Best Beer Selection: Airbräu
It should come as no surprise that Munich is home to the world’s finest airport brewery. In addition to an expansive selection of signature brews on tap, Airbräu features a menu full of local culinary offerings, a covered beer garden and live cabaret performances. And just in case fliers forget they’ve landed in Germany, the brewery is open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Best Wine List: Frescobaldi
The original Frescobaldi Wine Bar is located in Florence, but fliers can enjoy the family’s legendary wine list in three terminals of Rome’s Leonardo Di Vinci—Flumicino International Airport. Patrons can pair their selections with a variety of signature Italian appetizers, from cured meats and cheeses to marinated fish and salads smothered in olive oil. What layover?
Best Sushi: Deep Blue
Sushi is arguably the best airport dining option; the servings are light but filling, the ingredients are rich in vitamins and minerals and (most importantly) sushi is known to aid, not hinder or otherwise complicate, the digestive process. While the most authentic sashimi platters and hand rolls may be found in Japan, Deep Blue Sushi – located in the Jet Blue terminal at New York’s JFK International Airport – serves “probably the best sushi you will ever eat in an airport,” according to New York Eater. Frommer’s agrees; last year, the travel guide named Deep Blue among the top 10 airport eateries in the U.S. Patrons can opt for familiar selections or more exotic offerings, such as lobster rolls, Kobe beef tatake rolls and miso-glazed Chilean sea bass, thanks to an eclectic menu created by renowned chef Michael Schulson.
Best Cigar Bar: Lufthansa First-Class Lounge
If you plan to fly through Germany’s Frankfurt International Airport on Lufthansa Airlines, this swanky spot totally justifies a first-class upgrade. The smoking lounge features an impressive humidor (including several Cuban selections) and a highly complementary whiskey menu with more than 80 labels. The lounge also offers private napping areas – and if you’re flying through Frankfurt, chances are you have a long layover ahead. But the highlight for many will come at the end, when they are shuttled to their flight via private Mercedes or Porsche limousine.
Best Cleansing Station: Plaza Premium Shower and Relaxation Lounge
Nothing feels better after a long trip than a hot shower – and in lieu of your actual residence, this lounge located at Hong Kong International Airport is the next best thing. The facility features shower rooms, hair-drying stations and resting areas that are available 24 hours a day.
Most Comfortable: Singapore Changi International Airport
This entry will likely stir the most passionate debate, especially among those who have spent the night in a large number of terminal chairs. However, it bears mention that Singapore Changi International Airport has won the coveted Golden Pillow Award (given out by SleepingInAirports.net) for the last 15 years. From snooze chairs situated throughout the terminal to plush seats in the sizable movie theater, you can practically throw a rock anywhere in this airport and hit somewhere comfortable to sit. But we here at Pacsafe must insist that you refrain from throwing rocks in airports, even if it’s just to prove we’re right.
Best Bookstore: Powell’s Books
Reading material for a long flight is essential, which is why virtually every airport features a bookstore or newsstand of some kind. Powell’s Books, with three different locations in Portland’s PDX International Airport, ups the ante by allowing customers to swap their old paperback for a new one. Customers can also sold their old books, though this process may take up to two days to process – so sell them on the way in, and pick up your cash on the way out. Powell’s was a big reason why PDX was recently named by The Huffington Post as the world’s seventh best airport for shopping – the highest rank for a U.S. airport.
Best Internet Connection: LAX
In June 2012, Los Angeles International Airport began offering complimentary Wi-Fi to all connecting fliers for up to 45 minutes. This is decidedly better than most US airports, which force computer and smartphone users to pay exorbitant fees for mere minutes of connectivity. LAX has been blazing the digital trail for some time; in 2010, it was voted as the “Most Social Airport” via Facebook activity.
Best Staff: Depends on the Region
Every year, SKYTRAX hands out awards that recognize capable, competent, friendly airport staff all over the world. The 2012 winners were determined by region:
- Africa: Cape Town International Airport (Cape Town)
- Asia: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Malaysia)
- Australia/Pacific: Auckland International Airport (New Zealand)
- Central America: Panama Tocumen Airport
- Europe: Munich International Airport
- Middle East: Muscat International Airport (Oman)
- North America: San Francisco International Airport
- South America: Jorge Chávez International Airport (Peru)
Best Bathroom: Fort Smith Regional Airport
Now that we’ve discussed cigar selections and book exchanges, let’s get to what most people would consider the most basic (and important) airport amenity of all: the potty. Believe it or not, the finest facilities may be found at Fort Smith Regional Airport in Arkansas. What makes it so great? Well, for starters, it’s the only airport to win top honors in the Cintas’ America’s Best Bathroom Contest (crowned in 2005). The restrooms’ many perks include comfortable seats, automated everything and beautiful décor – dried flower arrangements and all.
By Brad Nehring