The best airports for when you need a layover
Quite often, holidaymakers, travelers, and business people will experience layovers as they fly between countries. Layovers can be as short as 30 minutes, or as long as 24 hours for international flights.
Layovers can be a great way to discover a new destination. Whether you have a few hours to wander the streets of Paris and grab a croissant, or an evening to take advantage of the nightlife in Tokyo, layovers are a fun way to check out a new city to see if you’d like to return in the future.
By investigating the busiest airports in the world from Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta to Shanghai Hongqiao International, on their food & beverages, hygiene, service, customer satisfaction, shopping, and hotel availability, this report reveals the best airports in the world for an airport layover.
The best US airports for layovers
1. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport- Layover Score – 7.22/10
Ranking as the best airport for a layover in the US is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, hitting a layover score of 7.22/10. The airport offers great hygiene and service practices and there is a good selection of 33 hotels within 2 miles of the airport to choose from.
Seattle to Los Angeles is the most popular flight out of this airport. Yet, whilst you wait you can gaze upon the stunning Mount Rainier, visible from the comfort of the Airport’s terminals.
2. George Bush Intercontinental Airport – Layover Score – 6.11/10
George Bush Intercontinental Airport ranks as the second-best US airport for a layover with a score of 6.11/10. George Bush Intercontinental sees excellent ratings across amenities, hygiene, and services. There is only 1 hotel within 2 miles of the airport though, so be sure to book in advance. The most popular flight out of George Bush is to Los Angeles.
3. Denver International Airport – Layover Score – 6.00/10
In third place is Denver International Airport with a score of 6.00/10. Denver has more shopping choices than George Bush International, and the airport also scores well for its food and beverage offerings (4.17/5).
Denver is one of the busiest US airports, servicing almost 60 million people each year. Denver Airport offers a memorable and exciting experience as you investigate its four murals, all of which have been a favorite topic of conspiracy theorists.
The best global airports for layovers
1. Tokyo Haneda Airport, Japan – Layover Score – 8.67/10
Tokyo Haneda Airport, Japan, ranks as the best airport in the world to enjoy a layover. This Japanese airport has an excellent 4.59/5 hygiene rating to pair with an excellent choice of food and beverages. The service and shopping choices are likewise great here, with several designer fashion shops available, including Burberry, Chanel, Hermès, and Rolex.
There are 31 hotels within 2 miles of the airport to find the perfect place to relax and unwind. Tokyo Haneda Airport shows off its more modern design and is often enjoyed by foreign heads of state upon visiting Japan.
2. Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, China – Layover Score – 8.44/10
In runner-up position is the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. Shanghai Hongqiao International offers excellent amenities, with shopping and staff service hitting 4.5/5 each. The airport also boasts a customer satisfaction score of 6.00/10, a significantly high score for a busy airport.
Shanghai airport has its very own art galleries in the Arrival Hall, known as the Artspace. Antiques alongside modern artworks and paintings are displayed here for travelers to enjoy.
3. Istanbul Airport, Turkey – Layover Score – Layover Score – 7.22/10
Istanbul Airport, in Turkey, ranks as the third best airport to enjoy a layover. With scores for amenities consistently over 4.00/5. Istanbul Airport also enjoys a huge choice of 87 hotels within a 2-mile radius. Despite a lower customer satisfaction score of 3.00/10, Istanbul Airport still scores a 7.22/10 layover score due to its consistently high scores across its amenities.
Luxury Square, at Istanbul Airport, offers a wide variety of world-famous luxury and designer products, with stores covering 800 m². Opened in 2018, this airport has some stunning architecture with its giant glass walls, and it is already one of the most popular airports in the world.
All of the following data was taken from Skytrax:
- Food and beverage ratings were calculated from ratings for landside and airside choices and prices.
- Hygiene ratings were calculated from cleanliness ratings for seats, washrooms, public areas, and food.
- Staff Service ratings were calculated from service ratings for info & help, shopping, and food.
- Shopping facilities were calculated from landside and airside choices.
- Customer ratings were taken directly from Skytrax.
The number of hotels within 2 miles of each airport was recorded using Booking.com.
Annual passenger numbers were taken from Wikipedia. These were not included in the ranking calculations.
Most common domestic flights in the US were taken from Stacker.
Data was recorded before October 4th, 2022.
All factors were given a normalized score ranked and combined to give the Layover Score.