Also, here's the magazine's press release, taken from their website:
Bob Curley applauds the winners of the 2008 Best in Business Travel Awards, chosen by the readers of Business Traveler
Don't call it an upset, but Business Traveler readers have named Emirates the "Best Overall Airline in the World" in the 2008 Best in Business Travel Awards, giving the thriving Dubai-based carrier the nod over perennial winner, Singapore Airlines. Other top honors this year went to Park Hyatt for "Best Hotel Chain in the World" and Singapore Changi International Airport for "Best Airport in the World"—the 17th-straight win for Changi in this category.
Emirates' ongoing investment in new aircraft—including the A380 superjumbo—has helped the airline introduce new technology and innovations faster than the competition, and its service-oriented corporate culture is reflected in Emirates' multicultural, multilingual staff, making customers feel comfortable, regardless of where in the world they live. "All of these factors combined make Emirates attractive to business travelers," says Nigel Page, senior vice president for the Americas at Emirates.
Service is also the key to success for Park Hyatt, which operates small, luxury properties worldwide, and recently opened new hotels in Beijing, Istanbul and Shanghai, with expansion plans including Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Ningbo, China; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Mexico City. "Park Hyatt service standards are designed to be intuitive and individualized," says Sara Kearney, international vice president of sales and marketing for the hotel chain. "Recognizing that preferences vary among guests, our staff is trained to tailor services and amenities to meet each individual's needs."
"Changi Airport's 17th win for the 'Best Airport in the World' is a recognition we greatly value," says Lim Kim Choon, director-general and CEO of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, which operates the city-state's airports. Lim estimates Changi's popularity with business travelers reflects a dedication to enhancing both productivity—by offering free Wi-Fi, for example—and comfort.
"This award affirms our commitment to constantly thinking of innovative ways to meet our travelers' expectations," he adds. "Improved or new facilities, like our newly opened Butterfly Garden at Terminal 3's Departure/Transit Mall, are also added to ensure we provide quality 'havens' for our business travelers to enjoy—some tranquility amid the stress of traveling."
4,000 Readers Surveyed
The Best in Business Travel Awards were based on surveys of Business Traveler readers conducted between June 1 and September 15, 2008. A total of 4,000 surveys were sent to print and online subscribers of the magazine.
Survey participants were asked to choose their favorite airlines, hotels, airports, and other business-travel service providers in a total of 55 categories. The survey consisted of open-ended questions, with no suggested company names or choices given.
Jet Airways Soars
Despite its newcomer status in North America, Jet Airways was recognized by Business Traveler readers for having the "Best First-Class Service in the World."
"Jet Airways has already established itself among the world's elite international airlines—not least because of our unrivaled first-class service, including private suites with sliding doors, one of the longest flat beds in the sky, inflight connectivity, full-length hanging wardrobe, meeting or dining room for two, and other unique amenities that have appealed to the discerning business traveler," says Nikos Kardassis, Jet Airways' head of operations in the Americas. "We are immensely proud of our success in this market, and will continue to innovate to keep pace with the changing needs and expectations of the business traveler."
Another first-time winner was Qantas, which took the honors of "Best Business-Class Service in the World." Qantas is renowned for inflight dining, featuring fresh Australian produce and a selection of more than 300 Australian wines; other onboard amenities for business travelers include fully-flat, cocoon-style Skybeds, Körner Skincare items, and the popular business sleeper suit.
Qantas took delivery of the first of its new A380 fleet in September, which features a private business-class lounge with leather sofas, a self-service bar, and a large video monitor. "Qantas invented business class in 1979, and we have not stopped innovating since then," says Qantas executive general manager, John Borghetti.
"Best Premium Economy Class in the World" honors went to Virgin Atlantic, while Singapore Airlines was recognized as having the "Best Economy-Class Service in the World." "We're known for changing the face of air travel with more personal space, an attentive cabin crew, and unmatched dining options for a great value, and will continue to deliver a truly exciting flying experience for the increasingly frustrated and disappointed business traveler," says Chris Rossi, senior vice president for North America at Virgin Atlantic.
Singapore "recognizes the fact that many business travelers fly in the main cabin, so we've always had a focus on introducing premium cabin amenities into our economy class," says James Boyd, an airline spokesperson. This includes in-seat word processing and other office applications, Berlitz language programs, wider seats, personal video monitors, and built-in power ports.
Cathay Pacific, much-praised by international business travelers, was this year's winner in the "Best Airline for International Travel" category. "Our goal is to ensure that whether someone flies economy, business, or first class—all of which we've recently redesigned—they are going to experience something worth repeating on Cathay Pacific," says Dennis Owen, vice president of marketing for the Americas at Cathay Pacific. "We're going to continue to focus on the unique, obsess over the details, and sweat the small stuff. We've learned from our passengers that little things make a huge difference."
Regional Awards to Continental, Others
Continental Airlines was named "Best Airline for North American Travel" (as well as for having the "Best Flight Attendants in North America")—at least partly the result of its upgraded BusinessFirst cabin with lie-flat seats, video on-demand and Wi-Fi access—while Aeromexico won the Best in Business Travel award for "Best Airline in Mexico," British Airways got the nod for "Best Airline in Western Europe," and Czech Airlines was recognized as "Best Airline in Central and Eastern Europe."
