Airports are a bit of a mixed bag: sometimes you get the ones brimming with life, your favourite restaurants and shops. Other times, you find yourself waiting for your flight whilst flitting your eyes between the same four walls and the one small shop, willing the time to go by faster. We’ve gathered some facts that you might find surprising about the types of airport you could be getting ready for take off in – and the ones you might want to avoid.
6 interesting facts you never knew about airports
More than just a stopover
1. The largest airport in the world by size
Since 1998, the undisputed largest airport (measured by passenger volume) in the world is the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the USA. What’s more, it continues to grow: in 2017, nearly 104 million passengers were counted. Not to mention that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta remains the only airport to have reached the 100 million mark. So if you’re big on size, make sure your next connection flies through here. Alternatively, you could check out the next largest airport in China, Beijing Capital International, where the number of passengers (almost 96 million) is higher than Dubai International, with approx. 88 million passengers per year.
2. The worst airport in the world…
For this one, we checked out the annual survey by the online travel provider eDreams, who conducted over 65,000 interviews to identify both the best and worst airports in the world. The criteria? Security checks, hygiene, service, waiting areas and restaurant and shopping facilities were the main categories considered. The result: Casablanca in Morocco was deemed the most likely to be the worst airport in the world. Similarly, according to the survey, Rome-Ciampino was rated almost as low. So maybe the next time you’re clocking up air miles, you might want to give these two airports a pass!
3. The best airport in the world
Now we’re talking: say “hello” to the most desirable of airports, Changi Airport in Singapore. Not only celebrated for its unbelievable cleanliness, organised and helpful staff and a well-thought-out terminal design, Changi Airport is also notorious for an enormous amount of shopping options, a huge selection of different cuisines on offer and to top it all of, there are even gyms and a swimming pool to make a stay at this airport the peak of luxury. Changi is the type of airport that makes you forget you’re in an airport or similarly, makes you wish you had a longer layover! And if you’re looking for more airports on a similar vein, Zurich and Istanbul-Atatürk also top the list.
4. The smallest airport in the world
The unique airport that only has one airline in business (Flybe) is: the airport on the island Barra in Scotland. It’s open Monday to Friday for only a few hours at a time, but that’s not all. Unique to just this airport, Its runway is made of sand, meaning that arrival times can have a fair amount of leeway, given that every landing depends on how the tide is. One for the bucket list, perhaps? Then there’s Saba Airport on the eponymous Caribbean island, which is another airport that has set a new size record. This is where the world's officially shortest runway is located, measuring at just 400 metres, so it might be best to close your eyes when it comes to landing…
5. The most dangerous airport in the world
Strong winds, extremely short runways (see Saba Airport above) or poor visibility can make take-off and landing quite unpleasant – and we’re not even talking about for the passengers on the plane. Take the Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten. It’s an airport so close to the beach that those who are nearby can easily see planes from above, as they’re only 10 to 20 metres away. And if the feeling of vertigo overwhelms you, then you’ll be sure to dislike the added swirls of stones that the planes encourage, potentially leading to injuries! There’s also the Ioannis Kapodistrias airport in Corfu, Greece, which is is also quite inconvenient as the main road is only a few metres away from the runway. For safety reasons, however, this is blocked before every start, so that the danger is not quite as threatening as on St. Maarten.
6. The most spectacular airports in the world
In 2013 the Dabba-Yardeng Airport opened in China's Sichuan province, reaching over 4400 metres, making it the highest airport in the world. Passengers, however, are also warned that being so high up can lead to dizziness and other symptoms of altitude sickness. Similarly, the architecture of both “The Rock” terminal at Wellington Airport, New Zealand and Arctic Circle Airport in Norway is also worth viewing. Both airports have an architecture that seamlessly adapts to their surroundings, where “The Rock” terminal glass design weaves its way around similar to its hilly landscape, and the snow-covered mountain peaks surrounding the Arctic Circle Airport are also mimicked in the design of the airport itself.