frequent travellers, a good airport can make the difference between a pleasant
trip and an unpleasant one.
Airport Council International (ACI) recently announced its ranking of the best
airports in 2012, smart travellers paid attention. Which airports flew in
with a smooth landing? Indianapolis
Airport was ranked first in North America, Moscow
Sheremetyevo Airport is the best in Europe, and Seoul Incheon Airport soared to the top
in the Asia-Pacific region.
To come up
with its ranking, ACI conducted
a survey of more than 350,000 passengers at more than 200 airports in more
than 50 countries. Though the survey questions are not made public, passengers
were asked prior to boarding to rate their satisfaction with the airport they
were in, presumably including questions about ticketing and security lines,
airport signage, airport navigability and retail and dining options, among
divides its awards into four categories: best
airport by region, best
airport by size, best
small airport and best
improvement. Some of the more interesting results were Hohhot Baita Airport in
China’s Inner Mongolia region, an often overlooked airport that was voted the
best in its size category; and Nagoya Airport
in Japan, which edged out its bigger, more well-known competitors in Tokyo and Osaka.
But one question
that the ACI report didn’t answer is: what makes an airport good?
A good airport
should be easily accessible by car and public transportation, such as Hong Kong Airport
where Airport Express trains ferry passengers from downtown to the airport in
20 minutes. And for large airports, easy-to-use intra-transportation is key for
getting from one terminal to another in a short period of time.
well-designed airport goes a long way to reducing passenger stress. Enclosed
corridors, drab terminals and confusing layouts are out; while modern spaces, easily
navigable layouts and plenty of natural light are in. To see the best, fly
through Spain’s Madrid-Barajas
Airport, which won a Stirling Prize for design in 2006, the “architectural
out signs get travellers where they need to be – whether it’s their gate, baggage
claim, restaurants or the taxi stand – with minimal time and confusion. Among
the hallmarks of good airport signage are consistency, colour-coding, and
large, easy-to-read words and figures. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Frankfurt
Airport and Athens Airport
come out on top for their clean, simple signage.
lines for check-in, security, boarding, baggage claim and immigration can make
flying enormously inefficient. A good airport does its best to minimize wait
times by promoting online and self-service checking, providing sufficient
staffing at bottlenecks (such as ticketing and security) and having signs and personnel ready to guide and inform confused passengers. Fly
or Denver airports for quick and
Once a traveller has reached his or her gate, nothing makes for memorable
airport experience like an excellent
retail and restaurant landscape. For dining, think quick grab-and-go meals
as well as luxurious dine-in restaurants and different cuisines. For retail,
think of a good mix of duty free, chain and unique boutiques. And the very best
airports bring in some local flavour, offering food and products that reflect
its unique location and character. Dubai Airport is one
of the best for its slick, high-end retail experience.
What do you
think makes for a good airport? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.