The world’s best airport layovers

Article published 23 August 2021

These are the best airport layovers in the world

A great holiday starts before stepping on foreign soil. Setting your alarm early to head to the airport, raiding the duty-free section and watching as people from around the world jet off to far-away destinations. But airports aren’t always a pleasant experience.
A long airport layover can send even the most seasoned travellers into a flurry, and wish that their long haul flight wasn’t so… long!

That’s why we’ve created this helpful guide to the world's best airport layovers.
We’ve ranked each airport layover using factors such as how easy it is to get there, distance from the city, friendliness of the staff, presence of airport hotels, day rooms and sleep pods. As well as the number of restaurants/food retailers and customer satisfaction of the WiFi and lounge services.

We took into consideration how each scoring factor would benefit travellers. For example, we used distance from the city as a factor as airports closer to cities would allow travellers to experience the nearby attractions.

Whilst measures such as staff friendliness were important to record as customer service is a huge contributor to comfortability.

The top 20 best airport layovers in the world

1. Singapore Changi offers the world’s best airport layover

We found that Singapore Changi offers flyers the world’s best airport layover experience, scoring a total of 100 points out of 100 in our airport layover index! Home to the world’s largest indoor waterfall, the airport offers a truly unique experience for travellers.

Out of all the airports analysed, it has the biggest retail offering with 250 retailers, giving flyers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of duty-free prices, stock up on souvenirs and grab any last-minute essentials for the trip.

Changi also has the highest number of sleeping facilities, where travellers can lay their heads to rest. At only 20km from the city, travellers with long layovers can also explore the beauty of Singapore for an hour or two.

The airport runs frequent flights across Asia to countries such as Thailand and Malaysia and past visitors to the airport can testify to its outstanding offerings, with a 92% customer satisfaction score for terminal facilities.

2. Incheon in South Korea has the world’s second-best airport layover experience

Incheon in South Korea has the second-best airport layover experience with a total score of 97.45. And it’s no surprise considering it has the highest rated lounges of the study with an 87% customer satisfaction score.

Visitors to the airport can enjoy amenities including a state of the art digital gym, where exercises take place on digital devices, and choose from over 268 food outlets - the highest number of all the airports analysed. This gives visitors the chance to travel the world with their taste buds, sampling both local and international cuisine.

The airport itself is a feast for the eyes, with an indoor forest full of tropical plants and towering trees. A great way to prepare travellers for exotic locations, with flights to Sri Lanka and Abu Dubai regularly stopping over.

3. Hong Kong airport is a haven for long-haul flyers

The largest airport in our study, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) spreads across 110,600 hectares, with a wealth of activities and amenities under its roof.

From children’s play and relaxation areas to ‘caring corners’ for travellers with accessibility needs and elderly passengers, the airport truly accommodates everyone. Scoring a five out of five for staff friendliness, HKIA puts its customers at the heart of what it does, creating a truly welcoming environment that’s perfect for a long layover.

The airport even has its own dedicated version of Monopoly, the Hong Kong International Airport edition!
Scoring 86.6 out of 100, HKIA is truly deserving of third place in our study.

4. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is amazing for layovers

Amsterdam Airport has one of the highest numbers of sleep facilities, meaning travellers can sit back and relax or catch up on sleep whilst waiting for their connecting flight. But it’d be a shame to sleep whilst the airport has such a wide range of amenities to enjoy.

It boasts a bustling indoor street food market, a tranquil library and meditation centre and an onsite spa. As well as a range of museums and exhibitions so visitors can truly soak up Dutch culture.

With the airport being only 12km from the city, visitors can also spend some of their layover time indulging in the electric atmosphere of Amsterdam.

The world’s fourth-best airport layover experience, the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol scored 83.62 out of 100.

5. Dubai International Airport is a dream for airport layovers

With a total index score of 80.85, Dubai International Airport (DXB) offers travellers the fifth best airport layover experience in the world.

Visitors can indulge in the luxury spa facilities, with treatments including facials, manicures and pedicures. The airport also features a swimming pool, jacuzzi and steam room located in the on-site 5-star hotel.

Scoring highly on both the WiFi and lounge services customer satisfaction, DXB strives to create a truly luxurious layover experience.

