Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Skytrax awards: Best airports are...

The Gateway goes behind the scenes of the world's major transport hubs, revealing the logistics that keep goods and people moving. This month, the show is in Singapore.

(CNN) -- Singapore's Changi Airport has been crowned the best in the world for the fourth time in 14 years at the prestigious rld Airport Awards in Geneva.

The Southeast Asian hub beat off competition from Incheon Airport in South Korea and Amsterdam Schiphol in the Netherlands, who came in second and third respectively.

Singapore airport masters safety

The award was based on surveys conducted by international travel research and consultancy group Skytrax, who polled 12.1 million passengers over a nine-month period.

3 ways to stay entertained at the world's best airports:

1. Singapore Changi Airport

Swimming pool, butterfly garden, cinema

2. Incheon International Airport

Ice rick, golf course, casino

3. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Museum, day spa, shower rooms

4. Hong Kong International Airport

IMAX cinema, golf course, aviation discovery center

5. Beijing Capital International Airport

Indoor gardens, cultural performances, staff art troupe

6. Munich Airport

Beer garden, brewery, minigolf course

7. Zurich Airport

Airport tours, transport museum, city tours

8. Vancouver International Airport

Living walls, aquarium, unique art sculptures

9. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)

Edo marketplace, sleeping cabins, private day rooms

10. London Heathrow

Airport hotel cabins, art gallery, wellbeing spa

A total of 39 services and products -- including check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration -- were examined at 395 airports across the world.

See also: 7 of the world's most entertaining airports

"In winning this prestigious accolade, Singapore Changi Airport cements its place as one of the world's favorite airports," said Edward Plaisted, chairman of Skytrax.

A bustling aviation link between east and west -- catering for more than 52 million passengers and 1.81 million tons of cargo in 2012 -- Changi has gained a reputation for its attentive passenger experience and abundant entertainment services.

The airport offers free city tours to all travelers on a stopover of five hours or more and plays host to facilities such as an on-site swimming pool, butterfly garden, nature trail and cinemas.

Changi was also one of the first airports to introduce free WiFi areas and previously scooped the Skytrax best airport award in 2000 before going on to win again in 2006 and 2010.

In an interview for CNN's monthly feature show The Gateway, Changi's executive vice president for airport management, Tan Lye Teck said: "It's always heart-warming to know there are people who show appreciation for things we do."

"We will continue essentially what we've always been trying to do (which is put the) passenger, the user, the customer ... at the center of everything," he added.

See also: The world's record breaking airports

Other destinations to highly in the best airport category this year include Hong Kong International and Beijing Capital International, carrying on a tradition of strong Asian performance at the awards.

All in all, five out of the top ten airports were based in East Asian cities.

Hong Kong has previously claimed the best airport gong eight times, Incheon twice and Singapore Changi four times.

Only one non-Asian airport has ever won the sought-after prize, Amsterdam Schiphol in 1999, the award's inaugural year.

Schipol was named the best European airport for 2013 while the honor for best North American destination went to Vancouver International Airport in Canada.

Cape Town International, Lima Jorge Chavez International, Panama Tocumen and Abu Dhabi International took home the regional prizes for Africa, South America, Central America and the Middle East respectively.

A full list of the winners and prize categories from the World Airport Awards can be found here.

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