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The World’s Best Airports for Transit Traveller

8 mins. read

Published in the Sunday Mumbai Samachar on 05 May, 2024

If you are a regular follower of my articles and podcasts (Travel Explore Celebrate Life and 5 Minute Travel Tips on Spotify, JioSaavn and Apple Podcasts), you will know that I always say that in the world of travel, the journey is just as important as the destination. This holds especially true for the millions of travellers who spend significant time in airports during transit. Modern airports are no longer just transit points; they are complex environments designed to enhance the travel experience with a range of amenities and services.

For the savvy traveler, these amenities can make or break the decision on which airline to fly. The choice of airline thus becomes intrinsically linked to the choice of airport, particularly for routes involving transit. If an airport offers a superior experience with minimal stress and maximal comfort, it might even sway travellers to choose one airline over another, simply due to its choice of hub.

So today, let’s explore five of my favourite airports that have mastered the art of transit.

Changi Airport, Singapore

When discussing global travel hubs that elevate the transit experience, the Singapore Airlines hub, Changi Airport in Singapore, frequently tops the list. At the heart of its appeal is the Jewel Changi Airport, a stunning mixed-use complex that seamlessly combines nature and retail. It is home to the Rain Vortex, the world's tallest indoor waterfall, which stands at an impressive 40 meters. This awe-inspiring feature is not just a visual spectacle but also part of a larger indoor garden that recreates a lush forest valley.

Beyond the Jewel, Changi Airport engages passengers with its variety of themed gardens. The Butterfly Garden, a favourite among families, houses over 1,000 butterflies from different species, offering an educational and interactive experience. Meanwhile, the Sunflower Garden, located at Terminal 2, provides a bright, cheerful spot for passengers to unwind, featuring views of the runway and aircraft parking bays. For those with longer layovers, Changi goes a step further to enhance their experience with free movie screenings inside its terminals.

Hamad International Airport, Doha

Opened in 2014, Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, has quickly risen to prominence as a pinnacle of modern airport design and luxury. Renowned for its sleek, contemporary architecture and state-of-the-art facilities, it stands as a symbol of Qatar's rich cultural heritage and futuristic vision. One of the most striking features of Hamad International are it’s array of impressive art installations. From the famous Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer to pieces by renowned local and international artists, these works transform the terminals into a sprawling, dynamic art gallery.

The airport also offers a range of exclusive amenities designed to cater to the needs of all travellers. Among these is the Al Mourjan Business Lounge, which redefines luxury with its expansive space, superior comfort, and extensive facilities that include conference rooms, spa treatment rooms, and dining areas. For those seeking calmness, Hamad International provides quiet rooms, peaceful spaces designed to allow passengers to relax or meditate away from the bustling airport activity. Looking ahead, Hamad International is planning significant expansions, including the addition of an indoor tropical garden and a large water feature, promising to further elevate the passenger experience.

Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam stands out as one of Europe’s major air travel hubs, renowned not only for its high traffic but also for its exceptional passenger-friendly amenities. A unique aspect of Schiphol is its dedication to Dutch culture and art. The airport houses a branch of the Rijksmuseum, offering a mini-museum experience with original 17th-century Dutch masterpieces on display, free of charge to all visitors. Alongside, the Airport Library provides a cultural haven with books in over 40 languages and exhibits on Dutch culture, offering a peaceful retreat for book lovers and the culturally curious.

Schiphol also offers behind-the-scenes airport tours, which allow aviation enthusiasts and curious travelers alike to glimpse the inner workings of one of Europe's busiest airports. These tours reveal the complex logistics of airport operations and offer fascinating insights into the aviation industry. In alignment with Dutch environmental consciousness, Schiphol has embraced several "green" initiatives. The airport actively engages in honey production, with beehives on-site contributing to local biodiversity and sustainability.

Connectivity is another of Schiphol’s strong points. The airport boasts excellent rail and road links, making it incredibly easy for passengers to access Amsterdam city center and other major cities across the Netherlands and Europe.

Copenhagen International Airport

Copenhagen International Airport, the primary airport serving Denmark and a major hub for Scandinavia, epitomises the seamless integration of functionality and aesthetic design. This is one airport that I definitely did not think would make the list. But when I went there for the first time, I was amazed. Renowned for its efficiency, the airport reflects the minimalist elegance and practicality that are hallmarks of Scandinavian design, creating a welcoming and comfortable environment for travellers.

The airport's architecture and interiors are infused with classic Scandinavian design elements—clean lines, natural materials, and light-filled spaces—that not only enhance the visual appeal but also contribute to a stress-free transit experience. Family travellers particularly appreciate the airport's family-friendly approach. Dedicated play areas are thoughtfully designed to entertain children of all ages, making layovers more relaxing and enjoyable for parents and fun for kids.

Dubai International Airport

Finally, Dubai International Airport stands as one of the world’s busiest and most spectacular airports, serving as the primary gateway to Dubai and a critical hub for Emirates Airline’s international travellers, particularly those traveling between the East and West. The airport is celebrated not only for its vast scale but also for its luxurious amenities that epitomize the opulence of Dubai. Its expansive terminals are designed to handle over 88 million passengers a year, ensuring a flow that matches its grandeur with efficiency.

The airport includes world-class amenities such as the famous Dubai Duty-Free, which offers a shopping experience unrivaled in both scale and diversity, ranging from high-end electronics to luxury fashion brands. Additionally, the airport features Zen Gardens, spa facilities, and even indoor swimming pools, allowing passengers to relax and rejuvenate between flights. The airport’s emphasis on technology and rapid service makes it a pioneer in shaping the future of global air travel, ensuring that passengers have a seamless and memorable transit experience.

The common threads weaving through Changi, Hamad International, Schiphol, Copenhagen, and Dubai International Airports are their unwavering emphasis on enhancing customer experience, showcasing unique cultural offerings. These airports transform what could be a mundane layover into a delightful detour filled with art, relaxation, and exploration. As you plan your travels, consider these aspects, which can greatly influence your transit experience, turning a necessary pause in your journey into an enriching part of your travel adventure.

Have you experienced remarkable service or unique features at these airports, or others, during your travels? Share your stories with me at and let’s discuss what makes these airports stand out from the rest!

May 04, 2024


Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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