Changi Is Still The Best Airport In The World, But Istanbul Is Catching Up

For the award of best airport, as defined by Travel+Leisure’s annual survey, the new and innovative airport at Istanbul (IST) came a very worthy second, only surpassed by the well-known traveler favorite of Changi. Istanbul can now add its second place in the World’s Best Airports awards to its growing list of achievements and accolades.

IStanbul Airport
Istanbul Airport is awarded second in the World’s Best awards. Photo: Istanbul Airport

Istanbul almost unseats Changi

This year’s World’s Best Awards, run by Travel+Leisure, has allowed the public to vote for their favorite travel experience around the world. With voting taking place between January and March, this survey allowed intrepid travelers in the heat of the pandemic to reflect on the experience and service they received.

Readers rated airports on things like access, check in and security, as well as the availability of bars and restaurants, the shopping experience, and the overall design.

Unsurprisingly, Singapore’s Changi Airport received the number one award. The airport has been voted the best in the world by T+L readers for almost a decade. However, the young airport of Istanbul achieved a tremendous second place, only two points shy of the leader.

stanbul Airport
Istanbul was only two points behind Changi. Photo: Istanbul Airport

With a score of 91.17, Istanbul earned its place in the coveted Top 10, an incredible feat considering it’s only been serving passengers at its full capacity since April 6th, 2019.

What did passengers love about IST?

From the survey conducted by T+L, passengers cited the airport’s strong infrastructure, superior technology and premium travel experience as the reasons for their high ranking. Istanbul beat off competition from the likes of Incheon (Korea), Dubai, Hamad (Qatar), Haneda (Japan), Hong Kong, Narita (Japan), Zurich (Switzerland) and Osaka (Japan) Airports to secure second spot.

 Istanbul Airport
Photo: Istanbul Airport

Istanbul Airport, only opened in 2018, has set the bar high for becoming a truly global hub. In the first year alone, more than 40 million passengers passed through the hub, and that number has only grown since. Despite the pandemic, IST made it into the top 10 world’s busiest airports, as identified at the end of August. From a position of 14th in 2019, this august it was the 7th busiest in the world, with 2,983,322 seats available across the month.

 Istanbul Airport
The airport was the 7th busiest in the world this August. Photo: Istanbul Airport

And it’s not just volume that makes the airport a winner. The airport won the ‘Digital Transformation Award’ from Airports Council International (ACI) as a part of the 16th ACI Europe Awards last November. This highlighted the efforts of the facility to embrace the latest technology, from e-passport gates and smart security to robot assistants and holographic displays in retail outlets.

During COVID, IST showed its commitment to public health and safety, securing a Skytrax five-star rating for its COVID-19 measures. Not only that, but Skytrax also awarded it the Five Star Airport accolade, an award that only three other airports have achieved. Only two airports – Istanbul and Hamad International – have achieved five stars in both categories.

With the airport continually innovating, improving and optimizing, the sky really is the limit for this ambitious young airport.