16 of the Most Passenger-Friendly Airports in the World

Most Passenger Friendly Airports

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Most Passenger Friendly Airports
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Bon Voyage

While travelers often focus on the destination, sometimes an incredible airport experience can really enhance the journey — especially if you're stuck somewhere on a layover. Forget about boring gift shops, overpriced food courts, and uncomfortable chairs. Many airports these days are going above and beyond to create fun and relaxing visits for passengers, with everything from impressive art collections and Zen gardens to movie theaters, swimming pools, and world-class dining.

Related: 15 US Airports With Surprisingly Good Food

Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport 香港國際機場/facebook.com

Hong Kong International Airport

One of the busiest airports in Asia, Hong Kong International Airport maintains a lofty spot in the World's Top Airports survey by consumer-aviation website Skytrax. Each year, roughly 68 million passengers pass through the airport, built on an artificial island. Despite the sprawling layout, its open spaces and amenities can make for a pleasant visit. In addition to abundant dining and shopping options, there's a 358-seat Imax cinema, two virtual golf courses, an educational theme park for kids, and an Aviation Discovery Center with a flight simulator.

Nashville International Airport
Nashville International Airport/facebook.com

Nashville International Airport | Tennessee

Visitors to Music City are treated to plenty of live tunes, thanks to six performance venues throughout Nashville International Airport, which hosts local and international acts. Travelers can also enjoy artwork throughout the terminals. There are sculptures, mobiles, and an interactive seating area with mosaic sculptures of butterflies and more. Numerous local and national eateries have outposts here, and adult beverages from bars like the popular Tennessee Brew Works can be taken anywhere (except on the plane) thanks to a rare airport-wide liquor license.

Helsinki Airport
Helsinki Airport/facebook.com

Helsinki Airport

Nestled in the suburb of Vantaa, Finland, with convenient public transportation to and from Helsinki, the stylish Helsinki Airport is a relaxing, art-filled destination in and of itself. There's plenty to admire at the airport's art gallery and aviation museum, along with art throughout the terminals. Passengers can also enjoy work/rest stations, sleeping pods, a spa lounge, play areas for kids, a scenic terrace, and a book swap where you can borrow and drop off used books. There's also the Almost@home Lounge, designed to feel like home with vintage couches, a kitchen with snacks, and even a PlayStation. Among the numerous eateries and bars, the Nordic-inspired Arctic Bar is a popular spot.

Changi Airport

Changi Airport | Singapore

One of the world's busiest airports and rated the best by the Skytrax survey, Changi Airport seems to offer more passenger perks than many. Among its incredible amenities are outdoor cactus, sunflower, orchid, and butterfly gardens, along with indoor gardens and fish ponds. There are two free movie theaters and multiple free TV stations for video games, movies, and sports. You'll find hundreds of shops and eateries, including local specialties like the traditional Tunglok Teahouse. There's a rooftop pool, free snooze lounges, and transit hotels for longer layovers; elaborate playgrounds; and art installations. You can even take one of two free tours of Singapore if there's enough time before your next flight.

San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)/facebook.com

San Francisco International Airport

As bustling as San Francisco International Airport can be, it offers numerous amenities to help travelers de-stress and unwind. Stretch your legs (and everything else) in multiple free yoga rooms, meditate and relax in the Berman Reflection Room, and let the kids blow off steam at several play areas. There's also an aviation museum and library, a Christian Science reading room, and multiple rotating art exhibits with self-guided tours available. You'll find plenty of excellent shopping and dining options, including many of the Bay Area's celebrated local eateries.

Hamad International Airport
Hamad International Airport/facebook.com

Hamad International Airport | Qatar

One of the newer top-rated airports on the Skytrax list, the beautiful Hamad International Airport cost a whopping $16 billion to construct and offers plenty of luxe features for travelers. There's a 25-meter swimming pool, a full gym, a spa, and squash courts to work out the kinks of travel. You'll find swanky lounges and kid-friendly areas, quiet rooms, art exhibitions (including a playground-like bronze sculpture), an upscale airport hotel, top-notch eateries, and luxury shopping. There's also a stunning water-droplet-shaped public mosque located within walking distance of the terminal, along with prayer rooms for men and women. 

Portland International Airport
Portland International Airport/facebook.com

Portland International Airport | Oregon

Frequently ranked as one of the top airports in the United States and the world, Portland International Airport offers loads of passenger-friendly perks as well as great customer service and few flight delays. For starters, getting to and from PDX is a breeze thanks to its proximity to downtown, as well as light rail and even bike trails to the airport. Once there, you'll find a free movie theater showing films about the Pacific Northwest, rotating art exhibits, live music, free Wi-Fi, and local shops like Powell's Books. Food and drink options include many of Portland's famed eateries, as well as brewpubs and House Spirits — the world's first distillery tasting room at an airport. The airport even has an occasional farmers market.

