World's best Airports & Lounges

Discussion in 'Qantas Frequent Flyer Program' started by BlacKnox, May 18, 2005.

  1. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
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    From http://money.cnn.com/2005/05/12/pf/goodlife/airports/index.htm

    World's 10 best airports and lounges

    NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Ever waited out a snowstorm at O'Hare? Tried to change terminals at Dallas-Ft. Worth? Stood in the international arrivals line at JFK?

    Then you know that a typical U.S. airport occupies its own particular circle of hell.

    But take heart, weary traveler. Somewhere, there are airports where passengers are viewed as customers, not cattle.

    Imagine big, airy terminals, with convenient gates and lavish amenities. Places where floors sparkle, restrooms shine, and plush seats are abundant -- some even recline to a horizontal position.

    There's just one problem: Such places are in lands far, far away.

    Recently, the London-based consultancy Skytrax released the results of its annual global survey of travelers.

    The poll ranked more than 150 of the world's biggest airports according to 31 factors, including cleanliness, security and check-in procedures, and entertainment options like gyms and gamerooms.

    Some 5.5 million people from more than 90 countries participated. The greatest concentrations of voters came from Europe and North America, yet almost all the airports judged to be the best were in Asia.

    Only 3 of the top 10 were in Europe, and none were in the United States. The best-performing American airport was Minneapolis, ranked No. 20 overall.

    Maybe it's a case of familiarity breeding contempt, or a grass-is-greener mentality among Westerners. Or it could be that airports elsewhere just do things right.

    In any event, I can vouch for the comforts of the world's best: Hong Kong International, which won the title for the fifth consecutive year.

    I've been there a few times, usually in a state of extreme fatigue. (The most recent trip involved a 3-hour layover between a 15-hour flight and another 5-hour one.)

    Dining options are plentiful from casual to elegant, terminal layouts and signage make perfect sense, and the multilingual staff are friendly and service-oriented -- especially helpful for bleary-eyed Americans. There was even a view of lush green hills.

    Others on the list include Singapore, which finished a close second, thanks to its swimming pool, free movie theater, and terminals strewn with exotic flowers. Munich's relatively new facility won the European competition, ahead of No. 8 Schiphol (Amsterdam) and No. 9 Copenhagen.


    Places to lounge

    Even in the best airports, there are gradations of service. If you're looking for the "best of the best," you should head for the business- or first-class lounges. Of course, to get into one, you'll need to fly up in the expensive seats.

    The Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong -- where the airline is based -- ranked highest in another Skytrax survey.

    "The lounge is an opportunity to project the image and feeling of a country," said Peter Miller of Skytrax, in a statement. "Although you are actually passing time in a large concrete building, you feel as if you are closer to the real character of the country."

    Bustling, prosperous Hong Kong is a city where the very rich live very well. So it makes sense that in its hometown, Cathay would have lounges where you can take a bubble bath while a chef prepares Cantonese meals to your specifications.

    The Skytrax survey highlighted some other little luxuries around the world, too.

    In Bangkok, the Thai Airways lounge offers traditional Thai massages. ln Johannesburg, hand-crafted furniture is a highlight of South African Airline's visually stunning lounge. And in Kuala Lumpur, you can sip drinks by the river -- an actual waterway bisects Malaysia Airline's sweet suite.

    If Asia is too far for you to travel, there are a few European destinations to consider. Virgin Atlantic's "upper class" arrivals lounge at Heathrow features a beauty salon. While you're getting primped before heading into London, Virgin's staff will also press your clothes and shine your shoes.
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    Few U.S. airlines offer anything nearly as ritzy.

    "U.S. airline lounges tend to be more functional," according to Skytrax. "These lounges are suited for domestic travel," not long-haul intercontinental flights.

    That's partly because of budget constraints at the major airlines, which have all cut back on goodies for lounge lizards.

