Is Brisbane Australia's best airport..?

By David Flynn, April 18 2013
Is Brisbane Australia's best airport..?

Brisbane is Australia's best airport, and Singapore the best in the world, according to the Skytrax World Airport Awards.

The often-contentious gongs nudged Brisbane into number one spot for Aussie airports, with Melbourne in second place, followed by Sydney, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth.

Singapore's Changi Airport returned to top spot in the global rankings, swapping spots with the 2012 winner, Seoul's Incheon International Airport. Hong Kong International Airport, which often also appears in the top three, was overtaken this year by Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Schipol was also recognised as the best airport in Europe.

Hong Kong's Regal Airport Hotel took out gold for the third year running as World's Best Airport Hotel (in this writer's experience, the Skytrax assessment must not rate Internet speed or quality of the breakfast buffet as factors to consider), with Langham Place Beijing Airport in second place and Doha's stylish Oryx Rotana sitting at third.

Read the full list of winner and grinners at, but don't forget to have your say about the best airports (and airport hotels) in the comments area below.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 171

Not sure how Brisbane got this gong......The International Terminal is ok, but the Domestic Terminal is pretty bland and un-appealing.

Melbourne Airport gets my vote for the convenience of the single location without the need to get on a car, train or bus to transfer Terminals. 

As a Sydney sider I am surprised that Sydney Airport was 3rd place. The Terminals are not bad with T2 pretty stylish....but it is a mess due to the traffic congestion and seperation of Terminals.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 171

I actually mean't T3 is pretty stylish.

Skytrax really should profile the type of passenger who would find the airports they have ranked as best. Otherwise it's meaningless.

For example, the airport experience of a BA First Class passenger at LHR T5, who would be whisked through security and ushered into the cocoon of the Concorde Room by security, would be vastly different from that of a World Traveller, without any Executive Club status, who has had to endure the crowds and the bright lights of the duty free shops.

To score airports on its individual services and facilities makes sense. It is however a bit silly to aggregate the different scores to come up with an overall “best airport” ranking. What does this serve besides some silly marketing exercise by the said winners?

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 527

I agree that Singapore is the best... but can't agree about Brisbane. I certainly think that both Sydney and Melbourne rate above Brisbane.

Hong Kong's Regal Airport Hotel is probably one of the best. It is convenient and the rooms are a comfortable size. The Crowne Plaza at Singapore Changi should also be up there though as it is a great hotel.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

Although Singapore is very pleasant and in general customs, security and baggage handling is done efficient and swift, I do dislike the carpets. It is also a somehwat dark airport (even at day) compared to HKG which I find airy and bright (perhaps the height of terminal makes the oevrall feel better / nicer).

When it comes to my favourite airport I am a chauvinist and choose Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Easy to navigate, relative efficient customs and baggage handling, a clean and open feel, plenty of entertainment options - shops, dependance of the "Rijks Museum", "Bols Experience", Casino and of course a fantatsic viewing terrace!

I find the security check at the gates a drawback however, but this is personal (Singapore has the same). Premium scanning is enforced well so in general there is not much of a line and for instance EK has their own roped of area close to airbridge which ensures you can board first.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Apr 2013

Total posts 7

It is a very difficult to understand what the basis for rating Brisbane is with Skytrax. On the other hand, I think the award to the Langham Place Beijing Airport is spot on - it has the best hotel buffet breakfast I have experienced - the serive is outstanding and friendly - and the bed - it is woirth staying there just to sleep in the bed.

09 Nov 2011

Total posts 88

Brisbane Airport has a seperate International terminal as opposed to Melbourne and Adelaide with seamless experiences there for transfers. So a bit confused with that alone. The Airtrain is a plus and fairly fast - not very regular however - and of course there is the mandatory $16 one way fare like Sydney just because you are going to the Airport.

Melbourne second??? Great airport for transfers and shopping, not a good airport for transport and taxi ranks. The train or should I say lack of train is an issue with a very immediate need for MEL. The peak hour crush starting kilometers from the terminal on Tulla freeway rates MEL lower for me. The new terminal 4 and better transport will put MEL in top spot easily. It is not uncommon to wait at the Taxi rank in MEL for a longer duration than the actual flight.

Sydney Airport - I am surprised this rated at all!! Seperate terminals, poor congestion issues and poor traffic conditions to get to the terminals. The zig zag of old roads to approach the Domestic terminal - eeeek. I suppose there is still hope of a new airport, but that is becoming a lot like the 45 year plan for a fast train on the East Coast.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 177

I like Brisbane international and find the domestic quite basic as it is really past its useby date.

Given the amount of issues surrounding late flights in and out of Brisbane and BAC's position on the building of a second runway, I'm not sure how it can be rated highly. I'd rather be on time than have the best facilities in the world. Aviation services are a basic capability of an airport, the rest is anxillary really.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 212

they got Perth right...last!! hopefully all the new terminal extensions will bump it up in the nearish future.

26 May 2012

Total posts 149

What about Adelaide? Best in my opinion.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Aug 2012

Total posts 130

Brisbane is probably rated the best due to the incremental improvements they made to the airport over time. They upgraded the car parks and did some minor improvements to the domestic terminals as it used to be much worse. But I have to agree that T3 in SYD is far better than the domestic terminal in BNE. The delays caused by the single runway at Brisbane doesn't help much either.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Apr 2013

Total posts 2

Adelaide is certainly the best airport in the country. It's bright and light, has integrated domestic, international and regional terminals for all airlines, superior food and drink options (including the great local Adelaide chain CIBO and the Coopers Brewery bar and restaurant) and is located 10 minutes without traffic from the city by cab. Also has a public transport bus which costs the regular fare to get in too, compared to the $18 Skybus in Melbourne or the exorbitant train fares in Sydney and Brisbane. One downside of Adelaide is that neither lounge has been updated in a while and like Perth, it lacks a QF J lounge.

