Airports to Hit

Helsinki-Vantaa - Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL)

Scandinavian scheduling and Finnish friendliness come to the fore at an airport that in 2022 was found to have the least flight disruptions of any European airport. Unfortunately, that means you often don't have the time to visit the aviation museum, book swap library or scenic terrace. With the delights of Helsinki just a 30-minute train ride away, this is one gateway where you don't get caught behind the barriers. 

Porto Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport, Zurich 

Geneva airport has its issues (hire car return being the biggest) but it is the major hub of Zurich where the famous Swiss efficiency and timekeeping really kicks in. Studies have shown few international airports have faster clearance times for connecting flights or fewer delays. Zurich itself is just a 10-minute shuttle away, while any airport with this many chocolate shops and where you can rent inline skates gets our thumbs up. 

Fuerteventura Airport, Canary Islands

A long-time European sun, surf and sea getaway, Fuerteventura Airport is a clean, efficient, and no-frills portal to your winter getaway. It gets added points for its capacity to deal quickly with oversized luggage (thirty years of windsurfer pilgrimages have paved the way), being equidistant between the south coast’s tourist beaches and the north coast’s waves and how it efficiently handles sunburnt and hungover Brits abroad. 

Singapore Changi

With 80 airlines, serving 200 cities in 60 countries, Singapore’s Changi has long been the gateway to Asian-Pacific destinations. At the “World Airport Awards 2023”, a no-doubt glittering affair, it was crowned the world's best airport and received awards for its dining and leisure amenities. However, after a 12-hour long-haul flight, it is a visit to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall that really seals the deal.  

Airports To Avoid

Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS)

Here at Db, we love Portugal. And we love Lisbon. But Lisbon airport, man, it can bring you down. It’s not the location; a global capital rarely has an airport in the heart of the city. It’s just that the airport seems to want to stop you from getting to all the fun stuff so close by. Its flight disruption ratio currently sits as one of the highest in Europe, while it’s not unusual to wait for an hour to collect luggage, especially surfboards. The hire car queues can be enormous, while upon departure huge customs lines often come as a surprise before the gates. Nothing can take away from the good times that Portugal delivers, but this airport sure does try.


Most of Grenoble’s 500,000 passengers arrive in just four winter months to access nearby French ski resorts and the popular Massif de l’Oisans. They do so because the transfers are short. Unfortunately, the queues aren’t. Congestion leads to flight delays and general chaos through every aspect of the airport experience; from customs to security to luggage to boarding. They make some of the local quad chair queues feel like a day spa. 

Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris

Though it is the largest international airport in France, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris has a reputation for being disorganized, unclean and generally slow. The airport staff in Paris are frequently rated as unhelpful and unfriendly, which while serving as a nice warm-up for the waiters in the cafes on the Left Bank, can still be a rude shock. As one TripAdvisor reviewer said, “Well worth the visit for the novelty of seeing an awful airport, so you can appreciate the good ones.”

UK Airports (most of them)

Late in 2022, UK’s Manchester was voted the most stressful airport in the world. In another Skyrefund Poll, Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick and Luton call came in the top 10 for the Worst Airports to fly from. Now, the post-pandemic rush and a lack of staff due to Brexit have been addressed and check-ins have improved queues since, yet it never comes close to a pleasant experience. As the playwright Dennis Potter said; "I did not fully understand the dread term 'terminal illness' until I saw Heathrow for myself."

Sydney, Australia

While it gets props for being less than 20 kilometres as the galah flies from the CBD, and for, well, being in Australia, Sydney Kingsford Smith has its issues. Relatively old and with increasing passenger numbers (a new $5 billion terminal west of Sydney is being built now) it has struggled to cope. In 2022 it was ranked the ninth of any airport in the world for delays, and the two-hour-plus lines for bag drops are factored in by most frequent flyers. Oh, and they are hot on quarantine; if you try bringing in a piece of fruit, you face 20 years in jail. 

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