Life Travel The best and worst airports in the world

The best and worst airports in the world

best and worst airports in the world
One international airport was described as "a mosh pit sauna" in this new survey. Photo: Getty
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New York may be the one of the best cities in the world, but one of its international airports, La Guardia, has been voted the Worst Airport in North America for its ‘grid-locked crowds’, according to a new survey.

More than 27,000 people responded to the international 2016 Airport Survey, run annually by the Sleeping in Airports blog (online since 1996).

While it’s less about architecture and more about the overall experience, buildings do count. ­

For example, India’s Chennai (Madras) was rated seventh worst in Asia, with 66 incidents of glass panels falling from the ceiling onto travellers. 

Travellers rated airports based on:

• Comfort (rest zones and gate seating)

• Services

• Facilities and things to do

• Food options

• Immigration/security

• Customer service

• Cleanliness 

Worst overall in the world

The survey endeavoured to be balanced in its findings.

While Juba, in South Sudan, was rated the second worst airport in the world – “chaotic and sweaty” with a security area like a “mosh pit sauna” – the website acknowledges “the fledgling state has grappled with its fair share of war … so we think it’s important to cut the terminal a bit of slack”.

Saudi Arabia’s Jedda was rated as the worst in the world because it’s “too small, too smelly, too few seats” … and “queues are unfathomable”, though there is free wifi.

Jedda airport
Saudi Arabia’s Jedda airport is the world’s worst. Photo: Getty

Santorini in Greece was rated fifth worst for being “hot, crowded, dirty” with the services and facilities listed as “none”.

Actually, with four in the Top 10 Worst Airports in Europe, Greek airports are hardly traveller friendly (Rhodes was compared to “an emergency evacuation scene”).

Best overall in the world

No surprises here - Singapore's Changi airport is regularly voted the world's best. Photo: Getty
No surprises here – Singapore’s Changi airport is regularly voted the world’s best. Photo: Getty

Changi Airport in Singapore, regularly voted best in the world, claimed the top spot.

Sparkling terminals, rest zones, free massage chairs, five gardens, a fish spa, multiple food options – heck, there’s even a free movie theatre!

As one traveller commented: “If you have to be stuck at any airport in the world you would hope it would be Singapore.”

Seoul’s airport was also a pacesetter, rating number two for its rest and relaxation lounges, reclining chairs, free showers, cultural activities and an 18-hole golf-putting course.

Miranda Kerr airport
Australian model Miranda Kerr at Seoul airport in South Korea – rated one of the world’s best. Photo: Getty

Munich (number eight) offers cleanliness, efficiency and the chance to indulge in a little pre-departure culture with an annual ice-skating rink, Christkindl market and in-house brewery featuring Bavarian flavours. And there’s free morning coffee.

Zurich airport, rated number 10, is a streamlined model of Swiss efficiency, “cosy and luxurious at the same time”. Cafes are costly and you pay for showers, but you can rent Nordic walking poles (just saying…).

Best for sleeping

Singapore also rated number one for sleeping. Rated third was Estonia’s Tallinn airport which, though small, “is like a boutique business lounge” with its free sleep pods, beanbag chairs and a library.

Japan’s Osaka (at number seven) offers a free blanket-lending service, while Helsinki has Jetson-style sleep pods (free by day, pay at night) and a ‘soundscape’ of calming birdsong in the washrooms. 

Estonia's tiny Tallinn airport is like a business class lounge. Photo: Getty
Estonia’s tiny Tallinn airport is like a business class lounge. Photo: Getty

Australia’s ratings ­– the good and the bad

Australia is grouped in the South Pacific region, with Brisbane Airport rated the best in the region, praised for its ease of navigation, “excellent shower facilities” and “highly sleep-able environment”.

Adelaide, at number two,­ “does not have a ton of flashy amenities”, but does have “consistently friendly” staff.

Also in the South Pacific, Wellington (number three), appeals with its mass of “Lord of the Rings paraphernalia” and “a plethora of couches and free showers”.

Sadly, Melbourne’s Avalon Airport, Perth and Darwin were in the South Pacific’s Top Five Worst Airports for overall experience.

Wellington airport
Wellington airport in New Zealand is beloved for its Hobbit-themed paraphernalia. Photo: Getty


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