10 – Marrakesh Ménara Airport, Morocco. Passenger numbers: 4 million. Before the souks were cool, you used to find more stray cats than crew behind these check-in desks. Luckily, the noughties tourist boom paved the way for a modern rebuild that draws on the country's rich Islamic tradition, whilst ticking all the right modern statement architecture boxes. Just look at that roof.
Natalie Tepper / Arcaid Images
9 – Shenzen Bao'an Airport, China. Passenger numbers: 32.3 million. There's no denying that the minimal but super clever perforations that let light into Guangdong province's main airport are cool. What's even cooler is that from above, it kinda looks like a plane (seriously, check it out on maps and squint a little).
8 – Wellington International Airport, New Zealand. Passenger numbers: 5.4 million. Crafted as an elegy to the Maori myth of the sea monsters Ngake and Whataitai, this terminal is a mix of jagged, formless copper, wood and glass that reflects the rocky cliffs of the Cook Strait – the dangerous body of water that borders Wellington harbour.
7 – Lleida-Alguaire Airport, Spain. Passenger numbers: 30,000. Largely deserted because of a lack of desire to fly to Lleida (Barcelona's three airports aren't too far away, after all) only about two planes a day fly to this leftover monument to boom-time Spain. Still, that colourful, curvy cladding is pretty cool.
Oscar Laborda Sanchez
6 – King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Passenger numbers: 27 million. The gateway to Mecca, Jeddah's airport has a dedicated terminal just to handle the extreme amount of visitors attending Hajj. Its 21 huge steel tents offer shelter to 80,000 travellers on the final step of their pilgrimage – and save a huge air con bill by being naturally ventilated.
Jay Langlois / Owens Coming (courtesy of SOM)
5 – Paris-Charles-De-Gaulle Airport, France. Passenger numbers: 61 million. Riddled with underground passages and centred around this awesome circular courtyard of tubular travelators, architect Paul Andreu's design of Terminal 1 at Charles-De-Gaulle is a brutalist classic. Aimed at shaking up the norm and largely given the cold shoulder by a newer and more conventional second terminal, it's failed utopian architecture at its finest.
4 –Berlin-Tegel Airport, Germany. Passenger numbers: 20.7 million. We could rattle on about the ruthless efficiency of Tegel for hours (you only have to walk 35 metres to get from cab to cabin), but that would be boring. Instead we're just gonna gawp at those geometric beehive chairs. So. Damn. '70s. Sadly, the German capital has fast outgrown this unfinished masterpiece, and it's due to close when Berlin Brandenburg opens in 2018.
3 – Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain. Passenger numbers: 42 million. What do you need for the perfect calming break? waves? headspace? er, bamboo? Check, check and check-in – the main air hub for the Spanish capital's got all three. Kick back and behold its airy, undulating beauty – with this airport, you won't be needing no beach. Lucky really, because Madrid's absolutely miles from the sea.
Roland Halbe / Artur Images
2 – John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, USA. Passenger numbers: 53.2 million. Okay, so the hulking mass of terminals, train lines and slip roads at the US of A's most famous airport isn't cool, it's just big. But in life, it's all about the small things. Admittedly, the cool curved concrete of the International Arrivals Building isn't exactly small, but when an airport has six terminals, life's also about context.
Ezra Stoller / Esto
1 – Queen Tamar Airport, Mestia, Georgia. Passenger numbers: 885. Now, about those small things. This tiny airport (the cow's for scale) in the Georgian highland townlet of Mestia sits 45 minutes northwest of capital, Tbilisi, as the (ahem) light aircraft flies. Opened in 2010, it was meant to breathe life into the area's modest ski scene. It continues to do so, one 15-seater flight at a time.
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We get it, wearing all your clothes to keep your case at cabin-size isn't pretty. Nor is watching tourists misunderstand the meaning of 100ml while you mutter your way along the security line.
For a lot of us, airports can be the most boring places on the face of the Earth. However, when you look beyond the departures board – or indeed at the pages of new book, The Art of the Airport – you'll notice something sublime and under-appreciated about the world's great waiting places (just maybe not at Luton).
Taking in 21 of the most beautiful airport terminals that Earth has to offer, the book celebrates the intrigue and outright ambition of airport architecture. From artificial Japanese islands to abandoned Athenian airbases The Art of the Airport illuminates our runways with cool pictures, interviews, essays and in-depth architectural plans.
The Art of the Airport, by Stefan Eiselin, Laura Frommberg and Alexander Gutzmer, is available to buy now for £25, published by Frances Lincoln.