    It's also a reflection of the utilitarian view of travel Americans have: to many of us, a plane is just a bus with wings. And nobody hires a masseuse to give back rubs at the Greyhound terminal.

    So if you're an American looking for luxury at the airport, it's available. You'll just have to go the extra 10,000 miles to find it.

    The Good Life is a weekly column that chronicles products, people and trends in luxury consumer goods, travel, and fine food and drink. Write to: goodlife@money.com.

    BEST AIRPORTS

    Hong Kong International Hong Kong, China
    Singapore Changi Singapore
    Incheon International Seoul, South Korea
    Munich Munich, Germany
    Kansai Osaka, Japan
    Dubai Dubai, UAE
    Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Schiphol Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark
    Sydney Sydney, Australia  

    BEST BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGES

    Cathay Pacific Hong Kong, China
    Virgin Atlantic London Heathrow
    Gulf Air Bahrain
    Asiana Airlines Incheon, Seoul, South Korea
    Swiss Air Zurich, Switzerland
    Singapore Airlines Singapore
    SAS Scandinavian Copenhagen, Denmark
    Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    China Airlines Taipei, Taiwan
    Qantas Airways Sydney, Australia

    BEST FIRST CLASS LOUNGES

    Cathay Pacific Hong Kong, China
    Thai Airways Bangkok, Thailand
    South African Airways Johannesburg, South Africa
    Asiana Airlines Incheon, Seoul, South Korea
    Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Lufthansa Frankfurt, Germany
    Singapore Airlines Singapore
    Qatar Airways Doha, Qatar
    Gulf Air Bahrain
    Swiss Air Zurich, Switzerland
     
  2. NM

    NM
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    I agree with most of the rankings in that artical, based in my experiences at some of thoase airports and lounges. I certainly would not have have any USA airports in my to 10.

    However, I would seriously consider LHR (T1 and T4) BA First Class lounge as a top 10. But I have not been to many of the ones listed so maybe they really are that much better. Certainly CX lounges at HKG are excellent. And my only complaint about HKG as an airport is the distance from one end to the other - but at least it is only one terminal.
     
  3. markis10

    markis10 Veteran Member

    Nov 25, 2004
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    I agree as well however I must say that the CX lounge has gone down a grade when they reduced the range of single malts available form the smoking bar etc.
     
  4. NM

    NM
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    What did they used to have on offer? When I was last at the Wing the waiter service was JW Gold (which is no single malt, but still very good).

    Best lounge for scotch that I have visited has to be LHR T4 and T1 F lounges.
     
  5. markis10

    markis10 Veteran Member

    Nov 25, 2004
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    JW Gold is nice - did not know that was on the menu and will ask for it in future.

    They used to have Glemorangie, Glenfiddich, Laphroaig, Macallan & Glenlinchie. Was worth smoking just for the experience but I have moved on and sadly so has CX.
     
  6. danielh

    danielh Member

    Dec 5, 2003
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    I absolutely LOVED the meals they served on the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge in HK. Freshly cooked seafood, relaxed environment, in fact, the environment was so relaxed that the nice Aussie I met on the Airport train who took me in (he dropped his phone and I helped pick up the pieces) decided that he desparately needed to change his flight to a latter direct flight to Perth and was happy with a four hour wait. :)

    It was my only time there and it was many years ago but it was pretty memorable.

    When you compare this to the QP in the HK airport, you get those sandwiches cut into soldiers, cookies and nacho things. :p

    Regards
    Daniel
     
  7. jonesy

    jonesy Junior Member

    May 5, 2005
    21
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    Shenzhen, China
    I am always amazed at Hong Kong beating Singapore in this poll as I think Changi is much better....anyway........

    I just passed though the United lounge in San Francisco and can see why both the airport and the lounge don't make the top 20. There was no printer connection available, refreshments were very light on and it was generally a bit shabby.

    Can't wait to get back to a decent lounge in Asia.
     
  8. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
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    Jonesy, Welcome to AFF.

