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2012 Leading Edge Awards

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Executive Travel’s readers honor the companies that are getting it right on the road. Hats off to the winners of this year’s Leading Edge Awards.

Business travelers are the savviest of customers. And they’re the best customers of airlines, hotels and rental car companies. But not all companies get it right for these customers. The Leading Edge Awards were developed to honor travel providers that offer the most innovative, high-quality products to business travelers. To that end, Executive Travel readers vote for their favorite travel providers each year. Below are the 2012 winners.

 

 

Domestic Airlines:

Best Domestic Airline
Overall:

Gold: Virgin America
Silver: Alaska Airlines
Bronze: Delta Air Lines

Best Domestic Airline
Customer Service:

Gold: Virgin America
Silver: Southwest Airlines
Bronze: Alaska Airlines

Best Domestic Airline
Airport Lounges:

Gold: Delta Air Lines
Silver: United & Continental Airlines
Bronze: Alaska Airlines

Best Domestic Airline
Frequent-Flyer Program:

Gold: Alaska Airlines
Silver: Frontier Airlines
Bronze: Delta Air Lines

Best Domestic Airline
Premium-Class Service:

Gold: Virgin America
Silver: Alaska Airlines
Bronze: Delta Air Lines

International Airlines:

Best International Airline
Overall:

Gold: Emirates
Silver: Cathay Pacific
Bronze: Virgin Atlantic Airways

Best International Airline
Customer Service:

Gold: Emirates
Silver: Cathay Pacific
Bronze: Singapore Airlines

Best International Airline
Airport Lounges:

Gold: Emirates
Silver: Virgin Atlantic Airways
Bronze: Singapore Airlines

Best International Airline
Frequent-Flyer Program:

Gold: Cathay Pacific
Silver: Korean Air
Bronze: Asiana Airlines

Best International Airline
Premium-Class Service:

Gold: Emirates
Silver: Virgin Atlantic Airways
Bronze: Singapore Airlines

Flight Experience:

Best Flight Experience
To Canada:

Gold: Air Canada
Silver: United & Continental Airlines
Bronze: Delta Air Lines

Best Flight Experience
To Caribbean:

Gold: American Airlines
Silver: Delta Air Lines
Bronze: United & Continental Airlines

Best Flight Experience
To Mexico:

Gold: Delta Air Lines
Silver: American Airlines
Bronze: United & Continental Airlines

Best Flight Experience
To Central/South America:

Gold: American Airlines
Silver: United & Continental Airlines
Bronze: Delta Air Lines

Best Flight Experience
To Europe:

Gold: British Airways
Silver: Delta Air Lines
Bronze: United & Continental Airlines

Best Flight Experience
To Asia:

Gold: Singapore Airlines
Silver: United Airlines
Bronze: Delta Air Lines

Best Flight Experience
To Australia/New Zealand:

Gold: Qantas Airways
Silver: Air New Zealand
Bronze: United Airlines

Best Flight Experience
To Middle East:

Gold: Emirates
Silver: Delta Air Lines
Bronze: United Airlines

Best Flight Experience
To Africa

Gold: Delta Air Lines
Silver: South African Airways
Bronze: British Airways

Airports:

Best Domestic Airport:

Gold: Atlanta (Hartsfield-Jackson)
Silver: Denver
Bronze: Charlotte (Douglas)

Best International Airport:

Gold: London (Heathrow)
Silver: Amsterdam (Schiphol)
Bronze: Singapore (Changi)

Hotels:

Best Hotel Overall:

Gold: Jumeirah
Silver: Andaz by Hyatt
Bronze: Mandarin Oriental

Best Hotel
Business Travel:

Gold: Jumeirah
Silver: Mandarin Oriental
Bronze: Andaz by Hyatt

Best Hotel
Meeting Facilities:

Gold: Mandarin Oriental
Silver: Gaylord
Bronze: Taj

Best Hotel
Customer Service:

Gold: Jumeirah
Silver: Mandarin Oriental
Bronze: Andaz by Hyatt

Best Hotel
Frequent Guest Program

Gold: Marriott Rewards
Silver: Hilton HHonors
Bronze: Hyatt Gold Passport

Miscellaneous:

Best Aircraft Type:

Gold: Boeing 777
Silver: Boeing 747
Bronze: Boeing 787

Best Private Jet Service:

Gold: Delta Private Jets
Silver: NetJets
Bronze: Flexjet by Bombardier

Best Credit Card Rewards Program:

Gold: Membership Rewards Program from American Express
Silver: Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
Bronze: United Airlines MileagePlus Explorer Visa

Best Rental Car Company
Overall:

Gold: Hertz
Silver: National
Bronze: Enterprise

Methodology: A questionnaire developed by the editors of Executive Travel, in association with ROI Research, Inc., was made available to Executive Travel readers at roiresearch.com/leadingedgeawards from January 31, 2012, through April 1, 2012. Readers were invited to participate through dedicated email invitations, the March/April issue of Executive Travel magazine, the Executive Travel CheckIn newsletter and social media.

Editor Picks

While Leading Edge Awards are reader-voted, Executive Travel editors honor these additional companies for innovation in 2012.

  • Uber: In just two years, this car service has wowed a league of users. Here’s how it works: Set up an account with your credit card. Text your location, or use the iPhone or Android app. A black car arrives in minutes. Your credit card is charged automatically—no need to sign or compute tip. Downside: It’s available only in a handful of cities. So simple, so elegant.

  • Heathrow Express: More than 16,000 travelers a day take this train from London Heathrow to the city center or back. In March the company announced a major investment of about $26 million that will upgrade the trains, service and branding—on what was already an excellent product. While the project will take three years to roll out, the initial upgrade comes just in time for the London Olympics.

  • Starwood Preferred Guest : The Starwood’s loyalty program was revamped in 2012 with some new, innovative benefits, particularly for its most frequent guests. Its highest-level members now have the ability to check in or out anytime, the availability of lifetime status and an expanded personal concierge program. Members with lower status levels have had benefits added as well. Starwood’s decision to innovate for its best guests is sharp, indeed.

  • Global Entry and Pre-Check: These initiatives from the Department of Transportation promise to make the most stressful part of any trip a snap for frequent flyers. Global Entry, offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, expedites preapproved passengers through customs. Pre-Check, run by the Transportation Security Administration, allows a lighter screening for preapproved passengers, with a special line and no need to remove shoes or laptop. We applaud the DOT’s initiatives to reduce some of the hassle of the airport experience.

  • Incheon International Airport: Thanks to innovative marketing initiatives by Seoul’s airport (e.g., 15-percent-off coupons for debarking passengers in duty-free shops) and the growth of its hub airlines Korean and Asiana, the airport has become a key gateway into Asia. In fact, Incheon has more flights to Japanese destinations than Tokyo Narita International Airport and more flights to Chinese destinations than Hong Kong International Airport. Amenities include a golf course, ice-skating rink, private sleeping rooms and spa.

  • Special Travel Heritage Award: TravelPro This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Rollaboard bag, which changed the way we travel. In 1987 Robert Plath, a Northwest Airlines pilot, invented the bag in his garage, founded Travel Pro and began marketing the Rollaboard to flight crews. Perhaps no other travel accessory has become so ubiquitous and necessary. Remember when you actually carried your carry-on? Our backs thank you, TravelPro.


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