Oct 302014

World's best airport

Travel website Sleeping in Airports posted its lists of 2014 Top 10 World’s Best and Worst Airports earlier this month.

The lists were compiled from the surveys done by more than 18,000 passengers between September 2013 and August 2014, who voted for their best and worst airports based on a criteria of four Cs: Comfort, Conveniences, Cleanliness and Customer service.

The Straits Times looks at the Top 5 on each list.

Top 5 Best Airports

1. Changi International Airport, Singapore
This is the 18th year in a row that Singapore’s Changi International Airport has been voted the best airport in the world by the website.

Travellers lauded the airport’s friendly staff, as well as the range of activities for transit travellers. Besides a host of shops, the airport also has spas, a roof-top swimming pool, gym, lounges, playgrounds for children, themed gardens and even a free Singapore city tour. too, with rest and relaxation zones, and over 800 mobile charging points for travellers to recharge their gadgets.

2. Seoul Incheon International Airport, South Korea
This South Korean airport has been praised for its high levels of customer service, hygiene and generous number of armrest-free seats near travellers’ boarding gates.

Like the Changi International Airport, it also has gardens and a spa. Two features highlighted by travellers are the airport’s indoor ice rink and Korean Cultural Street, where traditional cultural performances are regularly held, and where travellers can grab a quick Korean bite.

The airport came in second place for the 2014 Skytrax World Airport Awards, just behind Changi International Airport. Last November, travel magazine Global Traveler named the airport the world’s best airport for the eighth year running.

3. Helsinki International Airport, Finland
Travellers said this airport excelled in all four aspects of the list’s voting criteria: Comfort, Conveniences, Cleanliness and Customer service.b Besides clean and comfortable relaxation areas, recliners and lounges, the airport also has a book exchange and an art gallery.

4. Munich International Airport, Germany
Like the others in this list, this airport has been praised for its armrest-free seating, and its rest and relaxation zones. But what makes this airport unique is the types of activities it makes available to its transit passengers.

The airport conducts tours at its very own airport brewery that serves home-brew Airbrau beers, has a mini golf course, and even had a temporary wave pool for a few months, for transit passengers to try out surfing, complete with surfboards and wetsuits for loan. “Surprising our guests is particularly important to us. You will not find a wave like this at any other airport,” airport spokesman Michael Otremba told NBC News earlier this year.

5. Vancouver International Airport, Canada
Passengers say they found this airport beautiful, comfortable, clean and friendly. One of its interesting offerings is their four self-guided tours, one of which looks at the art and architecture in and around the airport. The airport also has an aquarium, and highlights the culture of the Pacific Northwest Aboriginal peoples through sculptures.

Top 5 Worst Airports

1. Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Pakistan
Benazir Bhutto International Airport is Pakistan’s third-largest in terms of passenger traffic, and has been likened to a “central prison” by at least one traveller. Those who pass through have also complained about touts and taxi drivers, who allegedly “loot people” both within and out of the airport, reported sleepinginairports.net. Passengers also criticised the airport’s inability to control crowds, dirty washrooms, and hostile security checks.

2. King Abdulaziz International Airport, Saudi Arabia
The world’s second worst airport according to this list is the King Abdulaziz International Airport, which is Saudi Arabia’s busiest and also serves as the transit hub for the annual haj pilgrimage.

Passengers listed its long immigration queues, lack of services for travellers, and rude and slow-acting immigration officers as some of their grouses.

But Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has disputed these complaints, with its spokesman Khalid Al-Khaibari saying that the airport “has all the services needed”, and can cope with large numbers of passenger traffic.

“The Haj and Umrah complex at the airport receives and says farewell to more than 1.7 million pilgrims on more than 4,000 flights over a span of only eight weeks,” he told Arab News.

However, he also added: “We don’t deny there are some negatives that we hope will be removed when the new airport begins operating in the middle of next year,” he said.

3. Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal
The airport’s website describes it as being amid three ancient cities, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, which “possess smiling men and women,” but travellers do not seem to have much to smile about.

Nepal’s only international airport was likened to a “bus station in an impoverished neighbourhood”. Cleanliness was the biggest bugbear of travellers, with at least one traveller calling the toilets “filthy”.

Reviewers on Skytrax, an air travel review site, also urged travellers to get a visa in their home countries. The airport was criticised for having rude staff, and non-existent lines at immigration counters. The airport handles at least 40 international flights with more than 9,000 arrivals and departures daily.

4. Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Philippines
After three years at the top of the list, Manila’s Ninoy Aquino international airport (NAIA) finally moved to fourth place. Described on its website as the “main international gateway to the Philippines”, it was built in the 1970s, and named after politician Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr, who was assassinated on the runway after returning from self-exile in 1983. There was a “slight improvement” in services that led to the new ranking. But it definitely was not enough for people who reviewed the airport on Skytrax.

From the lack of air-conditioning, to shuttle services within the airport that were not working, to half an hour baggage claim times, the airport left passengers aghast and wanting some fresh air.

According to travellers, overcrowding, lengthy queues, limited seating, unfriendly immigration/customs officers and smelly toilets were also common grievances.

There is a “rehabilitation” under way, that should end this year. And if you must, Terminal 3, where there are steps to reduce congestion, sounds like the best bet.

About 32 million passengers a year pass through its four terminals every year.

5. Tashkent International Airport, Uzbekistan
Currently the biggest airport in Central Asia, it has about 2 million passengers passing through its gates every year. The airport infamously has no standard queues, with an even bigger lack of crowd control. In fact, it gets so bad that a traveller said: “The person behind you will be trying to cut in front by subtly ramming their baggage cart into the back of your legs. Hold your ground!”

There are also instances of having to bribe officers. Customs forms are also somewhat a nightmare, and travellers have to fill up one form for each hotel they are staying in, and also declare the amount of money they are bringing in and taking out.

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