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What Are the Best Airports in the World? One Pilot’s Answers

What Are the Best Airports in the World? One Pilot’s Answers
Lauren Englisbe

Curious where to find the friendliest airport staff or the easiest connections? A pilot offers his candid opinions on the best food, the best shopping, and more.

Last month pilot Bruno Gilissen took to Quora to discuss the worst international airport in a major city. To offer a more positive counterpoint, Gilissen then addressed the best airports in the world, using several different criteria to categorize them.

When it comes down to short airline connections, Gilissen called out Munich Airport (MUC) as the winner. According to the pilot, “I regularly picked up luggage, switched terminals, checked in at the next flight’s counter and was ready at the next gate within an hour.” For long connections, however, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) took home the gold. With its rooftop bar, 4-D cinema, and a wide variety of restaurants, HKG makes for a long-haul traveler’s paradise.

Travelers fascinated with the latest and greatest commercial planes were advised to visit Dubai International Airport (DXB). Its fleet of Emirates jets — and the exotic airlines that travel there — made this the best airport for airplane spotting.

As for the best view, Gilissen nominated Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (MLE) in the Republic of Maldives. The island nation is surrounded by coral reefs and blue-green water, which makes the flight “a joy for the eye of the lucky window seat passengers.” (Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu, Nepal, nearly won the honor, but the pilot disqualified it based on often poor visibility.)

Other winners included:

  • Best shopping: Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN)
  • Friendliest staff: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)
  • Best food: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)
  • Most comfortable: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
  • Most underrated: Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL)

And when it comes to the best overall airport, Gilissen was unbiased, instead naming the airport where you’re starting your vacation. “You’re in a giddy holiday mood, the stress of [everyday] life falls off your shoulders, life is good, a journey of exploration or relaxation awaits you.”

[Photo: Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Trans Maldivian Airways]

View Comments (7)


  1. jbb

    January 14, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Best Food Bangkok?? That makes no sense. Went through BKK recently and barring a few sorry looking food courts, there wasn’t much there for dining.

  2. GateHold


    January 15, 2016 at 7:37 am

    My vote for the best airport goes to Seoul Incheon. It’s attractive, spacious, quiet, and jam-packed with amenities. Singapore gets all the hype, but Incheon does a better job, I think.

    For most underrated, I’d vote for Boston Logan.

    As for Amsterdam Schiphol, I never understood why so many people speak so highly of the airport. Recently, though, I had some time to explore the place, and I’m forced to reconsider….

  3. bwiadca

    January 15, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Which airport is on the picture above? I want to go to that place! 🙂

  4. bwiadca

    January 15, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Never mind. Found it. Male airport

  5. Cedarglen

    January 21, 2016 at 5:57 am

    What am I missing here? An “Airport” is a place to join air transportation, transfer to other air/ground transportation or – gosh – depart the air transportation system. Airports are not designed to be entertainment, shopping or retail venues for the general public. Is this a joke?

  6. KRey32

    January 21, 2016 at 9:06 am

    AMS is far and away the best.

  7. the artful dodger

    January 22, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Agree with JBB above, BKK airport food is awful…

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