China Airports Dominate World’s Best

If they're looking for comfortable airport experiences, CFOs might want to consider more international travel (specifically to China).
Marielle SegarraMarch 27, 2014
China Airports Dominate World’s Best

For all you CFO world travelers out there (and we know that’s a lot of you): great news. We have a list in hand of the best airports across the globe, courtesy of airport ranking agency Skytrax, with a hat tip to Forbes. Skytrax grades the airports based on a long list of factors, including public transport options; courtesy and attitude of security staff; restaurant and bar prices; presence of business centers; and terminal comfort. They calculated the awards based on more than 12 million surveys completed by passengers of 110 nationalities.

Here’s the list, so you can tailor your business accordingly:

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  1. Singapore Changi Airport
  2. Incheon International Airport
  3. Munich Airport
  4. Hong Kong International Airport
  5. Amsterdam Schipol Airport
  6. Tokyo International Airport
  7. Beijing Capital International Airport
  8. Zurich Airport
  9. Vancouver International Airport
  10. London Heathrow Airport

Singapore Changi Airport, which tops the list, has a tropical resort, swimming pools, hair and beauty services, a nature trail and a spa. As Forbes points out, none of the airports are in the United States, and only one is in North America (Vancouver International).

A butterfly garden at the world's best airport. Photo credit: Wikipedia user RoB

A butterfly garden at the world’s best airport, Singapore Changi. Photo credit: Wikipedia user RoB


Skytrax doesn’t stop there. It also grades the top airport terminals:

  1. Heathrow Airport T5
  2. Singapore Changi Airport T3
  3. Haneda Airport Int’l Terminal
  4. Shanghai Hongqiao Airport T2
  5. Munich Airport T2
  6. Madrid Barajas Airport T4
  7. Chengdu Shuangliu Int’l Airport T2
  8. Beijing Capital Int’l Airport T3
  9. Los Angeles Tom Bradley Int’l
  10. Dubai International Airport T3


If you’ve had a bad experience at one of the following airports, you might reconsider. Skytrax gives a pat on the back to the top 10 “most improved” airports:

  1. Shenzhen Bao’an Int’l Airport
  2. Xi’an Xianyang International Airport
  3. Chengdu Shuangliu Int’l Airport
  4. Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta Int’l Airport
  5. Budapest International Airport
  6. London Gatwick Airport
  7. Guangzhou Baiyun Airport
  8. Dubai International Airport
  9. Riyadh King Khalid Int’l Airport
  10. Madrid-Barajas Airport

Skytrax also grades airports based on which have the best VIP terminals (I see you, CFOs):

  1. Sanya Phoenix Int’l Airport
  2. Munich Airport
  3. Haikou Meilan Int’l Airport
  4. Dubai International Airport
  5. Abu Dhabi International Airport
  6. Beijing Capital Int’l Airport
  7. Guangzhou Baiyun Int’l Airport
  8. Chengdu Shuangliu Int’l Airport
  9. Changsha Huanghua Int’l Airport
  10. Chongqing Jiangbei Int’l Airport

In case you missed it, seven of the top 10 are in China. For someone who hasn’t been to China, the rankings raise some questions. For instance, how nice can an airport possibly be? I thought it was understood that the food would be inedible, slimy and wrapped in plastic; the wait times egregious; and the artwork uninspiring. Is there a better airport world out there, and I’m missing it?

Also, it seems North America should just pack it in. Executives, you should travel internationally (ideally to China), or you should not travel at all. Vice President Joe Biden would back me up here. In February, he expressed his frustration at the backward infrastructure in U.S. cities, particularly at LaGuardia Airport. “If I blindfolded someone and took them at two o’clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said ‘Where do you think you are?’ they would say, ‘This must be America. This is a modern airport,’” Biden said. “If I took them blindfolded to LaGuardia airport in New York, they would likely say, ‘I must be in some third-world country.’”

That’ s a little harsh. But in any case, for executives who are stuck on the continent, here’s the Skytrax list of best airports in North America:

  1. Vancouver International Airport
  2. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport
  3. Denver International Airport
  4. San Francisco International Airport
  5. Toronto Pearson Airport
  6. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport
  7. Halifax Stanfield Airport
  8. Seattle-Tacoma Airport
  9. Dallas/Fort Worth Airport
  10. New York JFK Airport

The top three airports for dining worldwide were Hong Kong International Airport, Munich Airport and Tokyo International Airport Haneda. There are more rankings at this link, including the best airport for shopping (Heathrow), the world’s cleanest airports (almost all in Asia — sorry domestic-bound germaphobes) and the top airport hotels (Regal Airport Hong Kong ranks first).

Think Skytrax has it all wrong? Got any airports you love that aren’t on the list? Let us know in the comments section.

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