Gallery: the top ten best airports in the world

Hamad International Airport in Doha takes the No.1 spot in the 2021 Skytrax World Airport Awards

Hamad International Airport in Doha is Qatar’s main aviation hub
Hamad International Airport in Doha is Qatar’s main aviation hub

Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, has climbed from third in the rankings to be voted the world’s best airport in the 2021 Skytrax World Airport Awards. This means Singapore’s Changi International loses its crown after taking top spot from 2013 to 2020.

Conducted from August 2020 until July 2021, and assessing customer service and facilities across more than 500 airports, the annual customer survey for the passenger’s choice awards saw many travellers vote for their favourite airport based on pre-pandemic travel experiences, the awards organisers said. Meanwhile, others voted after their Covid-19 airport experience during the past 12 months.

Airports in Europe and Asia dominated the 2021 awards. Japan was voted best-rated country overall, with three airports in the top ten, including both of Tokyo’s airports. Moving from No.102 in 2020 to No.17 in this year’s survey, Istanbul Airport in Turkey was named the world’s most improved airport in 2021.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Here we take a look at the world’s top ten airports, as voted by airline passengers, starting with Hamad International...

1. Hamad International Airport

Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar

(Image credit: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images)

Doha, Qatar

As well as taking the No.1 spot for the world’s best airport, Hamad International was also named the best airport in the Middle East, the world’s best airport in the 25 to 35 million passenger category, and best airport staff in the Middle East. “Inaugurated in 2014, Hamad International Airport has rapidly become a customer favourite,” said Edward Plaisted of Skytrax. “Achieving this honour is very much a team effort.”

The airport is “gearing up for an influx of crowds” as Doha and Qatar will host the Fifa World Cup next year, says Travel+Leisure magazine. It has been implementing new changes ahead of the World Cup, including “increasing its annual capacity to 53 million passengers and building a 110,000 sq ft tropical garden, complete with a waterfall that is nearly 900ft tall”.

2. Tokyo Haneda Airport

Tokyo Haneda Airport

(Image credit: Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images)

Tokyo, Japan

Haneda Airport in Tokyo was a big winner in the 2021 Skytrax World Airport Awards. Ranked No.2 in the world, it was also named best airport in Asia, the world’s best domestic airport, the world’s best airport for cleanliness, and the best airport for passengers with restricted mobility and accessible facilities. It is the first of three Japanese airports in the top ten.

3. Changi International Airport

Changi International Airport in Singapore

(Image credit: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)


Changi International in Singapore has been a frequent winner of the world’s best airport title. However, for the time in nearly a decade it’s been knocked off the top spot and is No.3 in 2021. Third place is “an achievement for any other airport”, CNN says, but “perhaps not from the perspective of its superfans, who regularly praise the airport’s ease, comfort and top-notch food and drink options”.

4. Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airport Seoul

(Image credit: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul’s Incheon International Airport takes fourth place in the 2021 awards. It is certified as a five-star airport for facilities, comfort, cleanliness, shopping, food and beverages, staff service and security/immigration. “The opening of Terminal 2 at Incheon Airport has greatly alleviated passenger density in Terminal 1,” Skytrax said. “T2 provides superb architecture, technology and passenger comfort.”

5. Tokyo Narita Airport

Tokyo Narita Airport

(Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Tokyo, Japan

Narita joins fellow Tokyo international airport Haneda in the top ten. The main international gateway to the Greater Tokyo region of Japan, Narita is a major hub for airlines including ANA, Japan Airlines and Delta Air Lines, says the Capa Centre for Aviation.

6. Munich International Airport

Munich International Airport

(Image credit: Andreas Gebert/Getty Images)

Munich, Germany

Munich Airport retained its stronghold at the awards - taking sixth spot overall and named the best airport in Europe and best airport in central Europe. After a year hit by Covid, the volume of traffic at Munich Airport is beginning to “soar once again”, Travel Daily News reports. The Bavarian state capital’s airport is the second busiest in Germany and with more than 150 retail stores and 50 places to eat and drink, “it’s like a city centre, offering travellers and visitors plenty to see and do”, Skytrax says.

7. Zurich Airport

Zurich Airport

(Image credit: Michael Buholzer/AFP via Getty Images)

Zurich, Switzerland

No.7 on the overall list, Zurich is Switzerland’s largest airport. Widely recognised as one of Europe’s best airports, Zurich is “a cavalcade of services, conveniences, and essentially, everything you would want from an airport”, says Expatica. In the 2021 awards it was named best airport for five to ten million passengers, Covid-19 airport excellence, and best airport for cleanliness in Europe.

8. Heathrow Airport

Terminal 5 Heathrow Airport London

(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

London, England

London’s Heathrow was named best airport for 20 to 25 million passengers in the 2021 awards, as well as the best airport in western Europe. One of the world’s busiest international airports, it is the primary hub for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Coming a very respectable eighth in the 2021 ranking, Heathrow is “way ahead of rival hub Gatwick, which comes 69th”, the Daily Mail reports.

9. Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport Japan

(Image credit: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)

Osaka, Japan

The closest major airport to the cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, Kansai has become an important international hub for Japan. It provides one of the largest networks for both domestic and international routes with 24-hour operations. Kansai is the third Japanese airport in the top ten.

10. Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport

(Image credit: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Hong Kong, China

One of the world’s largest passenger and cargo airports, Hong Kong International is the main airport for Cathay Pacific Airways. Hong Kong is an “excellent hub” which delivers a “high standard for customers in many product and service areas”, Skytrax says.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.