YVR named top airport in North America for seventh consecutive year

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      Vancouver International Airport (YVR) was named best airport in North America today (March 16) for a record-breaking seventh straight year.

      It's the first time the award has been won so many years in a row.

      The Skytrax World Airport Awards held in Cologne, Germany, are based on 13.2 million passenger surveys conducted in 555 airports around the world.

      Craig Richmond, president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, attributed much of YVR's success over the years to its customer service division.

      "I think it comes down to how everybody in the airport tries really hard to make every passenger feel like they count," he said in a phone interview with the Straight.

      To win the award, Richmond said airports have to stand out in 39 separate categories. Those include airport travel experiences such as checking in and border clearance processes, comfort, efficiency, signage, transportation availability, passenger amenities, and friendliness.

      "You can't afford to be number two or number three in very many of those, or you wouldn't win," he said. "What sets us apart is smiling faces will look at you, see your confusion, walk over and say, 'hey, can I help you?' "

      Richmond added winning seven years in a row has helped when making pitches to airlines because the awards are well-known. He said a mention of the awards “really makes the airlines look up”.

      "Nobody wins that many times in a row," he said.

      Richmond added that while they are celebrating the award and plan on hosting an event in the coming weeks, staff won't spend too much time patting themselves on the back.

      "We know that a lot of airports are looking at us and saying, 'Why can't we do what they do?'" he said. "We need to keep getting better."

      Richmond went on to say they use their success as a way to force themselves to innovate and think of ways to keep their customers happy.

      "When you have 21-million passengers, that's 21-million points of contact and you just want to make sure every one goes well," he said.

      YVR also placed third for best staff service in North America and the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel was voted best airport hotel in North America. 

      Follow Jocelyn Aspa on Twitter @jocelynaspa