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Singapore Airlines Voted Asia’s Best

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Good service, edible food and on-time departures were on a list of what business travelers in Asia like about air travel although the whole experience was voted as being less pleasant this year in a survey.

Half the passengers polled in Finance Asia magazine’s 2008 business travel survey said business travel was less pleasant this year, up from 48 percent in 2007.

The majority of respondents traveled first or business class, but with 60 percent facing shrinking travel budgets, over a third found themselves squeezed into economy class more often.

“The most frequent comment from our respondents was how much they appreciated the basics. On-time flights, free upgrades and edible food were passengers’ most common compliments,” said the survey, published in Finance Asia’s November issue.

“All airlines had their fair share of complaints. Delays, inattentive flight attendants, lost luggage, missed connections and turbulence topped this year’s list. Horror stories included spilled soup and food poisoning in business class.”

The magazine’s survey involved just over 450 respondents, the majority of whom traveled business or first class and spent at least 20 nights in a hotel this year. Voting ended in September.

The magazine said the drop in business and first class travel would have serious consequences for the travel industry globally, as well as in the Asia-Pacific, with the International Air Transport Association predicting regional airlines’ profitability will fall to $300 million this year, from $900 million in 2007.

Singapore Airlines was voted Asia’s best for business and first class travel, while Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport was chosen as the region’s top airport, with Singapore’s Changi coming in second.

Cathay Pacific airline’s Hong Kong airport lounges were picked as the best, the survey showed.

“Despite airline passenger service’s downward trajectory, respondents said they appreciated when airlines offered little courtesies — a power adaptor after arrival, showers and ground transport after delays, a box of chocolates for switching seats,” the magazine said.

For business accommodation, the Shangri-la was voted Asia’s best hotel chain, while the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok was the top hotel, followed by Singapore’s Ritz-Carlton Millenia.

For those business travelers dreading the prospect of yet another flight, Finance Asia had the following advice: “Perhaps it’s best to resign yourself to the notion that travel (and life) is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get,” it said.

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