Europe’s Most Passenger-Friendly Airports 2023


This year is a story of recovery and challenges for European travelers and airports alike. In positive news, many of the best airports on our index remain the best: Zurich, Brussels, and Frankfurt are the top three this year.  Another positive update is that consumer confidence in the airline sector rebounded after the Covid-19 pandemic. Just last April, the European division of Airports Council International registered a 21.1% rise in passenger traffic compared to 2022. Yet, more people in airports can leave everyone with worse overall service.  Some locales in our index were particularly affected – Dusseldorf went down from second place in 2020 to 16th this year.

About the research

We ranked Europe’s thirty largest airports (measured by passenger volume) to prevent negative consumer experiences and help travelers pick the best hubs for their next trip. We used several factors ranging from location and transportation options to the availability of services (restaurants, lounges, shops), security waiting times, and the average proportion of flight delays. With this information, consumers can quickly and reliably identify the airport of their choice.

Our third annual edition of the European Consumer Airport Index refines and updates our analysis using data provided to us by airports, annual reports, online statistics, and our own research. Passenger volumes reflect the years 2021 and 2022. To represent ongoing concerns, we eliminated the “Covid testing” category from the analysis and expanded on average wait times using the latest available information.


Similar to previous entries, eight of the ten contenders (Zurich, Brussels, Copenhagen, Milan Malpensa, Oslo, Helsinki, Manchester, and Vienna) are primarily smaller airports of between 6.1 and 22.6 million passengers in 2022, roughly a third the size of aeronautic juggernauts like Istanbul (64.5 million people annually). Frankfurt (48.8 million travelers) and Charles de Gaulle (57.47 million)  are notable exceptions to this rule thanks to their dense connections and vast number of services.

Another general trend in the data is declining scores compared to previous indices despite more bonus points awarded than ever before. This is partly due to the sharp increase in passenger numbers, with the count for most venues doubling between 2021 and 2022. The influx of customers decreased the score awarded for passengers per total lounges and flyers per total shops and restaurants. Another reason is the increase in average delays. By measuring the proportion of flights that experienced postponements of more than 30 minutes, we found that anywhere between a quarter and 58% of all flights were no longer on schedule.

Benefits for Consumers

There are several benefits to choosing one of the top five arrival or departure points, such as more flight options, destinations, and airlines, less hassle getting to and from the airport, more restaurants, lounges, and shops, less congestion on aircraft bridges and more accessible connections to terminals, and less downtime due to delays and security checks.

    •  The top 5 (and top ten) selections offer the best experience all around
    • Northern venues continue to provide convenient European connections compared to Southern and Eastern hubs (though the number of central European hubs has increased this year).
    • Bigger is not necessarily better, especially when it results in worse infrastructure, fewer flight links, crowded airports, and long security lines.
    • Consumers’ recent frustrations with airport services are neither anecdotal nor accidental but part of a generalizable issue of post-Covid recovery, as airports struggle to match the surge in passenger volumes.

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Picture of Emil Panzaru

Emil Panzaru

Research Manager

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