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The Airport Food Guide

Having a good pre-flight meal can mean your trip abroad starts off in the right way. There are numerous studies that show that good food genuinely does help to create a good mood. [1] But which airports in the world make this easy and which make it incredibly challenging to eat good food?

We reviewed the top 100 airports in the world (by passenger numbers) analyzing what eateries they had on offer, how this was rated by passengers from over 1.2 million reviews, what options they had for people with dietary requirements, and the average price diners would pay for a main meal or lunch item.

If you’re hungry to learn more, the full findings reviewing the best airports in the world for food and restaurants can be found below.

Key findings:

  • The Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, is the world’s best airport for food, with a huge 270 options to choose from, where a typical main menu or lunch item would cost an average of $8.18. 
  • 8 of the 20 best airports in the world for food are located in the United States, with Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport leading the way as the world’s 2nd best airport for food. 
  • Manchester Airport is the best in the UK for food with 30 eateries to choose from and has the UK’s widest variety for vegans and vegetarians with 26 options. 
  • Zürich Airport, Switzerland, is the world’s best airport for vegans and vegetarians, with 36 options registered online, rated a higher-than-average 3.8 out of 5 stars. 
  • Those following a gluten-free diet will have the easiest time in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with 36 options, followed by Boston’s Logan International with 30 options. 
  • Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Vietnam has the lowest average food cost where one main or lunch item would cost $2.75, while Japan’s Kansai International Airport had the highest average cost at $34.02.

The best airports in the world for food

South Korea’s busiest airport, Incheon International Airport, just outside of Seoul, was found to be the best airport in the world for its culinary offering.

With 270 eateries to choose from, diners are spoiled for choice with Korean, American, Italian, and Mexican, to name a few. However, it is worth noting the average rating of these eateries was just 3.2 out of 5 on Google Maps.  For further context, the average of all airport eateries in the world was just 3.3 out of 5. Incheon had a lower-than-average meal cost, with average main menu items costing approximately $8.18. The airport did have three confirmed choices for vegans and vegetarians, however, there were no gluten-free options registered online.

In second place was Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, U.S., with 138 eateries, rated an average of 3.4 out of 5. What makes this airport so outstanding in this analysis is its offering for those who eat gluten-free, with 36 options registered online, the most out of any other airport in this analysis.

Finally, in third position, was Taiwan’s busiest airport, Taoyuan International Airport just west of the capital, Taipei. While this airport has a lower eatery count of 29, they are rated higher at 3.7 out of 5 and have a low average dish price of $5.65, perfect for those looking for a relatively affordable pre-flight meal.

The top twenty airports for food choices around the world can be seen in the table below.

The top 20 airports for food in the world

The best airports for food in the UK

For Brits and travelers arriving to explore the history of the United Kingdom, those using Manchester Airport are going to have the best choice of food on offer. This North-West airport has 30 eateries to choose from, rated an average of 3.3 out of 5 stars, and has the most vegan and vegetarian options (26) on offer out of any UK airport.

London Stansted came in second with 17 places to choose from for a bite to eat, also rated 3.3 out of 5, however, it had a lower average food cost at £6.70. Lower food costs in this study were often indicators of airports having more cafés than restaurants, or the country’s overall cost of living being lower than most.

London Heathrow, the largest of all London airports, had the most registered gluten-free options, however, it had the second-highest average food cost (£14.06) which the data indicates is impacted by more high-end restaurants available in the airport.

The full top ten ranking of airports in the UK for food is revealed in the table below.

Top 10 airports in the UK for food

The best airports for food in the U.S.

Looking at just the airports located in the U.S. we can isolate which airports have the best for people arriving in America, and those traveling on a staycation this year.

It’s no surprise that Hartsfield-Jackson comes out as number one considering it ranks high globally in the overall index, however in second, we have Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, serving both the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth in Texas. With 125 eateries to pick from, people flying out of or into The Lone Star State have a lot of choices and will pay a low $8.62 on average per main meal. Dallas-Fort Worth International also has America’s highest average rating for airport eateries at 3.7 out of 5 stars.
California’s Los Angeles and San Francisco airports also ranked well, off the charts the other major California airport, San Diego.

