I’ve recently read a couple of articles on the bing Travel app about airports. One was all about the worlds worst airports, and the other was on the opposite end of the scale- the top 10 airports in the world.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. How can you measure what makes an airport good or bad? I have my own list of good and bad airports, but I have my own specific reasons for why they are good or bad.
First and foremost, I measure airport quality in terms of possible destinations from that point. The closest airport to where I live in the UK is probably what I would consider pretty bad in terms of destination choices. If my destination of choice is some sort of cheesy drunken all-inclusive summer holiday, then great, I can do that from my airport. If I want a city break in Barcelona, or London, or Paris, even better, plenty of flights there. If you want to go somewhere less well-known, or even Berlin or Frankfurt (Frankfurt happens to be one of the largest airports in Europe), you’ll be lucky to catch a direct flight from the airport in question. The places I’ve been to, especially within Europe, I’ve found I’ve had to transit through a London airport, which would rank the airport in question pretty low on my list of good airports.
In this day and and age, with all our smart phones and a shared love of being constantly connected to social media, an airport with WiFi is also a good thing. Perhaps. If I do have to transit through an airport, depending on the length of transition, I may or may not want WiFi. If it’s long, then yes, I’ll have some free WiFi to waste a bit of time on/let my family or friends know where I am. What I do not want is to spend seven hours in an airport that only provides me with 15 minutes of free WiFi. That’s a bad airport. If I don’t have a lot of transit time, then I don’t have time for WiFi, I’ll get that at the other end. At my final airport, it might be good to get some WiFi so I can again let family or friends know I’ve arrived safely.
Restaurants and shops are a factor in good-bad airports. Certain airports are considerably larger than others in terms of dining and shopping. Some airports are so big you can quite easily get lost, which isn’t too good if that means you end missing your flight.
If I’m boarding an international flight, then chances are I’ll have checked in about 3 hours before my flight departs, which means I have plenty of time to spend window shopping in duty free or chilling out with a hot chocolate. I don’t want to check in for a flight, then go through security to find there is less on the other side than there was before security (yes, I have encountered airports like this). It would be nice to be able to buy a magazine to read while I’m waiting for my flight to board.
Location and flight times are something I also consider for short-haul flights (within Europe). I spent 2 (non consecutive) nights sleeping in Stansted airport a good few years ago with my sister. Our outbound flight was very early morning and our inbound flight was very late at night. We were students then and had all the time in the world, but now I think it’s something I would avoid doing. If I’m going somewhere in Europe, I’ll look for airports closer to me or airports with better transport connections. Stansted is probably a great place to spend the night though. There are plenty of people who do it, and the shops are open late too.
These are my only requirements for airports, it’s not a lot to ask for really.