World’s Best (and Worst) International Airports

Changi Airport, Singapore
Changi Airport, Singapore

Singapore Airport has been rated by AFF members as the world’s best international airport. Meanwhile, Sydney Airport has been rated as one of the worst.

With a swimming pool, movie theatres, great restaurants and even a butterfly garden, it’s not hard to see why Singapore’s Changi Airport is an AFF favourite! It has also won the Skytrax award for the world’s best airport for the past six years.

Hong Kong, Tokyo-Narita and Helsinki Airports are also popular among AFF members. These airports are clean and well-signposted, making it easy to transfer between flights. These modern airports also feature comfortable waiting areas, nice lounges, friendly staff and have great public transport links to the city.

On the other hand, many AFF members dislike Sydney Airport for its not-so-seamless transfers between domestic and international flights. Among other problems, the Minimum Connection Time in Sydney is way too short.

As a flyer who is based in ADL, I *loathe* SYD – it is an absolute nightmare and I avoid it like the plague.

Have nearly missed every connecting flight ADL-SYD-BKK because of immigration queues. Seriously?? I can’t take an earlier flight (I’m already on the first flight out!) and I’m not so cashed up that I can stay overnight every time I travel.

Berlin Tegel Airport received the second-highest vote count for least favourite airport. Tegel Airport may be conveniently located near central Berlin, but it should have closed down years ago. The airport is operating well beyond capacity and many of the gates are now in demountable sheds. Arriving on international flights can especially be a nightmare. The airport was actually supposed to close in 2011, but the opening of its replacement – the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport – has been perpetually delayed.

Other unpopular airports include the confusing and overcrowded Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Dublin also receives a dishonourable mention, with one member describing the architecture as “decorated in 1950’s Eastern Bloc style”.

Melbourne Airport has been nominated by different members as both the best and worst international airport! As Melbourne’s domestic and international terminals are all within short walking distance, some AFF members like the simplicity of international transfers. For those with access, Melbourne also has a great Qantas First Class lounge. But others find it doesn’t cope well with simultaneous international flight arrivals; others believe it desperately needs a train service to the city.

Similarly, Dubai gets a better rating from travellers with lounge access. Some love Dubai Airport for the Emirates lounges; others hate the airport’s huge size, poor signposting and lack of seating.

Thankfully, some of the more confusing airports become easier to use once you’ve visited a few times…

When you become familiar with the quirks of each one, many times they become better, as you have learnt the layout and some “tricks”.

What’s your favourite and least favourite airport? And what do you think makes a good airport? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: International Airports- Best and Worst.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]