The best airports to transit through 2016
As seasoned business travellers, getting from A to B can sometimes be anything but smooth. Airports, for instance, can be a nightmare – think round-the-block queues, seriously long delays, cancellations, awful customer service – but actually more and more are striving to improve and cater to their clients' needs...
We take a look at some of the best (and a few of the worst) airports to transit through (and explore) on you travels this year.
1. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
The award-winning Singapore Changi Airport has been voted the 'Best Airport in the World' on numerous occasions and it's not hard to see why! With 12 comfortable lounges – most of which are open 24 hours a day – three business centres; iConnect areas and free WiFi throughout the airport, it's really easy to stay connected with the office. But there's a lot more to this airport! Escape the hustle in one of the beautiful on-site gardens, including butterflies, over 100 species of cactus (T1) and 500 sunflowers (T2); plus don't miss the four-storey-high stainless steel slide (in T3); movie theatre; wellness centres; Singapore city tours; excellent shopping and duty free; as well as numerous high-quality eateries. What more could you ask for?
2. Incheon Airport (ICN)
Since the 1988 Seoul Olympics, not only has footfall increased at Incheon Airport but it's also one of the world’s cleanest airports and claims to have a remarkable baggage mishandling rate of 0.0001%*! Plus the Korean immigration service works according to ‘ppalli ppalli’ culture (the need to do things quickly), which means average time for arrivals is 12 minutes and departures 19 minutes*. On arrival, freshen up at one the free shower rooms or catch some shut-eye in one of the private sleeping rooms. Take advantage of the airport's WiFi and keep up to date with emails at one of the business centres. Plus don't miss the golf course, spa, casino, ice-skating rink, Korean Cultural Street experience, gardens, movie theatres, excellent shopping and special transit tours – choose from a range including the Dora Observatory, Fish Market and Yongungsa Temple.
3. Munich Airport (MUC)
The second busiest airport in Germany, Munich Airport has been designed to make connections and stopovers as easy as possible – connections from T1 and T2 take only 35 minutes! It also has a particularly good reputation for helpful staff, efficient check-in and baggage-drop services. Plus business (and leisure) travellers can enjoy things like free WiFi; rest and relaxation areas to catch up on work and emails; showers; and Napcab sleeping cabins for privacy and, of course, sleep! If you're looking for meeting space, Airport City has a number of options. On top of that, the airport offers more than 150 retail stores, Airbrau – the world's first airport brewery – a casino, iPilot flight simulator, Fit & Fly Spa, on-site mini golf, surfing competitions, behind-the-scenes airport tours, as well as excursions to places like Freisling, a Bavarian town, and Therme Erding, the largest Hot Water Complex in Europe.
4. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
Considered the gateway to China, the award-winning Hong Kong Airport was designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster. It serves over 100 airlines, operating flights to over 180 locations worldwide and is renowned for its exceptional development of cargo-related infrastructure, cost competitiveness and facilitation of air cargo ancillary services. While you're there, check in with the office using the free WiFi, find meeting spaces at the Hotel Reservations Centre, watch a movie at the IMAX, fly a plane in the cockpit simulator at the Aviation Discovery Centre, hit a few balls at the golf course, take part in workshops on tea making and Chinese medicine, and then relax at the miniature gardens. It was also voted the 'World's Best Airport for Dining', so try out one of the many eateries including Asian restaurants, Hong Kong-style coffee shops and bakeries.
5. Tokyo International Haneda (HND)
Toyko Haneda Airport is a 5-star Skytrax-rated airport. Upon arrival you'll find a bank, bus and train counter located pretty much at the exit, plus it's also the closet airport to the city centre. Hop on the free monorail service that comes with a special transit pass into the city centre, as well as take a look at the observation deck (a dedicated, moon-viewing platform) or enjoy a massage or reflexology treatment at the Raffine Refreshment Saloon. The airport is also considered one of the most ‘on-time’ airports, as well as good place to rest - all shops and services shut down overnight, leaving travellers in transit undisturbed.
Three airports to avoid
Nigeria's Port Harcourt International Airport is ranked as the worst airport in the world by Sleeping in Airports, with corruption, unhelpful staff and little seating and more. Fortunately it is one of several airport options in Nigeria, so if business brings you to West Africa, there are ways to avoid Port Harcourt International. Other options include Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and Akanu Ibiam International Airport.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz International Airport has consistently received bad reviews and is considered to be chaotic, crowded and unclean - particularly within the Hajj terminal. Luckily its days are numbered as the new Airport is said to be 85% complete and is scheduled to open mid-2016.
Tashkent International Airport acts as the primary airport for central Asia and has had a number of recent upgrades to the departure areas. However it is currently still frustrating to transit through due to slow movement throughout the airport and antagonistic security. Finding a place to sit, rest or sleep is a challenge; certainly not for the faint-hearted traveller!
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Sources: *Seoulistic, March 2016