    In what way? Shopping, layout, lounges, access, size, staff??? Personally I've always preferred HKG, though the fact I always have a better time there, compared to SIN, may contribute to this feeling.

    Ditto. Was there last month and very shabby indeed. But what I'm really dreading is LAX in August. That place is a mess, and certainly would be up there in my list of:

    World's worst 10 Airports and Lounges

    Having said that, I've always been disappointed in the JAL/ ANA lounges in Japan. Don't know why the lounges are so crappy when all other premium seat services are so good - just part of the irony which is Nippon I guess.

    Well, any other nominations for the:

    World's worst 10 Airports and Lounges :?:
     
  9. NM

    NM
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    The JW Gold was in the F lounge, provided by waiter service. Not sure what is served elsewhere. I'll check when I pass through a couple of times in June.

    I have found the DF shopping for booze to be a little cheaper in SIN, but I prefer HKG as an airport. It certainly is open, light and airy, and all in one terminal so no need to transfer on a bus/train/shuttle. Just a long walk from one end to the other!

    The Cabanas in the CX lounge are great. Where else can you soak in a bath tub at an airport? And they don't just have a self-serve coffee machine, they make and deliver specialist coffees to you seat. Very civilized indeed.

    My only complaint was that The Pier Lounge does not open until 7am, and after walking all the way out there (my departure gate was closer to The Pier), I had to wait 15 mins for it to open and it would have taken most of that time to walk back to The Wing lounge so I waited.
     
  10. jonesy

    jonesy Junior Member

    May 5, 2005
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    Shenzhen, China
    Thanks for the welcome BlacKnox!!

    I guess I feel that HKIA is very sterile - with some of the new developments and the addition of Cafe Deco it is improving but it just doesnt win me over as Changi does with all the flowers and trees etc.

    Did you see the gameshow stuff Changi did a few months ago. It was unique and people had fun at an airport!! The ease of availability of Internet and workdesks in the general public areas is also a plus as I don't have SIA lounge access anymore.

    My vote for worst airport goes to Jackson International in Port Moresby albeit 10 years since I was there it has left its mark on me. Manila is also not great unless you are with Philippine Airlines in the new terminal.
     
  11. markis10

    markis10 Veteran Member

    Nov 25, 2004
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    F lounge for CX at Hong Kong my vote by along way although the QF F lounge at Singapore is good (love the showers).

    For overall airport I agree Singapore, I would like to see a baggage handler olympics as the crew in Singapore never seems to have a bad day when it comes to getting your luggage on the belt fast. Hong Kong is good if you like walking but faciltities are poorly planned, I am somewhat jaded though as I am still recovering from being one of the first passengers through the airport on opening day!

    If we are talking purely domestic QP's - best is Townsville or Gold Coast (new), worst has to be the shoebox without windows in Mackay, just beating HBA.
     
  12. BlacKnox

    BlacKnox Active Member

    Jan 29, 2005
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    Sorry, haven't been there for a while.

    I flew with JAL to Manila last year, and didn't feel the airport was that bad. Not sure if that was the new terminal though. What is terrible in Manila is access - the traffic jams are horrendous - and I'm never truely comfortable at Airports with young guards brandishing machine guns...
     
  13. jonesy

    jonesy Junior Member

    May 5, 2005
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    Shenzhen, China
    Agree with all you said on Manila - I only do 1 or 2 trips there each year (used to be 10-12) and dread the traffic. Getting into the old terminal is such a chore with all the security and woe betide if you have changed your departure schedule as you need to endure a Spanish Inquisition to get in the door.

    Over the last few years Cathay seemed to quite often cancel at least one flight per day and bundle passengers on the later one - it was normally the mid morning flight. They came unstuck one day as I had a connecting flight to the US - they had to put me in Business Class on PAL as economy was full.

    JAL pobably pays a bit more to use the new terminal.
     
  14. ronone69

    ronone69 Intern

    Dec 12, 2004
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    Melbourne
    The CX First Class Lounge in HK is sensational. Business class ain't bad either. The shower rooms, dining room, etc are superb.

