Sunday, June 20, 2010
Flawless Airport Expansion
When it opened in 1998 it had 80 gates, but this time I found it has 30 more in a new mini terminal that can only be accessed by a shuttle bus in an open space near the tarmac. What was confusing was that they were labelled Gates 501-530. Why did they use these numbers? I looked on the airport's website, but didn't find the answer.
Nevertheless, some of the low-cost airlines like Hong Kong Express Airways and China Southern fly out from here.
When I got to the shuttle bus, I asked an airport staff if there was anything to eat in this terminal. She warned only small snacks and coffee were available so I imagined the worst -- like a typical mainland Chinese airport with tasteless buns or overly sweet ones and coffee that came out of a vending machine.
So I was surprised to find it was very new and modern, complete with Starbucks and a small selection of duty-free shops and a bookstore.
I grabbed a sandwich and fruit salad from Starbucks and the staff was even kind enough to put them on a tray and place it on a table for me while I managed my hand luggage.
And on top of that, this Starbucks had a few computer terminals for people to surf the net (provided they bought something) and free wireless Internet connection courtesy of the Airport Authority.
Everywhere else I'd been had their Internet connection controlled by PCCW, which meant having to shell out or not feeling connected.
The new mini terminal was a good experience overall, not penalizing passengers for choosing cheap flights. This is not the case in Beijing's Capital Airport in Terminal 1 and 2, where if you do get a cheap plane ticket, chances are you have to run to the gate furthest away or even worse, take a shuttle bus that takes you to the Siberian regions of the airport.
No wonder Hong Kong International Airport was named the World's Best Airport serving over 40 million passengers a year for the fourth consecutive year in May by the Airports Council International.
When accepting the award, Airport Authority CEO Stanley Hui Hon-Chung dedicated it to the 60,000-strong airport staff.
"We couldn't have achieved this without the concerted effort of all the staff in the airport community who provide passengers with the best possible service," he said. "It is gratifying to see that our overall score in the Airport Service Quality survey has been constantly on the rise over the past few years."
I know why this airport has been getting top grades for the past four years -- every time I get to this airport, I know that things will be as stress-free as possible aside from airline operations. And who wouldn't want that?