In the realm of global travel, airports are more than mere departure and arrival points; they are the gateways to cultures, experiences, and connections that define our journeys. The 2022-2023 World Airport Survey by Skytrax has distilled the opinions of international travellers into an authoritative list of The World’s Top 10 Airports of 2023.
This prestigious line-up, voted on by customers from around the globe, not only reflects operational efficiency and passenger satisfaction but also encapsulates the artistry, innovation, and spirit of service that elevate the airport experience. From the architectural marvels of Singapore’s Changi Airport to the bustling hubs of Istanbul and Madrid, these airports have redefined what it means to travel in comfort and style, setting the benchmarks for the aviation industry worldwide.
1. Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore’s Changi Airport, a titan among global travel hubs, has yet again clinched the title of the world’s best airport. This crown jewel of aviation, nestled in the heart of Asia, is more than just a point of transit; it’s a celebrated destination that epitomises the intersection of global connectivity and unparalleled service efficiency. Its commitment to providing an unrivalled passenger experience has not only earned Changi international acclaim but also solidified Singapore’s reputation as a premier aviation hub.
The airport itself is a spectacle of leisure and lifestyle opportunities, boasting four terminals and the architectural marvel that is Jewel Changi Airport. This ten-storey lifestyle hub bridges terminals with a seamless integration of artistic design and natural beauty. For those just arriving or those on a longer sojourn, Changi offers a microcosm of Singapore’s famed ‘City in a Garden’ concept, replete with lush greenery and tranquil spaces designed to rejuvenate weary travellers.
Amidst the airport’s verdant landscapes, Jewel Changi stands as a beacon of natural wonder with the HSBC Rain Vortex—a 40-meter indoor waterfall surrounded by a forest setting. This is complemented by a variety of themed gardens across the terminals, like the Butterfly Garden in Terminal 3, the Sunflower Garden in Terminal 2, and the Cactus Garden in Terminal 1. These spaces are not only visually stunning but educational too, with spots like the Emergence Enclosure allowing visitors to observe the life cycle of butterflies up close.
Changi is a playground for all ages, ensuring that the joy of travel is not just about the destination but the journey itself. Families can revel in a plethora of activities from the towering slides in Terminal 3 to the interactive delights of the Entertainment Corner in Terminal 4. At the pinnacle of Jewel, the Canopy Park offers mazes and misty play zones sprawling over 14,000 square meters. And when it comes to indulgence, the airport is a paradise of culinary and retail experiences, with an array of dining establishments and shops that cater to every taste and need.
The accolades showered upon Changi Airport Group, including an impressive tally of 17 wins at the DestinAsian Readers’ Choice Awards and 12 victories at the Skytrax World Best Airport Awards, are a testament to its commitment to excellence. These awards are not just numbers; they represent the ongoing dedication to innovation and the high regard in which the airport is held by travellers worldwide. As Changi continues to evolve and enhance its offerings, it stands not just as an airport, but as a global standard for a world-class travel experience.
2. Hamad International Airport
Second place Hamad International Airport, is vying for the title of World’s Best Airport at the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2024, serves as a testament to Qatar’s ambition and commitment to excellence in aviation. This airport, the primary gateway for Doha and the beating heart of Qatar Airways’ operations, provides an unparalleled travel experience, whether you’re just passing through, embarking on a journey, or stepping foot into Qatar. Since its inception in 2014, the airport’s design, inspired by the undulating waves of the Arabian Gulf, has been a symbol of the nation’s warm hospitality, welcoming millions of passengers each year with open arms and a promise of seamless transit.
Within its walls, Hamad International Airport offers a microcosm of luxury and culture. The sprawling Qatar Duty Free area is a cornucopia of the finest retail and gastronomic delights, sprawling over 40,000 square meters. Here, travellers can enjoy the art of shopping and dining in a setting that rivals the charm of the chicest destinations. From iconic art pieces that capture the spirit of travel, to the lush environs of an indoor tropical garden, the airport transforms the waiting experience into an exciting escapade of discovery and indulgence.
