25 Reasons Incheon International Airport is the Best Airport in the World

(click images for sources)

Incheon International Airport is consistently rated among the best airports in the world, and this year (2012) it grabbed the number one spot for the Best Airport in the World award by Skytrax. Here are 25 reasons Incheon International Airport is the best!

 

Why the Airport Itself is Awesome

1. Mega Quick Immigration – The Korean ppalli ppalli culture (the need to do things quickly) is awesome when it comes to immigration. Average time for arrivals is 12 minutes (vs 45 minutes world-wide) and departure 19 minutes (vs 60 minutes). (Source)

2. You’ll Get Struck by Lighting before Losing your Bags – Losing your bags is one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a traveler to Korea. Incheon Airport has a 0.0001% baggage mishandling rate, which means you’re more likely to get struck by lightning. Yay! (Source)

3. The Staff – Korean customer service is usually pretty good. But the staff at Incheon Airport is even better. They’re respectful, helpful, and can generally speak pretty good English.

4. Super Clean – For a place of this size, you’ll wonder how they keep it so darn clean. The floors are always waxed, and any garbage on the floor is instantly picked up.

5. Really Spacious and Bright – The huge windows make the airport feel like it’s bigger than it actually is, and it also lets all that natural sunlight in, which is really good for depressed people ;).

6. Mega Easy and Affordable Access – Affordable limousine buses from Incheon Airport go to pretty much any corner of Korea. There’s also a brand new train that’ll get you to downtown Seoul in no time.

7. Gardens Galore – Incheon Airport doesn’t just have a garden. It has seven! Sometimes you need a break from all the chic and modernness, and just return to semi-manufactured (but still really peaceful) nature.



Fantastic Services

8. Free Wifi – Incheon Airport is huge, but you’ll still get free wifi in pretty much every nook and cranny of the airport. Also, you don’t have to do any annoying logins. Just connect!

9. Free Computers – No, not to keep silly. Not everyone might have a laptop or smartphone to get the free wifi offered at Incheon Airport, so computers are free to use for anyone. So accommodating! (Yahoo! writeup on free wifi and computers)

10. Medical Services – If you need some medical attention for that smelly feet problem you got, Incheon Airport has a medical center that’ll offer services like checkups, dental services, and emergencies. (Official website)

11. Free Showers – After sitting in a plane for hours next to some stinky dude, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the free showers offered in their hotel-styled bathrooms.

12. Post Office – Forgot to send mom and pop a postcard during your trip to Seoul? Send one right at the airport!

13. Dry Cleaning – If you’re headed to a wedding or a formal business meeting in Korea, you might have some nice fancy clothes all wrinkled in your suitcase. Make sure you look slick and drop off your clothes at Incheon Airport’s dry cleaning.

14. Children’s Playroom – Traveling with kids can be really tiresome. Let your kids waste their energy in Incheon Airport’s free children’s playroom. (Parental supervision is required).

15. Beauty Services – Get your hair and nails done so you can arrive in Seoul with some flash!

16. Prayer Rooms – Incheon Airport offers prayer rooms so that you can go in and pray for a speedy return to Korea 😉

 

What to Do on a Layover at Incheon Airport

17. Shopaholics Heaven – At Incheon International Airport there are 90 duty free shops. It’s basically a shopping mall with an airport attached to it. (Download shopping guide here.)

18. Golf Course – Located really, really close to the Airport is a golf course. Getting out in the sun and hitting a few balls make for a nice relaxing day. Make a booking here.

19. Two Movie Theaters – You can catch the latest Korean movies or Hollywood blockbuster at two of Incheon Airports movie theaters. Two might seem like over kill, but nah… it’s just awesome!

20. Ice Rink – Is there anyone that doesn’t like Kim Yuna? Pretend to skate like the queen of ice by iceskating at Incheon Airport’s ice skating rink. Airport icerink is cooler than ice!

21. Casino – Although the casino is not directly inside the Airport, it’s a mere 2 minutes away at the Hyatt Regency Hotel for those on a layover… or for those with a gambling problem ;).

22. Traditional Korean Cultural Experience – You can make traditional Korean crafts at the Incheon International Airport Korean Culture Experience and see traditional Korean musical and dance performances for the very reasonable price of free.

23. Korean Culture Museum – Check out Korean traditional culture that dates back thousands of years. And it’s not just some lame pictures of things; they actually have really important stuff!

24. Spa and Sauna – If you’re on a layover at Incheon Airport and have a few hours to kill, take a moment to relax at the spa. You can even sleep there. Spa + sleep > traveling dark eye circles. (See more venues by CNNGo.)

