This week has been another interesting one with quite a range of different airport news. Berlin got mentioned a couple times again, then San Francisco was in with an interesting and maybe slightly controversial idea, Stansted also had a busy week and Zurich was put to the test whilst Chicago received some disturbing freight.
Continue reading This week: Harvey Milk SFO, Zurich clears the sky and more
Easter is finally here and with that all the usual airport delays. All of them? Not so much! Travellers of the British Stansted Airport (IATA: STN) got off with a slap on the wrist as the announced baggage handler’s strike was called off. Nevertheless, we found a few (other) interesting stories in the lead-up to the long weekend.
Continue reading This week: Tornadoes, an April’s Fool’s prank gone wrong & more
We love innovation and particularly – surprise, surprise – airport innovation. This one here was sent to us from a very attentive reader who discovered a story about a new way of overlaying digital flight information onto a binocular display at an airport observation deck. The story gets even better as the case study is based on an art installation at Zurich Airport (IATA: ZRH), one of our “like” airports in Europe.
Continue reading Airport Innovation: Augmented Reality Binoculars
Knowing that airlines put most of their efforts into the lounges at their home airport, I expected big things from the SWISS lounges at Zurich Airport (IATA: ZRH; LD hub page). SWISS – or Swiss International Air Lines – serves 72 destinations in 39 countries – most of them through its main hub in Zurich. The airline claims that because it is the airline of Switzerland (albeit owned by the Lufthansa Group), SWISS is the byword for traditional Swiss values. Surely you now want to know what those values are. Being Swiss myself, I want to come up with ‘attention to detail’, ‘high quality’ and ‘hospitality’. Others might add that the Swiss are known for staying on the fence and that they can be slightly boring. So, how do the SWISS lounges fit into this?
Continue reading Lounge Review: SWISS hospitality at Zurich Airport
Last night as part of the Passenger Terminal Expo 2011 held in Copenhagen, Skytrax announced this years World Airport Awards. The most prestigious price, Airport of the Year, went to Hong Kong International (IATA: HKG) for the 8th time since 2000. LateDeparture video reviewed the award winning airport. Last year’s winner Singapore Changi (IATA: SIN) came second and South Korea’s Incheon International Airport (IATA: ICN) third.
Continue reading Hong Kong named Airport of the Year 2011
Well, this isn’t actually news as Zurich Airport’s Chocolate Fest has been going on since the 19th February. But it did catch my eyes this time while travelling through the airport. Why? No, not because I felt a sudden chocolate rush and would have had to try all the yummy offerings from Lindt, Toblerone, Frey or Sprüngli (honestly!), it was because I discovered this chocolate art creation you see in the picture: Australia in chocolate. I’m actually emigrating to this country next month, so it fit very well. Next to the Australian icons you can also discover other countries’ themes made of, you guessed it, chocolate. It’s worthwhile going for a quick tour so that you then at least have an excuse to try those “god forbidden” Sprüngli truffes…
The exhibition continues until the 5th April and you can find it in the transfer & shopping area A at Zurich airport. The Sprüngli truffes can be enjoyed even beyond that date at their airport store in A and E.
Switzerland officially joined the Schengen zone on the 12th December of last year even though my home country is (still) not part of the EU. The original Schengen agreement was signed in 1985 and it provided for the removal of systematic border controls between the participating countries.
With the Swiss joining the club now, this means you will no longer see systematic passport controls between it and the other member countries. This is straight forward with Switzerland’s neighbouring countries as they are all members themselves, but it’s a bit more complex for an airport as flights, obviously, will leave to both, member and non-member countries. Zurich airport will therefore undergo a change to accommodate for the new system. On their website they write
The most noticeable changes for passengers is that they will no longer have to pass through passport control within the Schengen area, and some transit passengers at Zurich Airport will even be able to transfer to their onward flight without having to undergo another security check.
These changes are becoming effective on 29th March 2009. More information can be found on the airport’s website. I’m scheduled to go back there in May and will report on the changes. Let’s hope Zurich remains as reliable as it was and that my favourite “Luxemburgerli” are available in both zones.
[Picture from Flickr – some rights reserved]
Hong Kong International Airport has been named Best Airport in the world, in the passenger survey results released on Monday by Skytrax. Despite being “only” rated in 5th place in the most-timely airport survey, Hong Kong received the prestigious award after Skytrax collected 8.2 million questionnaires completed by passengers over a 10-month time period. The London based aviation-research company rated the airports in more than 40 categories of product and service quality from check-in to departure, from arrivals to baggage collection – including terminal cleanliness, staff efficiency, staff courtesy, terminal signage, security processing, immigration and customers, walking distances, as well as features like shopping, dining options, internet services.
Second best airport went to last year’s winner, Singapore Changi airport followed by Seoul Incheon. Best European airport was Munich in 5th place and San Francisco took the place for the best ranked US airport but didn’t make it in the top ten. Here’s the that top ten:
- Hong Kong
- Singapore Changi
- Seoul Incheon
- Kuala Lumpur KLIA
- Cape Town
Note that we already wrote about Zurich and Copenhagen on some delay stories, but both airports rated fairly highly in our own surveys as well.
Also, make sure you check out the full list of the category winners – Brisbane for example received the award for the airport with the friendliest staff. Well, I guess that’s no surprise when you work in a city with one of the best climates and the most leisure attitude…
[Picture from Flickr]
Well, I think you saw it coming, didn’t you? Of course, there was no delay at Zurich airport on my Swiss flight back to London last night. But don’t be disappointed just yet! As Zurich is kind of home turf to me, I’m still able to give you the lowdown about this airport:
After the major rehaul of the entire airport in 2003, Switzerland’s main hub is now back on the radar of decent airports. Particulary nice is the so called “Airside Centre”, the main area for shopping, restaurants and the starting point to all gates. It offers an attractive high roof and a nice wooden floor. However, the main problem with the airport overall is that other than at most airports, the security checks in Zurich are located close to the actual gates, so after the main shopping area, and not after the passport checks, which means you need to plan ahead and be very contious of your remaining time. Also, if you depart from the E gates you need to take the shuttle train to the midfield terminal which adds another 10 to 15 minutes to your journey. This terminal contains some shops as well but the selection is far smaller than in tha Airside Centre.
But without further adu, here are my top 5 things you can do while waiting at Zurich airport (if that ever happens…):
- Choose your favourite “Luxemburgerli” flavour from the Lindt & Sprüngli shop
- Hop on the “Gates E”-train and experience the Heidi and alpine scene animations from Swiss Tourism (there’s a different one each way)
- Count how many times the friendly Swiss greet you with a “Grüezi“
- Press your nose against the Rolex glass cabinets in the Swiss watch store and dream of your lottery win on Saturday
- Try to find someone who actually can speak the 4th official Swiss language Romansh
Airport name: Zurich Airport / Zurich Kloten
Short code: ZRH
Design factor: 4/5
Shopping factor: 3/5
Toilets factor: 2/5
Overall factor: 3/5