Wellington International Airport, New Zealand
Wellington International Airport, New Zealand by itravelNZ® - New Zealand in your pocket™ (CC BY)

Wellington International Airport | New Zealand

New Zealand's Wellington International Airport receives high marks for both traveler amenities and impressive design, making for a pleasant introduction to a stunning country. Fans of "The Hobbit," filmed in New Zealand, will be delighted by giant sculptures of Smaug the Dragon and other characters. And architecture fans will want to visit The Rock, a lounge featuring an award-winning, futuristic design of three-dimensional wood panel mosaics. There are also plenty of excellent shopping and dining options, plus the free Wildcard program with discounts throughout the airport.

Keflavik International Airport
Keflavik International Airport/facebook.com

Keflavík Airport | Iceland

As if you needed another great reason to visit Iceland, the excellent perks offered at Keflavík Airport make for a pleasant arrival, departure, or stopover, as it's a popular hub for the rest of Europe. The airport has won multiple awards for service and amenities. You'll find free Wi-Fi, shops with locally made goods and food, a kids' play area, and more. It's a small yet modern airport, so while there aren't a ton of food options, there's a good range, from affordable bites to upscale eats. The Icelandair Saga Lounge is also a great place to recharge, with comfy recliners, a cozy fireplace, and more.

Madrid–Barajas Airport

Madrid-Barajas Airport

The architecturally stunning Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain is designed for both form and comfort, with glass domes for natural light and undulating shapes that were specifically designed to soothe passengers. There are numerous lounges where you can purchase a pass for the day to relax, shower, or work. And if you need to unwind even more, there are guest rooms to rent for sleeping.

Tampa International Airport
Tampa International Airport/facebook.com

Tampa International Airport | Florida

While it may not be as flashy as some of the other airports on this list, Tampa International Airport offers plenty of retro charm. It's regarded highly by travelers and received high marks in J.D. Power's 2023 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. Passengers spend less time waiting in security lines and more time enjoying dozens of shops and restaurants, public art, and frequent events like an annual 5K on the runway. The SkyConnect people mover system makes getting to and from the airport even easier.

Dubai International
Dubai International/facebook.com

Dubai International Airport | U.A.E.

One of the world's biggest and busiest airports (over 66 million passengers per year), Dubai International Airport offers plenty of opportunities for travelers to unwind as well as indulge. Find peace among the fish ponds and lush greenery of not one but two Zen gardens; sweat it out at the health club with a sauna, gym, and pool; get pampered at the spa; or take a nap at one of the sleep "igloos" or a 5-star hotel. The huge range of dining and shopping options includes everything from caviar and diamonds to comfort fare and travel necessities. The airport also features a huge children's play area, live music, and frequent special events.

Tokyo Haneda International Airport
Haneda Airport International Terminal/facebook.com

Tokyo Haneda International Airport

Ranked the second-best airport in the world by Skytrax, Tokyo Haneda International Airport in Japan is one of two large airports serving Tokyo and offers an incredibly passenger-friendly experience. The more than 75 million travelers who pass through each year enjoy clean and comfortable terminals, top-notch service, and user-friendly facilities. Highlights include a half-size replica of the 1911 Nihonbashi bridge, shopping and dining in the historically inspired Edo Alley, an outdoor deck illuminated by 4,000 LED lights at night, capsule hotel rooms for a nap, and rentable mini robot guides that speak Japanese, Cantonese, and English. Passengers also can make use of free showers, pay and free lounges, massage chairs, and a spa.

Vancouver International Airport
Vancouver International Airport/facebook.com

Vancouver International Airport | Canada

In typical Canadian fashion, Vancouver International Airport receives high marks for friendly staff, efficient organization, and sustainability features. It's also beloved for its two aquariums, including a 30,000-gallon tank and a 500-gallon tank stocked with marine life of British Columbia. Throughout the airport there are more than 75 works of First Nations art created by indigenous artists, including massive wooden sculptures. There are also plenty of play zones for kids, excellent food options, and shopping. Future plans include an indoor forest.

Munich Airport
Flughafen München/facebook.com

Munich Airport

Leave it to the Germans to have the only airport brewery in the world, at Munich Airport, where you'll also find traditional German fare and live music. The sprawling, light-filled airport offers about 60 eateries — including an outdoor one with runway views — a shopping mall, historic aircraft you can board, an aviation-themed playground and mini-golf, and an observation deck. The airport is considered one of the most punctual in the world and easy to navigate. Should you need to take a nap, there are private pods you can rent. Around the holidays, there's a Christmas market with real trees and a skating rink. In the warmer months, you can surf a wave pool.

Incheon Airport, South Korea 01/09/2011
Incheon Airport, South Korea 01/09/2011 by David Jones 大卫 琼斯 (CC BY-NC)

Incheon International Airport | South Korea

While busy Incheon International Airport may look sleek and modern, the sweeping roof is inspired by traditional Korean temples. You'll find Korean art throughout the terminals, as well as a museum and cultural centers, traditional architecture, contemporary sculptures, and frequent performances of traditional music and dance. There are indoor and outdoor gardens, incredible dining options, high-end shopping, a synthetic ice-skating rink, and two multilingual movie theaters. A 72-hole golf course is a free five-minute shuttle ride away, and there are free transit tours to surrounding sights, as well as a luxury spa with showers and sleeping rooms, if you have a lengthy layover.