(Very nice! Well done. I corrected the grammer. It deserves a better headline. Jennifer)

Since 1999 Skytrax has published the list of the world’s top 10 airports and Asia comes out on top again.
This London-based company, established in 1989, is the leader in air transport research, a reputation built on the strict adherence to its founding principles.
According to the 13.250 million questionnaires completed by 106 different nationalities of airline customers during the survey period (June 2015 – February 2016), the winners’ list of the 2016 edition doesn’t show remarkable changes.
Asia confirms to host the best airports, with Singapore at the top of the list for third time in 3 years. Also the second and third ranks are unchanged: Incheon International airport and Munich confirm the same positions from the last years.
The German airport is the first out of 3 European winners in this challenge.
Why have they been selected and rewarded?

foto 2.jpgMunich airport is the second busiest German airport and the secondary hub for Lufthansa. In 2015 it has welcomed 41 million passengers, with an increase of + 3.2% from 2014.
The structure, 28.5 km far from the city-center, covers an area of 1.560 hectares, of which 925 hectares are greened.
Besides the 150 shops of local, national and international brands and 50 different restaurants and bars with a wide choice of cuisine, the airport offers some unusual activities.
An art exhibition area has been developed inside the hub: several artworks are permanently installed and the contemporary architecture of the airport is another piece of art in itself.
Some relaxing spaces have been created in the Schengen and Non-Schengen areas. Here passengers can take a rest in the recreation rooms, enjoying reclining and non-reclining seats for reading one of the books available in the free library. foto 3.jpgA spa treatment in the 8-meters-long indoor pool at Hilton Hotel is at disposal of the passengers, as well as the Cosmetic Institute in Terminal 2 if facial and body treatments are needed.
For visitors looking for something more, the barber shop -for being always neat and tidy- and the napcabs –where to stop a moment between flights- are the replies to their desires.
foto 4.jpgA unique experience takes place every year and passengers have the chance to be part of it as well: the “Surf&Style Event” is promoted by Lufthansa, in collaboration with the airport, and it is the biggest stationary surfing wave ever at an airport. Adults and children can surf and then chilling-out at the beach next to the pool.
The airport provides also a “Stopover Guide” for passengers in transit in Munich between two flights: depending on the time availability, it proposes developed plans for under-4-hours stops, over-4-hours and over-6-hours ones, allowing visitors also to get out of the airport and breathing some fresh air.
From mid-November, a Christmas atmosphere envelopes the hub: 450 real Christmas trees, a 15-meter-high giant Christmas tree, a huge ice skating rink and a Christmas market take place every year in the airport.

foto 5.jpgAccording to the Skytrack world’s top 10 airports list the second European hub is Zurich, occupying the 7th rank.
The building site of the airport was opened in 1946, after the referendum approving the building loan of CHF 36.8 million. The first takeoff and landing took place 2 years later, while the new passenger terminal has been inaugurated in 1953.
In 2015 it has welcomed 26.281 million passengers coming from or going to the 169 destinations linking the airport to the rest of the world.
It covers an area of 916 hectares, of which 74 replies to the conservation of the natural environment.
The airport offers different types of facilities, such as the Transit Hotel, where passengers can rest for a few hours, a shower facility in various locations around the hub, family services where children can play in a safe area and some smoking lounges for visitors addicted to cigarettes.
Zurich airport offers more than 160 different areas dedicated to shopping and dining: between the passenger area and the airport center, the visitor can experience more than 60 restaurants and bars and a hundred of boutiques happy to satisfy any need.
Many activities have been planned for visitors needing to relax between flights: tours around and inside the hidden parts of the airport, a dedicated staff organizes children’s birthday party (for sure, in a very unusual place!), while every Thursday the airport proposes a live dj set and special bar menus for the “Zurich Airport Afterwork”, where people can relax in a post-work ambiance.
foto 7.jpgThe real nouveauté is represented by “The Circle”, a multifunctional center just few steps away from the hub.
Covering 180.000 sqm of useable space and CHF 1 billion investment, this building designed by Riken Yamamoto and Field Shop wants to become the new city center.
It will be inaugurated in 2018 and it has been planned to host hotels, a convention center, a medical center, spaces for offices and moreover, like art and culture spaces, restaurants, entertainment and boutiques.
The building design aims to create an atmosphere similar to that of the traditional city center, while high quality materials and fixtures will give a cosmopolitan touch.

The last European airport in the Skytrax list is London Heathrow, which is the busiest UK airport and the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic.
foto 8.jpgIt covers an area of 1.227 hectares and it offers 185 destinations with an average number of passengers (arriving and departing) per day of 201.000.
Born in 1930 as private airport, it became a civil one from January 1st 1946 with the inauguration flight to Buenos Aires.
In 1951 the activity of the airport lead the authorities to approve the construction of permanent buildings: little by little, the Europa and the Queens buildings saw the light, as well as the Oceanic terminal, the Terminal 1 (opened in 1969 and now closed) and the Terminal 5 in 2008.
The activities set in the airport have been planned for fully satisfying customers’ needs.
Through the online Heathrow boutique, it is possible to book the items (payment is not requested in this phase), receiving a confirmation mail by the Shopping Services Team up to 3 days before the travel. Once at the airport, passenger visits the boutique, experiences the shopping and buys (or not) the items selected some days before.
A personal shopper is also available at the hub: by fixing an appointment on the website, the Shopping Services Team contacts the client for discussing about some formalities. After the security controls, the shopping experience with a personal shopper starts, focusing on the client’s desires.
A special service of “Terminal shopping transfer” is at the disposal of visitors with more than 3 hours flights-stop for discovering the boutiques in the other terminals. Moreover, the “Home Delivery Service” for purchases delivered to any UK mainland residential address allows passengers to enjoy the flight.
Another service at the disposal of the passengers is called “Collect on return”: visitor can experience the shopping at the departure and then pick up purchases once back at the airport.
Facilities like these help passengers in their daily life: the “Baby milk order service” is one of these. Travelling with a baby isn’t so easy, because of the security controls and the forbidden items, most of them very necessary for the health of the baby. This formula replies to particular needs: parents can order the milk or the food online and then collect and pay at the pharmacy located in the departure lounge.
Similar services are available for flowers, for touristic tickets, for SIM cards and also for “In flight picnics”. Clients can ask this service available just at Heathrow airport: all the restaurants of the hub join this facility and passengers have just to choose the kind of cuisine they prefer and enjoy the meal on-board.
Moreover, spa treatments, medical support for vaccination and malaria prevention treatments and a shoe service are available in the airport terminals.
Finally, many events animate the hub: 2016 celebrates the Queen’s 90TH birthday with mini-flags and crowns for kids at the departure and arrival halls. Music too helps for creating a relaxing atmosphere: many singers have been invited to perform in one of the terminals.

Until recently, airports – like ailway stations and shopping malls– were considered “non-places” where people were obliged to go and stay for long hours, without offering any kind of facility and entertainment.
In the last few years, airports have become places where passengers can spend the time enjoying new experiences and relaxing between two flights.
Indoor design, services and animation activities are planned to create a unique atmosphere, because airports are living spaces where spending quality time.

Photo credits:

pixabay.com

Wikipedia.org

Hilton.com

Wikipedia.org

info.thecircle.ch

Wikipedia.org

 

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