The new Canberra airport is great too, but on a different scale as it lacks international routes and the only significant regional route is to Newcastle. Also bit further out than Adelaide and lacks public transport.

Out of the others, Sydney is quite pleasant to be in but has the inconvenience of being split across two terminals. Melbourne is the opposite, having quite a dated interior but being convenient to connect through. Brisbane is the worst of both worlds, being rather drab (QF domestic is very dated indeed) but also disconnected. Never been to Perth so cant comment there.

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 139

Aselaide has a small airport; Brisbane has a large airport. It is not a nightmare getting fron the domestic terminal to the international terminal as is the case in Sydney, and it has an efficient dedicated airtrain which goes to both domestic and international terminals. Public transport buses are not much use when you have a couple of large suitcases.

Melbourne is now about to build a necessary separate domestic terminal, so bang goes the convenience factor there.

Sydney is appalling on all counts.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Oct 2012

Total posts 149

How can BNE be the best airport when nearly EVERY flight in the evening, and evening was usually forced to circle around Gold Coast for up to 30 minutes while a slot was found for landing at the airport, which for over a year was single runway... This changed recently though when CASA adopted their new system, preventing planes from departing until there is a landing slot available, which admitedly has made the situation better.

Also, Brisbane airport has one working runway for jet aircraft.

Don't even get me started about that stupid pick up zone they had for 6 months...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Aug 2012

Total posts 171

If Melbourne invested in a train line to the city it would be the best.

12 Oct 2011

Total posts 23

It seems plain to me too that Adelaide is the best airport in the country. Canberra is a close 2nd place but only because of public transport issues. Brisbane...? It's not terrible but it's certainly not tops!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 699

I find BNE airport win rather strange too - not the first to come to mind certainly. 

Canberra Airport, thanks to being wholly renewed and refreshed, deserves some merit as "best" but is a secondary route airport so not fair to single out. ADL has merits too, for similar reasons - but again is a secondary airport, and has a few kinks at the moment (access to rentals is awkward at moment). 

MEL is a very good airport, sans rail link, and 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 699

I find BNE airport win rather strange too - not the first to come to mind certainly. 

Canberra Airport, thanks to being wholly renewed and refreshed, deserves some merit as "best" but is a secondary route airport so not fair to single out. ADL has merits too, for similar reasons - but again is a secondary airport (yes ADL has international services, but it is not in the same scale as the eastern seaboard primary airports), and has a few kinks at the moment (access to rentals is awkward at moment). 

MEL is a very good airport, sans rail link, and is certainly easier to get around and boasts fine dining in international section, but perhaps loses top spot for ground side Virgin lounge (no sexy Premium Screening like SYD sadly). Still, I'd rate it the best large airport in Australia, with regional to Canberra, as my choices


Virgin Blue - Velocity Rewards

12 May 2011

Total posts 32

Another vote for Adelaide here. It is a well desinged airport for what it is. I recognise that what it is very different to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Of the others i think we're unanimous that Perth is a shocker. Pretty much everything about it is awful. BNE domestic feels dated and a bit delapidated. I havent done an international flight out of there for years so can't speak to that side of things.  

24 Apr 2013

Total posts 18

I am in engineering and always have a heavy computer case.

At Brisbane thye weigh you hand luggage before you fly , Its done byt the airport.

AS I have to pack for engineering work , casual and business appointments I find checked bagge limits a hassle.

To have the international airport hassle you on your hand luggage, sorry i dont want to fly out of that airport.

I dont know why airlines are not making money as the airfares are not that cheap.

I spend $ 15-40K per year on airfares, and in engineering in Australia and an exporter always travel economy travel on 3-8 week notice and seem to pay and gte included with the holiday people booking 6 months ahead who paid a lot less.

So airlines are not my favourite supplier and if Brisbane wants to weigh hand luggage on OS flight I dont want to travel from there.

Virgin Australia - Platinum

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 86

Adelaide for me followed by Melbourne. Sydney transfer between airports is horrible

17 Jul 2013

Total posts 1

I have no idea how Brisbane airport could even be considered for a gong. Its domestic passenger pick up and drop off zone is an utter disgrace, a planning snafu that forces me to endure chaos everytime I land in Brisbane and wait for someone to pick me up in peak hour. The problem? Unlike most airports, Brisbane domestic airport has passenger drop-off and pick-up in the same place, so when you drive through it's virtualy impossible to find a spot to stop without having to double park or get into a fight with a space hog. What's really infuriating is that the Queenslanders love to turn up early in the drop-off zone and sit there waiting for their dears to arrive from interstate. The drop-off attendants who should be clearing them and making way for other cars to drop or pick up people make only lame, half hearted attempts to clear them. Sorry, but the passenger drop-off and pick-up in Brisbane is a disaster and ruins everything about that airport. But then again, it's Queensland, and nothing surprises me any more about that state.

14 Nov 2011

Total posts 11

Adelaide for me, easy airport to navigate, modern and airy good facilities etc. Melbourne, followed by Perth which I find ok and a close follow on to Sydney  Brisbane is a joke! They must be rating it based on not knowing about their poor on time records. I can' t believe an aiport that has a very average domestic ternminal that cannot even land a plane on time, can be rated at all. Its at the point that I now calculate an extra 45 minutes into every evening flight I take to Brisbane.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Is Brisbane Australia's best airport..?