See the full top ten airports for food in the U.S. in the comparison table below.

Top 10 airports in the U.S. for food

The best airports for vegans and vegetarians

When reviewing the data and solely focusing on the airports with the most vegan and vegetarian options, we can see that Switzerland’s main airport, Zürich Airport is the best with a huge 36 plant-based options registered online. These options are also rated the highest in the top ten at 3.8 out of 5 on Google Maps.

In the second place, staying in the EU, we have Stockholm Arlanda Airport in Sweden with 29 options, rated a low average of 3.1 out of 5. These options, while numerous, are also much more affordable than other airports, averaging $9.71 for a main meal.

You can see the full top ten airports for veggies and vegans below.

Top 10 airports in the world for vegans and vegetarians

The best airports for gluten-free food

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the U.S. has the most gluten-free options registered online at 36, closely followed by the Logan International Airport in Boston with 30 options.

Seven out of the top ten airports in the world for gluten-free food are located in the U.S. There are a couple of reasons that would impact this, one key factor is how the U.S. gluten-free market is growing at an annual rate of 8.25%, [2] and the leading gluten-free restaurant databases available tend to focus on American travelers.

You can see the full top ten airports in the world for gluten-free food in the table below.

Top 10 airports in the world for gluten-free food

Methodology

The index uses the following data points and weighting to review which airports have the best food offering:

  • Number of eateries (restaurants and cafés) available to passengers (3x weight)
  • Average price of a main meal or lunch item ($) in each airport (3x weight)
  • The average rating of eateries on Google Maps (2x weight)
    • Scored by the average rating per customer review
  • Number of eateries that offer vegan and vegetarian options (1x weight)
  • Number of eateries that offer gluten-free options (1x weight)

The data points were then scored against all airports (out of 10) and those with the highest average score across all categories were ranked higher.

The number of eateries came from the airport’s own websites, online directories such as Yelp, and Google Maps data. Eateries that were near an airport but not inside the building were not counted in this analysis. Review data from Google Maps was collected on 16th-17th March 2023.

To assess the level of vegan and vegetarian options in each airport, we used data from HappyCow (one of the largest global databases for vegan/vegetarian eateries), [3] and reviewed listings from the airport website’s themselves. Gluten-free food data came from Find Me Gluten Free, a GF eatery database, [4] as well as the airport website’s own information on their eateries.

To calculate the cost of a food item in each airport, 30 main menu and lunch item prices were collected from the three most popular eateries in each airport. An average cost for a food dish was then calculated from these 30 items. This cost includes a main meal or lunch item with no drinks included. Prices were collected in local currencies and converted to USD ($) on 5th April 2023. Prices were found on user review photos, menu PDFs from eatery websites, and social media posts from the eateries.

Sources

[1] New York Times, ‘How Food May Improve Your Mood’  (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/well/eat/mental-health-food.html)

[2] United States Gluten Free Food Industry is Expected to Reach $4.12 Billion by 2028: Customer Eating Habits are Evolving Towards Low-fat and Organic Baked Products – ResearchAndMarkets.com (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230228005826/en/United-States-Gluten-Free-Food-Industry-is-Expected-to-Reach-4.12-Billion-by-2028-Customer-Eating-Habits-are-Evolving-Towards-Low-fat-and-Organic-Baked-Products—ResearchAndMarkets.com)

[3] Happy Cow (https://www.happycow.net/)

[4] Find Me Gluten Free (https://www.findmeglutenfree.com/)

An extended list of 171 further sources, where eatery information and menu item costs per airport were sources, can be found in this spreadsheet.


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By Giacomo Piva

Giacomo Piva, CMO and Co-founder at Radical Storage
Giacomo Piva has worked in the travel industry since 2008 across multiple niches including tourist transportation, luxury travel, and ecotourism. He now focuses on growing the global luggage network, Radical Storage, which is currently available in over 500 cities, in the likes of London, Paris, New York, and Rio de Janeiro.
Giacomo has a bachelor's degree in Communication Science and an in-depth experience across travel marketing, especially in improving a brand’s digital presence within the industry.