I have flown more than 800 times during the past 19 years and have been to many many airports around the world. I have not been to all airports around the world, but this is my verdict on the +100 airports I have visited over the years.
Airports that I love.
Recife in Northeast Brazil has a really nice airport, that is close to the beach and served well by public transport. there is free wifi there and there is a really good selection of cafes and bars while you are waiting. On the top floor, where the food court is, you usually have live music. Why can’t more airports have that please? I have even seen folk dancers and bands in the arrival hall, welcoming arriving guests to the city. I really like this, when an airport, at the same time, has the basic things in order, such as good public transport to the city, free wifi and bars and cafes that you actually want to hang out in.
Copenhagen Airport is probably the airport in Europe that has the best public transport to and from the city center. Metro every 5 minutes, train every 20 minutes and busses too. The airport is easy to walk around and the cafes are good, even if they are expensive. May I recommend Le Sommelier for the best coffee and O’learys for the best beer, as long as you skip what they have on tap and ask for their micro brews on bottle. I love that the airport has hot dog stands, which is a very danish thing and they also have bicycle pumps at the arrival hall, if you fly to Copenhagen with you bike. I am danish myself and love Denmark for some things and hate Denmark for other things, but Copenhagen Airport is good at celebrating the things that we danes should be proud of.
Only thing that is bad about Copenhagen airport is the budget terminal, where you have zero service and nothing but a hard chair to sit on. It’s seriously shit and a disgrace to the airport and it takes 10-15 minutes to walk to there from the main airport, so you can’t even hang out at the nice cafes before going to the gates there and being truly budget, it of course has no travelator, so you better book wheelchair assistance, if you not fit for a long walk. But despite that, I seriously think Copenhagen is a really good airport, just don’t fly Ryanair, Easyjet or Vueling, as they use the awful budget terminal.
Singapore Airport is almost always the winner as the worlds best airport and there is a reason for that. It’s simply very comfortable to transfer in, with lot’s of tropical trees and plants at the airport as well as little waterfalls and movie theaters you can use for free. It’s an airport that really thinks about providing service to the customer. Wifi is free and good and it’s quite easy to transfer in, even if it’s a huge airport. This is a really nice airport, that has been good for over two decades. And it’s the only airport I have been to where they give you free candy upon arrival. Not THAT is a nice airport attitude 🙂
Madeira airport is tiny, but it’s a really cool airport, that has one of the most unique runways in the world, build on 180 concrete stilts and the airport also has a nice observation deck in the transit area, where you can watch the planes take off and land. Because of the small size, the airport is easy to check in at and get around and the cafes on the third floor, in the new terminal are really good and prices very reasonable. It also has one of the very few tax free stores that I bother to shop in, with a good and reasonably priced section with portuguese wines. If you want to read a little more about the unique runway of this airport, then click here
Vietnam has some truly awful airports in Hanoi and Saigon, but in central Vietnam, they have recently build a really nice airport in the bustling city of Danang. It’s clearly meant to tale a lot more traffic than it does right now and it’s very well made, with excellent coffee shops, a nice micro brew bar and well functioning free wifi, all over the airport. Leaders from developing nation, wanting to build new airports in order to boost the economy of their region, should travel to Danang, to see how to do it.
And then to the bad airports.
Hanoi and Saigon Airport.
I’ll start with two airports in one go, as they are both vietnamese. Hanoi andSaigon are both mega cities with lot’s of industry and lot’s of need for international business travel. Almost every major airline in the world is ready to fly to this new growing economy, but they need an airport where they have space to land big aircrafts, space for thousands of passengers every hour and basic things like cafes with service minded people and good wifi that is free for everyone. These two airports have none of that and they are a joke as things are now. I have been to Vietnam 26 times and truly love the country and it’s people, but the leaders need to step up if they want more visitors, because their shabby airports in Hanoi and Saigon, are right now an obstacle to economic growth.
You have to look for a long time to find people whip are more polite and service minded than philippine people and you have to look for a long time to find an airport that is as dirty as Manila Airport. The transit area in terminal 1, where the big international airlines fly from is a total joke. Hundreds of people are trying to cram in to Bo’s Coffee, which is the only place worth buying anything from and that place has space for less than 20 people, so it becomes a total mess with old dirty coffee cups everywhere. I usually like to arrive early to the airport, cause I hate having to stress before an overseas flight, but in Manila I would never want to be early for an overseas flight, because of the lack of decent places to wait and because of the bad smell.
Frankfurt is an airport that you are very likely to transfer in, if you fly overseas from Europe. I’m sure the airport was well meant, but it doesn’t work and it was only created with the system in mind and not the passenger. It takes forever to change terminals and if you make the mistake of going all the way out to the gate while waiting, you do not have any cafe’s or bar’s where you can buy anything, so you need to walk all the way back, unless you think the sexiest thing on the planet is a hard plastic chair, where you can sit and wait for your connecting flight. And even if you make it back, then the selection of places to eat and drink is shabby. I personally do all I can to avoid Frankfurt as a transfer airport. It’s even worse that Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.