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2012 World’s Best In Business Travel

Published: 10/12/2012 - Filed under: Home » Archive » 2012 » December 2012/January 2013 » Special Reports »

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In the 24 years since Business Traveler magazine first asked its readers to sound off about who does travel better than anybody else, the industry – and the world – have undergone a great deal of change. When we think back to 1988, the first George Bush had just been elected President, the euro was more than a decade away and airplanes with tails sporting names like TWA, Pan Am, Eastern and dozens more still plied the skies. The renovated Royalton in New York had just opened as an early example of the boutique hotel and a gallon of gas cost less than a dollar.

Today’s travelers have fewer choices in some areas – airline and rental car consolidation continues apace – but are finding their travel experiences in many ways enriched by revolutionary advances in products, services, technology and the keen edge of competition between the industry’s leaders. 

Once again this year, you, our Business Travelerreaders, have had the opportunity to voice your preferences for the top products and services from the entire spectrum of travel – the best from different regions of the world, different types of travel providers, different classes of service. All based on your own experience.

The winners will be honored at the annual Best in Business Travel Awards dinner and celebration. We’ll be bringing you updates on the gala event on our Web site at, plus you can watch for complete coverage of the festivities in the February issue of Business Traveler.

The 2012 Best in Business Travel Awards honors 41 different travel service companies in 64 different categories. Of these, 23 were repeat winners from last year’s awards, which means over half of your favorite travel providers have again risen to the standards it takes to earn them your votes as number one in their respective fields. A number of exceptional companies have swept the same category for three, four and – for a select handful – even an astonishing five years in a row. 

What that means for you, the business traveler, is the service levels at these companies keep getting better and your expectations continue to be met or exceeded, year after year. 

Now a word about the 18 new names joining the winners’ circle in 2012. Some of these do indeed reflect the fiercely competitive world of travel – companies that have in some ways stepped up their game in the past 12 months, meriting your votes and knocking off one of their rivals to claim the top spot.

But for another group of winners, their awards mean that our readers have identified important new trends, emerging technologies and significant product categories that deserve recognition. As a result of these trends, we’ve added 10 new categories to this year’s Best in Business Travel Awards. Again, your voice is heard, and you’ve determined that the best service providers in certain highly competitive categories of business travel deserve specific recognition.

We’ve broken down the awards categories in groups according to industry sectors, geographical regions or areas of focus. This year there are 10 groups: Best Airlines by Region, Best Air Travel Experience, Best in Rental Car, Best Global Hotel Experience, Best Hotels by Region, Best Marketing and Customer Connection, Best Loyalty Programs, Best Places to Connect, Best Traveler Tools and Productivity Boosters, and the Best in Global Travel. 

Best in Global Travel

This group of travel services providers are those whom readers have voted to be the best in the world at what they do. These award winners are the tops in the their fields, from the airside – airlines, aircraft manufacturers and airline alliances – to those travel champions who work to get the ground game right – airport lounges, global hotel chains and rental car companies. 

In all, there are a dozen categories honoring those who deliver best-in-class service throughout the travel value chain. Voters selected these award recipients based on a range of criteria from service levels, route structures, location, convenience and comfort. When the votes were tallied, our readers had judged these companies to be world leaders in business travel.

Best Overall Airline In The World Asiana Airlines

Best Airline In the World for International Travel Qatar Airways

Best Airline Alliance Star Alliance

Best First Class Service in the World Singapore Airlines

Best Business Class Service In the World Singapore Airlines

Best Premium Economy Class Service in the World Virgin Atlantic

Best Economy Class Service in the World Singapore Airlines

Best Airline Cuisine/Meals in Business Class Korean Air

Best Overall Inflight Experience in the World Asiana Airlines

Best Airport Clubs/Lounges Delta Sky Clubs

Best Business Hotel Chain in the World Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Best Business Hotel in the World Peninsula Hong Kong

Best Car Rental Company in the World Hertz

Best Aircraft Type Boeing 777

Best Business Class Configuration Delta 777-200 (1-2-1)

Best Overall Inflight Entertainment in the World Korean Air

Best Airlines by Region

Based on a combination of best value and best service, these are the carriers who have risen to the top in a particular region of the world. As with anyone who specializes, this superior performance is often be the result of proximity and culture. That’s the case with this year’s winners.

The awards cover seven major regions of the world: North America, South America/Latin America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We also included the top airline in North America for international travel, and the favorite North American low-cost carrier. 

Best North American Airline for International Travel Air Canada 

Best Airline for North American Travel United 

Best Low-Cost Airline in North America Virgin America 

Best Airline in South/Latin America Avianca

Best Airline in Western Europe British Airways

Best Airline in Africa South African Airways

Best Airline in Central & Eastern Europe LOT Polish Airlines

Best Airline in the Middle East Emirates

Best Airline in Asia Korean Air


Best Air Travel Experience

This group of awards centers on the business travel experience. These categories include the best in business class broken out by regions or routes, plus North American first class travel. Readers considered the quality of the travel experience from the customer’s initial interaction with airline personnel to arrival at the destination. It includes groundside support, in-flight service, cuisine, amenities, and comfort factors such as seating and space.

