The world’s best and worst airports – including one from South Africa

Airline and airport snafus feel all but inevitable of late, but that may be because you’re flying in and out of the wrong airports.

Here to help you decide if that’s the case is AirHelp Inc., which advocates on behalf of passengers by filing customer service claims for flight disruptions that include cancellations, delays and lost luggage.

Each year, it issues an analysis of more than 4,000 airports in its worldwide database to determine the best performers and worst offenders.

Factors taken into consideration include each airport’s on-time performance, combined with customer feedback about airport navigation, food and shopping options. 

This year’s survey reflects data collected from 1 January to 30 September, plus survey responses from more than 15,800 passengers.

The results say that the world’s best airport is Oman’s Muscat International.

In second and third place, respectively, are Brazil’s Recife-Guararapes International Airport and South Africa’s Cape Town International Airport. 

Japan and Brazil generally dominate in airport performance, with each counting three locations on the Top 10 list of best global airports.

Of US hubs, only three made it onto the world’s Top 50 list: Minneapolis-St. Paul International (No. 13), Seattle-Tacoma International (No. 34) and Detroit Metropolitan Airport Wayne County (No. 38). 

European airports didn’t do much better, with just nine making it into the Top 50 best airport experiences of the world, according to AirHelp.  Bilbao Airport in northern Spain took the No. 1 spot in Europe.

This points to an additional trend: Major metropolitan hubs do not correlate well with excellent airports, as one might expect.

Busy as they may be, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson ranked at No. 55, while London Heathrow Airport came in at No. 163 and Paris Charles de Gaulle at No. 173.

New York City’s hubs fared marginally better than their rivals across the pond, with John F. Kennedy at No. 106 and La Guardia, fresh off its $8 billion renovation, at No. 70.  

“The travel experience is not the sole responsibility of the airlines, but also the airports,” said Tomasz Pawliszyn, chief executive officer of AirHelp, in an emailed statement. “This year, airports across Asia have had a strong performance.”

Curious to learn whether your travels have taken you through the year’s best or worst airports? Read on to see AirHelp’s Top 10 in both directions. 

The 10 best airports in the world

RankAirport Name Location
1Muscat International Airport (MCT)Oman
2Recife/Guararapes–Gilberto Freyre International Airport (REC)Brazil
3Cape Town International Airport (CPT)South Africa
4Brasília–Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport (BSB)Brazil
5Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH)Qatar
6Osaka Itami International Airport (ITM)Japan
7Belem/Val-de-Cans International Airport (BEL)Brazil
8Belo Horizonte Tancredo Neves International Airport (CNF)Brazil
9Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)Japan
10Amami Airport (ASJ)Japan

The 10 worst airports in the world

RankAirport NameLocation
1Banjarmasin Syamsudin Noor International Airport (BDJ)Indonesia
2Malta International Airport (MLA)Malta
3London Gatwick Airport, UK (LGW)United Kingdom
4Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport, Portugal  (LIS)Portugal
5Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG)Serbia
6Denpasar International Airport, Bali (DPS)Indonesia
7Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)Canada
8Sofia Airport, Bulgaria (SOF)Bulgaria
9Marseille Provence Airport, France (MRS)France
10Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport, Indonesia (HLP)Indonesia


Top JSE indices