No real surprises that Virgin America sweeped the board, hosted in their home state, at the Passenger Choice Awards 2012 yesterday in Long Beach California (September 17th), pulling in a whopping 4 awards, encompassing Overall Passenger Experience (Up to 50 IFE equipped in fleet), Best in Region (Americas), Best User Interface and Best Cabin Ambiance.
The Passenger Choice Awards program, created by APEX, was designed to invite open feedback from every member of the traveling public in order to recognize airline services, innovations and products. The online passenger surveys are open year-round.
The winners of the 2012 Passenger Choice Awards are:
Best Overall Passenger Experience (Over 50 IFE EQUIPPED IN FLEET) – Emirates
Best Overall Passenger Experience (Up to 50 IFE EQUIPPED IN FLEET) – Virgin America
Best in Region: Africa – South African Airways
Best in Region: Americas – Virgin America
Best in Region: Asia and Australasia – SriLankan Airlines
Best in Region: Europe – Virgin Atlantic
Best in Region: Middle East – Emirates
Best Inflight Publication – Southwest Airlines
Best IFE User Interface – Virgin America
Best Inflight Connectivity & Communications – Norwegian
Best Inflight Video – Kingfisher Airlines
Best Cabin Ambiance – Virgin America
Best Food & Beverage, in conjunction with IFSA – Singapore Airlines
Best Ground Experience – Kingfisher Airlines
Some surprises here, and considering it’s voted by only by travelling public, perhaps it speaks more on airline’s consistent service offering, rather than the occasional great flights taken by journalists or as reviewed by experts in their field. SriLankan is a surprise for me winning in Asia and Austalasia, somehow the most coveted of all the awards due to the stereotypically excellent customer service encountered in the region. Against behemoth airlines such as Singapore, Qantas, Thai, Malaysian, Asiana, SriLankan is a fairly small carrier route network wise, and I wouldn’t have expected it to rate as high as it has. That said, I’m pleased that an airline such as SriLankan has won the award, as it will make the other carriers in the area stand up and take note.
Another surprise is Best Ground Experience, won by Kingfisher. With the constant cancellations and restructuring going on at the airline, it’s slightly odd to see them win the award, after all, the legions of passengers that would be disgruntled at the cancellation of their flight would far outweigh the occassional good flight, in my opinion. Especially when up against Middle Eastern Carriers, whose ground experience includes reliable services, private terminals and chauffeur services direct to the airplane door.
Also awarded on the evening was Leigh Mantle Chief Operating Officer at IFP. He received the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. Also recognized was Linda Palmer, former Senior Vice President for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Non-Theatrical, who was honored with a Special Volunteerism Tribute.