A fleet of robots directs passengers to their departure gates in the newly built Istanbul airport. The 818 million–square–foot hub has won architectural accolades and awards for reducing energy. Known as IST, the Istanbul airport opened in 2018. IST services 90 flights per hour and more than 200 airlines.
The combination of good looks and convenience, and the forethought to reduce the Earth-warming carbon footprint of air travel appeared to have been more than enough to secure the title of “best airport” in the world for Turkey’s capital, as voted for by readers of Condé Nast Traveler.
“For centuries, Istanbul has sat at the crossroads of international trade and travel, so it’s only natural that the Turkish capital has finally stepped into its position as a global transport hub in the age of air travel as well,” Condé Nast Traveler editors wrote.
Readers chose Savannah Hilton Head as the No. 1 airport in the U.S., citing its town-square layout, followed by Hartford Bradley International and Indianapolis International.
Here are the global top 10 airports as voted by readers:
Istanbul Airport (IST)
App for precision planning, loyalty program
Singapore Changi (SIN)
Indoor forest and a rooftop pool and hot tub
Seoul Incheon Int’l (ICN)
Indoor skating and high-speed rail to city
Zurich Airport (ZRH)
Exterior observation deck; duty-free chocolate
Tokyo’s Haneda (HND)
Smaller, well-placed alternative to Narita Int’l
Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)
High-end, reasonably priced business lounge
Doha’s Hamad Int’l (DOH)
Squash courts and a swimming pool
Dubai Int’l (DXB)
Home base for top-ranking carrier Emirates
Hong Kong Int’l (HKG)
Express rail to the city center in 24 minutes
Helsinki Airport (HEL)
Marimekko shop and blueberry shakes
Here are the top 10 airports in the U.S., as voted by Condé Nast readers:
Savannah Hilton Head (SAV)
Town-square layout and golf-lovers destination
Hartford Bradley Int’l (BDL)
New York and Boston alternative
Indianapolis Int’l (IND)
First U.S. LEED certification for smart energy
Rhode Island T.F. Green Int’l (PVD)
Soon to be hub for Jet Blue’s
Palm Beach Int’l Airport (PBI)
Putting green and full-service spa
Tampa Int’l Airport (TPA)
High-tech ‘people mover’ system
Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP)
Range of dining, including famous ‘Juicy Lucy’ burger
Long Beach Airport (LGB)
Open-air concourse with fire pits and wine bar
Portland (Ore.) Int’l (PDX)
Bike paths and light rail into downtown
Milwaukee Mitchell (MKE)
Smart airport bookstore with new and used titles
The magazine, known for reader-generated annual best-of lists, also ranked its “best cities” this week. The No. 1 major U.S. city went to Chicago, the sixth win in a row and a historic streak for the U.S.’s No. 3 most populous metro, which draws domestic and international travelers to its boutique hotel and home-share offerings, culinary scene and architectural originality.
Voters were again loyal to a perennial favorite for America’s best small city: South Carolina’s culinary and coastal attraction, Charleston. Global cities were also ranked, with readers crowning as their winner a onetime colonial silver destination and now an architectural mother lode: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Read all of the travel mainstay’s reader’s-choice awards, which can also be searched by hotel, best airport, recreational features and more. Airports matter to travelers, but, more so, airlines and their on-time and service track records are vital when travel planning. You can read about the top airlines, including a breakout of U.S. carriers.
The Istanbul airport’s design, by London-based Grimshaw Architects, places emphasis on efficiency, sustainability and technology to offer seamless passenger experiences, Condé Nast Traveler says.