"The fact that Czech Airlines has won this award for the second year in a row documents the improving quality of our services," says Czech Airlines president, Radomír Lašák.
Qatar Airways was named "Best Airline in the Middle East," while Korean Air won "Best Airline in Asia," as well as "Best Business Class to Asia/Trans-Pacific" and for having the "Best Airline Advertising Campaign." Qatar wins high marks with business travelers for its service, both in the air and on the ground, notes Tony Hughes, senior vice president for the Americas.
"The amenities offered at Qatar Airways' Premium Terminal in Doha are unmatched by any in the world," he says. "There's exclusive check-in for passengers, duty-free shopping and conference room space, fine dining restaurants, as well as a spa and Jacuzzi." Similarly, Korean Air puts a premium on caring for its passengers traveling through Incheon International Airport, with staff members on hand to accompany travelers from check-in through boarding.
Another Korean airline, Asiana, also won a trio of awards: "Best Flight Attendants in the World," "Best Inflight Services in the World," and "Best Overall Airline Customer Service." Asiana's creative inflight magic and fashion shows have become legendary, but the airline's commitment to personalized service starts with the first customer contact, says Tae Kuen Han, senior vice president for airport and cabin services. "Asiana will greet you as your own family, and will make sure that once you have flown Asiana, you will be detailed in receiving the same preferential service without having to ask again, whether it be a green tea or coffee every two hours," he adds.
The 2008 "Best Airline for First-Class Service in North America" was American Airlines, which has implemented a Priority Access program to speed premium-class customers through check-in, security and boarding, and recently added inflight Wi-Fi access and new first-class seats on its transcontinental flights. American has also been expanding its network of Admiral's Club airport lounges in cities like Dallas, New York, Miami, and Tokyo. "Particularly in the environment we're in now, it's more important than ever for us to keep and grow our share of [premium-class] customers," says Kurt Stache, the airline's vice president and general sales manager.
Top Service & More
Air Canada won three Best in Business Travel awards for the first time, claiming the titles of "Best North American Airline for International Travel," "Best Airline for Business-Class Service in North America," and "Best Inflight Services in North America."
"Air Canada is honored to be recognized by Business Traveler for the quality of its service," says Ben Smith, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Air Canada. "Our newly refurbished fleet, featuring industry-leading lie-flat suites in Executive First, and personal audiovisual systems and power plugs at every seat, makes it pleasurable to work or relax while flying. On the ground, we continue to develop technology to improve the airport experience with such innovations as remote check-in, paperless boarding passes, and Executive Priority lanes, as well as upgrading our Maple Leaf Lounges and concierge services."
South African Airways focuses its marketing and services on premium-class passengers, and the payoff was being selected as "Best Business Class to Africa" by Business Traveler readers. Other regional winners recognized for the quality of their business-class service include Air France (Europe/Trans-Atlantic), Air New Zealand (Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific), Etihad (Middle East), LAN (South America), and Icelandair (Nordic countries).
Gourmet dining and fine wines, of course, are part of the appeal for Air France, while Air New Zealand offers an inflight concierge service as part of a commitment to helping business travelers "focus on their work rather than ours," comments Roger Poulton, the airline's vice president for the Americas.
Etihad's Inspired Service in first and business class includes à la carte dining on European and Arabic menus, while Icelandair has "a unique network that allows for the business traveler to stop over and relax in Iceland at no additional airfare," according to Icelandair's CEO, Birkir Holm Gudnason. "This award reflects Icelandair's long-standing commitment to offering the best value for money for the business traveler," he remarks.
The past year has seen the demise of many all-business-class airlines, but the concept of business-class-only flights has thrived for All Nippon Airways (ANA) on the Narita–Mumbai route, earning the Japanese carrier the title of "Best All-Business-Class Airline." "The Indian market is poised for tremendous growth with regards to business travel, and we are well positioned to serve that need," said Tomonori Ishii, ANA's senior vice president and general manager for the Americas. "We will continue to watch this service closely to determine the business jet's growth potential in other markets."
Readers toasted bmi, which employs inflight chefs and prides itself on offering fresh inflight meals, for having the "Best Airline Cuisine/Meals." Air Canada, Asiana, ANA, South African Airways, Air New Zealand and bmi all are members of the Star Alliance, named the 2008 Best in Business Travel awards' "Best Airline Alliance Program."
Virgin America Makes its Mark
Virgin America's first flight took off on August 8, 2007, and it took only a year for the airline to earn the title of "Best Low-Cost Airline in North America," snatching the title away from 2007 winner, JetBlue.
"Virgin America was launched with the goal of reinventing the category by creating an upscale, innovative and customer-facing flight experience," says Virgin America president and CEO, David Cush. "Business travelers should expect the newest and best in design, technology, entertainment and comfort in a U.S. airline—just as they do in their other travel choices. We couldn't be more proud to earn this award so early on from the frequent business travelers who really know the travel landscape and recognize value." u
Air Lines, fresh off its merger with former rival Northwest Airlines, continued its three-year run of capturing the top spot in three key customer service categories: "Best Airport Clubs/Lounges," "Best Frequent-Flyer Program," and "Best Airline Web Site." And when business travelers touch down from a flight in North America, the place they want to land most is Denver International Airport, named "Best Airport in North America" by Business Traveler readers.