Not just for planes anymore: Michelin starred restaurants, Spas with a runway view, and National Museums all under one roof.Everyone knows that a thousand miles journey starts with a single step. Today the preferred place to take that first step is the airport closest to home. We chose the fastest mode of transportation, and often the most available. Statistics show, the airport is the place, where not only the first steps of a journey are taken, but the first purchases are made.
Today duty free sales are justifiably one of the key sources of income among all commercial airport services and account for from 50 to 60% of all airport profits. Duty Free shops located on tax neutral territory allow for low retail prices on goods sold without levies.
The world’s best airports boast a fantastic diversity of goods – everything from exclusive cuff links to new sports cars. And yet, the shopping habits of the past decades persist, and shoppers habitually opt for 2 staples - perfumes and cosmetics (accounting for almost 1/3 of all duty free purchases), and alcohol (making up 15-17% of money spent) in airport tax free shops.
Interesting to note, the first ever duty free airport shop was opened in Ireland in 1947. Since that time, the number of shops has grown, and currently the Duty Free Association lists over 400 companies worldwide. The largest of these is Dufry with 1650 stores in 58 countries of the world.
Which airports of the world boast the most interesting shopping experiences? Where should you book a longer stopover? Where will hours of waiting to change planes “fly by” as you indulge in a shopping spree? Malls.com created their own rating for the airports with the best entertainment and duty free shopping options. European and Asian “Megaports” headed up the list. Incidentally, 70% of all duty free sales in the world, are generated in those two regions.
10. DubaiDubai, the airport where Emirates Airlines is based, is one of the largest transport hubs in the Near East. Dubai Airport is one of the most spacious and comfortable options for a long stopover. At a cost of 5.5 billion Euros the airport encompasses a mind boggling shopping area extending over 26,000 square meters.
This includes the biggest duty free zone in the world, spreading over 7000 m2 and boasting numerous international awards. It is not unheard of, for a traveler to arrive at the airport, purchase a new car, and drives it out into the city. The duty free zone is noted as one of the best for its cost to quality ratios.
Useful Information: Dubai has the fastest growing passenger turnover of any airport in the world. Based on figures for 2014, the airport served 71million travelers and moved to first place topping London, Heathrow in passenger volume. The airport is the base for Emirates Airlines, which owns the largest long distance fleet of aircraft in the world. FlyDubai is also based at Dubai International. The airport has 225,000 m2 of passenger terminals, serving over 150 airlines, departing to more than 200 destinations worldwide.
09. BangkokAlmost everyone who travels to Southeast Asia will go through Bangkok Airport. Bangkok is one of the major air travel hubs in the region, and in 2006 the a new, ultra modern airport was built putting the Bangkok hub on the map as one of the world’s largest airports. Today it’s not hard to get lost in the retail zone of the Suvarnabhumi Airport, with its area covering 560,000 m2.
Here you will find all of the “Who’s who“ of luxury brand names and fashion houses: Tiffany & Co, Gucci, Longchamp, Chanel are just some of the names you’ll find, not to mention numerous local retailers selling Thai national goods and art objects. Separate praise is deserved for the large restaurant area with its Asian food corner. Thai food aficionados, applaud Kin Ramen near international ticketing. Some swear that it’s worth getting to the airport a couple hours early, just to enjoy a meal at Kin Ramen.
Useful information: Suvarnabhumi, opened in fall of 2006, is one of the world’s largest aviation hubs in Southeast Asia. It is used as a base and hub by Thai International Airlines, and Bangkok Airlines. The area of the passenger terminals covers 563,000 m2 – one of the largest in the world. Passenger traffic is about 50 million passengers a year.
08. New YorkJohn F. Kennedy Airport or JFK, is the largest airport in the US and a leader in the number of transatlantic arrivals it handles. JFK can take pride in its duty free zone, with its prestigious residents including brand name boutiques from world class designers - Hermes, Tumi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bvlgary, just to name a few. Here you’ll also find boutiques selling accessories by Iconic American Designers.
There are more than 100 different dining options in the concessions areas, suited to all pallets or wallets. Conde Nast Traveller included one of JFK’s restaurants in their expert list of the best restaurants in the world. Head towards Terminal 4 to sample the burgers and steaks at The Palm Bar & Grille - critics say it’s hard to find better, even in the heart of NYC!