    But HK airport itself I think is dreadful. You have to walk so far to get to the gates, CX had to build a second lounge for its leg weary customers whose flights are from Gate 70. Whoever designed the airport should be shot

    Changi is a great airport. The SQ first class lounge is also great (although not as good as CX in HK). But getting around Changi is a lot better. The first class check in is also great and the luggage handling the best around. Changi No 1 for me.

    By the way, the Concord Lounge including waiter service, dining room and the Molten Brown spa at Heathrow Terminal 4 are also pretty good. I also find the dedicated First Class check in counters at Heathrow pretty good.

    CX check in in HK is not as good.
     
  15. NM

    NM
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    The main difference I see between SIN and HKG is that in SIN arriving passengers walk straight onto the departures concourse, while in HKG arriving passengers go through an arrivals concourse. That means that transiting pax at SIN can go straight to the lounges/shops etc, but when going to their departure gate must pass through a security check.

    Transitting pax at HKG go through the security check when moving from the lower arrivals concourse to the upper departures level, then there is no need to further security check at the departure gate.

    Different design with different pros and cons.

    I like the open space at HKG and don't mind the walk. The moving walkways also help. But especially when transiting, the walk is welcomed. I don't like the need to change terminals in SIN - such as when arriving on QF and connecting to SQ/MH to KUL.

    I prefer the DF shopping at SIN.
     
  16. Kiwi Flyer

    Kiwi Flyer Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2004
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    A change of terminals at SIN is painless and easily done airside in a few minutes. Contrast that with LHR, SYD or PER for example.
     
  17. serfty

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    I think that's a little bit unfair regarding SYD & PER as SIN has no domestic service of any significance.

    The two terminals at SIN are both International and are linked by both "SkyTrain" and travelators. It can however, be a long journey from one end of either terminal to catch the Sky Tain.
     
  18. clifford

    clifford Established Member

    Jul 6, 2004
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    One thing you seem to have omitted, serfty, is the hassle, time and cost of Intl/Dom transfers at these Australian airports. It's quite disgraceful really.

    Not the case at all at SIN or KUL, where inter-terminal transfers are free and quick! Can't comment on HKG as I've never been there.
     
  19. serfty

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    SIN, KUL & HKG all have effectively the one terminal, so does MEL. Using the 'Aerotrain' between the Satellite and main terminal at KLIA is quite spectacular, Changi a bit boring and CLK is simply one big M*ther!
    That relates to the way things are different in Oz. You could also say the same thing about BNE. The int/dom terminals at CNS & ADL are at least within walking distance while MEL & DRW have been better planned.

    The point I was making is that in Australia there is a far more significant proportion of travel that is domestic than in the Asian ports mentioned. The solution for the issues this raised has been to have "separate" terminals. In the case of BNE, SYD & PER geographical (and other) reasons have forced these to be quite a distance apart. So I believed it to be unfair to compare these with SIN where there are two International terminals (with a third coming) or KUL for that matter.

    As for cost of transferring at SYD & PER, I have done this many times and never paid an extra cent.
     
  20. NM

    NM
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    I just displike changing terminals anywhere. And yes, LHR is one of the worst and I hate to try to count the number of T1->T4 nad T4->T1 transfers I have done at LHR (both airside on the bus and landside on the HEX). I don't like having to a shuttle to a satellite terminal like at KUL or NRT.

    After a long flight, I would prefer to walk. I am ok with walking between terminals at MEL and even at LAX between TBI and T4.

    On my next trip I will have the following terminal transfers:

    SYD T3->T1
    JFK T7/8->T9
    LHR T4->T1

    I will also be transiting in LAX T4, LHR T1, and HKG x 2. I'll take those same terminal transits any day over an inter-terminal transfer no matter how convenient it might be. And all of those transit airports have excellent First Class lounges available to me :wink: .
     
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