Whether you need to hunker down for a long layover or hustle between terminals to catch your next flight, these global hubs provide a stellar transportation experience.
Airports can strongly impact our impressions of a trip — for better or worse. The experience is heightened when flying internationally since you either have several hours to kill or a very brief window of time to make a connection. As indicated by our readers’ comments, both fundamentals (efficiency of security, accessibility) and amenities (dining, spas, entertainment options) can make a big difference. Hubs in Asia and the Middle East excel in both areas, according to T+L readers, who awarded airports in those two regions seven out of the 10 spots on this year’s list.
Every year for the World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Since 2013, we’ve asked readers to cast their votes for their favorite hubs across the world, rating airports on access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, and design.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, came in at No. 2 for the second year in a row thanks to what one reader called its “excellent facilities,” which include a swank Vitality Wellbeing and Fitness Centre with squash courts and an indoor swimming pool. Dubai, the main hub for the airline Emirates and the world’s busiest airport for international passenger traffic, earned the No. 3 slot as it continues to innovate. This spring, the carrier introduced a trial program of 3-D virtual reality headsets in its business- and first-class lounges at DXB so that passengers could enjoy movie screenings and 360-degree videos. But even general customers remain impressed by the varied offerings. “I enjoyed spending time in the Dubai airport and felt very comfortable and entertained,” said one reader. “There were plenty of restaurants and shops to choose from, and the design is modern and clean.”
In Asia, Hong Kong International (No. 4) continues to earn accolades as it modernizes and plans for expansion. But recent improvements have already won over passengers: inside the bright, modern airport, Cathay’s new Terminal 1 lounge, the Deck, features bespoke furniture and an open-air terrace where guests can feast on selections from the carrier’s cult-favorite Noodle Bar. “Incredible airport with shopping, good lighting, and amazing lounges,” wrote one fan.
Read on for a full rundown of the top 10 international airports — and to find out which one took the No. 1 position.