Useful Information: Kennedy Airport is the largest international airport in The US, and the primary gateway for foreign passengers into North America. JetBlue Airlines bases at JFK and the airport is also an important hub to American Airlines and Delta. Overall, John F. Kennedy serves over 90 airline companies and ranks in the top 20 for volume of passenger traffic with more than 50 million passengers served yearly.
07. Hong KongHong Kong International Airport, also called Chek Lap Kok, serves as a primary gateway to mainland China and Asia and is without a doubt one of the finest. As far as shopping is concerned, Hong Kong Airport rises above its competitors with it’s on site shopping mall- Sky Mart. Located in the Eastern Terminal the mall features 35,000 m2 of retail diversity. Without a doubt, this shopping mall, in one of the most sought after shopping destinations in Asia, offers any brand you could possibly dream of. If that’s not enough to impress worldly travelers and shoppers, then how about an authentic Michelin starred restaurant right in the airport? Impressive, and Hong Kong International Airport has just that, in fact it is the only airport in the world to have a Michelin starred venue on its premises. Today Hung’s Delicacies boasts the exotic title of the best restaurant in any airport of the world!
Useful Information: Hong Kong International Airport is located on an artificial island, and was opened to replace the older Kai Tak airport in 1998. HKG is primary hub to Cathay Pacific Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, and Dragon Air, among other airlines. Passenger traffic at this airport ranks in the top 10 among international airports with over 60 million passengers per year. HKG Terminal 1 is the second biggest in the world with an area of 570 000 m2.
06. ZurichZurich, the financial capital of the world, and one of the largest cities in Switzerland, is home to one of the best airports in the “old world” and is regularly rated as such for its shopping as well. The airport combines the joys of a modern shopping mall (complete with personal shopper services), a hi-end hotel, and a fashionable club. Here there are more than 100 stores. Prices are traditionally high in Switzerland, but good deals are to be had on locally manufactured goods, such as, Swiss watches and chocolates. They can be purchased at substantial savings here compared to prices in town, much less abroad. More pleasant surprises from Zurich Kloten come in the way of guided airport tours which include a visit to an observation tower on the roof, and of course, there is a regular repertoire of on-site exhibition events and concerts.
Useful Information: Kloten Airport is the largest in Switzerland and the primary hub to Swiss International Airlines. Air traffic here is among the heaviest in Central Europe. The airport serves over 80 airlines and has passenger turnover of 25 million people a year.
05. HeathrowLondon Heathrow has the second highest volume of traffic in the world, and has the highest traffic in Europe, serving 70 million passengers annually. In recent years, due to the volume of traffic it handles, the airport has lost some of its awards, but that said, it has retained its top Skytrax ranking in the nomination for “Best Stores in an Airport”. Over 160 brands- all chosen with a wonderful sense of taste, make the airport a genuine high class shopping center. Harrods and leading international fashion brands are presented side by side in the company of top British designers. The food scene at Heathrow is crowned by Gordon Ramsey’s “Plane Food” the laureate of 12 Michelin Stars and honored by SkyTrax as 2nd best in the world, in its “Best Airport Restaurants” category.
Useful Information: The main London Airport has the second highest volume of traffic in the world, and the highest in Europe, with 68 million passengers served per year. Heathrow was opened in 1929, the launch of its Terminal 5 took place in 2008. It serves as the primary hub to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways, and serves 90 different airlines making connections to 170 cities of the world. The most popular outbound destination from Heathrow is New York City.
04. MunichFranz Josef Srauss Airport is the second largest and the second most important airport in Germany. It offers truly broad shopping perspectives, but first and foremost, it offers comfort and convenience - features that make it a pleasant choice for enjoyably spending an entire day. Munich Airport was the first in Europe to be awarded 5 star status by Startrax, and that is saying a lot. In the dining category the airport is ranked as the Best in the World. Perhaps the most outstanding of its restaurants is Airbrau, an inexpensive Bavarian Restaurant.
In addition to a large selection of duty free shops and branded fashion stores, Munich Airport boasts an on-site Bavarian brewery that offers tours to the public. Munich Airport also offers a “behind the scenes” excursion, which enables fans of modern aviation, to see what makes the main industry work from the ground up. If beer sampling and aviation are not exactly what you’re looking for, Munich offers a most original option – a swimming pool with a wave machine that makes surf worthy waves.
