Thursday, 6 March 2008

What Makes a Top Airport?

According to eTurboNews, a survey by the Airports Council International has named the top three airports in the world as:
  1. Seoul Incheon, South Korea
  2. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia
  3. Changi Airport, Singapore
The rankings were derived from a survey of 34 service aspects of airports, from check-in to departure, as judged by 200,000 respondents.

The only one of these airports I've experienced personally is Changi, many many times in transit between Australia and Europe.

Although the range of its facilities is impressive, it slipped considerably in my personal ratings last year, due to its annoying new rule that all cabin luggage has to be taken out of a plane in transit.

So, en route from Melbourne to London on the same aircraft, we had to drag everything out into the airport, then go through the laborious metal detector screening etc to get it back on again... even though it had been thoroughly screened in Melbourne.

Not only was this security overkill, but it didn't help the passenger's enjoyment of Changi's facilities, or the profitability of its shops.

When you're hauling around 8 to 10 kilograms of cabin luggage, you can't be bothered to walk too far - so most passengers just left the aircraft, entered the terminal, then stepped straight back into the queue to be rescreened so they could sit into the transit lounge to wait for re-boarding.

On the way back from Europe, my plane transited in the decade-old Hong Kong International Airport, a first for me.

Although the transit area had a slightly muddled, bureaucratic feeling - with dozens of smiling female staff members handing out lapel stickers which had something to do with your flight which was never explained - the airport officials felt relaxed enough to let our cabin luggage stay on board, freeing us up for a bit of a stroll.

And it's a great airport for that, with expansive views through huge plate glass windows, very welcome when you've been cooped up on a plane for 15 hours. And the natural light probably helped the body clock readjust a bit.

So what do you look for in an airport? The quickest way out, perhaps? Or are some actually worth spending time in? What's your favourite aerohaveno, and why?