6. Istanbul Airport offers an incredible layover experience

Visitors can enjoy a range of top-tier airport amenities and services, including an airport library, museums and art exhibitions along with an array of beauty services.

Receiving widespread acclaim from travellers and the tourism sector, Istanbul airport is certified five stars from the aviation industry.

7. Cultural enrichment is at the heart of Hamad International Airport

A five-star rated airport, Hamad International scores 77.66 making it the seventh best airport layover experience.

The airport’s vision is for “culture to be a central and enriching part of our environment”, hosting regular art installations and exhibitions from acclaimed artists in the passenger terminals. This ethos extends to the customer service experience and staff friendliness, which scored top marks in our study.

Visitors can also enjoy the onsite Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre which features a gym, swimming pool, squash court and hydrotherapy tub.

A wide range of flights arrive at and depart from Hamad International Airport, including flights to the USA and Canada.

8. Tokyo Haneda Airport excels at customer service

Offering the world’s eighth-best airport layover experience, Tokyo Haneda Airport has a total index score of 74.04.

Tokyo Haneda offers travellers a chance to refresh, revitalise and relax. The airport features a number of salons as well as an onsite laundry service. Pets can get pampered too at the on-site pet hotel, complete with a range of grooming treatments and a micro spa.

It scored five out of five for staff friendliness, meaning visitors can expec

9. Zurich Airport encourages visitors to embrace nature

Zurich Airport is based only 10km from the city, allowing travellers to explore Switzerland’s offerings during the layover period to truly make the most of their trip.

Great for families, the airport also offers a programme for young nature enthusiasts where they have the opportunity to embark on a nature discovery tour on airport property.

80,000 square metres of green space surround the airport, allowing visitors to breathe in the natural beauty of Switzerland before embarking on journeys to Abu Dubai and Ibiza.

With a total index score of 70.21, Zurich Airport offers travellers the world’s ninth-best airport layover experience.

10. Frankfurt Airport creates an inviting atmosphere for travellers

Frankfurt Airport has one of the highest numbers of sleeping facilities, giving visitors a chance to refresh and unwind. The high quality of customer service visitors experience (the airport received top marks for staff friendliness) further adds to the inviting atmosphere.

Other services and features of the airport include a range of luxurious lounges, retail stores and multilingual personal shopper services. Flights to countries in central Europe usually stop at the airport, with many travellers en route to countries such as France and Italy.

Its total score of 69.36 makes Frankfurt Airport the tenth best airport for layovers in the world.

Ranked: The full list of 50 best airport layovers in the world

  • Research the airport - Read up a little on the amenities and services available at the airport prior to your trip. This way, you can make the most of what’s on offer to help pass the time between layovers.

  • Get some rest - Take advantage of on-site hotels, sleep pods and relaxation lounges to help you recharge your batteries and delay the dreaded jet-lag!

  • Get some fresh air - If possible, venture outside of the airport and explore the nearby city or surrounding area.
    Appreciate airport art - Many big airports feature exhibitions and art galleries, offering a great opportunity to soak up beautiful artwork.

Top tips for a long layover

Follow these expert tips to make a long layover more enjoyable:

  • Research the airport - Read up a little on the amenities and services available at the airport prior to your trip. This way, you can make the most of what’s on offer to help pass the time between layovers.

  • Get some rest - Take advantage of on-site hotels, sleep pods and relaxation lounges to help you recharge your batteries and delay the dreaded jet-lag!

  • Get some fresh air - If possible, venture outside of the airport and explore the nearby city or surrounding area.
    Appreciate airport art - Many big airports feature exhibitions and art galleries, offering a great opportunity to soak up beautiful artwork.

Hungry for adventure?

Has our airport layover index got you dreaming of faraway adventures? For a trip of a lifetime where you can create memories and embark on new experiences, explore our extensive range of long haul holidays.

Methodology

We analysed 100 of the busiest airports in the world, ranking them on our Airport Layover Index. We analysed data on airport size and distance from the closest city from Wikipedia, number of shops and number of restaurants from each individual airport website, customer satisfaction of the available wifi and lounges all from Flightradar24, number of hotels from Sleeping in Airports and staff friendliness from Skytrax Ratings. We gave each of these data values a score which we then added up for the final index score. The index score is out of a total of 100.