The Travel Addict rated the world’s airports based on shopping, food options and ease of transfer in the list is below. This is limited to airports I have actually visited all over the globe so some of my travel issues may have changed the rankings in a positive and negative way. I have flown over 2 million miles through countless airports. A lot of my experiences are based on how helpful the staff working is at each airport and how happy they are to help you out when you really need it.
#1 Seoul Incheon International Airport, Korea (ICN)
Everyone working there is gracious and super helpful. This airport is a joyous place, to say the least.
This airport has some of the world’s best shopping with all of the popular and luxurious brands including Chanel, LV, Gucci, Hermes etc. You can also participate in the Korea Heritage Center arts and crafts where you can learn the art of origami or paint a traditional fan.
There are also two of my favorite travel snacks, Mr. Donut for their specialty Pon De Ring and Smoothie King for a liquid pick me up between flights.
#2 Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok Thailand (BKK)
This airport is fairly new, it opened in 2006 and is the ninth busiest airport in Asia. For the adventurous foodie, there’s everything from Thai dishes and ramen to sushi, pizza, pub food and much more. It has amazing people and shops, even a Tiffany & Co., in the airport.
Despite being built over an old graveyard, Suvarnabhumi is Sanskrit and means “Land of Gold.” The architecture of the building was designed by Helmut Jahn and is stunning. The airport is on what has been known as Nong Nguhao, also called Cobra Swamp.
#3 Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
Everything is modern and state of the art and probably the cleanest airport I have visited. In my opinion, Dubai has some of the best airline lounges in the world and that’s what sets it apart. You can literally have almost anything you desire in the Emirates Lounge.
I was stranded in Dubai airport for 24 hours once and I was able to get a massage, fantastic meals and they somehow found a strawberry milkshake for me at 2 am once without me leaving the lounge. They also have a secret way to board your plane without entering general population from the lounge.
They have dedicated people working there and an efficient a bus system that takes you to different terminals at a rapid pace. Not to mention it’s the world’s busiest airport for international travelers.
#4 Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Airport, Georgia (ATL)
My top pick in the US. I am a very dedicated Delta customer and ATL is the heart of the Delta team and they are always willing to help as needed. I find their train system extremely quick and easy to navigate
ATL has Minute Suites near Gate B16. The company offers snug rooms available to rent by the hour for long layovers where you can take a nap on their daybeds, catch up on work in a quiet room with high-speed internet that actually works or watch TV on the giant flat screen in every room.
Also, ATL often has live musicians playing in several terminals. It can be a live piano performance in the International terminal or smooth jazz saxophone on the domestic side of the airport.
If I am going to be stranded in any airport in the states, this is the place I’d rather be stuck at.
#5 Tokyo Narita Airport, Japan (NRT)
It is quiet…maybe the quietest airport in the world. Japanese people and culture are known for their politeness and attention to detail. Everything is clearly marked, the staff is very helpful and did I mention it is so quiet? After you leave the pandemonium of Tokyo which is one of the most bustling more populated cities and it’s a nice change of pace to relax and wait for your flight.
They also probably have the best restrooms in any airport. The cleanliness is impeccable. They think of everything in these bathrooms from the Toto toilets with the heated seats to places to rest your purse while you use the facilities inside the stalls.
As a side note, I’m not a huge fan of Japanese food so this airport boasts the best tasting McDonalds in the world.
#6 John F. Kennedy Airport, New York (JFK)
Ease of connection and access to the world. JFK is located in one of my favorite cities to visit NYC and I connect through JFK a lot to get a direct flight to Europe, South America and Africa.
It has a great selection of restaurants including mid-range price options like Marcus Samuelsson’s Uptown Brasserie and fast food spots like Shake Shack.
The Delta Sky Club lounge is a flagship and one of the best Delta lounges in the world. In concourse B there’s an observation deck to watch planes take off and land. It provides a rare glimpse of the outside and fresh air in an airport setting.
#7 Detroit Metro Airport, Michigan (DTW)
When you think of Detroit you may not think of the best airport in the world but it is actually a beautiful bright space. With two main terminals and a sky train, it’s easy to navigate on flight connections. Since the merger with Northwest, DTW has many direct flights all over the US and Europe.
You can get spa services at Be Relax or calm down from the rigors of a long travel day in the lounge area with Starbucks while watching the water feature simulating flight patterns around the world in concourse A.
#8 Salt Lake International Airport, Utah (SLC)
You can’t beat this beautiful view as you land at the airport. I love an extra tourist option. The airport offers free shuttles and tours downtown of the church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints Mormon temple.
If you decide to stay at the airport there are plenty of affordable fast food options to grab a quick bite or drink. Chef Cat Cora also has her restaurant which serves cocktails and tapas in Terminal One. While in Terminal Two Cora has her on-the-go gourmet market for more bustling travelers.
Want to take the edge off of traveling? High West Distillery serves up Rocky Mountain Whiskey. It was Utah’s first distillery since the 1870’s, High West Distillery and Saloon offers a truly unique experience as the world’s only ski-in distillery and gastro-saloon in Park City and now explorers can experience a bit of it in the airport.
For all of the chocoholics, you’re not forgotten. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory features locally made gourmet chocolates and candy.
#9 Sydney Kingsford Smith International, Airport Australia (SYD)
My experience in Sydney is somewhat crazy. I have traveled to Australia several times and sometime between my first and second trip, they changed the visa requirements to enter the country for Americans. I did not have the required visa and was somehow allowed to board the plane in Seattle to go to Sydney.
Upon arrival, I was stuck in customs and I wasn’t sure if I was going to end up like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal.” They would not let me enter the country even though I tried to convince them the US and Australia are friends. (I used those exact words!) Usually, you have an option to get a visa when you arrive but not in Australia, you have to buy it from outside the country.
They did however eventually take pity on me and allow me to enter the Air New Zealand business class lounge and access the internet with a very helpful staff who allowed me to rebook and transfer to a flight to New Zealand to get a visa. It was a very expensive travel mistake. I am pretty sure my luggage didn’t travel with me but when I landed in New Zealand. I was able to purchase a visa to Australia for $15. It was the longest day (two days) of travel I have experienced.
For their hospitality and being the gateway to an extraordinary country, this airport makes the list.
#10 Charles De Gaulle Paris Airport, France (CDG)
This airport makes the cut solely because they have Laduree Paris macarons, simply the best cookies on the planet Earth. Macarons come in flavors such as pistachio, black-currant-and-violet, and caramel. There are also gift collections of candles, totes, and almond-scented body creams. There is no seating, there is a collectible box featuring the portrait of a Parisian pooch named Mademoiselle Fifi.
The airport is the largest international airport in France, the second largest in Europe and the seventh busiest airport in the world. CDG has over 120 shops from Cartier to Sephora. Whether it’s fashion, chocolate or spirits you can find everything your heart desires even Mademoiselle Fifi.