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Top 8 nicest airports in Europe and how they compare to the rest of the world

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

There are over 300 airports in Europe alone. At Flight-delayed.co.uk we have created a list of the top 8 nicest airports amongst them. We based our results on the factors that are most important to the passenger, from the cheapest to the cleanest airport in Europe.

When creating the list of the 8 nicest airports in Europe we examined an airport’s passenger experience, service, transportation and location. For this, we used data from Skytrax who is a professional specialist in quality improvement and leadership in the air transport industry. We also used data by the Consumer Choice Center, which is a group ‘supporting lifestyle freedom’ when travelling.

Unfortunately, we also discovered that not one of these airports is in the top 10 cheapest airports to fly to in Europe. That proves that quality has a price!

Before we continue with the information, there's something very relevant for the current times. Please make sure that you know what your rights are during this pandemic.

Coronavirus: What are my rights when a flight is cancelled?

If your flight is cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, you are entitled to a complete refund of your ticket. European Regulation EC 261/2004 obliges the airline to refund the full price of the ticket within 7 days in case of a cancelled flight. Currently, many airlines and travel agencies only offer vouchers that can be used to book a new flight in the future. However, this voucher policy is not in compliance with European legislation. 

Unfortunately, we see too often that airlines still fail to comply with the legal obligations. Passengers are forced to accept vouchers when they are actually entitled to a refund of their fare. Flight-Delayed.co.uk will be happy to help you claim the full refund. From submitting the claim to taking the airline to the courts in the event of non-payment.

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What we found when looking for the 8 best airports in Europe

top 8 nicest airports in europe

According to the Consumer Choice Center, who’ve analysed the 30 biggest airports in Europe, the best performing aerodromes are situated in Northern European countries. Amongst their research, only one of the 30 airports that have made it into the top 10 most comfortable airports is situated in the south of the continent (Airport Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas).

In the list for Skytrax’ World Airport Awards, European airports made it into the top 10 best airports of the year. German and UK airports ranked high in the list for 2019.

Factors influencing the list of 8 nicest airports in Europe

When ranking the airports on this list we selected a number of factors that influence the overall airport experience and by which we've put the list together:

  • Direct rail links to and from the airport
  • Availability of other transport services
  • Hotels on the premises
  • Number of destinations served
  • Number of airlines and connections
  • Offer of food at the airport/Restaurants
  • Airport facilities (banks, post office, car rental, chapel or other religious amenities etc)
  • Cleaning
  • Security
  • Comfort

Interestingly, Germany scored a place in every single list of factors we examined when creating the list of the 8 nicest airports in Europe.

8. Brussels Airport

Brussels Airport is one of the most comfortable airports in the world

Not only is Brussels Airport classed as the ‘heart of Europe’ but it is also considered a gateway into European institutions and headquarters. According to Consumer Choice Center, Brussels Airport lies in the first place of the ‘most friendly’ airports in Europe. In a study by Skytrax, Brussels Airport scores 4/10 in the Skytrax customer rating as well as 3.5 out of 5 stars in the category ‘shopping facilities’, making it number 8 on our list.

For entertainment, Brussels Airport offers its passengers different games at certain gates, making the passenger experience a more pleasant one as well as aiding passengers whose flight has been delayed to pass the time. This design was inspired by the Olympic games. Passengers compete with each other by taking part in a 100m gate race, a virtual luggage lift or ‘how high can you fly’ (jumping as high as you can). This is especially entertaining for kids and provides parents with peace and quiet whilst their children enjoy the airport’s active entertainment facilities.

And of course, Brussels airport restaurants offer traditional Belgian waffles so that even if you are only visiting due to a connecting flight and won’t be heading into the city, you won’t miss out on the traditional Belgian treat.

7. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Amsterdam has one of the nicest airports in Europe

Amsterdam Schiphol airport positions itself at number 7 in the previously mentioned list by the Consumer Choice Center. Amsterdam Schiphol airport is one of the biggest in Europe for connecting flights in and out of the continent. Ever had your flight delayed and didn’t know what to do at the airport to pass your time? Schiphol airport has its own library, it’s ideal if you want to grab a book and get comfortable.

Skytrax places the Dutch airport at number 14 amongst the World Airport Awards 2018 where it scores high amidst other European airports. From the review website ‘Sleeping in Airports’, it receives 3.3 out of 5 stars from passengers who have had to sleep at the airport due to cancellations or delays. Many reviews comment on the easy plug accessibility and the comfort level of the airport' sleeping facilities such as comfortable padded benches and reclinable chair areas.

6. Barcelona - El Prat Airport

Barcelona El Prat is the gateway to one of Europe's nicest cities

Whilst included the list of the biggest airports in Europe, Barcelona El-Prat airport is situated only in 7th place and it is the second-largest airport in Spain. Barcelona Airport is situated only 15km from the city centre. This could be a reason to make Barcelona your next Spanish holiday destination.

According to Skytrax, the airport ranks high in the categories of ‘wayfinding and signage’ and ‘food and beverage’, which was enough for the airfield to claim the 6th place amongst the list of the 8 nicest airports in Europe. The airstrip offers a variety of options to travel to the city centre, so you’ll be enjoying everything that Barcelona has to offer in a jiffy.

