The 8 best airports for connecting flights in the world

ViaTravelers

In today's world of air travel, nonstop flights are becoming a figment of our past, or a privilege for those willing to shell out a few extra dollars. As a result, the dreaded layover is becoming all too common, and worse, they're getting longer because larger planes are flying with fewer flights.

When exploring flight options, it's not uncommon to see layover times ranging anywhere from 3 to 18 hours. These pockets of time can feel soul-sucking.

It's a waiting game in limbo. There's often not enough time to leave the airport to see the sights, or worse, you don't have the ability to leave and waltz back in depending on the bureaucracy of what country you're in, and/or what country you're a citizen of.

These times are enough to turn any trip from spectacular to torturous. Fortunately, airports are responding to the change. Below are the best airports to be "stuck: in. They may be so good, that you'll soon be purposely looking for flight options with a longer layover!

1) Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

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One of the busiest airports in Europe, and rated one of the best in the world, is also one of the most layover friendly.

Schiphol offers travelers a wide variety of dining and shopping options to keep them occupied during their time at the airport. For those looking to explore beyond the confines of the airport, there is an easy service that runs every 10 minutes to and from the city center. There are plenty of great things to do in Amsterdam if you have a long layover.

Other features of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport:

  • Rijksmuseum Amsterdam: the world's only museum in an airport, showcasing paintings by Dutch artists.
  • Spas: Including the option to have Garra rufa fish nibble at your feet.
  • Unwind at a totally device-free silence center.

2) Munich International Airport

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The second busiest airport in Germany also boasts of being one of the best airports for layovers. Beyond a plethora of shops and restaurants, Munich International Airport offers travelers a chance to relax and rejuvenate with their on-site spa services.

There's also an opportunity to take in some scenery and fresh air with a walk through one of their parks, or a game of mini-golf.

  • Sample some of Germany's best beers at Airbrau. This traditional tavern has an outdoor beer garden shaded by chestnut trees. Travelers can get a dose of fresh air while listening to live music frequently playing and sipping on a beer from the tavern's onsight brewery. Not bad for an airport!
  • Take a nap in a super modern individual sleeping pod, complete with personal iPhone and USB ports.

3) Zurich Airport

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Zurich Airport is the largest airport in Switzerland, and one of the busiest airports in Europe. The airport is consistently named as one of the best layover airports, and frequently wins awards for its excellent customer service.

Travelers can find a wide range of shopping and dining options, as well as plenty of comfortable places to relax or take a nap.

As a result of a renovation, this airport sports two rooftop terraces, a kids zone, locker-style cell phone charging stations, and even bike and in-line skate rentals!

No longer will passer-throughs feel trapped during their layover if Zurich is their stopover.

4) Changi International Airport (Singapore)

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What is there not to do at this airport?

Travelers can take advantage of a plethora of free and inexpensive activities while waiting for their next plane to board.

From a butterfly garden, unwinding at the video gaming center, catching a movie at one of the free movie theaters, or even enjoying a 40-foot slide and an outdoor rooftop pool, no one will complain about being "stuck" at this airport.

For the business traveler, there are equally exciting perks to this airport, such as free wifi throughout the airport, 550 free Internet terminals, 200 iPad-wielding agents, and multiple business centers. Wasting time waiting in limbo can quickly turn into productivity.

5) Hong Kong International Airport

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This airport was rated the best in the world by Skytrax in 2015, and it's easy to see why. From an indoor garden and waterfall to a nine-hole golf course and outdoor sunbathing deck, travelers will find plenty of ways to stay occupied at this international hub.

There are also several great options for shopping and dining, as well as a movie theater and an IMAX cinema.

What sets this airport apart from the others is its commitment to sustainability. With a rainwater harvesting system that recycles grey water for use in the landscape, solar power panels, and electric vehicle charging stations, this airport is leading the way in sustainable travel.

6) Dubai International Airport

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This airport is the busiest in the world when it comes to international travel, and it's easy to see why. With over 120 million passengers passing through each year, this airport needs to be able to accommodate a large volume of people.

Fortunately, they do so with style. From high-end shopping and dining to a spa, fitness center, and an indoor pool, travelers will find everything they need to make their layover as comfortable as possible.

There's also a kid's play area and a business center for those who need to stay productive. With so much to do, it's no wonder this airport is so popular.

Other features of the Dubai International Airport:

  • The world's largest duty-free shop at 58,000 square feet.
  • Open-air gardens
  • 24-hour gym with a pool and showers
  • Shopping stands where you can even purchase gold bars.

7) Incheon International Airport

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This airport has been consistently ranked as one of the best in the world, and it's easy to see why. With plenty of shopping and dining options, as well as a casino, spa, golf course, and indoor gardens, travelers will find everything they need to make their layover as comfortable as possible.

There's also a kid's play area and a business center for those who need to stay productive. With so much to do, it's no wonder this airport is so popular.

Other features at the Incheon International Airport:

  • Two movie theaters playing Korean and Hollywood titles
  • Ice skating rink
  • 18 hole mini-golf course
  • For the culturally inclined, travelers can learn to make Korean paper crafts, hear traditional music and watch dance performances at the airport's own cultural center.
  • Seven gardens to choose from
  • Complimentary laptops and free wifi throughout the airport.

8) San Francisco International Airport

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This airport is a favorite among travelers for its convenient location and great amenities. With plenty of shopping and dining options, as well as a yoga room, massage chairs, and an outdoor observation deck, travelers will find everything they need to make their layover as comfortable as possible.

There's also a business center for those who need to stay productive. With so much to do, it's no wonder this airport is so popular.

Other features of the San Francisco Airport:

  • The beer and wine enthusiasts that can't escape the airport to experience the real thing can still be reminded they're in one of the US's best wine countries by sipping some of Napa Valley's best wine at Vino Volo or enjoying some of the west coast's finest brews at Anchor Brewing Company.
  • Relax and unwind a bit in the airport's 150-square-foot Yoga Room.
  • View sea creatures from around the world at a branch of the Steinhart Aquarium.
  • Check out the Airport Museum which features rotating exhibits on various topics.

Next time you shop for plane tickets, be sure to keep these airports in mind. Your 6-18 hour layover could be treated as an added perk to your travel as opposed to a dreaded obligatory sacrifice.

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