brisbane Airport (BNE)

Brisbane Airport is the main international airport serving South East Queensland and Brisbane. It services 31 airlines to 29 international and 50 domestic destinations. It is the third busiest airport in Australia. In 2016, there were 22.7 million passengers who passed through the airport’s doors. According to an OAG report, Brisbane Airport is the fifth best-performing large-sized airport in the world. A major redevelopment of the international airport began in 2014 at a cost of $45 million.

This was led by two architect practices; Richards and Spence and Arkhefield. Artworks were commissioned to add to the visual appeal of the interior of the airport and artists included Mirdidingkingathi Juwanda Sally Gabori and Sebastian Moody. This airport has won awards for its quality of service for ten consecutive years. It has increased in ranking one position since 2016.

15. Copenhagen Airport (CPH)

Copenhagen Airport was at 18th position last year but has improved and now stands in 15th position. It is one of the busiest airports in Europe with approximately 26.6 million passengers annually. It is a major base for Norwegian Air Shuttle and Scandinavian Airlines. The airport is located five miles south of Copenhagen on the island of Amager. Passengers who have used this airline have praised the efficiency of the airport. This airport has over 120 shops, many of which sell luxury goods, and 28 restaurants offering a range of different dining experiences.

14. Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)

This airport is located 35 miles outside Tokyo, the capital of Japan, and has 39.1 million passengers each year. Although it is not the only airport in Tokyo, it is the one that handles the majority of international traffic, both inbound and outbound. It is the main hub for many airlines, including United, ANA, Delta, and Japan Airlines.

In reviews, this airport has been praised for its cleanliness and its friendly staff. It is also known for providing passengers with a fantastic range of dining options, from casual eating to fine dining experiences. Unfortunately, this airport has dropped a few spots on the list from 11th to 14th. This airport has two hotels and the Museum of Aeronautical Science.

13. Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

For the eighth year in a row, Vancouver International Airport has received the honor of being named the top-ranked airport in North America. It has also moved up one place on the overall list from 14th to 13th position. Some of the reasons why passengers enjoy flying from this airport include the high level of organization, the friendly staff, and the easy access to the area surrounding the airport in Vancouver.

In addition to the regular terminals, this airport boasts a floatplane terminal. While passengers are waiting for their flight, they can enjoy viewing the sizeable collection of art that is predominantly from the Pacific Northwest. 22.3 million passengers use this airport each year. The airport is noted for its architecture.

12. Kansai International Airport (KIX)

This Japanese airport is located on an artificial island in the Osaka Bay. It is the main hub for both Japan Airlines and ANA. With 25.2 million passengers annually, it is one of the busiest airports in Japan. The architecture of the airport has received critical acclaim as have the modern facilities within the airport. One of its best features is the Sky View observation deck which is heaven for plane spotters as passengers can watch the planes taking off and landing. Despite this, Kansai International Airport has dropped from 9th to 12th position on the list of best airports in the world.

11. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS)

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has 58.3 million passengers each year and is one of the busiest airports in Europe. It is the main hub for airlines including Delta, Transavia, and KLM. The airport first opened in 1916 and has become known for the variety of leisure activities it provides for passengers. These include a library where passengers can sit and enjoy a good book while waiting for their flight. Last year, this airport was ranked in 13th position but it has risen by two spots to sit in 11th place. Also located within the airport is a 433 room cube-shaped Hilton Hotel.

10. Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

There have been some improvements at Frankfurt Airport and this has led to it moving from 12th to 10th position. It is the fourth busiest airport in the world and one of the most important transit hubs with 61 million passengers annually. Lufthansa has a fleet of 270 jets that are based at this airport. The reviewers at Skytrax praised many aspects of this airport, especially the ease of transit between the terminals.

The things that add to the luxury feel of this airport are the abundance of dining and shopping options available to passengers. The Lufthansa First Class Terminal has a white-linen restaurant, a cigar room, lounge areas, valet parking, and bubble baths.

9. London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

Although there are five primary airports serving London, Heathrow is the largest of these. This airport hasn’t seen much of a change to its ranking as it was in 8th position last year and is now in 9th overall. It is the third busiest airport in the world and is constantly being renovated and developed. For example, one of its major renovations was replacing the entire Terminal 2 building.

However, it was Terminal 5 that Skytrax named as the best airport terminal in the world and this structure also has the accolade of being the largest free-standing building in the UK. This airport is a shopper’s delight as Terminal 5 has personal shoppers to help you find everything you need. The food in the airport is outstanding as many of the 105 restaurants are headed up by celebrity chefs. For example, there is Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionists’ Café and Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food.

8. Zurich Airport (ZRH)

27.7 million passengers pass through Zurich Airport each year. It is located just eight miles outside of the city of Zurich and is the home of Swiss International Air Lines. The airport is also the main hub that links this city to the rest of Switzerland. The staff at the airport are very accommodating and if guests have an extended layover, they offer them inline-skate and bicycle rentals.

