With more airports trying to reinvent themselves as places to visit and relax in rather than just endure, “transit” is becoming less of a dirty word.
But how pleasant can an airport actually be?
That’s where The Guide to Sleeping in Airports comes in, offering its annual scrutiny of the best and worst places to wander around in a jetlagged stupor.
The best in 2016?
Once again it’s Singapore, scooping three titles — best airport for sleeping, best airport for layovers and best airport for overall experience.
“I had almost an eight-hour layover on my second trip and still felt like it ended too soon to see everything I was hoping to see,” gushed one of the guide’s respondents about the city-state’s Changi Airport.
Free and comfy reclining loungers and massage chairs are just the basics here.
This airport already has a butterfly garden, swimming pool and cinema.
A new Changi development containing an indoor forest with hiking trails and a 40-meter rain vortex falling from the roof is due to open in 2018.
‘Basically a hole in the ground’
Travelers passing through Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz International Airport will need to lower their expectations.
This year, the Jeddah terminal earned the unfortunate distinction of being the worst for all three categories: sleeping, layovers and overall experience.
Lines through immigration are said to be “unfathomable,” seats in short supply, hygiene lacking and amenities largely absent.
“Fourteen hours on metal chairs, delayed flight, no power, one washroom area — basically a hole in the ground with three inches of water everywhere,” one voter was quoted as saying.
No response yet from the airport.
KAIA does have free Wi-Fi, if that’s any consolation — and a glitzy new airport that’s expected to open in 2017 could mean its days on the list will be numbered.
The Sleeping in Airports awards are based on the number of votes and average scores.
Asia dominates this year’s best-of lists, followed by Europe.
The first four Asian hubs — Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei — haven’t budged from last year’s results.
Hong Kong, however, didn’t make the top 10 after scoring fifth place last year.
Kuala Lumpur has also slipped off the leader board.
Newcomers to this list are Kansai International Airport — located on an artificial island in Japan’s Osaka Bay — and Estonia’s Tallinn International Airport, which one voter described as “cozy” and “like a boutique business lounge.”
Here are the guide’s best and worst:
Best airports for overall experience
1. Changi International Airport (Singapore)
2. Incheon International Airport (Seoul, South Korea)
3. Haneda International Airport (Tokyo, Japan)
4. Taoyuan International Airport (Taipei, Taiwan)
5. Munich International Airport (Germany)
6. Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan)
7. Vancouver International Airport (Vancouver, Canada)
8. Helsinki International Airport (Vantaa, Finland)
9. Tallinn International Airport (Tallinn, Estonia)
10. Kloten International Airport (Zurich, Switzerland)
Worst airports for overall experience
1. King Abdulaziz International Airport (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
2. Juba International Airport (Juba, South Sudan)
3. Port Harcourt International Airport (Port Harcourt, Nigeria)
4. Tashkent International Airport (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
5. Santorini National Airport (Santorini, Greece)
6. Chania International Airport (Crete, Greece)
7. Heraklion International Airport (Crete, Greece)
8. Simón Bolivar International Airport (Caracas, Venezuela)
9. London Luton International Airport (Luton, England)
10. Tribhuvan International Airport (Kathmandu, Nepal)