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This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

Signature Airport Specialties

Ten hubs show off a singular highlight, from top-notch shopping to art exhibits to VIP treatment.

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Some would say that most airport experiences are, unfortunately, less than pleasant. But there are hubs out there that strive to make travelers feel cared for and cosseted, serving gourmet food instead of overpriced to-go sandwiches and making a concerted effort to cut down on wait times in security lines. The best airports in the world do everything well, but some stand out for specific areas of expertise.

Foodies will want to arrive at Germany’s Stuttgart Airport a couple hours early to dine at Restaurant Top Air, a Michelin-starred eatery that is a destination itself. Intrepid travelers will relish how planes departing from Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Nepal accelerate down the side of a mountain before taking off. And Seoul’s Incheon International—regularly voted best in the world—is a frequent flier’s dream, with short queues for security and passport control, WiFi (fast and free), designated resting areas and even cultural zones that offer a taste of local history.

High-fliers headed to France should make the extra effort to arrive at Paris–Le Bourget, where art megadealer Larry Gagosian recently opened a private art gallery in an empty airport hangar featuring changing exhibits from established artists. And those who prefer to get outside for some non-recycled air might prefer Zurich Airport, which is surrounded by 12 miles of walking trails.

From convenience to shopping to culture, these ten airports each do one thing exceptionally well—so well, in fact, that you might end up going out of your way to score a layover.


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