By Wade Coggeshall
— For the second time in three years, Indianapolis International Airport has been ranked the best airport in North America by Airports Council International as part of the annual Airport Service Quality awards.
ASQ is a global trade group for airports. They have more than 250 member airports worldwide, and more than 75 percent of the world's 100 largest airports are part of the survey.
"What makes them especially noteworthy to us is that they're based directly on passenger feedback that's conducted at the gate," Carlo Bertolini, public information officer for the Indianapolis Airport Authority, said of the survey. "That's conducted throughout the year at airports around the world. By doing the surveys at the gate, these third-party surveyors are able to get the passengers' satisfaction levels during their travel experience. It captures the most realistic and freshest perception."
Each airport is surveyed on a number of areas. They include everything from staff courtesy and facility cleanliness to amenities and wait times.
"Some are out of our control," Bertolini said. "Flight delays are a big one. If you have nice weather and the airlines are running on time, that's obviously going to give you a head start."
IAA concentrates on the survey areas that it can affect, with cleanliness and courtesy being at the top.
"Our staff has really focused on and done a great job of keeping areas clean, especially restrooms, and keeping general areas free of clutter," Bertolini said. "Another thing is attitude and courtesy. Our staff is well-trained and incorporates that into their daily work. It doesn't matter what position they're in. If they see a passenger who looks lost or in need of some kind of help, they're encouraged to offer any assistance that's needed. It's something we try to ingrain so it becomes second nature."
Robert Duncan, IAA's executive director, gave credit for the top ranking to the airport's staff.
"Being the best airport in North America wouldn't be possible without world-class employees," he said in a statement. "I am proud of their dedication and I especially thank our front-line staff who greet our guests and keep our facilities clean, safe, and operational around the clock."
Indianapolis International Airport also topped the list for North America in ASQ's 2010 survey. It's been in the top three since then. Bertolini admits they've likely benefited from the new Midfield Terminal in the survey.
"We're still enjoying that nice halo effect from when that opened in 2008," he said.
Bertolini added it's always good to be recognized for being at the top of your game. A distinction such as this also boosts employee morale Ñ and not just airport workers but those of the airlines and the Transportation Security Administration.
"I think it represents the city and region well too," Bertolini said. "We try to remind ourselves that, for many people, we're the front door for central Indiana. We're often the first thing visitors see and the last. It's just another feather in the cap for the general region."
In addition, Airport Revenue News ranked the Indy airport first in best overall concessions, concessions program design, concessions management team, and best customer service. The airport has ranked among the best in these categories every year since 2009. ARN is a trade publication that covers revenue-issues affecting the airport industry. Thousands of industry constituents are polled for its annual awards program.