I hesitate to write a list of my favorite and least favorite airports. Because really, there are very few times when the airport will make a difference in how I plan my trip. I will always consider cost and flying time before considering the airport. However, as I thought about my list, maybe that is not completely accurate, and if isn’t a crazy choice, I will purposefully choose one of my favorite airports and avoid my least favorites like the plague.
Favorite Airports: Mostly in order…
Singapore will hit everyone’s list. It is huge. It is comfortable. It has a mall, a hotel, a waterfall, a thousand food options … you will never be bored.
Dubai flies almost everywhere. The departures and arrivals board is the most magical in the world. Dubai is also the first and last point of luxury between many destinations. The happiness of landing in Dubai and seeing the clean airport, running water, and having access to so many luxuries makes it top my list.
Narita and Haneda in Tokyo Japan are both awesome. They are clean, spacious and organized. The staff always tries to accommodate your requests. There are plenty of places to eat. And you can usually find a shower if needed. In fact, I just deliberately chose a connection in Narita over Honolulu even though it increased my overall travel time by a little.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is well laid out, efficient and comfortable.
Ironically, I have never been to Portland Oregon. However, I have been through the airport several times — and the airport alone makes me think I would love Portland.
The airport in Charlotte NC also makes me want to spend time there. The airport has tons of light, it is spacious and has white wicker rocking chairs that face the huge windows. There are plenty of delicious places to eat. The airport is representative of the town and just a pleasant place to spend time.
When living overseas and traveling “home” to the United States, I usually have to fly into a major airport and then transfer from there. For this, Atlanta and Chicago are my top choices. I think they get a bad rap. Similar to Dubai and Amsterdam, you have lots of options. And if you are inevitability delayed, or have a long layover to make sure you don’t miss your connection, there is no limit to the options of places to eat or browse. Due to weather, in the winter I will always pick Atlanta over Chicago.
Least Favorite: In order but don’t let the fact that Madrid is #3 on the list mislead you about how much I absolutely hate the Madrid airport.
Kabul International Airport is one of the scariest places on earth. I had to fly through it frequently in 2010 and 2011. I don’t want to go back.
Kathmandu airport is dirty, unorganized, and too small with not enough seating. Flights are usually delayed and it is hard to get information about your flight. I was always on edge afraid I would miss a change.
I had a horrible experience in the Madrid airport. They don’t have flights at night, and if you have a long layover they make you leave security. My layover was not long enough to justify a hotel but the six hours spent outside security where there was no seating and the staff was rude was one of my worst nights traveling. Since then I have flown to Paris and taken a smaller flight in order to avoid Madrid.
As much as I love England, and London is my favorite city in the world, I don’t like the way Heathrow is laid out. There is one central waiting area and then you go to the gate when boarding is announced. No matter how early I am or how prepared, I am always on edge and rushed up until I am on the plane.
In the last couple of years, I’ve had several layovers in Hong Kong. For such a modern city the airport is a disappointment. It’s fine, there is nothing wrong with it. But there is not a lot open at night and there is no option to shower outside of the private lounges. I am just always a little surprised and expect more.