No travel professional enjoys hearing groans from clients when they’re told their journey includes hours cooling their heels in a noisy, crowded airport, Amadeus reports, in a new listing of the world's top traveler friendly airports from Travel + Leisure.
"Most travelers view a layover as a painfully boring delay they would do almost anything to avoid. And, unfortunately, layovers between flights are often unavoidable — indeed, they’re inevitable on international flights, but have also become commonplace on domestic flights as airline cutbacks mean fewer nonstop flights," Amadeus notes.
So how about imagining your clients’ delight and relief upon learning they can spend their airport downtime strolling in a tropical butterfly garden, ice skating, or even playing a few holes of golf, Amadeus asks.
"Many modern airports offer amenities and odd attractions that make layovers pleasant, something-to-talk-about experiences. Deplaned passengers can shop, soak up local culture, get a massage, play the slots, nap in comfy recliners, and view the artwork of Golden Age masters — all without leaving the airport," Amadeus says in its monthly newsletter to agents.
Amadeus cites a 2011 survey by ORC International that reports 44 percent of travelers interviewed said they’d enjoy taking in a history, science or cultural exhibit, while 16 percent would like a massage or spa treatment during their airport layover. Another 12 percent found the fun in having a playground for their kids. And, as expected, shopping, dining and Internet surfing also scored high on the list.
"As a travel agent, customer satisfaction is No. 1. So as you research the best flights, also consider the best airports to accommodate your clients if a layover or delay occurs. You want your clients to not only look forward to the destination, but to an enhanced, comfortable airport experience," Amadeus notes.
The listing of airports and resources includes:
Incheon International Airport: At Incheon International Airport at Seoul, South Korea, the most-loved features are the National Korean Museum and cultural areas where travelers can create traditional dolls in papier-mâché outfits in traditional Korean garb. Other highlights include jungle gyms for the kids, free shower facilities, spa, ice rink, crafts and traditional dance and musical performances.
Changi International Airport: Singapore’s Changi International Airport houses a two-story tropical garden that flutters with 47 butterfly species native to Singapore and Asia. Travelers can witness the butterflies breeding and feeding at close range in individual enclosures. The garden is also home to 200 carnivorous and insectivorous plants that get nutrients from trapping and feeding on insects and small animals. When not watching butterflies, travelers may watch a movie, swim, rent a nap room or soak their feet in a tank with tiny fish that nibble and tickle their toes.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport: At Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, pull up a rocking chair and sit a spell. The airport atrium is lined with trees and white wooden rocking chairs, just as you might find on a Southern front porch. The rockers were placed in the airport in 1997 as part of a photo exhibit called Porchsitting, but were so popular that they became a fixture. The airport also is known for the Yadkin Valley Wine Bar, where travelers can taste wine from nine local wineries.
Portland International Airport : Portland International Airport in Portland, Ore., focuses heavily on the arts as entertainment, offering live music performances and exhibits from local artists. Shoppers will find that the airport’s “uniquely Oregon” shops and restaurants charge the same prices as their off-airport counterparts, with a bonus — no sales tax.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport : Travelers traipsing through Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Michigan find themselves entranced by the elaborate light tunnel that features an original musical score and a multicolored light show behind sculpted glass panels.
McCarran International Airport : In Las Vegas: Travelers don't have to go all the way to the Strip to gamble — McCarran International Airport has nearly 1,300 slot machines. For those who’d rather be ‘Net-surfing, the airport offers free Wi-Fi. Aviation buffs can experience flights of reality at Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum.
Taoyuan International Airport : In Taipei, Taiwan, the Taoyuan International Airport has an entire gate area designed with a Hello Kitty motif, from the chairs and wall decorations to children's play area and a shop.
Schiphol Airport: Amsterdam's famous Rijksmuseum has an annex at Schiphol Airport with a small collection of Dutch Golden Age masterpieces and a temporary rotating exhibition.
Vancouver International Airport : Folks with free time at Vancouver International Airport in Canada may ogle the 30,000-gallon aquarium that hosts nearly 1,000 different marine species, including rockfish, jellyfish, and starfish.
Hong Kong Airport: The Hong Kong Airport boasts a four-story high 4D Extreme Screen, where visitors can not only watch blockbuster films but also go inside the movie. Real-life special effects and 3D glasses let travelers wade through drifts of snow and fog banks, splash in water, and breathe in outdoor fragrances.
By educating yourself about the attractions, activities and amenities at the world’s best airports, agents can match clients with airports that meet their tastes or needs, Amadeus says.
"If you have a client with children, an airport with a play area would fit the bill. Ensure your customers have a seamless journey, and go home with positive memories about the fun they had, yes, at the airport. Those experiences will reflect highly on your services, resulting in repeat business." Amadeus says, noting the value of Amadeus' Selling Platform Connect to book air, cars, hotels, rail and cruises.