FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 


2007 June 28

  Best airport? Wrong again.  Across my desk (well over my screen), I receive many results of ‘Best Of’ contests. Most I ignore, probably like most of us.   I am a subscriber to the belief that the only awards worth winning are the ones I win. I presume that is one reason why I haven’t won many…ok, I won one.   However, for some reason I do follow the ‘best of’ airports. I think the reason is that I believe any competition that does not name Singapore’s Changi as the best airport in the world is simply wrong.   I presume the problem for the organisers is that they cannot have Singapore winning every year because the competition would look like it was fixed.   I once asked Skytrax about how they arrived at their findings (in that case, that Hong Kong airport was the world’s best), and added the reason for my question – that I didn’t believe it. They refused to answer, because my question did not seem to be serious.   (Since then, of course, I have seriously dismissed all Skytrax findings as unjustified – a legally-true statement as far as I am concerned.)   Back to airports. The latest ‘Best Of’ finding – from Airports Council International, so one which should be credible – put Singapore fourth after the airports in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur!   This is so wrong that it is almost a joke.   But some comments about Hong Kong can serve to indicate why it should not be in the top-five. (I am biased, however; I wrote a report entitled ‘Design Disaster’ after inspecting the terminal one month before it opened.)   Hong Kong’s airport is impressive architecturally, and has excellent transport links into town. Apart from that, almost nothing else is good. Airport architects (shamefully, Hong Kong was actually this designer’s second airport) should visit Hong Kong to learn what not to do.   I will make just a few remarks about Changi to help support my feelings:   -It is the only airport where I voluntarily spent an overnight (flight arrival 2350; connecting flight 0700) because I knew there was enough to do. Rest, eat, watch movies, shop. I found that the lounge chairs even incorporate timers, so you can sleep without worrying about missing your flight, with a head vibrator to wake you up (instead, for obvious reasons, of an alarm).   -I once asked an information desk for directions. She replied “straight down there, and turn left after the second waterfall”. How many airports would be able to give a direction with even just one waterfall?   -The other night there was live pianist and singer at bar in the departure lounge after immigration checks.   

Perhaps I should end by saying Singapore has made a mistake in building a Budget Terminal. The government owners have already realised this (even if they will never say so), but within a year they will announce what they plan to do that will correct the error. Convert the terminal to add regular flights, to small-parcel freight, administration, conferences, hotels? Of course it will be a face saver, so the reason given will be high demand for, say, additional office space.

The Fox