Guide to the world’s best airports

March 22, 2016 Chuck Koster

Around this time last year I got stuck at and spent several hours at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. I was anxious about being at the right place at the right time to make my flight so I arrived at my gate early and just kind of stayed put. When I made it back to the U.S., I realized that I missed a real opportunity to experience one of the world’s favorite airports. It turns out the Amsterdam airport features an annex of the renowned Rijksmuseum, a library and its own casino, in addition to dozens of other attractions. Where was this information when I was sitting at gate F9 staring into space?

Rijksmuseum at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam - taken by Kat Walsh - used with Creative Commons License

I decided to poll the most experienced travelers here at Travel and Transport about what the best airports are. I asked them three questions, “what connecting airport is the easiest to navigate”, “what airport is best to spend time in when a long layover can’t be avoided”, and “what airports have best restaurants”? Here’s what I learned:

What connecting airport is the easiest to navigate?

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport was the most popular choice by a wide margin and the distinction is even more impressive considering Atlanta is the world’s busiest airport. Travel and Transport Director of Sales Susan Thomas explains why it’s her favorite: “Once you understand the ease of use of “the plane train” you are golden.  No other airport comes close to it in size and maneuverability.” My favorite, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, was a distant second place choice among our top travelers.

ATL-airport-plane-train-people-mover

What airport is best to spend time in when a long layover can’t be avoided?

International airports in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Zurich and — Amsterdam — received lots of appreciation among our travelers and tales were told of a butterfly garden, rooftop swimming pool, free movie theater and free foot massage machines — and that all just pertained to the Changi Airport in Singapore.

Changi Airport in Singaporte: taken by Jay Tornaquia - used with Creative Commons License

Domestically, Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport was the unanimous choice due its multiple shopping areas and dozens of quality restaurants and taverns. Travel and Transport’s April Beasley, Special Events and Executive Travel Coordinator, perhaps said it best, “The great little mall-style shopping spots make Minneapolis a great airport to spend time.”

What airports have the best restaurants?

While there were clear consensus winners for the other two poll questions, there was not for this one. Travel and Transport’s “super-travelers” tended to vote for the airport closest to where they lived, likely because that’s where they eat the most.

healthy-airport-restaurant-choices

For example, Colorado-based April Wheeler, our Vice-President of Account Management, wrote, “I think Elway’s at Denver International Airport is the best airport food I have ever had”. Other restaurants receiving votes were Chef Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera (Chicago O’hare), Yankee Pier (San Francisco International Airport), and Varasano’s Pizza (Atlanta).

>> See our guide to making healthy airport restaurant choices here.

So how about you? What airports make traveling a breeze? Where would you most want to spend a layover, and what’s your favorite place to eat? Travel and Transport and your fellow travelers would love to hear your opinions.

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