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Going the extra mile


Airport World reports on a milestone achievement for Incheon International Airport and some of the highlights of the recent Customer Experience Global Summit in Kraków.

Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) has become the first airport in the world to achieve the new Level 5 status in ACI’s Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme.

Incheon dominated ACI World’s annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer service excellence awards in the early years, being named the Best Airport in the World every year between 2005 and 2016, which led to it becoming one of the first gateways inducted into the ASQ Hall of Fame.

Incheon International Airport Corporation’s president and CEO, Kyung Wook Kim, said: “It is a great honour for Incheon to be accredited as the first Level 5 airport, which is the top level of the programme.

“This proves that we have put a lot of effort into bettering the customer experience and shows our focus on exceptional customer service. We will continue providing experiential values to our passengers, going beyond their expectations.”

Incheon completed the pilot phase of Level 5 accreditation in July 2022. ACI World notes that through remote and on-site verification, Incheon successfully demonstrated a strong customer-centric culture, uniting the airport community in a human and collaborative approach.

ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, enthused: “We are grateful for Incheon Airport’s participation in the pilot of Level 5 Accreditation in our Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme – which reinforces a passenger-centric culture supported by ACI.

“Congratulations to the whole airport community at Incheon, who collectively demonstrated remarkable engagement, unity, and enthusiasm in improving the customer experience.

“The airport’s management should also be commended for leading by example in terms of their level of engagement in and dedication to customer experience from the top.”

The award was presented to Incheon Airport during an awards ceremony at the ACI Customer Experience Global Summit in Kraków, Poland.

‘Re/humanizing the airport experience’ was the theme of the summit itself, which proved to be a great success with over 400 senior airport executives, civil aviation authority representatives, airport specialists, and related business executives descending on Kraków for the always popular event.

Delegates were welcomed by ACI World’s de Oliveira and host and president of the Board of Kraków Airport, Radosław Włoszek, along with the Polish Minister of Infrastructure, Andrzej Adamczyk, and Secretary of State, Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, Marcin Horała.

ACI World’s de Oliveira spoke on the interconnectedness of customer experience within the airport complex, how the pandemic has affected consumer behaviour, and the importance of effective management tools.

“While the pandemic has had the effect of accelerating the digitalisation and implementation of touchless processes within airports, great customer and employee experience depends on the human factor,” he said.

“Evolving customer experience excellence is the outcome of the work of many different stakeholders and technologies deployed within the airport complex.

“This truly highlights the importance of resources that can help airports retain and strengthen their competitive advantage, such as the ACI Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme that provides a 360-degree view of customer experience management.”

Włoszek noted: “It is a great honour for Kraków Airport – the largest regional airport in Poland – to host the fourth edition of the ACI Customer Experience Global Summit. Kraków Airport has always focused on safety, quality, and high standards of services.

“Recent years have shown the importance of these priorities and airports’ quick response to changing circumstances.

“Providing the best customer experience is at the core of Kraków Airport’s daily activities and its commitment to the wellbeing of its passengers and employees has been acknowledged by numerous industry initiatives including the ACI Airport Health Accreditation programme, ACI Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards, and the ACI Voice of the Customer recognition.”

The opening sessions included a keynote speech from Steven Van Belleghem, a global thought leader and international best-selling author in the field of customer experience.

Travel technology company Amadeus sponsored the prestigious ASQ Awards and Airport Customer Experience Accreditation Ceremony during the Gala Dinner (supported by Kraków Airport), which took place at the Polish Aviation Museum.

ACI World’s annual ASQ Awards recognise airport excellence in customer experience worldwide based on data from ASQ’s renowned Departures and Arrivals surveys.

Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation programme

In support of ACI’s advocacy for a more inclusive, equitable, and accessible air transport system for all, it has launched what it calls the first-of-its-kind Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation programme.

The programme provides a continuous path of improvement for airports in the area of accessibility for passengers with disabilities. The accreditation is designed to help airports measure, evaluate, and improve their accessibility management and culture.

Developed by ACI with input from airport members, industry partners, and accessibility advocacy groups such as Universal Access, the Rick Hansen Foundation, Mima Group, Easy Travel Seat, and Customer Centric Consulting, the programme is based on existing international best practices and recommendations, including those put forward in the ACI Airport and Persons with Disability Handbook.

“Up to 15% of the world’s population has a disability. Airports need to be ready for the increase of elderly passengers with reduced mobility and travellers with visible and non-visible disabilities,” noted de Oliveira.

“As such, ACI and our industry partners are making accessibility a priority in different ways from advocacy to guidance. The new Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation programme provides our members with an initiation into the path of continuous accessibility improvement at airports.

“We are pleased to have received input from accessibility advocacy groups as we work towards the common goal of improving accessibility. We also thank ICAO for their support of the programme.”

ICAO Secretary General, Juan Carlos Salazar, said: “Accessibility enhancement is an important priority for international air transport, and this new ACI programme fully aligns with current ICAO policy relating to the transport of persons with reduced mobility.

“This is a very timely development given that five new ICAO standards on accessibility will become applicable in November of this year, in addition to ongoing work on new accessibility guidance being developed by our Facilitation Panel.

“I wish to congratulate ACI on the very inclusive approach it has taken in developing this essential new accreditation for world airports.”

Incheon International Airport will host next year’s ACI Customer Experience Global Summit in South Korea in September 2023.

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