As the nexus connecting the East and West, Hamad International Airport not only excels in its retail and culinary offerings, boasting over 45 diverse eateries, but also in creating a travel environment that transcends the ordinary. The airport’s many ‘firsts’ include a rich tapestry of more than 130 retail choices, ensuring that passengers are immersed in luxury and style at every turn. For those seeking tranquillity, the airport provides soothing spa services, the Oryx Airport Hotel with its expansive swimming pool, and multiple serene spaces. All these facets converge to craft an airport experience that’s not just stress-free, but genuinely enriching for the soul.
3. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, also officially known as Tokyo International Airport, has recently been celebrated as the world’s third-best airport, a prestigious accolade affirming its pivotal role in global aviation. Situated in Ota, merely 14 kilometers from the pulsing heart of Tokyo’s transport network, Tokyo Station, Haneda serves as a vital hub for five major airlines, including Air Do and Japan Airlines. While it initially focused on domestic travel, Haneda has since expanded its reach in tandem with Narita International Airport to offer extensive international services. Governed by the Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, and managed in terms of terminals by Japan Airport Terminal Co., Ltd., Haneda stands as a paragon of efficiency and accessibility in the realm of air transport.
From its inception in 1931 as Japan’s largest civil airport, Haneda has undergone a transformative journey. Evolving from a small bay-front plot to a major operational base for Japan Air Transport and then to a U.S. airbase, it has a rich history that includes extensive runway expansions during the U.S. occupation. Since reverting to Japanese control and its original name in 1952, Haneda has steadily grown to accommodate burgeoning passenger and cargo traffic. With three terminals, including a VIP terminal, and a direct connection to Tokyo’s freight terminal, Haneda has become an indispensable node in Asia’s air travel network, projected to serve 90 million passengers annually post-expansions.
Haneda’s commitment to passenger experience is evident in its comprehensive facilities. Terminal 1, affectionately dubbed ‘Big Bird’, operates around the clock, catering to a plethora of airlines with a wealth of shopping and dining options. The airport’s proximity to Tokyo’s cultural hotspots adds to its allure as the most convenient gateway to the city. Moreover, the recent unveiling of Terminal 3’s Haneda Airport Garden has elevated the airport’s offerings, introducing travelers to a plethora of new eateries, retail outlets, and relaxation spots, including two hotels and a spa complete with an outdoor hot spring. Whether you’re embarking on a journey or just passing through, Haneda ensures that your time spent within its confines is as enriching and seamless as the city it serves.
4. Incheon International Airport
Incheon International Airport stands as a testament to South Korea’s prominence in global aviation, serving as the main aerial gateway for the bustling Seoul Capital Area and the entire nation. It’s not only the largest airport in the country but also ranks among the busiest and most expansive in the world. In recognition of its exceptional services and facilities, Skytrax rated Incheon as the fourth-best airport globally in 2021, a prestigious accolade that celebrates its commitment to excellence and passenger satisfaction.
The airport isn’t just a transit point; it’s a cultural showcase, offering travellers a glimpse into Korea’s rich heritage. One such spectacle is the Changing of the Guard ceremony, located near Gate 121 in the concourse area. Here, visitors can witness the majestic procession and demonstration of traditional Korean royal guards, complete with authentic costumes and a display of ancient martial arts, staff, and swordsmanship. This ceremony provides a vibrant, living history lesson to international voyagers and cultural enthusiasts alike.
Incheon Airport also harmonises traditional arts with the rhythms of modern life. Terminal 1 hosts the Gugak Concert near Gate 29, where the timeless melodies of traditional Korean music, Gugak, enchant passersby throughout the year. Meanwhile, the Public Concert situated in the heart of Terminal 1’s duty-free zone presents passengers with an array of live performances, from classical compositions to jazz and soundtracks from popular films and dramas. These musical interludes offer a soothing respite for travellers amidst their journey, adding a layer of cultural immersion to the travel experience.
5. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, commonly referred to as CDG, stands as one of Europe’s most frequented hubs for international travellers and serves as the principal airport for France’s vibrant capital. Surpassing its counterpart, Orly, in size and capacity, CDG is situated a mere 23 kilometres from the heart of Paris. This bustling airport offers a wealth of transport options, including efficient rail and road connections, ensuring visitors can effortlessly navigate from the tarmac to the city’s core. Whether by bus, taxi, or limousine, the journey from Charles de Gaulle to the iconic streets of Paris is both swift and convenient, encapsulating the essence of French sophistication in transit.
CDG is not just a gateway to Paris; it’s a traveler’s nexus to a plethora of major domestic and international destinations. With the pioneering integration of a TGV rail service, the airport provides expedited access to various locales, including the magical realms of Disneyland Paris and the historic streets of Brussels and Lille. Each destination is just a train ride away, with the heart of Paris only 45 minutes from the terminal doors, ensuring that your French adventure begins almost as soon as you land.
The airport’s layout is a harmonious blend of functionality and traveler-centric amenities, comprising three meticulously designed terminals. These terminals are seamlessly interconnected by complimentary shuttle buses, a reflection of CDG’s commitment to accessibility and ease of movement. Inside, passengers are greeted with an array of services, from chic bars and gourmet restaurants to luxury lounges and retail spaces. Each terminal at Charles de Gaulle is a microcosm of the city it serves – a place where international voyagers can enjoy a taste of Parisian flair before they even set foot in the City of Light.
6. Istanbul Airport
Istanbul Airport, ascending to sixth place in Skytrax’s World’s Top 10 Airports for 2022-2023, is the primary gateway for Istanbul, Turkey, and a pivotal landmark on the European side of this transcontinental metropolis. Since its establishment in late 2018, it has rapidly become the largest airport in Europe, supplanting Atatürk Airport in handling both domestic and international flights. The airport is the fruit of an ambitious project started in 2015 to cater to the soaring air traffic, envisaging Istanbul as a critical hub for travellers and airlines alike. With its completion projected by 2027, Istanbul Airport is set to become a colossal aviation centre with six runways and the capacity to welcome 200 million passengers annually, a monumental leap from the city’s previous aviation facilities.
The grandeur of Istanbul Airport is immediately apparent in its design, which artfully intertwines the city’s historical essence with the functionality of modern infrastructure. Visitors are greeted with architectural elements reminiscent of Istanbul’s storied past, from the grand Ottoman pillars to the mesmerising Iznik tiles, which could easily be at home in the Topkapi Palace or the Grand Bazaar. The airport’s design is a homage to Istanbul’s rich heritage and its status as a melting pot of cultures, echoing Napoleon’s sentiment that if the earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital. The central terminal, a fusion of two elegantly curving wings joined by a skylight-drenched atrium, is a far cry from traditional airport designs, offering travellers a spacious and invigorating environment filled with upscale retail and dining options.
In addition to its striking architectural design, Istanbul Airport enchants visitors with its harmonious blend of art and functionality, making the transit through its terminals a cultural experience. With an in-house museum and an array of artworks ranging from classical Turkish art to contemporary pieces, the airport is as much a gallery as it is a travel hub. Art installations like the vibrant “Wish Tree” add a touch of whimsy to the space, while programs like İGART bring the arts alive with weekly events and workshops. For the gourmand traveler, the airport’s restaurants offer a culinary journey through Turkey’s gastronomic landscape right up to the finest international cuisines, ensuring a delightful experience for those with time to enjoy the airport’s diverse offerings.
7. Munich Airport
In seventh place, Munich Franz Josef Strauss Airport, often simply called Munich Airport, is a vital international gateway for both Munich and the broader region of Upper Bavaria. Recognised by the German Aeronautical Information Publication as Muenchen Airport, this bustling hub connects an array of global destinations to the heart of Bavaria. With its comprehensive services and facilities, it caters to the diverse needs of travellers, whether they’re arriving, departing, or simply on a layover.