25. Transit Tours – With transit tours to temples, historic sites and newer attractions, you’ll get a taste of Korea within a couple of hours. Incheon International Airport makes layovers fun! (See details)


Have you ever been to Incheon International Airport? Share your experiences in the comments!

Keith
Keith

Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he’s put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea.
Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

25 Comments

  1. Danae says:

    Can I live forever at Incheon Airport??????? wow!

  2. Keith says:

    You could always sleep at the hotel or the sauna… but I don’t think they’ll say anything if you just sleep on the benches, too 🙂

  3. Jannah says:

    I’ll have to disagree with point #1. I’ve been through arrivals immigration @ Incheon twice in 2011 & 2012, and both times the queues were so long, it took over an hour! The driver who was waiting to pick us up even got mad at us after having to wait for such a long time. Departure immigration was quicker, but it definitely took longer than that published average of 19 minutes.

    And if you’re flying in/out of Incheon on a Korean public holiday, beware: most of the shops (including those in the transit area) close early i.e. 5:00 or 6:00 PM on these days and some services like the post office aren’t open at all. I was shocked because I was so used to airport services & shops opening 24/7, 365 days a year.

  4. Keith Kim says:

    Jannah, I’m pretty sure the stats published in the pr Booklet (where I got the info from) is referring to Korean citizens. But as someone who has to stand in the foreigner line, I can say my experience is MUCH quicker thank experiences at other airports. 🙂 even in USA where I’m a citizen, I have to wait at least 45 minutes each time I go. The Korean citizen lines at incheon move suuuuper fast compared to nycs airport JFK

  5. JonB says:

    I’m part of the .001%!

    I went through Seoul-Incheon last summer, and my suitcase got stuck in the bag-handling machinery. Spent 4 days in Cambodia without fresh clothes!

  6. JM says:

    You SOLD me at free wi-fi + free computer access here in the US, NYC to be exact they’ll give you wi-fi but only a wonderful charge of $8+ and of course credit card is required -__-

    as for the movie theater WOW i would actually feel in a better mood if i could just go watch a movie if my flight is delayed while staying up to date with the free wi-fi on the flight status during the film 😉

  7. Woon says:

    Your comment…I don’t agreed with point 3, 1’ve met a very rude and arrogant staff last may when i ask her about the direction . also the immigration officer was cool, never smile and said a single word.

    • Richard says:

      I agreed that one of the immigration officer was very nasty and rude. He directed us to the queue and as husband and wife we thought we could queue together but here that particular officer was rude and nasty and threw our custom declaration form on the floor which I had to pick it up and still insisted that we queue separately. The worst part was that he was shouting at us and not one of the other officers say or do anything.
      We were glad that not all Koreans behaved that way as one of them ( not any of the immigration officers but a decent Korean lady) cane up to us while waiting to pick up our luggages to apologize to us for that incident and that she will lodge a complaint as she was disgusted with the said incident. She did tell that particular officer at the immigration off for his rude behavior.

  8. Si-Khoa says:

    Spot on with the list. I’ve been to Incheon airport many times. I’ve seen a traditional Korean parade, hipop dance show, and opera singing show (all at different times of course). Incheon airport is amazing! It’s definitely the best airport that I’ve been to in Asia.

    Any about the comment regarding immigration. Koreans get priority, but once there aren’t any Koreans in line, they turn the Korean immigration lines into lines for foreigners. For someone with an American citizenship, my average time spent dealing with the immigration officer is 1 minute. My time in line is probably closer to 10-20 minutes when it’s busy. I’ve been in and out of Korea about almost 10 times in the last few years.

  9. Tom says:

    My big problem with this airport is the food available. It is awful. Cant even get a simple sandwich. The building looks cool but I have been in nicer airports around the world I dont see why this is the best airport in the world year after year.

  10. Erik says:

    Actually just recently I went to Incheon International Airport. I had to wait 11 hours there until my next flight to Tokyo and I must say this is spot on information. It was so nice there, it was so big, such great staff (I like to think that me and the customs girl really had something special together, I mean she told me to drop of all my electronics and such and noticed I had an Apple iPod Touch and said she loves that device and she talked with me for so long, I was the only person going through just HER line and oooh I think I’m in love!). I do love the idea with the showers and it being so incredibly clean. Everything is super fast too, great English, massage, great places to sleep at (not beds but their benches). It certainly is the best airport on this planet as of now.

