These Are the World’s Best Airports

The release of the latest Airport Service Quality awards, announced recently by Airports Council International, shows that U.S. airports have a lot of improving to do to catch up with their international neighbors.

Depending on where you’re headed, the classiest part of your next business trip might be the airport.

Frequent fliers, take note: Airports Council International (ACI) announced last week the 2015 winners of its annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards. Each year 320-plus airports in 80 countries participate in a survey that approximately 600,000 travelers take, in which they rate their experiences with airport services.

Asian airports were tops on the best airports list, setting high standards for traveler experiences. Among airports handling more than 40 million passengers per year, Seoul Incheon International Airport in South Korea and Changi Airport in Singapore tied for first place in the Best Airport by Size category. In Europe the honor was bestowed on London’s Heathrow Airport, in the new category Best Airport by Size and Region (Europe).

“Airports’ increasing concentration on ensuring a stellar passenger experience is part of a larger trend,” Angela Gittens, director general of ACI World, said in news release. ACI is a trade association representing airports around the world.

Asia Impresses

Tying for first place in two categories (Best Airport by Region, more than 2 million passengers per year [Asia-Pacific], and Best Airport by Size, more than 40 million passengers per year), Singapore Changi and Seoul Incheon were rated as 2015’s best airports. Incheon also nabbed the honor for the Best Airport by Size and Region, Asia Pacific, over 40 million passengers per year.

Maybe these airports will encourage you to stay on the ground and miss your flight. Indeed, the perks are certainly tempting. Changi, for one, has two 24-hour movie theaters, along with a butterfly garden, spa, and rooftop pool. Incheon, meanwhile, has attractions such as a casino, ice skating rink, and a golf driving range. Of course, there are beautiful gardens and a spa, too.


Unfortunately for American fliers, no U.S. airport landed a high-ranking spot in ACI’s global rankings of best airports by size.

But Hoosiers can be proud, as Indianapolis Airport took first place in the Best Airport by Region, over 2 million travelers per year (North America), category. In second place was Dallas’ Love Field; Gerald R. Ford International in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Jacksonville and Tampa international airports in Florida; and Ottawa International, in Ontario, Canada. And coming in third place were airports in Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Detroit; Sacramento, California; and Toronto (Billy Bishop).

Among other honored airports were Maine’s Portland International, in the Best Airport by Region, under 2 million travelers per year (North America), category, and Saskatoon International in Saskatchewan, Canada, for Best Improvement by Region, North America.

“Airports have evolved into complex, customer-focused businesses in their own right that in many cases are in competition with each other for passenger traffic,” Gittens said of today’s massive airport operations and competition. “From duty free and restaurants to ambience, cleanliness, courtesy of staff, amenities, efficiency, and more, air travelers are expecting big things from the airports through which they travel. More than anything, ASQ is a way for participants to measure the extent to which they deliver on these expectations.”

Last but not least, travelers should keep an eye on Nairobi, Kenya; Istanbul, Turkey; and Kingston, Jamaica, as emerging global airports, each earning top spots as most improved in their respective regions. Worth a layover?

South Korea's Seoul Incheon International Airport. (iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)

Patrick deHahn

By Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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