A list of some of the world’s most amazing, passenger-friendly airports.
By: Kim Bercaw
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey – not a destination – so enjoy airport layovers.” Well, that might not be his exact quote. But whatever the case, the airport experience is rapidly changing for the better and I think Mr. Emerson would approve. From world-class shopping and dining to surprisingly well-thought-out recreational activities, clever designers are completely transforming the concept of killing time between flights. The airports listed below feature enough comforts and diversions to make you yearn for flight delays.
Vancouver features an entire battalion of friendly airport staff in green coats to direct you to your gate, or anywhere else within the airport. For example, they’ll cheerfully point you in the right direction if you’re looking for the airport’s very own art museum, featuring Pacific Northwest Coast Native Art. (Another perk of passing through.)
Other good airports for art enthusiasts include Phoenix Sky Harbor, Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco, the last of which houses a whopping twenty art galleries across four terminals.
Hong Kong International is well known for its cleanliness, dining and shopping amenities, and even boasts a 9-hole golf course!
Make a pit stop in Amsterdam, and you can treat yourself to a massage, spend some time gambling away your spare euros, or enjoy some peace and quiet at the airport’s library. Want to tie the knot? You can do just that at this airport, as well. Fifty couples a year say their “I do’s” on site.
Carrying lots of baggage? Zurich is the place to be, thanks to its rep as the best airport for baggage delivery. The facility features a convenient porter service that will pick up your bags from anywhere within the airport and see that they’re efficiently delivered to your destination.
Auckland airport has a reputation as the friendliest airport in the world. (If I were lucky enough to live in New Zealand, I’d be incredibly friendly, too.)
Open-air walkways between gates are a nice bonus at the airports in Honolulu and Maui.
Fitness buffs will appreciate the 2.5 km bike path around the perimeter of Victoria International.
Foodies will feel right at home at Munich International, which holds the title for best airport dining. Fittingly, the airport also has an on-site pub and brewery that serves 110,000 gallons of hops per year in its festive outdoor beer garden.
Tokyo Narita features a full-service oxygen lounge. For about $6 per 10-minute session, visitors can treat themselves to pure oxygen treatments including flavors like eucalyptus and cinnamon. The treatments are said to improve alertness, cure headaches and decrease jet lag.
Passengers who pass through Sao Paulo Guarulhos International airport can cross “dental checkup” off their lists. A small team of qualified professionals is available to perform tooth cleaning, basic checkups and tooth whitening on-site.
Head to Singapore Changi and channel your inner botanist at this airport’s impressive butterfly garden. As winner of this year’s “Worlds Best Airport” title, according to SKYTRAX, Changi also lays claim to an outdoor pool, koi ponds, green spaces, whirlpool baths, prayer rooms, a 4-story slide, free showers and movie theaters.
A second contender for the best airport on the planet, according to The Airports Council International, is Seoul Incheon, which never fails to impress with it’s own Museum of Korean Culture, excellent local food choices, scenic views, spotlessly clean environs, private sleeping rooms and a wildflower garden. There’s even an ice rink!
These airports are destinations unto themselves, so why not contact your Travel Beyond consultant to see firsthand which landing strip wows you the most? All of our consultants are intrepid travelers themselves, which makes them an authority on hundreds of spots all over the globe.