Believe it or not, I hate to fly. Really hate it. But I do it. The good news is, I actually like airports. I like the energy. I like seeing all the places listed on Arrivals and Departures. Jakarta? Vladivostok? Hey, maybe!
There are plenty of amazing airports in the US. I’ll let you think of the ones you like best. My Top Five here is for airports outside the US. I haven’t been everywhere so my list is completely idiosyncratic.
5. L’vov, Ukraine
I chose this because:
1) I went through it in 2014 and was surprised that such a relatively small city had this big new glass-and-steel airport;
and 2) I happened to be going through it at the same time as a large group of Canadian-Ukrainian teenagers. We all happened to stop at the same sushi bar, and I witnessed the Canadian-Ukrainian teens speaking Ukrainian with the young Ukrainian staff behind the bar. It was a striking encounter to my mind, and I wondered how that encounter felt on both sides.
Like I said, my airport choices are idiosyncratic.
4. Baku, Azerbaijan
I went to Azerbaijan in 2016. The airport is:
I chose Baku because it has great architecture from all its various periods – including the Sultanate and the late 19th century – and its modern architecture deserves notice.
3. Bangkok, Thailand
I’ve never been to Thailand – only through the airport.
On my way from Japan to Malaysia in 2016, I thought, “Wow. If the airport is this good, what’s the country like?”
2. Seoul, Korea
Last month on my way from Japan to Kazakhstan I flew Asiana Air from Osaka to Seoul. The Seoul airport also does up Korean heritage.
Some kind of procession went through the main concourse. It stopped at the Korean Cultural Center. I have no idea what it was about, but it turned into a photo op.
From Wikipedia: “Since 2005, [the Seoul airport] has been rated the best airport worldwide by Airports Council International every year. It is also rated as the world’s cleanest airport and the world’s best international transit airport by Skytrax.
The airport has a golf course, spa, private sleeping rooms, an ice-skating rink, a casino, indoor gardens, and a Museum of Korean Culture.”
Uh … didn’t see the golf course or ice-skating rink but don’t quite think I missed anything.
1. Istanbul, Turkey
The airport is nothing special from the outside, and in choosing it as #1 I’ve made a sentimental pick, since I’ve been through it many, many times.
My ranking comes down to the business lounge: Turkish Airlines is really good so I’ve flown it a lot, and the Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge at the Istanbul airport is way better than the Air Asiana Business Lounge in Seoul. (Maybe the Koreans figured everyone would be at the casino, golf course or skating rink.)
It’s totally worth flying Turkish Air business class to enjoy the lounge
My return to the US in August is through London-Heathrow and then JFK. I likely won’t enjoy the flights much, but I will enjoy the airports!
This just in from CNN: apparently the Oslo airport is where it’s at.
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen