San Francisco International Airport Simply the 'Best'

Jun. 27--San Francisco International Airport has been named the 2006 Best Airport in North America by Skytrax, a London-based private company, in an independent survey of more than 7.2 million passengers.

The Skytrax survey was conducted over a period of nine months, with all costs paid for by the company. It is the largest passenger survey of international airport standards. Nearly 33 million people passed through SFO in 2005.

Between September 2005 and May 2006, passengers from more than 93 nationalities completed questionnaires on all areas of airport experience, ranging from waiting time at security checkpoints to the prices at airport bars and restaurants. The survey was conducted without the knowledge of airport officials and results were announced last week.

"It was a surprise to us," said Michael McCarron, airport spokesman for SFO. "We are very pleased to do so well in a competitive field of airports around the world. It is very gratifying in light of the hard work we do to make SFO a great experience for our travelers."

SFO ranked twelfth globally. Singapore Changi Airport claimed the top honor of the 2006 World Airport of the Year. In North America, Vancouver and Denver followed SFO as the second and third best airports, respectively. Among the survey's category competitions, Copenhagen Airport placed first in dining, while terminal cleanliness was ranked highest at Seoul Incheon Airport.

The reaction of Millbrae locals tended toward pleased puzzlement.

"I'm really surprised the airport could get this award because of the delays they suffer in the bad weather and the runway configuration near the bay," said Millbrae resident Mike Sullivan.

Fellow Millbrae resident Marge Colapietro works in the transportation industry and downplayed the weather concerns. "We get a bad rap because of weather conditions, but in my experience as a passenger, SFO is a wonderful airport. This award is the type of news that has the potential to bring more travelers into SFO, and then into Millbrae.