Best North American Airline for First Class Service Delta Air Lines

Best North American Airline for Business Class Service Delta Air Lines 

Best North American Airline Inflight Experience Air Canada

Best Trans-Atlantic Business Class Lufthansa

Best Trans-Pacific Business Class Singapore Airlines

Best Business Class to Latin America/South America LAN Airlines

Best Business Class to the Middle East Qatar Airways

Best Business Class to Africa South African Airways

Best Business Class to Asia Singapore Airlines

Best Business Class to Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific Qantas

Best in Rental Car

For many business travelers around the world, the travel experience in the air is only the beginning. Once at the destination, passengers more often than not become drivers and rental cars are a vital part of the ground transportation picture. In North America and on the international stage, these award winners are driven to be the best.  

Best Car Rental Company in North American National

Best Global Hotel Experience

This year, the hotel categories have expanded from six to 15 awards. This is in recognition of the increasing diversity of lodging products and importance of the right hotel to the business travel value proposition. The best hotels in this group offer a superior combination of service, comfort and attention to detail, and business travelers have come to count on these award winners to deliver consistent, high-quality service from city to city. 

This group is recognizes both hotel chains and individual properties which are the best in the world at catering to the business traveler, whether in a specific location – for example, airports – or at a price-point – such as budget or luxury hoteliers – or in a market segment – like extended stay or boutique properties. And our readers have also selected the world’s best new hotel for the business traveler.

Hotel Chain with Best Overall Customer Service Four Seasons

Best New Business Hotel in the World Jumeirah at Etihad Towers

Best Airport Hotel in the World Frankfurt Hilton 

Best Budget Hotel Chain Holiday Inn

Best Extended Stay Hotel Chain Marriott Residence Inn

Best Luxury Hotel Chain Ritz Carlton

Best Boutique Hotel Chain Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Best Hotels by Region

In addition to honoring the Best Global Hotel Experience, our readers have recognized the hotel chains that have best met the needs of business travelers in different parts of the world. Hoteliers in five regions – North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, plus the best individual property for business travelers in North America – are honored in this group.

Best Business Hotel Chain in North America Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Best Business Hotel Chain in Latin America Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Best Business Hotel Chain in Europe Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Best Business Hotel Chain in the Middle East Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts

Best Business Hotel Chain in Asia Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Best Business Hotel in North America St. Regis San Francisco

Best Marketing & Customer Connection

The journey that a customer takes with a travel provider begins long before the trip. It’s a relationship – a connection – that’s built over time. It starts with clear, compelling communications and continues along every step in service delivery. That’s why the best communications channels – through advertising, Web presence and personal interaction, on the phone and on the ground – are worthy of recognition. Well done, good communications adds value, convenience and trust to the travel relationship.

Best Airline Advertising Campaign Korean Air

Best Airline Web Site Delta Air Lines

Best Hotel Web Site Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Best Overall Customer Service Airline – Ground /Call Center Asiana Airlines

Best Loyalty Programs

The purpose of loyalty programs is to build loyalty. So to attract and maintain faithful followers, a rewards program has to be accessible, easy to use and really rewarding. The award winners in this category fill that bill, because our readers say they offer the most desirable premiums and the greatest flexibility.

Year after year, these winners have consistently ranked among the world’s best travel rewards programs.

Best Frequent Flyer Program Delta Air Lines

Best Hotel Loyalty Program Marriott Rewards

Best Credit Card Rewards Program American Express Membership Rewards

Best Places to Connect

In the midst of the journey, or at its final destination, the point of travel is to get there and accomplish something. Whether travelers are just passing through a hub city or selecting a location for that all-important conference, convention or meeting, business travel is about getting the job done.

Our readers have honored award-winning airports because they’re easy to navigate from curbside to planeside, with the least hassle.  And when there is time to spare, business travelers have a discerning eye for what makes these aerodromes exceptional, from WiFi connectivity to duty-free shopping. Connections, convenience, the best retail, the best dining, the right amenities – it all comes together to make these award winning airports world class. 

Choosing a city in which to hold an event is an important decision, both for the attendees and for the organizations involved. Whether for an international conference or a North American event, the award winners in these categories know how to put on a show, with the right mix of experience, technology and entertainment options to guarantee success.

Best Airport in North America Hartsfield-Jackson Altanta International Airport

Best Airport in the World Changi Airport

Airport with Best Duty-Free Shopping Incheon International Airport

Best North America Business Meetings Destination Chicago

Best International Business Meetings Destination Seoul 

Best Traveler Tools & Productivity Boosters

What to pack and what to pack it in can make all the difference between a successful journey and one fraught with anxiety and pressure. These days, it’s not enough just to get there – you have  to arrive prepared, productive and ready to take the initiative. For the business traveler, that means being – and staying – connected and carrying the right travel tools, from the apps on your smartphone to your carryon luggage.  

Best Global Phone/ Data Provider AT&T

Best Mobile Travel App Flightstats

Best Luggage Brand Tumi

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