Retail therapy at Munich Airport is a unique experience, boasting about 150 stores ranging from high-end international fashion houses to local Bavarian brands. Whether you’re searching for the perfect souvenir at the Deutsches Museum shop, showing your team spirit at the FC Bayern store, or in need of practical items from supermarkets and electronics shops, the airport’s shopping scene has it all. The variety of outlets ensures that travellers can easily find gifts, essentials, or indulge in some luxury shopping before takeoff.
Culinary delights abound at Munich Airport, with around 60 dining options available. For the connoisseurs, establishments like Dallmayr Bistro, Käfer, and Schuhbecks offer gourmet experiences, while traditional Bavarian fare is served up at the Hofbräu Bistro and Paulaner. The Hilton Hotel’s Mountain Hub restaurants are noteworthy, with the Mountain Hub Gourmet being the only airport restaurant in Germany to receive a Michelin star in 2022. For those seeking rest, the airport provides the convenience of on-site accommodations such as the five-star Hilton Munich Airport and the Novotel. Additionally, for a quick recharge, travellers can rent “napcabs” in Terminal 2. The architectural splendour of the Munich Airport Centre, with its striking glass roof, connects Terminals 1 and 2 and offers a range of amenities, including the beloved Airbräu with its in-house brewery. Moreover, the Visitors Park, a bridge away from the main building, invites exploration with exhibitions, a cinema, and historic aircraft on display. This locale, along with the Besucherhügel viewing hill, is not just for travellers but also a weekend destination for locals. From its modest beginnings in 1992, replacing Riem Airport, Munich Airport has soared to become one of Europe’s premier airports, distinguished by its commitment to sustainability with a goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.
8. Zurich Airport
Zurich Airport, Switzerland’s largest international gateway and the primary hub for Swiss International Air Lines, has been recognised as the eighth-best airport in the world according to the 2022-2023 Skytrax World Airport Survey. Nestled just a stone’s throw from Zürich’s bustling city centre — a mere 11 minutes by train — the airport serves as the lifeblood of Switzerland’s largest city and provides efficient access to the rest of the country. Known as a commercial powerhouse, Zürich is the ideal launching pad for adventures into the pristine Swiss Alps, and its airport serves as the first impression of the nation’s renowned efficiency and charm.
During the festive Advent season, Zurich Airport transforms into a haven of Yuletide joy. The Circle, the airport’s central plaza, is reimagined into a quaint Christmas village from late November through December, complete with a dazzling tree and a variety of stalls serving traditional treats like mulled wine. Each evening, visitors are treated to a mesmerising light show, and those looking for some interactive fun can take to the ice, trying their hand at curling on two complimentary rinks. Amidst the wintry enchantment, a cozy chalet offers a warm respite, allowing up to ten guests to gather in an intimate, festive setting.
For aviation enthusiasts and curious travellers alike, Zurich Airport’s Observation Deck B offers a globally unique experience. Located within the public area, it invites visitors to observe the intricate ballet of airplanes and pilots up close, with informative pillars detailing the various aircraft and their destinations. For those with a boarding pass, Observation Deck E beckons with panoramic views of the tarmac’s hustle and bustle, including the majestic A380’s docking manoeuvres. As passengers await their flights, children can delight in various play areas, making the wait an enjoyable part of the travel experience, cementing Zurich Airport’s reputation as not just a transit point, but a destination in itself.
9. Narita International Airport
Narita International Airport, known colloquially as Tokyo-Narita and previously as New Tokyo International Airport, is one of the two primary international gateways serving the Greater Tokyo Area, alongside Haneda Airport. Situated approximately 60 kilometres east of central Tokyo in Narita, Chiba, it has become an integral fixture in Japan’s connection with the world, earning it the ninth spot in the Skytrax World’s Top 10 Airports for 2022-2023. The airport’s three terminals, including a dedicated space for low-cost carriers, are designed with convenience in mind, featuring in-house railway stations and a pedestrian walkway to ease the flow of passengers. Shuttle buses also ensure seamless transit between terminals, underscoring Narita’s commitment to traveller-centric infrastructure.