If you do decide to make a trip to Barcelona and fly to El-Prat airport when the weather is nice, you will be amazed as to how close the airport is to the port of Barcelona. Landing at the sixth nicest airport in Europe is an experience all in itself as it might seem that the aeroplane is about to land right in the heart of the Catalan port!

5. Dusseldorf Airport

Dusseldorf airport

On number 5 in our list, you’ll find Düsseldorf airport. Rated 4 stars overall by Skytrax in its official airport rating, it receives also 4 stars for cleanliness. Furthermore, if you fancy something active and entertaining then the German airport offers a variety of 60 stores for every taste in retail: gadget, book and magazine, beauty and souvenir stores galore.

Because Dusseldorf Airport operates almost 30% of its flights under business purposes, the building has facilities such as meeting rooms and workspaces if needed. This makes it one of the very few airfieldsin Europe that offer such facilities to its passengers. Travel to and from the airport should be easy and stress-free and this is exactly what Dusseldorf offers. An automatically-operated sky train runs between the terminal and the airport’s own train station. Travelling to and from Dusseldorf Airport is super easy and barely an inconvenience, especially when the town centre is as little as 13km away. Easy peasy!

4. Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport

Madrid town centre

Ranking 4th on our list of the top 8 nicest airports in Europe is Madrid-Barajas. According to Consumer Choice Centre, the airport is the 4th most friendly European airport. Amongst Southern European airports, Madrid airport has made quite the impression positioning itself as the best one for the 4th time in the past 10 years. If Madrid is in your list of next destinations, you won’t have any problems when arriving or departing.

Did you know that Terminal 4 at Madrid airport has received several awards for its outstanding architecture? Terminal 4 was opened in 2004 and won its first prize in 2006, one of the many awards the airport has been awarded.

Madrid airport is as close as 12 km to the city centre making it extremely easy for passengers to travel to have a quick peek during some genuine Spanish tapas during a layover.

3. London Heathrow Airport

London bridge

For us, Heathrow airport deserves 3rd place on the list of the top 8 nicest airports. Amongst the largest airports of the world, Heathrow is number seven and the busiest in Europe. Skytrax rates London's main airpoprt 4 out of 5 stars. According to Skytrax, Heathrow airport is extremely good in ‘wayfinding an signage’ where the airport scores an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. In the category of ‘Arrival and Departure’  it scores an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars.

As well as scoring high in passenger experience, Heathrow Airport is open 24 hours. It tends very well to passengers enduring cancellations and travellers with low budgets. Terminal 3 has rest zones with sofas and lounges before the security checks to accommodate over night passengers.

2. Zurich Airport

Zurich cityscape

At number 2 on the list of the top 8 nicest airports in Europe one will find Zurich airport, which is Switzerland’s biggest international airport. It was ranked at number 10 out of the best airports of the year 2018 by Skytrax and at number 2 for being the second most friendly airport amongst the 30 biggest in Europe. Customers rate Zurich airport 6/10 on Skytrax. Additionally, customers also gave it a 5 star rating for the cleanliness of its facilities.

Interestingly, the airport has terminals that are divided by the Schengen denomination. This means that, because Switzerland is not in the EU but has an agreement with EU countries for free trade and no border controls, one terminal operates all Schengen area flights and only those. Switzerland’s biggest international airport offers passengers outdoor facilities such as their observation deck, which is free by the way. This may be ideal in cases of a long-ish wait and it offers a nice view across the airport grounds.

1. Munich Airport

Munich city

And finally, the first place on our list of the best 8 airports in Europe is Munich Airport. This airport is the 8th largest in Europe and ranks 7th in the Skytrax award that evaluates the best airports in the world. In our humble opinion, 7th place falls short, as this airport offers the best travel experience to the passenger without a doubt. Great performance by the Bavarians! Munich airport has its own brewery on the ground, so if you thought that the English love beer, the Germans love it so much they have a brewery at an airport!

Many other airports across the world offer their passengers a few hours of free wifi but passengers are made to pay after a certain amount of time, Munich airport actually offers unlimited free wifi, so that you can enjoy all your favourite shows and FaceTime friends as long as you please.

What really sets Munich airport apart in Europe is the entertainment and facilities it offers to its passengers. The airport has a mini-golf course inside the facilities so that if you find yourself delayed then you can indulge in a game of putt-putt and perhaps it will make your wait bearable.

During the winter months, Munich airport runs a Christmas market and even has an ice rink to create a fun atmosphere that distracts passnegers from the typical airport setting. Differently to every other airport on our list, Munich has ‘napcabs’ which are cabins that contain a bed, a desk, a chair and allow you to play music according to your taste. You can rent these cabins for €10 an hour! Makes sense right? We can’t think of a better way of waiting for a connecting flight than with a little bit of privacy and entertainment.

Does this make you want to go on a trip? It certainly does it for us! Munich in Germany is a great destination for winter travels and, as stated previously, it has the best airport in Europe. Have you recently travelled from or to one of the top 8 nicest airports in Europe and your flight has been delayed, cancelled or overbooked? Find out if you can claim compensation!

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Delays and cancellations do happen, even if you’re at one of the best airports in Europe! So to close our blog post, here’s the full list of our ranking:

  1. Brussels Airport
  2. Amsterdam Schiphol
  3. Barcelona - El Prat
  4. Düsseldorf Airport
  5. Madrid - Barajas Adolfo Suárez
  6. London Heathrow
  7. Zurich Airport
  8. Munich Airport

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