U.S. Not There

Here’s a list of the world’s major international airports, voted on and ranked by over thirteen million travelers on a combination of (among others) amenities, cleanliness, shopping, ease of movement, and passenger treatment:

1. Singapore Changi Airport
2. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
3. Incheon International Airport
4. Hamad International Airport (Doha)
5. Hong Kong International Airport
6. Central Japan International Airport
*7. Munich Airport
*8. London Heathrow Airport
9. Narita International Airport
*10. Zurich Airport

11. Kansai
*12. Frankfurt
13. Taiwan Taoyuan
*14. Amsterdam Schiphol
15. Copenhagen
16. Shanghai Hongqiao
*17. Vancouver
18. Brisbane
*19. Vienna
20. Helsinki-Vantaa

21. Sydney
*22. Cape Town
23. Melbourne
24. Dubai
25. Cologne / Bonn
26. London City
27. Auckland
28. Hamburg
*29. Durban
*30. Paris Charles De Gaulle

31. Dusseldorf
*32. Denver
*33. Johannesburg
34. Seoul Gimpo
35. Madrid Barajas
*36. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson
*37. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
*38. Houston George Bush
39. Guangzhou
40. Jakarta

41. Haikou Meilan
42. Athens
43. Barcelona
44. Xi’an
45. Gold Coast
46. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
47. Lima
*48. San Francisco
49. Quito
50. Toronto Pearson

51. Christchurch
52. Perth
53. Bogota
54. Kuala Lumpur
*55. London Gatwick
*56. Dallas/Fort Worth
*57. Seattle-Tacoma
58. Baku
59. Delhi
*60. Lisbon
61. Muscat
*62. Montréal
63. Moscow Sheremetyevo
64. Mumbai
65. Shenzhen
66. Hyderabad
67. Fukuoka
68. Guayaquil
*69. Bangalore
70. Oslo
*71. Los Angeles
72. Beijing Capital
73. Stockholm Arlanda
*74. New York JFK
75. Chengdu
76. Adelaide
*77. Minneapolis St.Paul
*78. Phoenix
79. Porto
80. Moscow Domodedovo
*81. Boston Logan
*82. Rome Fiumicino
83. Malta
84. Dublin
*85. Houston Hobby
86. Hanoi Noi Bai
87. Abu Dhabi
88. Bahrain
89. Budapest
90. Halifax
91. Warsaw
*92. Detroit Metropolitan
*93. Nice
94. Mauritius
95. Luxembourg
*96. Chicago O’Hare
97. Prague
98. Birmingham
99. Changsha
100. Billund

Source: Skytrax World Airport Awards (and asterisks indicate that I’ve been through them myself, some admittedly a while back)

Some comments:

  1. I’m told that anyone who has been through the top 10 airports with any frequency (e.g. Mr. Free Market) will be unsurprised by those rankings. I’m only surprised by Munich’s #7 ranking — I found it quite ordinary, but it’s been over a decade since I was there so maybe it’s improved.
  2. Excluding JFK, most of the U.S. “international” airports aren’t really that — they handle way more domestic- than international flights, so they’re light on amenities and shopping (compared to Heathrow and Singapore, for example, where international flights comprise probably 90% of the total and long waits for connecting flights are the norm).
  3. The numbers are not weighted by airport size or traffic, which is why some of the Third World airports (e.g. India’s) are ranked where they are.
  4. I’m amazed that JFK is ranked as high as it is.  For all its pretensions to being a world-class city, New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia are Third World airports — in fact, they’re worse than that — and not one person I’ve ever spoken to (including New Yorkers) has ever taken issue with me on that comment.
  5. Unless Bangalore has been rebuilt since I’ve been there, I cannot believe its ranking.  Ditto Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo, which is a nightmare, and Charles De Gaulle in Paris.  All of these have set some kind of record for staff indifference to passengers’ needs.


  1. I fly a fair amount, and I can’t figure out why Orlando International isn’t on the list, well above places like SFO and JFK.

  2. I’m a little surprised Denver wasn’t higher. I don’t fly often, but other than the extremely creepy art on the walls and Blucifer (the blue horse outside the airport with the glowing red eyes), I haven’t had any complaints about the airport itself.

    1. For those who don’t know, it should be noted that Blucifer actually killed its creator by falling on him.

  3. LGA and EWR deserve all the hatred and then some, but honestly, JFK depends on the terminal. I don’t hate it, except for Terminal 8’s arrivals area. The only thing missing there is a handle marked “flush.” The outbound side of T8 is quite nice, plenty of shops and restaurants for all tastes and budgets (relatively-speaking). Even EWR terminals B & C are functional and less poxy than TML A, which is the epitome of hell on Urf.

    Heathrow, on the other hand, is an airport I’ll fly an extra 5 hours to avoid. My last adventure there involved a 6 hour layover in T3. I refused to buy a £6.95 bottle of water, and instead filled up my water bottle from a tap in the Gent’s. Some jobsworth tried to scold me for daring to do that with a shame-inducing “you mustn’t do that–it’s not allowed.” I had two words for him—and they weren’t “Thank You.” Even a simple burger lunch will set you back close to £30, and there are no fast food options in T3 if you’re on a budget. I viscerally despise LHR with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. And don’t get me going on Britishland’s egregious departure taxes and fuel surcharges.

    And we won’t get into the fact that you need to be capable of running a marathon to get to and from your gate on foot. As a Gentleman Of Size with some walking issues, I needed to use an electric cart to take me to the outer void where my plane was waiting. I flagged the beast down, hopped in and cried “Gate 25, driver, and don’t spare the horses!” He diligently obliged!

  4. I’d like to see the age of the airports listed.
    Denver was constructed from scratch about 20 years ago. It’s still a pre 9/11 so they had to wedge security into the main terminal, and the concourses are more open as they were designed for people in addition to passengers to be there.
    Indianapolis is even newer, and a ground-up design too. Great airport, but very small.
    Most other US airports are much older, with a combination of old and new.

  5. Doesn’t surprise me much. US air travel has declined in terms of ‘want to do it again’ since the Connie’s were retired.

    Sorry Kim, that got out before I realized.

  6. I was last in Bangalore in 2006. IIRC, they were building a new airport at the time, so that may be the one that got ranked.

  7. I can tell this list is bogus; O’Hare is in the Top 100.

    In a 32 year career involving extensive airline travel (a round trip a week) for 21 of them, O’Hare remains the only airport I have ever lost luggage in.

  8. In 2017 I flew into Seattle. It was a nightmare. You guys take your immigration controls seriously. Fair enough, but you really need to employ an appropriate number of people to do the work.

    Kim, you are hosting for the 2024 eclipse, right?

  9. I notice with some amusement that “Baltimore-Washington International” didn’t even make the cut. Not surprising. It went to hell after they re-named it from Friendship International.

  10. CVG is a shell of its’ former self as they closed Terminal C altogether with the demise of Delta Connection. Even Delta has cut back the number of flights that used to hub in CVG. One good thing, with the influx of low-cost carriers ticket prices no longer resemble extortion or ransom payments.

    I kind of like flying thru ATL as there’s a 5 Guys in the concourse and my connections usually happen around lunch time.

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