Tokyo-Narita is more than just an airport; it’s a cultural and artistic hub. The NAA Art Gallery offers an impressive array of artwork, from traditional paintings to modern photographs and intricate embroidery, all for the enjoyment of visitors. In a unique collaboration with The Pokémon Company, the airport has integrated the playful spirit of “Pokémon Air Adventures” to enliven the terminals, inviting even non-travellers to partake in the fun. The recent expansion of Terminal 3 has further embraced artistry under the “Make Terminal 3 Vivid” initiative, adding a splash of colour and memorable visuals that enhance the overall airport experience.
The airport is a microcosm of Japan’s renowned hospitality and meticulous attention to detail, providing travellers with a plethora of amenities. World-class shopping experiences await with an extensive range of stores offering everything from luxury brands to local souvenirs and limited-edition treats unique to Narita. For aviation enthusiasts, the observation decks at the main terminals offer panoramic views of the runways, where one can watch the ballet of aircraft against the horizon. Culinary delights abound, too, with a diverse array of eateries serving traditional Japanese fare, international cuisine, and dietary-specific options, ensuring that all tastes and preferences are catered to. Whether it’s your first introduction to Japan or a familiar transit point, Narita International Airport stands as a testament to the country’s blend of tradition, innovation, and the art of travel.
10. Madrid-Barajas Airport
Madrid-Barajas Airport, officially named Aeropuerto Adolfo Suárez-Madrid Barajas, is a cornerstone of Spanish aviation and a key player on the European stage, earning the tenth spot in Skytrax’s World’s Top 10 Airports for 2022-2023. Commonly referred to as “Barajas” and identified by the IATA code MAD, it stands as Spain’s largest and most significant airport. Located in the district of Barajas, roughly 20 kilometres northeast of Madrid’s bustling Puerta del Sol, this airport is the singular aviation hub for the capital, distinct from other European cities that might offer multiple airports. With five terminals, T1 through T4S, and three control towers, Barajas efficiently manages over 40 million passengers annually, serving as a nexus for almost 80 airlines and over 250 routes.
The airport’s strategic location is a mere 10 kilometres from Madrid’s centre, offering travellers a variety of transport options, including metro, train, bus, taxi services, and direct access to major roads. As the main gateway to the country, Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport is a vital economic engine for both the Madrid region and Spain as a whole. It acts as a magnet for industries and business activities, catalysing corporate growth and fostering tourism. Its impact resonates far beyond the confines of the airport, bolstering the national economy and reinforcing Madrid’s status as a global city.
Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas is more than an airport; it’s a comprehensive travel experience complete with a plethora of services. Passengers can enjoy VIP lounges, a business centre, diverse shopping options, and a variety of dining establishments ranging from fast food to gourmet restaurants. Designed to handle current and future demands, the airport boasts the capacity to accommodate up to 85 million passengers per year. Its state-of-the-art facilities and exceptional service standards have garnered numerous accolades and certifications, acknowledging not only its architectural prowess but also its operational excellence.
As we draw the curtains on our exploration of the world’s most esteemed airports, as celebrated in the 2022-2023 Skytrax World Airport Survey, it’s clear that these hubs are not just waypoints but destinations in their own right. Each one, from the sprawling elegance of Singapore Changi to the vibrant corridors of Madrid-Barajas, embodies the pinnacle of air travel, offering an unforgettable start or end to your journey.
As you plan your next trip and look forward to traversing these exemplary terminals, remember to streamline your trip from the very beginning. Don’t forget to book your UK airport parking with the Monster, ensuring your journey is seamless from the moment you leave your home.