Most people don’t like to hang out in airports, but if you have to, you should probably head to Singapore.
For the fifth year in a row, Singapore’s Changi Airport was named the best airport in the world by the Skytrax World Airport Awards on March 14. Skytrax analyzed 500 airports worldwide, and ranked them based on factors like security, transfers, shopping, and on-time arrivals. Most of the top performing airports were located in Asia and Europe. The US didn’t even crack the top 20.
So what makes Changi so legendary? A Jacuzzi, for one. The Aerotel hotel in Terminal 1 at Changi has a rooftop Jacuzzi, pool and shower facilities. Over in Terminal 2, travelers can stay busy during a long layover at the entertainment deck, which has a movie theater and Xbox 360 gaming stations available for use. For a more relaxing layover, travelers can walk through the rooftop gardens, or get a massage at the spa.
If another airport plans on stealing the top spot next year, it will have to dramatically step up its game. In December 2016, the Singapore-based Straits Times reported that Changi officially completed construction on Terminal 4, a $1.3 billion expansion project that added 1,700 parking spots, pedestrian bridges and a new control tower. When it officially opens this year, Terminal 4 will also house new self-service kiosks complete with biometric technology to make the check-in process faster and more seamless.
In the second spot this year is Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which is pouring millions into its facilities in preparation for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics. The large-scale renovation is mainly focused on Terminal 2, which is currently used for domestic flights. By 2020, it will be fitted with customs facilities and immigration portals to help with the influx of travelers from around the world. Over in Terminal 1, which is mainly being used by Japan Airlines, the airport intends to build new lounges and an indoor golf driving range. While Haneda wasn’t named the best airport in the world, Skytrax did identify it as the cleanest.
Rounding out the top three is Incheon International Airport, the largest airport in Seoul, South Korea. When it comes to amenities, this airport is in a league of its own, boasting a golf course, ice skating rink, private sleeping rooms, indoor gardens and a casino.
Currently, the airport welcomes about 44 million passengers a year, but construction is currently underway on a $4.6 billion second passenger terminal that would increase that number to 62 million. According to the Korea Herald, construction was about 90% complete as of February.
The next phase of construction, which is expected to be completed by 2020, will feature a resort called Inspire that will include 6-star hotels, theme parks, and a casino.
US airports conspicuously absent from top ranking
This year’s Skytrax ranking shed light on the harsh reality that many US airports are in dire need of improvements. On the top 100 list, the highest-ranking US airport was Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, which snagged the 26th spot. The airport was also named “The Best World Airport Serving 5 – 10 Million Passengers Per Year” and placed 2nd for “World’s Best Regional Airport.”
Compared to bigger facilities in New York and Los Angeles, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky runs a much smaller operation, serving only 6.3 million passengers in 2015. That said, DHL recently completed a $108 million expansion, and Trey Grayson, president and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, says the growing metropolitan area has had a profound impact on airport operations.
“Every few weeks the airport’s got a new, positive announcement – whether it’s prices going down, carriers expanding service or other land around the airport being developed,” Grayson told The Lane Report.
While Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky is on the rise, countless other US airports with outdated infrastructure are struggling to accommodate the increasing number of air travelers. America’s aging airports have been a hot topic in recent months, with President Trump telling the aviation industry, “We need to rebuild America’s airports.” Indeed, there is some work to be done. Earlier this month, the travel website eDreams revealed the 10 worst airports in the world based on airport reviews. New York’s LaGuardia and JFK came in 3rd and 4th.
In March, Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), introduced the Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act, which called to increase the passenger facility charge (PFC) administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Currently, travelers are charged a PFC of $4.50 on every plane ticket, a fee used to fund FAA-approved projects intended to enhance the safety and quality of airports.
Other ranking US airports in the top 100 include Denver International (28th), San Francisco (46th), and Houston (54th).
Here are the world’s top 100 airports according to Skytrax.