They can also organize trips to the nearby Swiss Museum of Transport Lucerne. Zurich Airport has been voted the healthiest airport in the world and those who have spent time there will understand why it has been given this accolade. The airport has its own fitness center where you can enjoy spinning classes or weight training. You can get around the airport on indoor bikes or by trains that play Alpine cattle bells. There is an amazing cigar lounge that is so huge it has its own hangar.

7. Centrair Nagoya (NGO)

Last year, Centrair Nagoya airport was in 6th position and this year it has dropped one place to 7th. This airport is also known as Central Japan International Airport and it has 9.8 million passengers traveling through their doors annually. It is a focus for ANA and Japan Airlines. What makes this airport so awesome is that it is built on an artificial island in Isle Bay close to the city of Nagoya.

The airport has been awarded the distinction of the best regional airport in the world. There is a spectacular sky deck measuring 1,000 feet and this offers visitors amazing views of the Port of Nagoya. A particularly interesting feature of the sky deck is the traditional Japanese bathhouse. While guests are waiting for their flights, they can enjoy a relaxing soak.

6. Hamad International Airport (DOH)

Hamad International Airport has seen significant improvements in various aspects in the last 12 months to rise from 10th to 6th position. This is one of the newest airports on the list as it did not open until 2014 and replaced Doha International Airport. The airport is located in Doha which is the capital of Qatar. It cost a whopping $16 billion to construct and consists of two terminals that sit in 5,400 acres of land.

It has been described as being one of the most luxurious airports in the world and as being the world’s most architecturally significant terminal complex. The airport is still under development and there are plans for further expansion. The décor has an oasis theme. It is the home of Qatar Airways and has 30 million passengers each year.

5. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

Hong Kong International Airport has retained fifth position for another year as this is the same position in which it was ranked the previous year. The airport was built in 1998 on an artificial island off the coast of Hong Kong and has become one of the most popular airports in the world. With 68.3 million passengers a year, Honk Kong International Airport has become one of the busiest airports in Asia. This airport serves airlines including Hong Kong Airlines, Dragonair, and Cathay Pacific. One of the best features at this airport is the SkyCity Nine Eagles golf course. Passengers will find this at Terminal 2.

4. Munich Airport (MUC)

42.3 million passengers pass through this airport which is located to the northeast of downtown Munich. After Frankfurt, this is the busiest airport in Germany and it is also one of the busiest airports in Europe. In addition to the luxurious décor in the lounges and the range of facilities for passenger comfort, there is a visitors park for entertainment. This features a display of historic aircraft and a mini golf course. Germany is famous for its beers and this is an important feature of the airport.

It has the largest roofed-in airport in the world that serves a wide range of beers and other beverages. The beer garden features a maypole and chestnut trees. There is also an on-site brewery and passengers can enjoy tours and tastings. If beer is not your thing, you can eat and drink in one of the other 50 bars and restaurants you will find in this airport. The airport is also visually appealing as architecture makes heavy use of glass. The main airlines that use Munich Airport are Condor, Lufthansa, and Air Berlin. Munich Airport has dropped one position in terms of the best airports in the world as it is now ranked 4th.

3. Incheon International (ICN)

Incheon International is one of the few airports in the top 20 lists to have dropped in the rankings since 2016 as it has gone from second position to third. Despite this drop, it is still a luxurious airport with plenty of amazing features that make passengers enjoy the experience of spending time there. This airport is located on an island that is close to the capital of South Korea.

It opened in 2001 and soon became the 24th busiest airport in the world with 49.3 million visitors each year. One of the main reasons why this airport ranks so highly is the dining and shopping options. This airport can boast that it had the first Louis Vuitton duty-free shop in the world. It also has a Korean Culture Museum and a variety of cultural performances taking place throughout the year. Passengers can also find plenty to entertain themselves with while they are at the airport. There is a casino, a golf course, a spa, a sauna, seven gardens, an ice rink, and live music.

2. Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND)

Last year, Tokyo Haneda International Airport was considered the 4th best airport in the world but it is now in the second to top spot on the list. This is the world’s 5th busiest airport as it handles 75.3 million passengers each year. It is located just a few miles from Tokyo and is one of two major airports to serve Tokyo and the surrounding area.

Both business and pleasure travellers have reported excellent experiences of this airport and have particularly made comments about its cleanliness, the efficiency, and the range of luxury products they can buy at the various retail outlets at the airport. Both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 have six-storey shopping and restaurant areas.

1. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)

Singapore Changi Airport has retained the premier position since the previous year as it is still considered the best and most luxurious airport in the world. This is the 16th busiest airport in the world and it is home to Tigerair, Silkair, and Singapore Airlines. There are many reasons why this airport receives so much praise from visitors and is ranked so highly by the experts.

Some of these include the luxurious amenities, the efficient operation, the stunning architecture, and the shopping and dining options. Passengers also have plenty to keep them entertained between checking in and boarding their flight as there are spas, a wild corkscrew slide, movie theaters, and a multimedia entertainment deck. Furthermore, there are cultural displays and a butterfly garden. Those who are in Singapore for a stopover of six hours or more are treated to a tour of the city.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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