  11. Shane says:

    Got me all excited with free computer then you added “Not to keep silly” I was like awwwww :(..LOL..

  12. Jayadeep Purushothaman says:

    Immigration took more than 60 minutes last Sunday evening. Beijing manages the queues far better than Incheon. And I hate BIG airports and the train rides from one part to another. Check out Bangalore airport for a small-and-beautiful one(except for the cramped waiting area).

  13. Andrew says:

    I have been through Incheon airport a number of times, both leaving and arriving. It sure is the cleanest and most efficient airport I have used. The free wifi is excellent and the staff are all very nice and do their best to help you. Even the customs officers are pleasant and thats quite rare.
    One point to note, be very weary of taxi drivers, I had a stopover in a hotel in the Incheon township, which is about 5 minutes away, the fare was 10,000 won and he tried to charge me a 100,000. When I spoke some Korean he shut up pretty quick.

  14. worldtraveler says:

    I have been based in Seoul for the last 18 months making 10 separate traveling trips, 8 of them departing from and arriving at Incheon Airport. I am a US national but I have NEVER waited more than 10 minutes for both departure and arrival customs processing.

    The perennial top-three best airports in the world are Hong Kong IA, Incheon and Singapore Changi Airport. I would say Singapore is top-rated in terms of design and amenities but customs time is atrocious whereas Hong Kong’s appearance is bland to say the least, my one-time visit to Hong Kong yielded in no wait for arrivals and a few minutes wait for departures. If you weigh in both design/amenities and operations, Incheon Airport stands above them all.

    Bless this amazing airport in this small country and in its years to come.

  15. worldtraveler says:

    and yes, they do have free laptops for use at the Naver square in the second terminal. you just go in and ask for a laptop and they just give it to you. as if the free wifi is not enough. hong kong has great free wi-fi as well, whereas singapore’s changi only offers you a cable line to connect to your own personal laptop.

  16. Tom says:

    April 2013, the gardens I heard about are no more. Wen I was in the main terminal I was told that I could not get to the Korean museum.

    I do like it though, 1/2 way through a 12 hour layover right now.

  17. Jessica says:

    I had a long layover at Incheon on my way to Japan a few years ago and it was fantastic. The airport was attractive and bright and I got to shower, dress up in traditional Korean clothing and have my picture taken, paint a paper fan, and watch a dance troupe perform. The experience definitely beat perusing trashy gossip rags at the newsstand or trying to nap sitting straight up at my gate!

  18. David says:

    I am right now at the airport with a long layover. And i just can only confirm the article, this is a state of the airport that can truely be called the best in the world.

    And the feeling is even more impressive if you – like me – arrive Incheon from the worst airport in the world, Manila.

  19. Charmian Blanco says:

    Ive 17 hours layover at this airport in october. Im arriving at 3 pm, and leaving the next day. Im planning to go out and sight see. But since ive never been to seoul, im not comfortable going on my own. Is there a tour offered at the airport in the evening? Thanx ^^

  20. Juksuni says:

    Been at Sinchon airport five times in one year and it is amazingly fast (never queued longer than ten minutes), the tramits took less than two minutes each time and the staff working there is wonderful, they are so nice!!! I have always been treated really well at this airport, I think it is a matter of attitude. If you try yo be polite and kind they will do the same. I remember once there was a classical music concert there, it is just the best airport I have ever been to (and I have visited quite a few).

  21. Chris Yu Rhee says:

    It’s a good airport, but try to find a decent directory kiosk or map. On the air side, there are only two in the whole terminal!
    The restaurants close at 8:30, too…

  22. Sami says:

    Hello! I have a question for you to! Have you guys meet korean idols, like big actors or singers(groups): SHInee; Super Junior; SNSD….etc?

  23. Marilyn says:

    I am here for long layover we stayed at the transit hotelfor 12 hours It wAs so quiet and clean.
    The buffet breakfast was great
    There are free tours even at night
    I don’t see how they do that
    There are not many restaurants and we could only find Mainly Korean food

  24. […] South Korean saunas are my favorite way to kill the winter months and I’ve visited so many either out of necessity or as the main purpose of our trip. Themes vary and some can really get more creative in the services they offer. Standard saunas or jimjilbang serve as a convenient way to get a quick shower and soak, or as a cheap overnight option when all the hotels are full. Incheon Airport even has a good sauna that offers cheap private rooms for people who’d rather stay overnight in the airport. I really can’t think of a better way to relax after a long flight and that’s another reason Incheon is one of the best airports in the world! […]

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