Dubbed the largest, annual global airport customer satisfaction survey, the Skytrax World Airport Awards are based on over 13-million airport survey questionnaires completed by over 100 different nationalities of airline customers, and cover 550 airports worldwide, evaluating traveller experiences across different criteria, including check-in, transfers, shopping, security and departure at the gate, among others.

Singapore’s Changi International claimed first spot for the sixth year in a row, with South Korea’s Incheon, Tokyo Haneda, Hong Kong and Doha’s Hamad airport taking the remaining top 5 spots.

Skytrax has also identified the world’s best airport terminals, with London Heathrow Terminal 2 featuring in first place, following by Munich’s Terminal 2 and Singapore Changi’s Terminal 3.

In South Africa, Cape Town ranks number 21, followed closely by King Shaka International at 26th place and OR Tambo International at 32nd – the only African airports to be featured in the Top 100.

“Wesgro has been on a major drive to increase international and regional flights through its Air Access partnership and their work is paying off, with several international airlines announcing non-stop flights to Cape Town in the past year, including Victoria Falls, Hong Kong and Kenya, with other airlines increasing their existing frequencies like Lufthansa,” says Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) Marketing and Product GM.

The Air Access partnership has landed 13 new routes since the project kicked off in 2015, and 14 route expansions with over 1.5 million seats (both directions) added to Cape Town. With this increased traffic, Cape Town International Airport has instituted upgrades such as the Realignment of the runway, Terminal 2 and a new Domestic Arrivals area.

“Although it is true that much of the growth in arrivals in Cape Town comes from international visitors, we’ve also seen significant growth in domestic arrivals to Cape Town since 2015. In fact, almost a million additional domestic arrivals in one year, according to statistics from ACSA,” says Sue.

“Passenger experience has become a key consideration for airports globally. Initiatives like biometric passport control, mobile apps to accompany you through your airport journey and enhanced self-service check-in facilities are being introduced to improve the airport experience of air travellers.

“Take it a step further and you have an “immersive wall” to experience destinations, robot baristas and plug-in sleep boxes! The sky really is the limit as airports compete to become passenger-friendly hubs.”

For those South Africans lucky enough to be transiting through to travelling to the world’s-best airports, Garrett offers these top highlights to look forward to.

Singapore

  • The Slide @ T3 -Take a ride on the world’s tallest slide in an airport. At 12 metres high, shriek your way down while reaching speeds of up to 6 metres per second.
  • Enchanted Garden T2– Be captivated as this interactive and decorative garden of glass and mosaic sculptures comes to life with sights and sounds triggered by motion.
  • Entertainment Deck T2 – From Xbox 360 and Kinect stations to a movie theatre, it’s your one-stop multimedia entertainment centre with thrills for everyone.

Hong Kong

  • Catch a blockbuster movie in Imax: If you’ve got a couple of hours to kill, why not catch a film and experience a blockbuster in full Imax glory. Terminal 2’s Imax can seat up to 350 customers and has the biggest cinema screen in all Hong Kong.
  • Hit the greens: Why not squeeze in a golfing session while you’re waiting to board your next flight? GreenLive Air is an indoor golf club that offers entertaining golf simulation games that allow you to practice your putting techniques or drives. You can choose between a nine-hole game or take on a full 18-hole course.

Munich

  • Art at the Munich Airport: The big open space atop the long Lufthansa check-in desk is home to an in-house art gallery, which features a changing cast of Munich-based artists. The endless white walls are an ideal context for big-scale canvases—and you’re not likely to see these artists anywhere else
  • Audi Forum: A serious car fan can while away hours kicking tires and smelling the leather at Audi’s big showroom above Terminal 1. The showroom’s presence isn’t much of a surprise to locals, since Munich is a car-crazy town, but it’s a luxurious spot to lose yourself in the gleaming convertibles, SUVs, and sedans built in nearby Ingolstadt. Closed Sunday.

London Heathrow

  • Expo Art Displays: Rotating Expo art displays were launched to expose under-the-radar artistic and cultural endeavors from the U.K. Previous exhibitions include installations by students at Goldsmiths College who, as part of a contest for the London Design Festival, had to interpret the idea of Terminal 5 as a modern international crossroads.  Forthcoming exhibitions include the Poppy Man, a towering five-meter-high tribute to The Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal, comprising more than 8,000 blooms.

Hamad International

  • Take some pics with the giant bear: Probably the most famous part of the airport is the giant teddy bear in the centre of the shopping hall. This ‘Lamp Bear’ is a 7 meter tall bronze statue of a yellow teddy bear with its head in a lamp, designed by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. Snap a selfie!
  • Art: The art installations at HIA go beyond the big, yellow bear and encompass unique pieces by Qatari and international artists. Check out the playground on concourse C which is actually a series of connected pieces by American sculptor Tom Otterness.

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