Useful Information: Munich Airport was opened in place of an older version in 1992. It is the second largest airport in Germany today, and the national leader in air traffic volume. The German flagman airline Lufthansa is based here. Passenger traffic is about 38 million a year, putting Munich at 30th place for passenger volume on an international scale.
03. SingaporeSingapore Changi Airport over the first 20 years since its launch, was voted the best airport in the world 19 times. It is the laureate of over 300 international industry awards including prizes for its recreational facilities. The shopping gallery of the airport features over 31,000 m2 of shopping. Statistically, 60% of the airport’s profits are derived from retail and entertainment and for some reason, this comes as no surprise.
Movie-theatres, a fitness center, swimming pools , cafes, live music and beauty salons are just some of the attractions that await guests. The crowning glory of the airport is a live orchid fountain complete with hovering tropical butterflies and birds. The airport boasts one of the best dining sections in the world. Critics especially praise the local Green Zone restaurant, which actually grows its own produce on airport territory, in a special eco-friendly garden. Another place not to miss is “Prima Taste” which showcases acclaimed local fare.
Useful Information: Changi is the major transport hub in Asia, the primary base of Singapore Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and others and, a secondary hub to the Australian Quantas. Over 80 international airlines have routes out of Singapore to more than 60 international destinations. The overall area of its 5 terminals spreads over 1 million square meters and each year 53 million passengers are served.
02. SeoulSince its opening in 2011 The Incheon Airport in The South Korean Capital regularly tops international ratings and maintains 5 stars on Skytrax. The Shopping and Entertainment facilities at Incheon are more than up to par, and considered to be the best in the world. The airport can brag being the first airport to have a mono-brand Louis Vuitton Boutique on premises not to mention 40 other top, name brand stores. In its sprawling duty free section you can find well known western brands alongside a interesting selection of South Korean goods.
The one thing that you won’t find in the airport is time to be bored. The airport has a truly unique infrastructure. At your disposal, in addition to the world class shopping, are a golf course, numerous sleeping rooms, an around the clock spa, movie theatres, gardens with Swiss mountain themes, a skating rink, a couple of museums, a panoramic observation platform, a roof-top swimming pool, and a live music repertoire ranging from pop groups to classical music.
Useful Information: Incheon was launched in 2001 and today is the 8th largest in Asia, and in the top 25 largest airports in the world. It is the primary hub to Korean national airlines Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. The passenger terminal, one of the largest in the world, sprawls over 496,000 m2 and accommodates 42 million passengers each year.
01. SchipholSchiphol is one of Europe’s leading airports and serves as a gateway to intercontinental flights. Happily, for the millions who have lengthy stopovers here, prior to embarking on long-haul, transcontinental flights- the level of service is one of the highest in the world. Critics and Industry Experts have bestowed Schiphol with more than 120 international awards.
Schiphol Airport is one of those airports that people like arriving to early. Besides its excellent shopping area, guests can enjoy plane watching from the numerous observation sites , fitness and spa centers, design exhibitions, an aviation museum, and a branch of the famous Rijksmuseum. Transit passengers that have some time at their disposal, can opt for an inexpensive Amsterdam excursion. In the restaurant zone, you’ll find the famous “Bubbles Seafood” with its huge exotic aquariums, and it’s tradition of serving seafood with “bubbly”. Schiphol is the airport where one eats fresh oysters and washes them down with Champagne while tempting fate on the roulette. Speaking of tempting fate - you can even get married at the airport. There are 4 wedding packages for various tastes and budgets from “Say Yes and Go”, (a quick civil service before your flight) to “Tickets to Paradise“, featuring a fancier ceremony and plane rental.
Useful Information: Schiphol has the 4rth largest passenger turnover in Europe and 14th largest in the world, with 53 million passengers served yearly. It is a major transport hub for American destinations from Europe. It serves as KLM Airlines’ primary hub and Delta Airlines’ Secondary Hub. Today, over 260 destinations and more than 90 countries of the world can be reached via Schiphol. It was recognized as the “Best European Airport” 15 times in a row.