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As well as being customer service champions and environmental pioneers, Asia-Pacific airports are also fast developing a reputation for being the most sleep friendly in the world, writes Joe Bates.

According to the most recent passenger poll on the website SleepingInAirports.net, the most ‘sleep friendly’ airport in the world is Singapore Changi followed by Incheon, Tallinn, Vancouver and Kuala Lumper.

So, ACI Asia-Pacific member airports account for four of the top five gateways in the world based on their ‘comfort’ and ‘sleep-ability’, and with Tokyo Haneda and Hong Kong International Airport also making the top ten, it is clearly another area in which the region excels.

Other Asia-Pacific airports to make the top 25 in the world In 2017 – there was no survey this year – include Tokyo Narita; Bangkok Suvarnabhumi; Dubai International; Delhi-Indira Gandhi; Doha-Hamad; Taipei Taoyuan; Ho Chi Minh-Tan Son Nhat; and Mumbai-Chhatrapati Shivaji.

To make the list, the website tells us: “In our annual survey, we ask travellers to rate airports worldwide based on their comfort and sleep-ability. Most often, voters end up sleeping at these terminals because of jet lag during long layovers, flight delays, or just to take a quick cat nap before a flight.”

Factors that might help to determine an airport’s sleep-ability include:

  • Designated rest and quiet zones where tired travellers can relax and enjoy some stress-free time before their flight
  • Availability of transit hotels and sleep pods/cabins
  • Plentiful, comfortable, arm-rest free seating
  • Cots, blankets and pillows provided to travellers stuck in the airport overnight due to flight cancellations

The site notes that whether it’s because of their designated sleeping zones, padded benches or sleep pods, every gateway making it into its ‘Most Sleep-Friendly Airports’ list are there because they were deemed to be the most accommodating by weary travellers.

The survey is complemented by another one for the world’s ‘Best Airports for Overall Experience’, where airports are rated for not only their comfort and ‘sleep-ability’ but also their food options, services, amenities, cleanliness, immigration/security, customer service and ease of navigation and transit.

The website notes: “The best airports in the world are the ones that inspire you to book a trip based on the receiving airport alone. From ultra-efficient processes to friendly staff and a wide array of activities you never thought you’d find in an airport, these airports become a memorable part of any trip.

“In fact, a number of the terminals on this list enthral travellers to the point that they (almost) want to miss their flight – or at least opt for a longer layover the next time around.

“What we love most about these airports, though, is that they are continuously working to improve. We’re constantly seeing new developments and ideas come to life, creating a more spectacular travel experience than we thought possible.”

And once again Singapore Changi leads the way, having topped this annual poll for around 20 years.

“Year after year, Singapore Changi reigns over airports worldwide as the single best airport in the world. This undisputed victor dazzles and delights travellers with its efficiency, amenities, and absolute comfort,” remarks SleepinginAirports.

“The airport is positively passionate about accommodating traveller needs – a fact made obvious through their exceptional customer service and their continued drive to make something great even better.

“When it comes to deciding what specifically makes Singapore so great, it’s hard for travellers to agree. Some adore the sleep facilities, including the reclining chairs tucked away behind soothing waterfalls. Others are more into the creative extravagances, like the movie theatre, the butterfly garden, and the fish spa.

“For so many, it’s the simple things like impeccable cleanliness, a straightforward layout and some really great food. No matter what tickles your fancy, you’re likely to find it at Singapore Changi – and you’re unlikely to ever get bored!”

The ‘zzz Factor’ for Changi notes: “There are free designated rest zones with reclining loungers, armrest-free seating at the gates, free massage chairs, nap rooms inside fee-based lounges, and three transit hotels. Survey respondents also pointed out that with numerous nooks and hidden spaces, the lush carpeting is quite comfortable for sleeping.”


The airport itself points out that it has numerous places where passengers can grab a “power up with a power nap”. These include Snooze Lounges in T1, T3 and T4 and Oasis and Sanctuary lounges in Terminal 2.

Indeed, on its ‘Now Boarding’ blog, it tells passengers: “We know layovers can be tiring, and all you want is a good rest before your connecting flight. Every terminal in Changi Airport has plenty of snooze spots for power naps and even falling into a deep slumber.”

Second placed Incheon International Airport also draws high praise from SleepingInAirports for being a destination in its own right that “offers everything from ice creams to cultural centres”.

Sleeping in Airports remarks: “Clever activities and amenities are interspersed by excellent and affordable dining options that give you the choice of local flavours or international favourites.

“Tired and full, finding a place to sleep in Seoul is no challenge either. The airport offers reclining lounge chairs, rest zones, and free showers, encouraging the weary to unwind. And of course, every clever feature and development is housed in impeccably clean terminals that are staffed by individuals who regularly exceed expectations.”

Its ‘zzz factor’ states: “Seoul Incheon Airport is known for having numerous and plentiful options for sleeping. Respondents appreciated that the sleeping area is on its own level, separated from the busier shops and restaurants on two other levels.”

Elsewhere, the ’zzz Factor’ for Vancouver International Airport – recognised as the fourth best airport in the world to sleep in and the sixth best for overall experience by SleepinginAirports – says: “Survey respondents reported comfortable, armrest-free seating are abundant once you are airside. There are also nap rooms inside a few of the fee-based lounges, and a hotel connects to the airport before security.”

While the ‘zzz Factor’ listing for Hong International Airport remarks: “In addition to armrest-free seating, Hong Kong International Airport offers large numbers of reclining lounger chairs. Travellers note that intercom updates are not too loud, and that the airport, in general, is not overly noisy.

“There is a designated sleeping area at one end of the terminal, a relaxation room downstairs from Gates 23 and 25, a lay-down lounge near Gate 35, and a large number of comfortable chairs for sleeping between the food court and Gate 60.”

So, why do Asia-Pacific’s airports do so well in the poll? Without doubt the best person to answer this question is Canadian traveller, Donna McSherry, author of the online Guide to Sleeping in Airports and founder of the SleepinginAirports website, which now features over 7,500 airport reviews.

She says: “Airports in Asia tend to have a lot of thoughtful amenities that cater to travellers on a layover including rest zones, showers, cultural activities and entertainment.

“Nowadays, I think people put a lot more weight into the overall experience when choosing their long-haul flight routes. So, when an airport has more to offer than just a seat at the gate for a five hour plus layover, it’s not hard to see why offering more will attract more passengers to your airport.”


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